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Translators, Translation Files and Their Organization


The organizational work that a translator is compelled to perform is often overlooked and for many, it is unimaginable how many files are created during the course of a single translation. Imagine being a translator or a translation agency and receiving hundreds of requests and orders for translation a day. Naturally, this is associated with receiving a plethora of different files on a daily basis. If it were only a matter of receiving a source file and delivering a target file, that would be quite simple, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Each source file has to be meticulously analyzed, labelled according to a configuration management system and stored. Following this, those files are typically exported into translation files that are compatible with CAT programs, such as XLIFF for example. Then, the files are translated. During the translation process, a translation memory file and a term base file are made. After the translation process, the files are analyzed using QA programs to ensure quality and the log files from these programs listing possible inconsistencies and errors are generally sent to the proofreader as a support. The proofreader checks the XLIFF file and exports it into the original format. Final quality checking take place on the final files. After archiving each and every file resulting from the above process, this the proofread file is sent back to the original translator to examine what had been corrected and approve these changes or make comments. After an analysis of the comments made, an evaluation is made on the quality of the translation. The corrected file is sent back to the proofreader if there are still open questions and that version of the file is also stored for the purpose of being able to retrace the quality steps taken in order to assure top quality translations. After the proofreading process has been completed, the files are prepared for delivery to the client. If you add up all of the intermediary files that are made during this entire process, for a single source file in a single language, there are often 8-9 files that have to be saved associated with all of these work steps.

Just imagine how many files you have to keep for translation projects containing several source files that have to be translated into several languages. Not only is there a lot of coordination involved between the translators and proofreaders, but there is an awful lot of project management that must take place.

A great way to organize this and facilitate the process would be to map out the entire translation process from start to finish and define the input files and output files of each process, thereby defining a configuration management strategy on how each and every file (output from each process) is named and where it should be stored. After this, a standardized file tree or file structure hierarchy should be devised and followed through, ensuring that the files are properly named and stored in order to facilitate traceability and lessen the room for error associated with having so many different files. Could you imagine how horrible it would be to send a file to a customer that has not been proofread? Even worse, could you imaging sending a file to the wrong customer? To avoid this from happening, a clear system should be devised that is virtually free of error, meaning that due to the process itself, mistakes become highly improbable. This system should be consistently followed.

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