How to Improve Translation Quality: 5-Step Guide
11 min. read
Accurate translation is essential for effective communication in today's globalized world.
However, achieving high-quality translations can be challenging.
This comprehensive guide provides strategies on how to improve translation quality, including the role of technology in translation, and solutions to common challenges faced by translators.
Whether you're an individual translator or part of a larger organization, this guide furnishes you with the knowledge and resources needed to achieve consistency and precision in your translations.
Pro tip: Solve most of your translation quality issues with a comprehensive translation management system (TMS), like Centus. Learn more.
Keep reading to find out:
Translation Quality Assurance (TQA) is a set of processes for ensuring that translations are precise, consistent, and culturally appropriate.
We’ll explore these three aspects of TQA below:
Precision is the foundation of TQA. It guarantees that the translation accurately reflects the source material and conveys the desired message and meaning. This necessitates a thorough knowledge of both the source and target languages, as well as the cultural context and subject matter.
A little translation error might have serious effects, ranging from project failures to litigation.
It ensures that the vocabulary, phrasing, and tone stay constant throughout the whole translation, delivering a cogent and concise message to the target audience.
Protip: Inconsistency can lead to misunderstood messages and cost you your audience’s trust. Use a translation management system with glossary and memory features to ensure consistency. Learn more.
Cultural appropriateness ensures that the translation is suitable for the target culture, taking into account the differences in cultural norms, idioms, and metaphors. An inappropriate translation can cause offense, leading to negative consequences like distrust and disengagement.
Translation quality is critical to ensuring effective communication across languages and cultures. Here’s a five-step process for an error-free translation:
Machine translation and MTPE
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a valuable tool in translation, with machine translation able to process large volumes of text quickly. However, technology often lacks the contextual awareness and cultural sensitivity that human translators contribute.
A hybrid approach where AI is used for initial translation, followed by human editing, can result in significant quality improvements. This is called Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE).
The best part? Collaboration between AI and human translators can happen simultaneously.
2. Proofreading and editing
Proofreading and editing are critical procedures in assuring grammatical accuracy, suitable terminology use, and general coherence of the translated content. It helps you avoid mistranslations, inaccuracies, and misinterpretations that can undermine the credibility of your text.
Translated texts should undergo at least one round of proofreading and editing for quality assurance.
Proofreading is done to catch errors, while editing helps to improve the readability and flow of the text. Editing goes a step further by ensuring the text reads naturally in the target language and is culturally sensitive.
Correct formatting is essential in ensuring that the translated text aligns with the original layout and design elements. This includes headings, subheadings, paragraphs, images, and tables.
It’s important to consider the cultural norms and preferences of the target audience when formatting the translated document. For example, if the target audience is in a country where text is read from right to left, the formatting should be adjusted accordingly. You should also pay attention to the devices your content would be predominately read on, for instance, mobile or desktop.
Inconsistent or incorrect formatting can make the translated text difficult to read and understand, and can lead to confusion and errors.
Formatting is especially important in the translation of technical manuals, user guides, and legal documents, where the correct layout and design elements are crucial in conveying important information.
4. Final checks
Before releasing or delivering the translated text, conduct a final check to confirm the accuracy, completeness, and overall quality of the translation. This involves:
Comparing the translated text to the original language for correctness and completeness.
Checking for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and syntax mistakes.
Verifying that the translation fits all of the project's criteria and standards.
Checking that any terminology used in the translation corresponds to any existing glossaries or translation memory.
Ensuring that the translated document is correctly formatted and aesthetically attractive.
Verifying that any cultural subtleties or allusions in the original text have been translated correctly.
Examining the translated text for any omissions, repetitions, or inconsistencies.
Final checks are crucial because they might be the last opportunity to catch any errors or inaccuracies in the translation, like HSBC bank’s infamous "Do Nothing" blunder, which cost $10m (£6.8m) to repair.
5. Post-delivery revision
This step in the translation quality improvement process involves delivering or releasing the final translated document to the target audience or users and receiving feedback from them. This ensures that the translation is accurate, culturally appropriate, and effectively communicates the intended message.
Delivery can be made through marketing materials or brand touchpoints in your app or website.
Once the translation is delivered, gather feedback from the audience in the form of reviews or ratings.
Based on the feedback, make any necessary revisions to the translation itself, as well as any formatting or design elements. This promotes successful communication with the desired audience and indicates a dedication to your user satisfaction.
When it comes to translation, making sure your work is of top quality is a no-brainer. However, there are several common challenges that can impact the accuracy and effectiveness of translations. They include:
1. Inadequate planning
Inadequate planning leads to errors and delays in translation, which can cause problems in communication and jeopardize the success of your project. Jumping into a translation project without any forethought is dangerous and will morph into a very costly mistake.
Solution: Establish clear project goals, deadlines, and deliverables from the start. Hire professional translation services and engage with your translation team to ensure they understand the project scope and requirements. It is also essential to define and research the target audience, so the translation is accurate and culturally appropriate.
2. Poor source materials
Poor quality source materials can affect the accuracy of translations. Without clear and accurate source materials, translators may struggle to accurately translate the intended message, leading to errors and misunderstandings.
Solution: To ensure accuracy, make sure source materials are well-written and error-free. Provide translators with additional resources like glossaries, style guides, and relevant reference materials to aid understanding.
