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Memo from the Sports Desk, pt. 1 (or: Superman vs. QA vs. Panda)

Look up in the sky!

Is it a plane? No!

Is it a bird? No! 

It’s Supermaaan!

I’m sure I’m not the first one to mention it, but how does someone confuse Superman with a bird? Or a plane for that matter, to confuse a plane with a flying man in a cape?

Well, I don’t know. But mistakes do happen. In translation projects, or in any writing projects, (and now, I’m supposing, in any process involving people) human error can be a factor.

In a translation project it could be from general meaning or fragments of translated text to structures to very specific microscopic details that might affect the text. Here’s a joke from Lynne Truss’ book on grammar, and I’m going to relate it to the importance of editors, proofreaders, and general QA:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

“Why?” asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit.

The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“Well, I’m a panda,” he says. “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”

You see it’s as simple as bad grammar, an additional comma totally out of place and…everyone’s dead!

Well, maybe it doesn’t get to that extreme, but no one wants to hand in shoddy work.

Xbench, Verifika, or any of those QA tools would be an example of like, the industry’s snipers. You’ve gone through the human process, now run it through the machines see what, if anything, is picked up. That extra comma in that panda joke would’ve been picked out of the crowd and taken down!  Saving millions of lives in the process. Maybe.

Having tools to assist, such as Xbench, helps point out the microscopic details you might’ve missed, cleaning up any mess you didn’t spot, ensuring higher quality work. No one wants to hand in a half-baked translation or to confuse Superman with a bird, because that’d be just silly.