How to ensure quality in translation part 2:
Had the translator been given direct access to the final user, he would have explained how the quickest and most efficient way to implement changes is for them to do it (for the client to re-translate the document directly is never the best option). There are four reasons for this:
1) It avoids the client feeling he/she have wasted their time
2) It ensure the changes are implemented in a consistent manner (throughout the documentation)
3) We can do it much faster through the use of advanced techniques (equivalent to “find and replace” in MS Word)
4) It ensures that the right terminology is used in all future documentation.
Translation work is normally carried out by at least one qualified, native-speaker of the target language, and reviewed by another native-speaking professional. Clients need to understand that, if this method is followed (which is generally is), “bad” translations are the consequence of other factors.
There are many reasons why clients are frustrated when they review translation work. The most justified is the incorrect use of specialised terminology, and the least justified is the typical attitude of “that is not how I would’ve written it!”. Terminology can be researched on the Internet, but it is not always clear which option is the “right” one, ie: the one this particular client thinks is correct. Translators can only learn which option the client prefers via detailed feedback directly from him. Tight deadlines do not help either, as even the best of processes fall short of their quality goals when under time pressure. Under normal circumstances, developed a glossary and asked the client to approve it before even starting the translation phase of the project.
Generally speaking, the best recipe for avoiding client frustration (whether justified or unjustified, fair or exaggerated) is to plan ahead and to understand the parallel processes and mental attitudes involved in translation. Most people think translation is a straight-forward process which the translator gets either right or wrong, but in the case of corporate documentation processes, it is a lot more complex than that.
View part 1 of Quality in Translation – the translator’s view