What is a good translation?
I bet that even in the days of the Babylonians, translators were arguing about translation quality - how to recognize its existence (or absence) and how to deliver it. Yet here we are, 3,000 years later, and we still don't have a good answer.
There seem to be two camps in this debate: One group strongly believes that quality is subjective and in the eyes of the customer, while the other group holds to an absolute quality standard.
Practitioners who subscribe to the subjective view believe that selecting good translators, giving them the right tools and information, and establishing expectations with clients will ensure a quality deliverable.
It's hard to argue about the importance of these items. In fact, here at ForeignExchange, we used to subscribe to the same belief. But the trouble is that even with all of these (and other) controls in place, we would still occasionally miss the quality mark.
Folks who subscribe to an absolute quality standard often proclaim objectivity but this is often simply a different kind of subjectivity. Sentiments like "I wouldn't say it like that" or "we don't use that term" tend to be the yardsticks for quality.
In all of this, standards like ISO 9001, EN 15038, and ISO 13485 are helpful but no panacea - they contain much too much wiggle room.
But in the end, where does all of this get us? Probably to another 3,000 years of debating.
In an effort to change the conversation, we have been proponents of measurable quality. Sonia Monahan, ForeignExchange's Executive VP of Quality Systems, will present Bridging the Linguistic Quality Gap: How to Measurably Improve Translation Quality.
Sonia's presentation looks at how to move from an uncertain quality outcome to measurable, predictable quality. She goes into detail on how to utilize measurements to meet an organization's business objectives, not just translation objectives.
Instead of going around in circles, let's move the quality debate forward!
For further reading on this topic, take a look at:
- Quality is dead - long live measurable quality
- When is "good enough" good enough?
- Proving your quality [PDF link]
- Customized medical translation is a hairy knuckle dragger
ForeignExchange's METRiQ quality system provides medical device and pharmaceutical companies with known translation quality - on every assignment. Find out more!