Translations Certified UK is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2015 with the
idea of working in favour of professional translators as well as clients, in particular by providing them with information to better understand the market in which they operate and to improve thus their working conditions. This is part of this ongoing information campaign. In general, translation is often related to literature, but exchange in different languages is present in all areas of life and individuals, companies from all economic sectors and institutions of all kinds need specialized translations in their sphere of activity. This guide is likely to be of particular interest to specialist translation professionals, because it is in this sector that quality standards have emerged and are applied, but it may be equally useful for professionals in other sectors. We would also like it to help clients and users of translations and the general public understand this little-known profession a little better. This ignorance is explained by the translator being invisible in society. The user of a translated material does not usually stop to think about the process that has been necessary for them to understand and use that material. They take it for granted. They do not see the translator. And what is not seen is not often known and, therefore, not recognized. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find someone who thinks that anyone who understands a little of a language can translate, but the reality is that it takes much more to do quality work that meets the expectations of a demanding client or user. Quality is what can make the translator visible in the market and we trust that this guide will be a useful tool to guide professional translators in the search for excellence.
1. THE PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATOR IN THE UK
In the UK, the translation profession is not regulated. In the academic field, there exists the Bachelor of Translation and Interpreting, but no rule links the exercise of the profession to the possession of this qualification or any other requirement. Any person who considers themself competent to translate can practice this profession as long as they comply with the corresponding tax obligations labour regulations. Therefore, there is no unauthorized practice as a legal concept, apart from what would be the breach of the aforementioned tax and labour obligations. Nowadays, and as long as nothing else is regulated, intrusion is an ethical concept, related to the breach of generally accepted deontological principles and the introduction of practices that contribute to degrading the working conditions of professionals. Regardless of ethical considerations, since it is not necessary to pass any capacity control or obtain a specific authorization to practice as a translator, it will be the person who wants to practice this profession who must ask themselves if they are competent to perform quality translations. On the other hand, in the absence of administrative regulation, the market exercises a very harsh control that soon leaves out those professionals who do not meet expectations. Quality is the only factor that can guarantee the satisfaction of our clients and, consequently, increase our chances of remaining in good working condition in a translation services market where free competition rules. That is why it is so important to know what quality in translation is and what we can do to achieve excellence in our profession.
2. THE QUALITY STANDARD EN-15038
The exercise of an unregulated profession in a market of free competition, that is, where everyone can offer their services under the conditions they deem appropriate, requires distinguishing oneself from competitors, and one way to do this is to prove that certain objective criteria are met established in the so-called "quality standards", which are voluntary and published by recognized standardization bodies. The European Committee for Standardization began work to adopt a quality standard in the translation sector in 2000. Translation companies, freelance translators, sector associations, public bodies, universities and other entities intervened in the process. under the umbrella of national standards bodies. The European quality standard for translation services EN-15038 was finally published on 17 May 2006.
A fundamental aspect of this standard is that it is not oriented to the product, but to the process. In other words, it does not try to determine whether a translation is well done, which is a highly subjective concept, but rather defines procedures that, if applied correctly, will logically lead to a quality product. In this sense, the standard refers to human and technical resources to provide the translation service, project management, relationships between the client and the service provider, the necessary administrative, technical and linguistic processes, revision and correction procedures and other value-added services such as layout, translation memory management, the creation of glossaries, etc. To obtain the EN-15038 certification, you must go to the national standardization body, in the UK this is the BSI. As a rule, BSI does not certify individuals, but only legal persons. This is because the quality certifications are issued after evaluating the operation of procedures in which several people intervene, which are normally distributed between several departments and even between different work centres.
Thus, a translator cannot obtain the EN-15038 certification on an individual basis. If anything, they may be considered "certified" as long as they collaborate with entities that do have this certification, since it is understood that if they are part of a project carried out under the standard, it is because they meets the quality requirements. This continues to be proof that it is not really essential to have the EN-15038 certification to perform quality translations. They were carried out before this rule existed and will continue to be done so. However, the EN-15038 standard is an important milestone for the translation services sector because it embodies that ethereal and subjective concept that is "quality" in objective and quantifiable procedures and criteria, and does so through consensus among all stakeholders. For this reason it is an essential reference for any professional and, of course, for associations such as Translations Certified UK that work to promote quality in translation.
3. QUALITY IN THE TRANSLATION PROCESS
The translation activity is the product of the provision of a service, and, as such, is subject to quality control like any other economic activity. But the quality of a translation is a relative value, since it always carries a subjective element, although a series of normative and prescriptive guidelines can be established that increase its degree of objectivity.
