A quality control program in the field of translation is an electronic means that basically serves to find translation inconsistencies within a translated document. A quality control program can be a program in itself or a function with a CAT (Computer-aided Translation) tool. In order to use a QA program, you have to first have a bilingual file at your disposal containing both the source text (the text to be translated) and the target text (the translated text).
QA programs have rigorous spell checkers, sometimes applying benefits deriving from several different spell checkers/spell checker dictionaries. In fact, QA programs go one step further than just checking spelling. They check a text to verify differences between the source and target text with regard to capitalization and even analyze the use of empty spaces in a document.
In addition, they ensure that the proper terminology and consistent translated sentences have been used throughout the entire translation. With regard to terminology, it is for this reason that it is a good idea for any organization to start building up a terminology list for their translations. If a translator creates a list of terminology containing the desired translation of specific terms, the QA term checker will alert the translator if a certain word in the text has not been translated appropriately. This can be quite handy in the case of texts of great volume or across several documents where terms should remain consistent. It assures that a word used in your company brochure is the same one used on your website, or for example, that the same translation of a term on page 2 of an owner’s manual is the same one used on page 200. Please stay tuned for a further post on terminology and how to use terminology lists effectively for your organization.
Besides terminology, a QA program checks to make sure that numbers remain consistent throughout the translation project. When I say consistent, I do not mean the same. For example, a date translated from German into US English would look like this:
German: 26.01.2013 US English: 01/26/2013
As is standard in the US, the days have to be flipped around to comply and the points have to become slashes (or hyphens depending on style). Similarly, there can be similar differences in date conventions between other languages. Along the same lines, currency conventions can also be a varying factor from one language to the next. The QA program is configured to recognize these differences and makes sure that things stay consistent throughout the entire translation process. If not, the translator is alerted in a quality report when the file is processed by the QA program.
How does this save you money as a client? If you know that an LSP (language service provider) is using a QA program, as they should be if they are professional providers, then you can request a discount in the case of a large volume of numbers in your document to be translated. If the document is made up of 65 % numbers (e.g. an annual report), depending on the guidelines of translating these numbers, you can certainly ask for a discount. Changing number conventions within a translation is usually done automatically by the CAT tool used, but it is furthermore even checked automatically using the QA program. So, there is leeway concerning cost and that leeway should naturally be shared by both the language service provider and the client. But, the main thing still remains, use of such a tool will improve the quality of your translation.
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