Optimal quality enhancement measure for a company employing inhouse translators - suggestions needed
Thread poster: Poggibonsi
Sep 7, 2011

Hello,

I understand many of the members here are freelancers and my question might be somewhat vague, but I have a theoretical question nevertheless.

What would be the optimal quality enhancement measure for a company employing inhouse translators?

Additional training; what is the ideal training format for a translator?
Theoretical – translation theory etc.vs personal contact with the (native-speaker) representative of substantive department/institution (medical, legal, agriculture etc), online programs, or something entirely different?

What holds most added value for a translator trying to up the level of quality of their translations?
So, if you were a translator specializing in a certan field (medical, legal, agriculture) and someone asked you, what kind of training would help you to increase quality, what would you say?

Sincerely,

PB


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 00:15
Chinese to English
More management than training Sep 7, 2011

The fact is that every translator needs something slightly different. Some would benefit from theoretical training, most wouldn't; some can absorb specialist area background information, others need access to subject experts; some like to consult during translation, others like to work it out themselves.

Given that, the most important thing you can do for a translator is not to impose any particular kind of training, but to put in place a management structure that recognises what they do and supports high quality work rather than speed or CAT proficiency or any one of the million other factors that can so easily distract an agency.

Put simply, is your translator's line manager competent to determine whether the translator has done a good job? What mechanisms do you have for checking the quality of someone's work? What feedback mechanisms do you have? Is the manager clear that their main objective is to improve quality (rather than speed or systems compliance, etc.)?

Because this is why working with agencies is so dispiriting: an agency calls me and says, we've got a tough translation that we need doing really quickly, can you take it? I say, yes, and I do the translation. I do it well, and I do it on time. But I didn't do it in Trados, so I apologise, and say, sorry, I guess you'll have to align the texts. The PM has never heard of aligning texts, and I get a very shirty email telling me I haven't completed the translation because they wanted it in Trados. They'd rather wait another day for me to align by hand, rather than do the work themselves. So was that urgent deadline just a lie? Has anyone looked to see if my translation is correct? The agency has got so obsessed with its technical and formatting issues that they forget that what I'm doing here is converting a Chinese text into English.

So, for me, management and quality culture are much more important than any specific training.

Having said that, I would recommend two types of training:
1) Research training. Better use of Google; use of academic literature; how to find background material; etc.
2) Text type training. Exposure to a range of common text types, with explanation of what these texts are, who the readership is, how they are structured, common linguistic features, and a comparison between texts in the source and target languages.


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xxxkalap
Agree entirely with Phil Sep 8, 2011

Phil Hand wrote:

So, for me, management and quality culture are much more important than any specific training.

Having said that, I would recommend two types of training:
1) Research training. Better use of Google; use of academic literature; how to find background material; etc.
2) Text type training. Exposure to a range of common text types, with explanation of what these texts are, who the readership is, how they are structured, common linguistic features, and a comparison between texts in the source and target languages.


People who have a specific translation background will have this already. They know how to search and what is a target group and will do thorough research if instructed to do so and not under stress. But I am astonished to see that other people, for instance technicians, do not have the reflex of taking a dictionary or looking into an encyclopedia, or even Wikipedia. They use structures or terms they use orally or "have seen somewhere", even if these are wrong, and that is how errors propagate. A third group is marketing men: they are good in selling and often very fast translators, but do they know what they are selling? They are neither linguists neither technicians and are likely to use false friends or the wrong term in the wrong place. The gap between linguists, technicians and marketing people is bigger than you think, and all groups should be aware that they will have to work together and appreciate each other to achieve good results instead of criticizing each other. So we are back to management issues. One of the ways to achieve this is to have a weekly meeting where everybody can talk about these matters, ask for training or some help.

3) as a third point, I would like to stress typing, typesetting and formatting issues. Remember that a translation has to convey a message in another language. Typesetting or typographical errors can spoil the whole message, whereas it is easy to train people on this.


[Edited at 2011-09-08 12:56 GMT]


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