Translators must always try to achieve the highest level of quality in their daily work, exercising continuous control over it and always trying to deliver translations with a minimum of errors.
A quality system applied to translation will always aim to:
- satisfy the client;
- organize work as a process; - measure the results;
- promote continuous improvement of both the translation process and the final product delivered to the client.
Regarding the final product produced by the translator (that is, the translated text itself), so that it can be considered to have a minimum objective quality:
- it must be faithful to the original, transmitting the content of the original text at all levels, both from the denotative and connotative point of view, and must incorporate the appropriate adaptations based on the sociolinguistic considerations that are deemed appropriate;
- it must not omit or add anything that is not in the original, from a purely textual point of view, and it must reflect as closely as possible the message of the author of the original text;
- must not contain purely objective errors, such as: spelling or morphosyntactic errors; translation errors (at the terminological level); inconsistencies or nonsense.
To do this, the translator must review and correct the final text as many times as necessary to deliver a worthy product in accordance with the quality that the client expects from it and with the quality present in the original text itself.
The translator must plan the work in such a way that they can meet the final deadline given by the client for the delivery of the same, and may even reject works whose delivery times are so short that they do not allow a translation with the minimum quality required.
4. PHASES OF THE TRANSLATION PROCESS
4.1. Before accepting the client's order, the translator must carry out the
4.1.1. Agree with the client:
- the rate and payment conditions;
- the delivery time (date and time);
- the delivery conditions (support, format, etc.).
4.1.2. If it is deemed appropriate, the translator may request from the client all the additional material they have on the text to be translated: glossaries, supporting documents, etc., that may facilitate the work.
4.2. Once the client's order is accepted, the translator must carry out the
following operations: Analysis of the original text, to establish its typology and main characteristics and thus apply the most convenient strategy for its subsequent translation, determining, as far as possible:
- who wrote it; when it was written;
- whom is it addressed to;
- type of text and its function (manual, contract, notarial document, judicial document; informative etc.);
- determine the record or records it contains and, where appropriate, the type of sectoral - language in which the text is written (terminology, phraseology, etc.).
4.2.2. Text translation. For the translation phase itself, the translator must possess a series of minimum skills:
184.108.40.206. Translator competence:
The ability to translate texts from one language to another (which will preferably be the mother tongue). To do this, the translator must have a high level of understanding of the source language and a great ability to assess problems and solve comprehension doubts raised by the original text (“if it is not understood, it cannot be translated”), as well as a perfect command of the target language. The objective is to transfer the meaning of the text from the source language to the target language to produce an equivalent text that conforms to the conventions of the target language and, where appropriate, to the instructions given by the client. In addition to meaning, the translator must meet other criteria, such as register and style, consistency
and terminological adequacy, as well as frequency of use, among aspects.
220.127.116.11. Linguistic competence:
The translator must possess certain skills for the production of texts of all kinds, with correction at all levels (orthotypographic, morphosyntactic, etc.) and in a wide variety of registers of the target language.
18.104.22.168. Documentary competition:
The translator must always be in a position to acquire the additional linguistic and specialized knowledge necessary, both to understand the source text and to produce the target text, using all the documentary resources at their disposal and the appropriate strategies for information management. They should be able to analyze the information, sift it and synthesize it according to their interests.
Given the high degree of technicality of the texts that are produced today, the documentation work is a substantial and essential part of the translation, so the translator must know how to find the information necessary for their translation work, both on the Internet and in other sources (libraries, experts, etc). The professional ethics of every translator includes developing adequate documentation work for each assignment. If it exists, the translator must abide by the official and standard terminology of each sector.
22.214.171.124. Cultural competence:
The ability to use information on local conventions, norms of behavior and value systems that characterize the cultures of origin and destination.
The translator, regardless of their academic training, must have a broad general culture, taking an interest in the most varied topics in their daily life. To be a good translator, it is not necessary to be an expert in any specific field, because, except in specific cases, the lack of specialization can be perfectly compensated with good documentation and with the experience that the translator accumulates with daily work.
126.96.36.199. Technological competence:
The translator must always have the appropriate computer equipment - hardware and software-, as well as a good Internet connection and knowledge of how to handle the main computer tools:
- word processor;
- CAT tools;
- the most used programmes and formats.
