Top 3 Reasons for Poor Linguistic Quality
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Top 3 Reasons for Poor Linguistic Quality

Top 3 Reasons for Poor Linguistic Quality

When you buy translation services, you logically (and quite rightly) expect accurate and consistent work. Yet it’s often not until the product is released in a new market that you realize something went wrong. You get inundated with customer complaints from in-country partners. Your brand starts to suffer. And since your product isn’t taking off quite as you’d hoped, you start thinking about making a change.

But wait. Before giving your vendor a piece of your mind, take a deep breath and brace yourself for a frank evaluation. Did you set the project up for success?


1. Did you properly define linguistic “quality?”

On paper, linguistic quality assurance (LQA) can be defined simply as the process of checking localized products for accuracy. In reality, it means different things to different people. If there are no clear expectations when it comes to LQA, then achieving quality is nearly impossible.

Work with your vendor to assess the types of errors you’re getting complaints about (grammatical or terminological, for example) and their severity (show-stopper, minor or preferential). Don’t forget to document who is responsible for what when quality infractions occur.

2. Are you using assets effectively?

Translation assets—your Translation Memory, glossary and style guide—are the keys to quality and consistency. Without them, you’re pretty much winging it. (Need more information on how assets work and what they can do for you? Check out this quick primer.)

3. Do you have unrealistic scheduling expectations?

In the last few years, localization projects have continued to shrink. Turnaround time (TAT) is now often measured in hours or days when it used to span weeks, but speed to market can drain resources (100,000-word, 5-day projects could require as many as 40 translators working simultaneously). It’s possible to squeeze linguistic quality assurance into such a tight time frame, but you and your vendor must set proactive expectations about what time frames are achievable to ensure LQA gets the attention it’s due.

At RWS Moravia, we find it helps to put automations and feedback loops in place to check regularly for various types of errors. We also partner with dedicated translators who have the bandwidth to respond quickly, while implementing various tools (like Machine Translation) to speed up the work. At the same time, we help our clients understand the risks associated with super-speedy work so they can plan accordingly.

We realize that it may be tough to identify room for improvement in your team’s project planning, management of expectations and troubleshooting. But a little work ahead of time can get you higher-quality translations.


What other buyer-side factors contribute to poor linguistic quality? Have you ever faced a vendor management challenge that wound up improving your business-critical processes? Contact us and let’s talk it through!