Poll: Are you familiar with the ISO standards for translation services?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:34
Jan 18, 2010

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Are you familiar with the ISO standards for translation services?".

This poll was originally submitted by JOEL PINA DIAZ MD CMM. View the poll results »


Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Aware, but have not read details Jan 18, 2010

Yes I'm aware of its existence, and am aware of some of the main points, but it remains a specialist document with limited circulation.

At £86 for BS EN 15038 (or 51€ for a download of the French version) I'm unlikely to be buying a copy in the near future, esp. for something that's apparently only 22 pages! Individual translators aren't likely to familiarise themselves with it at that price. It's no doubt important for agencies, and translators working with agencies should know the contents and how it affects them (and agency claims!).

I might look at it in the library sometime, but as I prefer working directly with clients it's not a high priority just now.


Local time: 20:34
English to Swedish
Good in theory Jan 18, 2010

While standardization is a good thought, my experience with translation agencies that are ISO certified is that it's cumbersome, involves a sea of additional paperwork (evaluations, sign-off forms, QA-reports...) and, in the end, does not produce better translations because the so-called linguists the agency trusted with the QA procedures were not competent enough for such tasks.

The only thing these standardized workflows and certifications do is make it more difficult to fix previous errors, because the translations have been approved and stamped as up-to-standard. To fix them would be to admit there was something wrong in the optimum standardized workflow the first time around, and thus errors are perpetuated ad infinitum...

If anyone can show me an agency with a competent and efficient standardization workflow, I'd love to work with them thoughicon_biggrin.gif

[Edited at 2010-01-18 09:30 GMT]


Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:34
English to French
Indirectly only Jan 18, 2010

A few days ago, I was contacted by a translation agency looking for new freelance translators, who asked me to take a test for free.
As I questionned this practice, they answered that they were "ISO 2009" certified, and that their process required that all of their translators be tested first.
I haven't had time to search "ISO 2009" yet, but I think it is very important that we understand what this implies for us.
I do not know if this testing requirement is stated in this ISO standard or not, but if so, I will certainly ask ATA how they'll get their own certification system "ISO 2009"-certified.
I would appreciate, first, to know the exact reference of this standard, as "ISO 2009" does not bring many significant hits.


Interlangue (X)
Local time: 20:34
English to French
+ ...
In a way, yes Jan 18, 2010

Several customers are ISO-certified and I gather the quality requirements are more a matter of procedures.
I was briefed on the subject at a EU conference on "Quality, a measurable deliverable?" some time around 2005. My conclusion (and that of many other translators) was that ISO quality standards can possibly certify the bureaucratic aspects of translation not the contents.


Francisco Rocha  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:34
English to Spanish
+ ...
Quality of process, not of delivered material Jan 18, 2010

What I know is that an ISO certify guarantees the administrative processes of a company, most of the time it means more work for the same price, since you have to register everything, I don't know what it means for translators, but from my experience from works about ISO certification for other companies, it means to have a registration of evertyhing you do and why do you do it, thus turning employees into their own auditors.

When urgent jobs are inscreasing everyday, I doubt it would be possible to include those process in our work, but that's just my thought.

The concept of ISO per se is annoying for true professionals, I deliver professional translations and charge for them for what they are, and in my own certification system, every project I translate has to have the best quality, but I guess that with increasing competitiveness, companies have to find a way to sieve their translators.


English to Russian
+ ...
sieve analysis Jan 18, 2010

Indeed, many people do think that some ISO-measurable routinized process could improve the final quality of the product. Yet if it is obviously NOT so then what's the use? Labeling?

The ISO-certified agency seeks for a qualified Translator.

Only vegetarian slim 70" tall virgin blond girl with blue eyes of 18-22 who live at +15 Zone and whose name begins with "T". Last letter "A" or "Z" is a plus.
If you meet all our requirements and you are personally acquainted with Mr. President then give us a call.

Else, especially if your eyes are brown or you have you hair cut, you can be considered only for the post of Proofreader.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:34
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Jan 18, 2010

Should I?
From the comments of my colleagues above it appears to be just yet another load of useless old burocratic guff. Moreover, if it gives agencies another excuse to ask me for "sample" translations, they can stick it where the sun don't shine, Mammy.


Oleg Delendyk
Local time: 21:34
English to Russian
+ ...
ISO 2384:1977 Jan 18, 2010

Please see:




English to Russian
+ ...
licence to live and earn Jan 19, 2010

Shortly, a set of periodically reviewed generally accepted rules from the chosen experts, directly and indirectly related to the translation process itself, to make our life both easier and more interesting while making our work processes even more efficient and introducing *new* quality management just to promote the best interests of society in general. Cool ever.

Why should I care that according to par. 5.3.4, the "revision" of a translation should be a "comparison of the source and target texts for terminology consistency, register and style" while according to par. 5.3.5 "review" is - "monolingual review to assess the suitability of the final translation for the agreed purpose"? Most sensible people (not speaking about professionals) know it and other facts of common knowledge without unnecessary complications for even better QA.

In Europe they are:
*1977: ISO 2384 “Documentation – Presentation of translations”
ISO ISO 9000: 2000 (now: 9001:2000)
*1995: UNI 10574 “Definition of services and activities of translation and interpreting enterprises”
*1998: DIN 2345 “Translation Contracts”
*1999: ÖNORM D 1200 and D 1201
*2002: ISO 12616 “Translation-oriented terminography”
. . .
Although 'quality' refers to service quality, process quality and product quality, and only the *latter* is of translator's concern. The tree is known by its fruit, so *if* the work is faulty then the whole certification is but a failure IMO.

At least in my country I couldn't find how ISO-certified translation is any better.
Very promising, but I won't buy it)


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