New Initiative Promotes Quality in Translation

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The Quality in Translation campaign is a new initiative aimed at raising awareness of the value of the work done by skilled, expert translators and improving the quality of translated materials worldwide via self-regulation within the translation industry.

We want to educate executives to the fact that they should look behind price and try to understand the relationship of cost, value, and ROI when it comes to translation services

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Quality in Translation is a new educational initiative aimed at improving global communication through the use of high-level translation services. "Despite the fact that language plays a critical role in how we interact with the world, surprisingly few people understand what is required to deliver a 'good' translation," reports Rosie Leary, spokesperson for the Quality in Translation campaign.

In a world made small by technology, the ability to communicate commercial, political, and intellectual thought with precision and clarity has never been more important. "The goal of quality translation is to express the same thoughts and impressions as the original text. And a skilled translator is dedicated to creating a translation that reads as if it were originally written in the target language."

Client Education to Raise Understanding of Value
The mission of Quality in Translation is two-fold. One goal is to help companies that outsource their translation needs understand the value of the product they are purchasing. The bottom line, says Leary, is that paying a modest fee for poor translation that miscommunicates the substance of the original text is ultimately a waste of money, no matter how low the price.

"We want to help those who purchase translation services understand why one agency might be charging $300 and another $500 for the same translation," explains Leary. "It is generally not simply a case of one company over-charging, but rather objective reasons that are the basis for dramatic cost differences." Those objective reasons include working with a 10-year translation veteran versus a novice, as well as working with a translator who has industry-specific experience (such as in financial topics) versus a translator who dabbles in a range of industries.

"We want to educate executives to the fact that they should look behind price and try to understand the relationship of cost, value, and ROI when it comes to translation services", says Leary.

Quality in Translation also advocates that translation buyers re-consider relying on the International Organization for Standardization as a measure of excellence. (ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards.) "I know from experience within the business that most agencies are ISO-certified because that is what is expected by their industry customers," observes Leary.

She reports, however, that ISO certification simply guarantees that certain procedures will be followed in the creation of translated documents. It does not on its own provide real assurance of the quality of the translation itself. "If the agency is working with inexperienced translators, is ISO certification truly meaningful?" asks Leary.

Industry Education to Raise Quality Standards
Beyond its education efforts aimed at those who purchase translation services, the Quality in Translation campaign also targets the translation industry itself. "We are asking our colleagues to raise quality standards and focus on critical issues that face our industry," says Leary.

The first issue is the responsibility of those within the translation profession to "look beyond this month's sales figures and offer training and feedback to young translators so that they can become the experts of tomorrow," says Leary. She believes this can be best accomplished with:

·    Online learning modules that facilitate the ongoing education of translators
·    Training that focuses on productivity tools
·    Development and recommendation of resources that can help translators provide quality translation

The issue of client education is also central to Quality in Translation's mission. The idea is that as more translation agencies 'stand up' for the cost of a quality product, their clients will understand the value of what they are purchasing. "It's the same as seeking medical advice," says Leary. "You go to one source and you listen to what he or she has to say. If you don't like what you hear, you are likely to get a second opinion, or a third. But if you keep hearing the same 'diagnosis,' you'll ultimately accept the truth."

In this case, the truth is that quality in translation comes at a cost; but is a cost that Leary believes is recouped when businesses and individuals gain something that is truly priceless: clarity of communication.

7 Principles of Quality Translation for the Industry's Future
Translation agencies and companies that support the Quality in Translation initiative are invited to display the campaign logo on their web sites and printed materials. In so doing, they demonstrate a commitment to seven principles of professional conduct:

·    Strive for the best possible translation every time
·    Accept only those assignments that allow pursuit of this goal
·    Decline assignments at prices that undercut this goal
·    Work only with professional translators translating into their native language
·    Assign projects exclusively to translators specialized in the particular field
·    Strive to improve translators through constructive feedback and ongoing training
·    Raise the awareness of translation buyers about the goals of the Quality in Translation campaign

Philosophical, Rather Than Financial Commitment Sought
Leary notes that there are no ads on the Quality in Translation website, nor does the campaign link to any translation agency or in any way serve as a marketing platform. "And we're not looking for monetary contributions; there's no "Donate Here' button or anything like that," she reports. "We do not even require registration, so people who join in our campaign need not worry about email harvesting."

Instead, individuals and companies are encouraged to promote the campaign in any way they like. "If people want to copy the content from our site and set up their own blogs or web sites, they are free to do so," says Leary.

The Quality in Translation campaign is about asking people to make a philosophical commitment to a higher level of communication, rather than a financial commitment. "All we ask is that individuals and company that share our perspective on the importance of quality translation spread the message in whatever way they can," explains Leary. "Success will be measured by raised awareness...and increased quality in translation projects for clarity of communication around the world."

About Quality in Translation
The Quality in Translation campaign aims to raise awareness regarding the skills of expert translators and to improve the quality of translated materials worldwide via self-regulation within the translation industry. To learn more and to participate in the campaign, please visit http://www.qualityintranslation.org .

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Rosie Leary
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