If the translator has all the skills described, they will be in a position to carry out their work with the minimum required quality. However, in their decision-making process, they must show other series of qualities, such as common sense, planning and discipline at work, critical sense and the desire to improve daily, recycling and training periodically in the various aspects that make up the translation market in order to adapt to continuous technological advances, so their attendance and participation in courses and seminars is very convenient.
4.2.3. Review and correction. The proofreader is usually a translator with adequate competence in the source and target languages who examines a translated text to verify that it meets its intended purpose. The proofreader, for their part, must demonstrate their linguistic competence in their mother tongue and ensure that the final text offers the required quality, but does not necessarily work with several languages. These phases normally correspond to a professional other than the translator and are the subject of the next chapter.
4.3. Once the translation is delivered to the client, the translator, with the aim of continuous improvement of both the translation process and the final product, must proceed to register and archive the translation for later localization. They may also offer the client a series of value-added services, such as the creation and management of terminology databases, linguistic and cultural advice, etc., trying to satisfy the client as much as possible.
5. REVIEW AND CORRECTION
The revision and correction tasks have certain similarities and in some aspects they overlap, so it often happens that both are entrusted to the same person who has all the necessary skills. This leads to the tendency to use these terms interchangeably and to a cause blurring of the notable differences that nevertheless exist, and which often justify the choice of different professionals to carry them out.
5.1. The reviewer it is usually a translator with adequate competence in the source and target languages who examines a translated text to verify that it meets the intended purpose (terminology, register, style and presentation). To do this, they must have a high level of knowledge of the language of the original text and a perfect command of their mother tongue. The translator themself may also "review" their own work, although this process should also be carried out by a third party.
5.2. The proofreader, for their part, must demonstrate their linguistic competence in their mother tongue and ensure that the final text offers the required quality, but does not necessarily work with several languages. Proofreading is a historical profession that arose with the appearance of the printing press. There is currently no specific academic specialty in the UK that meets the necessary requirements to train professionals in proofreading or to formalize their profession, which is not legally recognized as a professional activity nor does it appear as a professional category.
The work of the proofreader has always been solitary and isolated by the very demands of the trade; this has led to a disconnect among professionals, who end up disillusioned with the low recognition they receive. And yet his work is irreplaceable because, despite the fact that computers today have programmes that correct spelling, no machine is capable of controlling the style and the setting of meaning of a text.
But the proofreader is not just an a posteriori operator. Not everyone can be a proofreader. Although it is not necessary to have a university degree, it is a profession that requires great concentration and a lot of general knowledge. In this sense, the best ally of a proofreader, in addition to knowledge, experience and common sense, is the dictionary, which should be used in cases of doubt.
The possibilities or fields of action of a proofreader are increasingly broad: short or long texts, personal or popular, specialized, literary, hosted on the Internet ... the fact is that all of them are susceptible to a greater or lesser extent of “correction”; newspapers and magazine publishing companies, as well as all book publishers, have people dedicated to proofreading written texts. They are the style editors, in charge of reading and rereading each paragraph to correct mistakes. They must not only control the spelling mistakes, but also the syntax and semantics of each sentence, that is to say, make sure that it is correctly constructed and that the idea to be conveyed is understood.
5.3. Lastly, the concept checker is usually an expert on the subject dealt with in the translated document who is in charge of conducting a monolingual revision of the text to assess the adequacy of the translation for the intended purpose, such as verifying that a standard follows the conventions and appropriate terminology for a particular sector — and recommend
appropriate corrections where appropriate. In practice, there is rarely a professional dedicated to this task. Ideally, there is a smooth collaboration between the translator and the client.
5.4. Basic requirements.
To ensure the quality of a revision and correction service, any translation service provider must guarantee the following basic requirements:
- Professional competence of the reviewer / proofreader.
- Ongoing professional development of the reviewer / proofreader.
- Technical resources used: necessary equipment, programmes and software, access to relevant information sources and media.
- Good client / translator - reviewer / proofreader relationship.
- Definition of budget and conditions.
- Characteristics of the contract: responsibility, confidentiality, conflict resolution, quality assurance and copyright, if any.
5.5. General considerations
The revision and correction of texts is conditioned by very diverse factors (stylistic, editorial, technical, etc.) that force us to assume a series of preliminary considerations on the basis of which the reviewer or proofreader must operate.
5.5.1. Who should perform the review
- The translator themself at the end of translating the text.
- A third person: the translator entrusts a reviewer / proofreader to review all translated documents to ensure the final quality of the text.
- A monolingual expert (client).
