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The importance of quality in standard and certified translation

In this article we would like to take the opportunity to recall the influence of the quality of translations, including certified translations, on both language and society, and to make readers aware of the importance of dealing with the translation of documents at least as carefully as with the production of the original texts. Translated texts have a direct influence on the economy: on the one hand, bilingualism is totally embedded in the daily lives of people in certain places, certain parts of Wales, for example; on the other hand, we constantly export and import products and services. It is necessary to take this into account in our work, since taking care of the language - all languages - will be beneficial for everyone, in all senses. Welsh institutions and companies should disseminate and put this idea into practice, as far as possible.

The world of translation is very complex, and we often do not realise the work involved in translating a lengthy text. Anyone who knows two languages can translate a text from one language to another, but is it really that easy to carry out a good translation? Is someone a translator just because they know two languages? In a sense, yes, but not a professional translator, who can carry out this function at a much higher level, and a certified translation can only be carried out by someone with certain credentials or qualifications, depending on the country in question.

There are a lot of people who work in the translation industry, but what is a good translation? How can you measure it? It seems totally subjective, but there are some criteria that can be measured and that can help determine if a translation is adequate or not.

A good translation must convey the same content as the source text in the target language, and it of course it must not add ideas or delete them. The message of the source text, the expressions, the twists, the terminology must all be transferred correctly. And since the text was created for a specific objective and audience, it is necessary to respect the spirit and objective of the original text, so that the translation produces the same effect. In the case of certified translations, these concepts are stricter and less fluid.

Obviously, the orthographic and typographic, syntactic and punctuation rules of the target language must be scrupulously respected. In the case of recommendations, each translation service should make clear decisions and then act consistently. But beyond rules and recommendations, the layout of the text, its organization, is one of the factors that most directly influence its success or failure.

One of the criteria that can easily be met is numbers, dates and proper names. Do all the numbers in the original text appear in the translation? Are the dates well translated? Have all proper names been included in the translation?

Following the objective criteria, there are certain standards that have to do with the translation management process. In 2006, the European Committee for Standardisation published a specific standard (UNE 15038) for translation projects, in order to provide translation services and businesses with a documented procedure for managing their projects.

Nor should we forget format-related issues, or questions relating to images, graphics and diagrams often contained in source texts. In addition, in some cases, it is also necessary to deal with layout. Therefore, it is advisable that the person in charge of the layout works side by side with the translators, and that the client and the translator agree in advance on the issues that directly affect the graphic layout of the text.

In the event that the client is in charge of the layout, it is very important for the translator to revise the final document, and the layout, in order to avoid last-minute errors.

In addition to what has been said so far, what other factors influence the quality of a translation? According to the UNE-15038 standard mentioned above, it is important for translators to translate only into their mother tongue, as it is very difficult to master a language we have learnt as adults to the same level as our mother tongue. On the other hand, it goes without saying that it is essential to know the subject being translated well.

Another topic that stands out is the figure of the proofreader. It is necessary for the translated text to be corrected by someone who has experience in the field of translation. On the other hand, when it comes to technical texts, the text should be proofread by someone who has mastered the technical concepts of the text. It is therefore helpful to have specialists in the working group.

When it comes to translating company reports, leaflets or texts, it is essential to maintain a close and fluid relationship with the client. The better we know the client, the greater the chance of getting a good translation, as we will know better what the client wants to communicate.

We live in the age of ICT, information and communication technologies, and there is no doubt that computer media are a great help in the translation process; today almost all translators use CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools. Translation memory is one of the best-known tools, but we should not forget the glossaries and applications that help to revise the quality criteria, as they are indispensable in guaranteeing the coherence of the text. Finally, more and more tools are being used to manage the translation process, which, among other advantages, greatly facilitate the relationship with the client.

In short, it is important to treat the translation of documents at least as carefully as the production of original texts. In other words, if the source text has been written according to quality guidelines, we should do the same in the case of translation. To this end, it is necessary to scrupulously follow the quality standards established in order to control the translation process. This is especially so in the case of certified translations.

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