Sorting out the Translation Industry’s Mumble Jumble

100 years after WWI, a time when most countries began instituting industrial standards, and 70 years after the creation of the ISO, standards are something we take for granted. We expect our wrenches to fit our bolts and nuts perfectly, we expect the products we buy to have quality controls and warranties, and we expect services to deliver what they promise.

The translation industry is no exception. Each company that hopes to survive in this industry must comply with strict standards regarding everything from terminology to prospecting clients, from quoting projects to reviewing and correcting documents. And all the funny little names for each of these processes are conveniently listed in this document:

Words seemingly meaningless, such as “bilingual review”, “proofread”, “terminology base”, “CAT Tool” (not to be confused with this cat tool ฅ^•ﻌ•^ฅ), and “machine translation” actually refer to a very useful, essential, specific part of the translation process that people outside the industry wouldn’t be aware of.

The old adage, “I just put the key in and it goes” comes to mind. What the taper of a lug nut happens to be is not something common drivers concern themselves with, although their lives depend on it.

Each document that goes through this agency is not simply translated by one person, but translated, reviewed and proofread by 3 qualified linguists before going through a quality assurance process that makes sure terminology is consistent and that client expectations are met.

These processes ensure the effectiveness of clients’ copywriting, the specificity of their contracts, and perhaps the clarity of their posted warning signs. See “translation fail” on your nearest internet. Our adherence to standards may be a lifesaver after all.