The subject of quality has run the full gamut of discussions in our world of language translation. Quality in translation is often defined as good grammar, spelling and composition and conveying the intent of the source language (by no means a comprehensive list here). There are also those projects that cannot be placed in either category good or bad. That is the subject of this message.

I have truly read in an industry research article that some 95% of translation companies produce very good quality translation. Why then is there so much buzz about quality? Who gets to define quality? Is it the translator? Is the editor, the reviewer or is it the client? In our world of written words and phrases and the art of composing ideas in other languages, my colleagues have shared stories of extremely happy customers and some not so happy, where it applies to translation results or quality.

Translation quality is clearly a very controversial subject. There is the well translated document that meets the need of the reader as it conveys the source message clearly and the composition is well drafted; the client is pleased and everyone feels good about the results. But there are other times when the internal vernacular of the organization is not conveyed exactly as it is customarily used. This is often perceived as bad quality, while this might not necessarily be so (by the way, this can be greatly improved by providing good processes that include client approved glossaries and  other process components).

Stylistic preferences are what often stir the pot in the business of words, creating havoc in perfectly good situations. So as much as possible, setting off client expectations is necessary. Some ways that this can be done is by establishing good client pre-approved glossaries.  Also, another helper can be to identify who the in-country reviewer will be by name and sometime by country (perceptions of quality can vary by country. Country identification of the reviewer can do wonders because stylistic variances can arise from country to country). When projects are complete, have the client reviewer sign off on the project, etc.  If there is every question as to the quality, identifying the signed of review can be used to explain the stylistic variances between reviewers. When a new in-country reviewer is introduced, the glossary process should be repeated and a new approval process should be set in place (two reviewers can perceive words and phrases completely differently and can derail a project entirely). These are but a few things that can be done to raise the bar in client satisfaction.