Maintaining Translation Quality
with Highly Specialized Translators
Not all translation service providers are the same. Translation companies are often specialized by industry and types of translation; some use only translators, while others use a combination of translators and machine translation technology, these choices can determine the translation quality.
Even though machine translation (TA) continues to move forward and can be useful in getting the main point of a document, human translation is still a critical component, particularly for translations of highly qualified or publication-quality documents such as patents or other Legal documents, such that require high translation quality. Machines can try to translate based on a stored glossary, a linguistic body (based on sentence or word), or on a set of algorithms and mathematical formulas (based on rules or statistics). When a technically accurate translation quality is required, the work must be done by human translators who are intimately familiar with the meaning of words and the technical subject and can guarantee translation quality.
The advantages of a human translation for technical documents
Technical translation requires a combination of linguistic and technical knowledge to ensure translation quality. For example, a chemical patent must be translated by someone familiar with patent and chemical terminology. In this case, in addition to the translation task, the trained desktop translator or editor may be responsible for some adaptations of the patent to comply with the formats and regulations required by the country in which the patent will be filed. If the final document does not fulfill these requirements, this can lead to high unforeseen costs due to the rejection of the patent and the lack of patent protection. Similarly, when translating a marketing piece from English to Chinese, using a translator familiar with marketing practices in China and its culture would be considered the best practice and ensure translation quality.
In such scenarios, adept linguists should not only have the language and professional knowledge required for a translation quality but should also be able to investigate linguistic issues, ask questions about the original document and the final purpose of the translation, and as in the case of the document of Chinese marketing, locate the document for the target audience. All these aspects of professional translation are beyond the reach of the translation capabilities of the machine.
In addition, a trained linguist is able to make subtle judgments about which terminology to use. In translating technical documentation, one must avoid inserting assumptions, although the human brain may, when necessary, understand subtle nuances, insinuations, and metaphors (both in source and target languages) and know how to treat them. The translation quality is based on the context of the document and not just on the words in the document. An algorithm used in translation machines cannot capture these nuances; Only a person who lives the human experience can fully approach their meanings.
Machine translation (MT) has its place, being a useful tool for a person or company that needs to understand general ideas or themes in a foreign document, or when a precise translation is not required, as well as a high translation quality isn’t necessary.
Examples of machines against humans:
The following table shows examples of a human translation as compared to the renderings of two machine translation applications in a German patent dispute document.
|Word / Sentence in German||Automatic Translation # 1||Automatic Translation # 2||Human Translation|
|2.||Zustelladresse der Einsprechenden||delivery address of the speaking||Opponents of the delivery address||Mailing address of Opponent|
|3.||I. Zum Streitpatent||(I). On the dispute patent||I. The patent dispute||I. Regarding the disputed patent|
|4.||h Die wässrige Aufschlämmung weist bei Eintritt in den Sprühturm eine Temperatur von 50 – 80°C auf.||h is in a temperature the aqueous Aufschlämmung upon entry into the spray Tower of 50-80 ° C.||h. The aqueous slurry has when it enters the spray tower at a temperature of 50 – to 80 ° C.||h The aqueous suspension has a temperature of 50 to 80°C upon entrance into the spray tower.|
Examples 1 to 3 come from the first page of the patent, which lists the parties and addresses of those involved in the patent dispute. The final example is the body of the document, where the written letters refer to specific aspects of the patent.
In example 1, both the human translator and machine translation # 2 translated „Einsprechende“ as „opponent“, with the machine transforming it into a plural word. Automatic Translation # 1 erroneously translates as „loud talking“, an error replicated in the next line in example 2, when the words „Zustelladresse der Einsprechenden“ were used to address the opponent‘s address. Even if the second machine translation got the right words, the order was mixed.
If this document were only needed for informational purposes, none of these errors would be a problem because the meaning was clear. However, this is a legal document that was required for official purposes and required a precise translation and high translation quality.
Example 3 shows how the two types of translations, human and machine, were able to translate words, but the human translator was also able to use the context of the document to put the words in the correct order and maintain a high translation quality.
Example 4 shows more clearly how an automatic translation can not translate complex information correctly. Machine translation # 1 was unable to translate the word „Aufschlämmung“ and then jumped to the next. Machine translation # 2 translated the same word as „paste“, while the human translator used the word „suspension“. A quick Internet search by the World Intellectual Property Organization, a patent database, showed that the „aqueous slurry“ had 1,136 occurrences while „Aqueous slurry“ had 3,153 occurrences. Both “folder” and “suspension” are valid words and valid translations, but it is up to the human translator (who would know the difference between the two words due to their specialization) to determine which word is appropriate based on the context of the document.
Machine translation continues to improve, being refined as we understand the complex interactions between language, culture, and technology. However, due to the complexities of language, the role of human beings can never be completely eliminated from the processes of translating technical documentation or reviewing machine translations to ensure translation quality and accuracy. A translation company that knows best how to balance the use of specialized translators and emerging technologies can continually deliver the best translation quality to its clients.
Ten questions to ask your translation service provider
1. Where do translators reside?
Translators living in a country know the language of the target audience better, including its subtleties, because they live their language and culture on a daily basis, such influence can have a great impact on translation quality.
2. Are your translators “general“ translators or do they have background knowledge for your company (e.g. medical, computer, automotive)?
Advanced degrees in specific areas provide translators with the necessary understanding of technical documents. A medical document is best translated by someone who has a degree or diplomas in health related areas, preferably acquired in their country of origin.
3. What is your localization process, including electronic publishing and quality control?
A good translation company will have a well-defined process and will be able to talk about the details of the process as well as show examples of how the process helps ensure the translation quality.
4. How often do staff and translators, including outside linguists, receive continuous instruction or training in new processes?
Training should not be limited to internal employees. By using the technologies of today one can reach the whole world, the company must be able to offer regular training to its translators, so they increase their translation quality.
5. Do they use terminology lists or glossaries?
The translation company should have industry-specific and language-specific glossaries and terminology lists that not only help with translation but also provide greater efficiency and translation quality. If you are a client who provides regular work to a translation company, your contractor should create a specific glossary of clients to reduce translation times by increasing linguistic quality.
6. Do they receive and implement constructive criticism?
A good translation company will thankfully receive feedback and will implement it quickly. The goal is to produce high-quality translation at the lowest possible cost to the customer; A continuous feedback loop between the translation company and the customer makes this possible.
7. Are they willing to provide translation samples?
While some companies are afraid to provide free translations to reach potential customers, the company must be willing to provide limited translations before a contract is signed to demonstrate the quality of the work they will provide.
8. Are they open to site visits or do they want to meet in person?
Having an individual visit with not only the sales staff but also a project manager or senior manager in the translation company will help build a lasting relationship of mutual understanding as well as help establish expectations for both parties.
9. What types of translation technology do they use: machine translation, translation memory technology, or both?
Finding out if a company uses machine translation or translation memory as part of their process is helpful in determining company proficiency with cost reduction tools. If machine translation is used, a post-editing phase of the translation may be mandatory because a person will perceive machine translation errors. There are a variety of translation memory technologies on the market, and a competent translation company should be able to use and be proficient with most of them. A small portion of translation companies have created and/or patented their own translation memory technology, giving these companies a distinct proficiency advantage when working with this technology.
10. Have they been certified by any quality or process certification standards (eg ISO 9001 or EN 15038)?
You will prefer a translation provider that uses efficient processes to ensure security and speed up the translation process, as well as producing accurate translation quality work.