Does Translation quality depend on the individual translator?
Although the above claim may seem like a bold one in the age driven by Quality Control Management, every translation project outsourced to a Translation Agency is eventually assigned to an individual translator. And whereas many good Translation Agencies run various checks on their translators, including qualifications, experience and other credentials, the quality of the final product will be down to that particular person’s skills and expertise. He or she will give the target text its final shape and feel, regardless of what happens later on in the QA process as many professional translators would agree that it is much easier to translate from scratch than try and fix a text that has been poorly translated in the first place.
Things to Look Out for
There is a number of factors that businesses may want to take into consideration when choosing a Translation Agency.
First of all, not all agencies screen their translators particularly carefully. And even if they try to, there are many self-proclaimed ‘professionals’ with some experience but no qualifications to do the job properly.
Many Translation Agencies will compromise quality for the sake of cost reduction and employ unqualified translators in third world countries who are desperate to earn their income and whose qualifications may not be equivalent to what seems to be the norm in the Western World.
Some Translation Agencies (and I could name a few!) will put pressure on their translators to accept lower rates, which naturally impacts on the quality of the final product. Others will push for time to the extent that meeting a deadline becomes as simple as going to the moon and back before you can say one-two-three. How does this impact quality? I think you probably know the answer to that one…
Last but not least, there is Machine Translation, which is regarded by many as a Holy Grail – a cheap and quick way to get rich. Projects are translated by computer programmes, post-edited (read: quickly polished) by low paid linguists and the result? I guess you know where this is going…
In conclusion, I would say that in today’s online world of translation agencies it is quite difficult to say who will or who can guarantee high quality translations. There are many factors to consider but one thing remains true as ever – at the end of the day it is all about people (individual translators) and their ability to do the job well. So, let’s say it again – translation quality does depend on the individual translator hired for the job even if you’re paying the agency and not the translator himself/herself.
A little extra…
As the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi slowly come to an end, we thought it would be a good idea if apart from celebrating the athletes and their fantastic achievements, we also celebrated the best ‘Lost in Translation’ moments of the 2014 Winter Olympics. We have had lots of fun reading through these and we hope you will, too. Enjoy!