Translation Quality Introduction: Unleash Your Inner Katniss

If you’re not one of these people, putting out translated content without confidence in translation quality likely feels a lot like shooting arrows in the dark. You can’t see your arrow, you don’t know where the bull’s-eye is, and you have no clue how far you are from it.

It turns out that archery is exactly the right analogy when measuring translation quality, or quality for any process for that matter. The score on a series of shots (translation of a series of content) is measured in two ways:

Accuracy: On average, how close are your arrows to the bull’s eye? In translation, this relates to how closely a translation is capturing the overall meaning of your original content?

Precision (Consistency): On average, how close are the arrows to each other? For your content, this “translates” into how consistently certain topics, themes, styles, and words have been treated throughout your content.

It is important to note that an archer can be accurate but not precise, and vice-versa. An excellent archer is both.

translation quality bullseye

So, how do you elevate your team’s translation quality game from someone who shoots in the dark to Katniss- level accuracy and precision? By taking the following 4 steps:

1. Hire Quality Translators: The axiom “garbage in, garbage out” definitely applies to translation quality. If you don’t start with quality translators, translation quality will be an uphill struggle from the get-go.

With thousands of translators and agencies out there, all touting their translation quality at low prices, this is easier said that done. Check out this recent post for insights on how to cut through the noise and find the right translator(s) for your content.

2. Regulate Consistency through Glossary and Termbase: While a good translation is important in its entirety, the (mis)treatment of key terms in a translation can make or break your translation quality. This may include things such as names of products, industry specific terminology, or other words/ phrases that appear multiple times in your content.

One way to regulate consistency is by providing a “glossary” or “termbase”- a database of terms you know to be important to your company and audience, along with some context and instructions on how to treat these terms. You can then have these terms translated and vetted explicitly, and then check the translations to ensure that these terms have been treated in accordance with your instructions throughout the content.

3. Ensure Accuracy through Proofreading and “Back-Translation”: How can you tell that the translation is “accurate” if you don’t speak the target language? By ensuring that translations are always read by a reviewer- a wingman who ensures that the original translator did not make any errors in the understanding and translating the content. In addition, tech-savvy content owners can leverage machine translation to “back-translate” content- meaning translate the new content back into English. While doing so gives you mildly coherent sentences, at best, it allows you to check for treatment of specific words and terms.

We will be covering the step-by-step process of back translation in future posts.

4. Gauge Fluency by “Native Reading”: A translation that is accurate and consistent may still fail to appeal to your international audience, if it does not “read natively”. One way to ensure fluency is to have an entirely new set of eyes- another translator or even one of your customers- read the translated content independently and rate it on fluency.

Interested in learning more about what makes content fluent? We will be covering this in a future post.

May the odds be in your favor.

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