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Translation Standards

Just as any other supplier of goods or services, a translation company, and the individual translator bear ethical and legal obligations towards the buyer or the contracting party. With the development of language industry servicing at a global scale, this has turned out to be of enormous importance. For the protection of both parties, standards have been developed seeking to spell out their mutual duties.

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There is, however, a view within the translation industry that while not doing any actual harm, an over-reliance on such standards can give a false sense of security. Following translation standards blindly cannot on its own possibly provide real assurance regarding final translation quality. The argument is that the path to quality in translation is by focusing more on providing on-going training and feedback to translators and the quality assurance tools and general tools available to the linguists, such as terminology tools.

Pangeanic was a leader in the implementation of European translation standard EN 15038 (now ISO 17100) in Spain, its QA processes being recognized to ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 after an independent audit. Pangeanic was awarded a post-editing contract by the European Union in 2007.

Since Quality Management systems first hit the translation industry early this century and particularly since the advent of the European Translation Standard enormous importance has been placed on translation quality metrics as a result of the development of the language industry at a world scale. For the protection of all parties involved in the translation process, standards have been developed seeking to spell out their mutual duties.

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In general, there are two main international standards which apply to the translation and localization industry:

  • ISO 17100, which is a quality standard specifically written for the translation industry. This standard ensures the consistent quality of the service and the processes involved. ISO 17100 replaced EN 15038 (published by CEN, the European Committee for Standardization in 2006, which Pangeanic became a leading company in its implementation in 2007). The ISO 17100 certifies our quality management system for translation through an independent, on-site audit. At the same time, Pangeanic performs regular internal audits on top of the external audits by a certification body. If any discrepancy is found, the certification can be revoked. Whilst private industry may choose to work with uncertified companies, the European Union has started to include this standard as a benchmark in its tender specifications.
    The requirements mandate that the translation services company has documented procedures and works according to them during the translation process, in all its dealings and contact with the client, and quality assurance. Sub-sections of ISO 17100 certification also focus on project assignments, technical resources, pre-translating process, source text analysis, terminology, and style guides.
  • The general Quality Management System 9001 differs from the ISO 17100 standard, as it does not only introduce requirements for compliance with certain common procedures, which is the case with the general ISO 9001, but it monitors the processes especially developed for the overall execution of the translation, starting from the acceptance of the order to its final delivery to the client. Furthermore, ISO 17100 certifies the translation service and not the process management (where ISO 9001 applies).

With ISO 9001, an organization

  • needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide a product that meets customer and applicable regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable regulatory requirements.