Like every organisation, we get a bunch of emails every day but from time to time we get a great, carefully worded email that we feel deserves to be published. From now on, we'll do just that. With the sender's permission of course!!
Dear Sir / Madam,
We have come across your website and would like to participate in your campaign 'Quality In Translation'.
The reason why we would like to have your logo on our website is because we are well aware of the lack of awareness in our market when it comes to quality translation. Most companies, when choosing a translation provider, do not look at the quality of the translated text and whether it is a product of a professional translator. They are more interested in the price and are guided by the principle- 'the cheaper, the better', disregarding the lingusitic expertise. Those people usually think that translation is not a difficult job and believe that anyone can open a dictionary and do the translation at a lower price and shorter period of time. In fact, we heard some of them say that they would do it themselves but are too occupied with their current work- otherwise, they would do it quite easily because it is 'a piece of cake'.
The truth is that they are not linguists, they haven't studied any foreign languages further than for the basic communication needs, so they are not aware of the effort and hard work behind each translation. What is worse, some unprofessional translators 'support' their view by providing translation services at a very low price, so it is no wonder that public awareness of quality translation has degraded. These no-experts haven't even finished any course in translation, but believe they can provide translation services just because they know how to say 'hello' in a certain language. They then cut the prices (aware of their lack in expertise and certificates) just to make some money, while others (like us) try to survive by doing our job and maintaining quality.
We hope you will consider us as your campaign partner and provide us with your 'Quality In Translation' logo, so that we can raise our clients' awareness of professional work (and not amateurs).
New Initiative Promotes Global Understanding
Through Quality in Translation
The Quality in Translation campaign is a new initiative aimed at raising awareness of the value of the work done by skilled, expert translators and improving the quality of translated materials worldwide via self-regulation within the translation industry.
Quality in Translation is a new educational initiative aimed at improving global communication through the use of high-level translation services. “Despite the fact that language plays a critical role in how we interact with the world, surprisingly few people understand what is required to deliver a ‘good’ translation,” reports Rosie Leary, spokesperson for the Quality in Translation campaign.
In a world made small by technology, the ability to communicate commercial, political, and intellectual thought with precision and clarity has never been more important. “The goal of quality translation is to express the same thoughts and impressions as the original text. And a skilled translator is dedicated to creating a translation that reads as if it were originally written in the target language.”
Client Education to Raise Understanding of Value
The mission of Quality in Translation is two-fold. One goal is to help companies that outsource their translation needs understand the value of the product they are purchasing. The bottom line, says Leary, is that paying a modest fee for poor translation that miscommunicates the substance of the original text is ultimately a waste of money, no matter how low the price.
“We want to help those who purchase translation services understand why one agency might be charging $300 and another $500 for the same translation,” explains Leary. “It is generally not simply a case of one company over-charging, but rather objective reasons that are the basis for dramatic cost differences.” Those objective reasons include working with a 10-year translation veteran versus a novice, as well as working with a translator who has industry-specific experience (such as in financial topics) versus a translator who dabbles in a range of industries.
“We want to educate executives to the fact that they should look behind price and try to understand the relationship of cost, value, and ROI when it comes to translation services,” says Leary.
Quality in Translation also advocates that translation buyers re-consider relying on the International Organization for Standardization as a measure of excellence. (ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards.) “I know from experience within the business that most agencies are ISO-certified because that is what is expected by their industry customers,” observes Leary.
She reports, however, that ISO certification simply guarantees that certain procedures will be followed in the creation of translated documents. It does not on its own provide real assurance of the quality of the translation itself. “If the agency is working with inexperienced translators, is ISO certification truly meaningful?” asks Leary.
Industry Education to Raise Quality Standards
Beyond its education efforts aimed at those who purchase translation services, the Quality in Translation campaign also targets the translation industry itself. “We are asking our colleagues to raise quality standards and focus on critical issues that face our industry,” says Leary.
The first issue is the responsibility of those within the translation profession to “look beyond this month’s sales figures and offer training and feedback to young translators so that they can become the experts of tomorrow,” says Leary. She believes this can be best accomplished with:
· Online learning modules that facilitate the ongoing education of translators
· Training that focuses on productivity tools
· Development and recommendation of resources that can help translators provide quality translation
The issue of client education is also central to Quality in Translation’s mission. The idea is that as more translation agencies ‘stand up’ for the cost of a quality product, their clients will understand the value of what they are purchasing. “It’s the same as seeking medical advice,” says Leary. “You go to one source and you listen to what he or she has to say. If you don’t like what you hear, you are likely to get a second opinion, or a third. But if you keep hearing the same ‘diagnosis,’ you’ll ultimately accept the truth.”
