There are many ways a Language Service Provider (LSP) can make sure to deliver a quality and accurate translation. Quality assurance is the process in which specific actions are taken in order to prevent any problems during the translation process. In order to provide a quality translation, an experienced and trained translator is required. One of the first steps of quality assurance is making sure that you have chosen the correct translator for the text.

First, though, what makes a “good” translator? One requirement of course, is to be fluent in both the source and target language. However, just because a person is bilingual (or multilingual) it does not mean that he/she is a translator! There are many people who grow up in multilingual households that know many different languages, but have not been educated in these languages, let alone educated in translation. Translation is not the literal translation of words, and experience and training is needed in order to produce quality translation.

One way to define a good translator is through certification. An important organization that issues such certification within the United States is the American Translators Association (ATA). This organization provides exams in specific language combination (English into French, for example) that test the translator’s abilities. These exams are graded by existing ATA members on a point system. If the translator has passed, this means that “the translator possesses professional competence in a specific language combination”. There are also professional certificates in translation such as the NYU Certificate in Translation or a masters degree in translation like those offered at Kent State University and the Monterrey Institute in California.  It is important to note though, that these certifications are relatively new (ATA was founded in 1959) when you take into consideration that translation is considered one of the oldest known professions – the first recorded instance of translation is the translation of the Old Testament into Greek in the 3rd Century BCE. Therefore, experience is also taken into consideration when judging the expertise of a translator.

Lastly, it is up to the language service provider to choose the correct certified translator for the job. The majority of translators specialize in different types of text. This means that they may have training or extensive knowledge in a certain area such as patents, manuals or financial documents to name a few. The major text types are: legal, commercial, financial, scientific, technical, medical and literature. These text types tend to overlap and have countless subcategories. A translator who has experience and knowledge about finance, will translate a financial text faster and with more accuracy than a translator with experience in technical translation.

Choosing the right translator is one way that Vocalink provides quality assurance to its clients. For questions on this subject, please use the comments box below or email me.