5.5.2. What to check
There is a tendency to think that only spelling and grammatical errors should be corrected. But the content review is also very important. The reviewer / proofreader not only has to comply with the prescription of normative grammar, but must ensure that the text is understandable and
does not contain passages that are difficult to interpret, avoiding ambiguities, redundancies and personal evaluations.
Another fundamental question is the adequacy of the content to the communicative situation: thus, in a formal text there is no room for excessive colloquialisms, just as in an informal situation the use of cultured terms is pedantically inappropriate.
5.5.3. Need to facilitate reading
When a text is read with difficulty it is because the subject is difficult in itself, or because the reader is not sufficiently interested in that subject. Or simply the text is poorly written or translated: do everything possible to make it easier to read. It is necessary to be clear, orderly, to calculate well the knowledge of the target reader of the text. It is also essential to review the textual structure: it must be verified that the text subject to correction presents the information in an orderly manner and that its distribution is the most convenient for the author's objective. Not only is it a question of order, but it is necessary that the extension dedicated to the presentation of each idea is balanced.
188.8.131.52. The importance of presentation:
Among the most common presentation defects that the proofreader must face are:
- texts without margins or with small margins;
- abundance of typographical errors;
- inconsistency in the use of underlining conventions for titles, foreign words, capital letters, quotation marks, citations, bibliographic references, etc.;
- excessive number of pages;
- bad punctuation, though excess, lacking or by defect;
- "infiltrated" language: terms and expressions that come from the bureaucracy, the media, certain academic texts, etc. They are generally unnecessary "bombastic" expressions,
easily simplified and even eliminated.
184.108.40.206. The importance of style:
Of course, revision affects punctuation, provisions of normative grammar, vocabulary, style.
In general, there are three basic principles of a correct style: clarity, naturalness and propriety. Clarity of expression is achieved by choosing appropriate and exact words. The naturalness of style is achieved by writing about things that are known and that interest the reader. The property is achieved whenever words are used that do not express an idea other than the one to be communicated, avoiding generic terms as much as possible and trying to ensure that words do not present ideas in a more complex way than they actually are.
There are no clear prescriptions for what should be the appropriate length of a sentence in a text. It depends largely on the style of the individual. Thus, for example, from the second half of the 20th century there is a certain inclination towards the short phrase, especially in scientific and technical texts. But for this reason a long sentence is not necessarily wrong. The length of the sentences is a question that in many cases is a mark of style. For example, long sentences, with an abundance of subordination, paraphrase, circumstantial complements, spatial and temporal references, etc. develop a slow tempo, appropriate for texts with a serious tone, such as legal ones.
Apart from all the previous considerations, it is worth remembering certain fundamental ideas:
- A good reviewer / proofreader changes perspective depending on the text: it is not the same to face an advertising text, as a legal or literary one. The proofreader / proofreader must possess the intuition to preserve the author's voice while increasing its brilliance and clarity.
- You have to look for perspective, which means shaping your own criteria. For this, it is necessary to know the different tools available to a reviewer / proofreader: dictionaries, grammar books, reference texts and computer programmes.
5.6. Phases of the review and correction process
5.6.1. Bilingual review
In this first phase, the reviewer must ensure that the translated text faithfully conveys the message of the source language, complying with the linguistic system of the target language and complying with the instructions received in the project assignment.
5.6.2. Typographic correction
The proofreader must develop a comprehensive control of the quality of the composition: detect and correct misprints and typographical errors and incorrect partitions of words, as well as single lines at the end and at the beginning of the page, misplaced spaces or characters etc.
In particular, proofreaders reflect their work in universal proofreading marks and clear and concise annotations that facilitate work improvement and revision of the editing process. All corrections and amendments are they noted and simultaneously checked against the original manuscript in order to check that no fragment of the original text has been lost or altered during the process.
5.6.3. Grammar correction
We are dealing here with problems of spelling and morphology. You have to know how to distinguish between grammatical error and style error. The spelling, grammar and punctuation of the texts must be correct at all times, based on an adequate use of language; this includes checking for typographical errors. Spell checking consists of the meticulous revision of the text in order to verify that it conforms to the spelling norms.
5.6.4. Style correction
Do not lose sight of the fact that the proofreader is not the author. From here, the use of style manuals will be taken into account, which will allow the defining a working method: revision and correction according to criteria of coherence and semantic cohesion. The style correction will always search for the exact word, avoiding unnecessary repetitions and constantly paying attention to the purpose, precision and good sense of the text. Style correction consists of a general review of all the elements that make up the work or text: the style, the correct choice of the terms used, the correction or adaptation of localisms, foreign words and idioms, the application of the established rules in the style manuals. All this it is intended not only to polish the general quality of the publication, but to give it a greater coherence.
