Translation quality

January 6th, 2010

Even the best of translators are likely to commit errors in translation some time or the other particularly when the volume of translation is large. Translation being a subjective process even the evaluation was the same until recently. Hence the review or proofreading process used to be time consuming impeding the workflow process. But nowadays translation QA tools are available which can speed up evaluation and save time. Some of the common error categories that these tools can identify in translation include omissions, inconsistencies, formatting problems, and terminology errors. Omission includes empty or forgotten translations or otherwise incomplete translation. Inconsistencies can be either source language inconsistencies or those due to translation. Formatting error includes such errors like spacing, brackets, quotation marks, number formatting, punctuation, capitalization etc. Terminology error encompasses errors due to usage and consistency. These tools have the capability to measure translation accuracy against certain predefined criteria and provide feedback in the form of diagnostic reports. The rating criteria helps in categorizing the errors according to their impact on acceptability, intelligibility and time needed for correction. Some of the other important features of these tools are:

  • Locate errors and their cause
  • Calculate rating score for a team of translators
  • Test new recruits and analyze the results
  • Set benchmarks for consistency of translation quality
  • Speed up translation validation process and minimize turnaround times
  • Produce reports for archiving and future reference

One of the important functions of these QA tools is in the localization process of software releases in multiple language versions. They can automatically validate and fix translation errors and also aid in software project management tasks like version control, language version builds etc. For large translation projects involving a no. of man-days, automatic quality control using some of these tools can result in considerable reduction of overall project cost. Time can be saved through early detection of formal mistakes, less time spent in proofreading, and saving corrections during final editing. They also establish an automatic communication channel for persons involved in the translation chain seamlessly during the execution of the project. Another feature is that these tools can reduce translation work in case of translations of similar nature by importing translations from the same glossary like Microsoft glossary for software related work for example or reusing previously done translation. Some of the popular translation QA tools include: Multilizer from Multilizer.com, QA Distiller from Yamagata Europe, XBench from ApSIC, Error Spy from DOG GmbH, Blackjack from ITR etc. While all of them can be tried for free for a predefined period, XBench is available in the open source domain for no cost. New versions of the last mentioned tool are no longer being released by the company. We will discuss more details about some of these tools in another post.

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