In this case, the truth is that quality in translation comes at a cost; but is a cost that Leary believes is recouped when businesses and individuals gain something that is truly priceless: clarity of communication.
7 Principles of Quality Translation for the Industry’s Future
Translation agencies and companies that support the Quality in Translation initiative are invited to display the campaign logo on their web sites and printed materials. In so doing, they demonstrate a commitment to seven principles of professional conduct:
· Strive for the best possible translation every time
· Accept only those assignments that allow pursuit of this goal
· Decline assignments at prices that undercut this goal
· Work only with professional translators translating into their native language
· Assign projects exclusively to translators specialized in the particular field
· Strive to improve translators through constructive feedback and ongoing training
· Raise the awareness of translation buyers about the goals of the Quality in Translation campaign
Philosophical, Rather Than Financial Commitment Sought
Leary notes that there are no ads on the Quality in Translation website, nor does the campaign link to any translation agency or in any way serve as a marketing platform. “And we’re not looking for monetary contributions; there’s no “Donate Here’ button or anything like that,” she reports. “We do not even require registration, so people who join in our campaign need not worry about email harvesting.”
Instead, individuals and companies are encouraged to promote the campaign in any way they like. “If people want to copy the content from our site and set up their own blogs or web sites, they are free to do so,” says Leary.
The Quality in Translation campaign is about asking people to make a philosophical commitment to a higher level of communication, rather than a financial commitment. “All we ask is that individuals and company that share our perspective on the importance of quality translation spread the message in whatever way they can,” explains Leary. “Success will be measured by raised awareness...and increased quality in translation projects for clarity of communication around the world.”
The fundamental problem facing the translation industry is that people don't know what they're buying, can't differentiate between low and high cost. It isn't the fault of clients - it is up to the agencies to educate clients about quality and what they really do to improve their translators. On the supply side, agencies need to establish a system in which they are continually raising the quality of the work produced by their translators through training, providing feedback on their work, cooperating with other agencies (through their national associations) in developing free on-line training for translators. They need to look beyond their bottom lines and think about the long-term interests of the industry and fundamentally of their clients.
For those of us who are members of Proz.com, a well-known website for translator jobs and resources, this is in line with the petition made by a group of translators on the Proz job posting system (http://www.proz.com/about/ipetition/input). This has recently seen an alarming increase in the number of job offers containing rates and working conditions considered totally unacceptable by the translators signing the petition. As a result, Proz.com has changed its posting system so that the pricing field is removed from the job posting form; clients still have the possibility to publish a budget range, but the translators can choose whether to view those budget ranges or not. The view behind this is that the individual translator is in the best position to determine what he or she needs to charge to deliver the quality required on a particular job, and that the massive publication of jobs offering very low rates was pushing general rates down and consequently, output quality since only those inexperienced or poor translators would bid –and work– on those jobs.
I think we translators need in general to educate translation agencies – and they in turn their final clients – to make them understand that we cannot produce a quality translation if we are not properly remunerated, and that the alternative to award it to an excessively cheap translator will only make them gain a once-off project but lose clients in the long term, and impoverish the reputation of the translation profession in general. If we all refuse poorly paid jobs – or jobs with too tight deadlines which won’t allow us to work on it as long as required – eventually the translation industry will benefit from it.
I want to thank Joseph for the title of today's post (see comment on yesterday's post).
In this day and age it is perfectly understandable that people are suspicious but this initiative is as pure as they come. There are no ads on the site, nor will there be. The hosting is being paid for by one of the members and there are no real overheads so we’re not looking for monetary contributions – no donate here button or anything like that. The campaign doesn’t link to any translation agency or in any way serve as a marketing platform. People are not required to register, they can promote the campaign in any way they like, via their own blog,–hence email harvesting is not an issue. The campaign is wholly about the message, nothing else. Success is simply raising people’s awareness. If people want to copy the content and set up their own blogs they are free to do so!
As you can imagine, this issue came up a lot during the planning for the campaign but in the end the consensus came down on not publishing a list of members. There is for and against.
Off the top of my head, some of the views raised against were:
- The focus should be the message not the members.
- If a member list were published saying Agencies A, B and C and Translators X, Y and Z are backing this initiative then there would instantly be claims that this was a commercial venture designed to drive sales at the various agencies. Translators and agencies should be free to broadcast their involvement but the campaign website should not be open to charges that it is a commercial venture.
- The stance taken by the various people involved doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of their employers.
- Some agencies were worried that since the campaign is very much against the recent trend shown by major buyers, it may have a negative impact on their business.
I don’t necessarily agree with all of them but the arguments are valid nonetheless.
Tom - Campaign Coordinator