If you were with me last time, I am discussing an interesting Huffington Post article, ’10 myths about translation quality’. Quite why these articles always seem to have ten items in their lists I’m not sure: one or two appeared to be covering much the same ground as some of the others.
That said, the author identifies a number of ‘myths’ that draw attention to some key aspects of the work of translation and interpretation companies such as Global Connects. In particular I liked Myth#8. This stresses the importance of the source material. There is a well-known phrase in our world (which is too rude to mention here but you probably know the one I mean), which sums this up perfectly. If the original work is poorly written, badly argued and/or ambiguous/unclear, then how can any translator make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear?
One of the things which we do at Global Connects that, we believe, makes a huge difference to the quality of our final output, is to ask clients to change/correct/clarify any content/copy that offers a translator too many options and possibilities for error. The most basic purpose of the written word, in any language, is to get an idea from one person’s head into another’s, without either party seeing or speaking to each other and in such a way that the words can have no meaning other than the one the original writer wants to convey. Clarity is crucial. Once that’s established, the preceding myth from the HP article, Myth#7, comes into play…
Specifically, Myth#7 concerns the contention that, “For translation quality, the focus needs to be not [my underlining] on quality control (checking for mistakes) but rather, on quality improvement (producing a better translation from the start)”
This is vital. I’m not demeaning the importance of ensuring there are no mistakes. It’s embarrassing if there is even a minor one, and as we know, major translation errors tend to get you onto one of those entertaining blog pages which highlight this sort of thing. Nevertheless, we’re talking about professional translation here. The business of ensuring that the correct messages, complete with subtle but meaningful nuances, are identified and conveyed is extremely important in business, in legal matters and indeed in any associated social media marketing that is increasingly important in accompanying press releases and business updates. Fail to match your message to the audience (young, old, arty, business-like, professional, technical, etc.) and you fail to produce a genuinely quality piece of translation.
James Miller, Interpreting Manager, Global Connects