In the world of translation and localization, delivery is as dependent on deadlines as it is on quality standards. These standards are not only specific to client, country or project. They actually include guidelines developed according to industry norms and metrics. The truth is that without quality standards, there is no future in the localization world.
For this reason, quality assurance is a key component throughout the translation process. Key to error detection and correction, it is a must prior to the final delivery of any project, big or small.
Quality is controlled from start to finish throughout the production cycle, with the collection of information on terminology and style and the leverage of glossaries, TMs and style-guides. However, the main stage devoted to quality assurance on any project is performed after translation, edition and proofreading have taken place.
Here at Win & Winnow, concentrate on objective errors during the internal QA stage, focusing on the subjective during the proofreading process.
There are five main quality standards evaluated in our process:
- Language Structure
- Design and Format
To ensure the respective standards of quality related to each of these fields are met, there are certain steps that must be taken during QA. These include running a spell check, verifying there are no untranslated segments in the target text, identifying different forms of translation of the same segment or word, and implementing consistent versions of the translation to unify the text. The use of glossaries is also quite important, as it helps us to confirm that identical words are translated consistently throughout a text.
In addition to these human checks, there are a variety of tools and software available on the market, which assist us in performing automatic quality assurance checks on texts before delivery. These programs generate reports pointing out possible issues that our linguists can then verify and, when necessary, correct.
A good tool is one that compares source and target text using bilingual documents. It provides a unified view of the bilingual information, which can be prioritized by the person in charge of the QA. We can carry out a quality control of a translation and, at the same time, add translation memories or glossaries, rendering the process even more thorough. The most useful quality assurance tools support a number of input formats including, among others:
- Trados Multiterm glossaries
- Trados TagEditor files
- Trados Studio files
- Trados Word bilingual files
- SDLX .itd files
- Wordfast Pro TXML files
- DejaVu files
As mentioned, there are a number of useful QA tools available on the market, many of which we use on a daily basis. One of the main programs we rely on is X-Bench, which allows for a side-by-side placement of source and target texts, facilitating an improved comparative review. The software enables the discovery of errors introduced at various stages of a project, providing the opportunity to improve on the text at hand.
In addition, it assists in the search for false cognates, discriminatory or offensive terminology, linguistic patterns (such as repetition, redundancy, alliteration, etc.), contextual consistency, mistranslations, additions, omissions, terminology, register, connotations, collocations, punctuation in general, etc.
After the main QA stage and automated checks, the final steps to ensuring quality on any project involve format checks as well as reporting and feedback, usually overseen by the project manager assigned to the job. This should include comparing the final target text against the source to ensure that everything is displayed properly, verifying that all graphics are in place and the text is positioned appropriately, and checks to make sure that all relevant style guides or guidelines were followed.
After all this, you can imagine that there is nothing as satisfying as pressing the send button with a message to the client, “Please find attached the deliverable files for the project.” Phew!
Mariana Sugobono is a Production Assistant at Win & Winnow Communications. She is responsible for all-around production support involving the coordination of projects, QA checks, and in-house translation and editing work.