For example, if the source material is a technical document, providing the translator with technical dictionaries, industry-specific terms, and a glossary of acronyms can be helpful.
3. Tedious and fragmented workflow
Imagine if your translators had to send translations and edits by email for review. Imagine how long and tedious those email threads would be.
This sort of fragmented workflow can lead to inefficiencies and inconsistencies in translation projects. Without a continuous workflow, translators may find it challenging and confusing to collaborate.
Solution: To streamline workflows, use a translation management system (TMS) that ensures all team members can collaborate effectively. A TMS also automates many of the processes involved in translation, such as project management, file sharing, quality assurance, and invoicing.
Use Centus’ translation management system to keep all your translation operations on one screen and reduce inefficiencies in the translation process. Learn more.
4. Lost or inadequate feedback
Without clear and regular feedback from other teams like product, marketing, and design, translators may not have the information they need to accurately translate the intended message.
This can lead to translations that miss important details, use incorrect terminology, or fail to convey the intended tone or style.
One common reason for lost or inadequate feedback is a lack of clear communication channels between translators and stakeholders. Using regular messaging channels like email or chat can result in vital feedback getting lost in a sea of other messages.
Solution: Establish lines of communication and clear expectations for feedback early. A TMS can help in this regard by providing a centralized platform for communication and feedback.
With a TMS, stakeholders can leave feedback on specific translations, and the translation team can access the feedback and make changes accordingly.
5. Inconsistent terms
Inconsistent terminology is a major challenge in translation and can cause several misunderstandings. It usually occurs when different translators or even the same translator use various terms to describe the same thing, or when your target language has specific terminology preferences that aren’t consistently applied.
Solution: To ensure consistency across all translations, use glossaries and translation memories.
A glossary is a collection of words and definitions that are customized for a given audience or purpose. Using a glossary ensures that the same term is used consistently throughout the document, improving readability and accuracy.
On the other hand, translation memories are databases that store previously translated texts, allowing translators to reuse previously translated text. Translation memories are particularly useful for technical or legal documents.
Understanding the context is crucial for improving translation quality and avoiding misinterpretations. Misinterpretations often occur when the context is overlooked or when cultural or regional differences are disregarded.
Solution: Provide translators with as much context as possible. This can include information about the purpose of the text, the intended audience, and relevant cultural or regional factors.
Providing context can help translators make more accurate and culturally appropriate translations, improving the final product's quality.
Another solution is to use a translation management system that has context tools. For example, some translation management systems allow clients to provide translators with additional context, such as images, videos, or other multimedia content that can provide a better understanding of the text.
The translation process involves multiple steps, and managing these steps manually can be challenging. Translation management software automates many of the processes involved in translation, ensuring consistency, accuracy, and timely delivery of translations.
Other benefits of a TMS include:
Improved project management: Using a TMS makes project management easier by providing a centralized platform for all project-related activities. The TMS provides a clear overview of the project’s progress, including deadlines, milestones, and deliverables.
Enhanced collaboration and communication: A TMS facilitates collaboration and communication between teams. With a TMS, team members can easily share files, leave feedback, and track project progress.
Quality assurance: A TMS automates many of the quality assurance processes, ensuring consistency and accuracy across all translations. Quality assurance features in a TMS include translation memories, glossaries, style guides, and terminology management.
Cost-effectiveness: Using a TMS can be cost-effective in the long run. By automating many of the processes involved in translation, a TMS reduces the need for manual labor, resulting in cost savings for your business.
Qualities of a Good Translation Management System
A good translation management system should have the following qualities:
User-friendliness: A good TMS should be easy to use, even for non-technical users. The user interface should be intuitive and straightforward. The TMS should also provide clear instructions and user guides for using the system.
Customizability: A good TMS should be customizable to meet your needs. It should allow for the customization of workflows, project management, and quality assurance processes.
Integration capabilities: This ensures that the TMS can work seamlessly with existing systems. A good TMS should be able to integrate with other systems, such as content management systems, customer relationship management systems, marketing automation tools, and design tools among others.
Scalability: A good TMS should be able to scale as your projects grow. Your chosen TMS should be able to handle larger volumes of translations and additional languages.
Security: A good TMS should have robust security features to protect the confidentiality and integrity of your data. The TMS should have user authentication, access controls, and data encryption to prevent unauthorized access.
Centus’ cloud-based translation management platform is designed to help you organize your translation process, and combine all your workflows. With features such as translation memories, glossaries, and style guides, Centus ensures consistency and accuracy in translations, while also providing a centralized platform for collaboration and communication among team members.
Speak with our translation management experts to learn how Centus can work for you.
What are the two most important factors in translation quality?
The two most important factors in translation quality are accuracy and cultural appropriateness. Accuracy refers to the correctness of the translation, while cultural appropriateness refers to the translation’s ability to resonate with the target audience.
How do you ensure translation quality?
To ensure high-quality translation, it is essential to have a clear project scope and objectives, use quality assurance processes like proofreading and editing, and provide context to the translators. Using a translation management system can also improve translation quality by automating many of the processes involved in translation.
What is KPI for translation quality?
In translation quality, KPIs can include translation accuracy, timeliness, client satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness. By tracking KPIs, clients can measure the effectiveness of their translation process and make improvements where necessary.
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