Monthly Archives: January 2011

Different levels of translation quality?

Written by Aga Gordon

Today, while browsing the web as I do everyday, I encountered a translation agency (which name I won’t mention although perhaps I should), which both shocked me and provoked to write this short (and the first) note in my blog.

The agency, which claims to be the leading translation agency, happens to claim to have three levels of quality: gold, silver and bronze. The gold one is supposed to be the immaculate process of TEP (Translation, Editing and Proofreading), silver means only TE and bronze consist only of T. The underlying idea is seemingly a cost-effective solution for those, who perhaps, are only in need to roughly understand the text , therefore might not need the standard, thorough process of the quality translation.

Well, I could not agree less. As everyone involved in professional translation surely knows, translation is always synonimous with the quality. Not only the first round carried out by the professional translator is required, at least one process of editing and one of proofreading should follow. The translator should be also a talented writer. All these, in my opinion, are basic essentials in order for the translation to read smoothly and not appear ‘a translation’ but a text written by a native speaker. Knowledge of  both cultures and sufficient terminology in both source and target language is a must.For more specialised subjects, like chemistry or medicine, in depth knowledge of the area is also necessary. Wide range of specialist vocabulary, dictionaries and internet resources might prove not to be sufficient in certain, narrow specialist areas (I have seen a lot of bad translations in chemistry).

All in all, good translation can never be cheap . Are cheap clothes of a good quality? Or do you expect a luxury stay in a cheap hotel? Besides paying little first round, can cost you more later (I could quote a lot of examples from other industries, when outsourcing to companies in India or China to cut cost, resulted in terrible quality and hence more cost).

It all appears a desperate move towards attracting more clients but in my opinion it really undermines the translation industry and can potentially result in more terrible translations, we unfortunately see more and more around. It all stems from the fact that there are financial cuts everywhere but it is a way to go? I do not think so, do you?

Please leave a comment, I am very much interested in your views.


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