After the initial review is complete, the reviewer / proofreader must verify their own work and make any necessary corrections. The translator, based on the recommendations of the reviewer / proofreader, should take the appropriate measures to ensure that the recommended corrections are applied (which can go as far as the retranslation of the text).
5.6.6. Concept correction
If the service specifications include correction of concept, the translator must ensure that the monolingual revision of the translation is carried out to assess its suitability for the intended purpose and apply the relevant corrections.
5.7. Style guide
The reviewer must follow the client's style guide or, failing that, a stylistic reference that ensures the quality of their work that includes the following aspects:
- Format, type style and type family.
- Terminological options, controlled idioms, inadequate formulations, customer preferences and characteristics of the registry
- Common mistakes to avoid: false friends, cognates, glitches, registry errors, etc.
- Miscellaneous: lists, charts and tables, paper size, neutral language, tenses, footnotes, bibliographies, citations, diagrams, graphs and illustrations, and translation of labels and attributes.
- In the case of localization of computer programmes: names of keys, morphosyntactic conventions for components of the user interface (menus, dialog boxes and error messages).
5.8. Specific review procedure according to support
The revision of a text will be conditioned to a large extent by the support in which said document is presented and we will have to meet various criteria, such as:
5.8.1. Word files (DOC)
Select the Tools / Change control option from the menu bar and proceed to introduce the pertinent corrections in the text. Particular attention must be paid to tags if Trados, Wordfast, etc. are used.
5.6.2. Power Point files (PPT)
Select the Review and comment option from the menu bar (or Add note depending on the PPT version) and proceed to introduce the pertinent corrections in the text. Particular attention must be paid to tags if Trados, Wordfast, etc. are used.
5.6.3. Excel files (XLS)
The option Tools / Error checking is selected from the menu bar and the relevant corrections are also made to the text.
5.6.4. Websites (location)
The verification mentioned in standard procedure is not always required, because many times the text located on the website has already been reviewed and it is a question of performing a "visual" review, that is, not so much of content, but of presentation. For example:
- Check that the links lead to pages in English (if applicable).
- Review the content of the website pages: that there is no missing text, that all the text is translated, that the text corresponds to the one previously reviewed.
- Verify that there are no errors in upper / lower case, typographical, font type.
Reviewed on the screen and the corrections are listed in a Word or Excel table, indicating the URL, the page and the section concerned.
5.6.5. Printed documents
Reviewed on paper and the corrections are listed in a Word or Excel table, indicating by sections the type of error, the page etc.
5.6.6. Audio support (TV scripts, cinema, radio, etc.)
The pertinent corrections are made in the textual support or, failing that, comments are noted that will allow for further modification of said content.
The customer instructions should also be taken into account, as they often facilitate their own presentation rules and terminological lists and our mission is to ensure that they are respected in the translated texts.
Client: the person or entity that pays for a translation service. A distinction must be made between the end customer (who will be the user of the translation) and translation agencies or companies (technically known as "translation service providers").
Competence: demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills.
Local conventions: linguistic, technical and geographical conventions of a country or target language.
Textual conventions: grammar rules or terminology that must be observed for the type of text in question.
Concept correction: Examination of a target text to verify its adaptation to the intended purpose and the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommendation of the pertinent corrections.
Style correction: Examination of a text in order to detect and correct spelling mistakes, misprints and any other defect that it may contain at different levels (morphosyntactic, phraseological, etc.) and check that the text is constructed with clarity, property and homogeneity.
Proofreading: proofreading before publication of the translation.
Concept checker: person doing concept correction.
Style corrector: person who performs copyediting.
Document: Information and its supporting medium.
Documentation: search process for specialized information on all types of media.
Target language: language in which the source text should be translated.
Source language: language in which the source text is described.
Translation Service Provider: person or organization that provides translation / proofreading services.
Registry: set of characteristic properties of a particular type of written text or oral speech.
Review: Examination of a translation to determine its fidelity to the original text and suitability for its intended purpose in the target language and recommendation of the pertinent corrections.
Reviewer: person conducting the review.
Value added services: services that can be provided in addition to the translation services themselves.
Target text: result of the translation process in the target language.
Source text: text intended for translation.
Translation: written reproduction in the target language of the information contained in the source language.
Translator: person doing the translation.