Quality translation dictates a collaborative effort

Control TheorySome in our industry argue that an in-country proof is not needed after the translation of a product is completed. I can’t disagree more.

Control Theory teaches us that a dynamic system remains unstable until it has a negative feedback loop built into it.

Look at the graph on the left and think of r as the source text. The target, or translated text, is y. G is the translator and K is the in-country proofreader.

K will have to proofread the translations of G and offer constructive (negative) feedback to the translator to help meet the required quality.

The translation management system is H. It is a dynamic system. For it to be stable, it will require to properly handle input from G and K− the translator and in-country proofreader.

Also, to ensure a stable system, collaboration among the different influencers in the system will be needed. The more efficient and optimal the collaboration efforts are, the more stable the system will be.

Translation Management Systems (or TMS) today leverage Web 2.0-like collaborative tools. Translators submit their queries to the in-country proofreaders using a wiki tool integrated into their translation environment and get timely answers back. Terminology is shared with the crowd and is put to its scrutiny, improving its quality and usability. And already translated segments are efficiently leveraged from previously built translation databases for the same company or industry.

What is the moral of this blog? Despite of what others may tell you, don’t let your translators translate in vacuum. Translation is not a task that you can throw over the wall to others in a process that excludes your input and guidance. If you do that, the translation quality will sooner or later diverge from your requirements and your end-users will someday give up on using your localized product.

Therefore, quality translation requires a collaborative translation management system. One that permits information sharing, that improves terminology understanding, that tracks schedules and tasks, that facilitates the feedback process, that ensures data sharing and conforming and that truly allows a two-way dialog to improve product quality and usability.

Next time you are told to forego your in-country proof, ask your localization or translation vendor to consider using a robust translation management system, or better yet, hire someone that does! −QED.

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