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Translation standard

The European translation standard EN 15038:2006 determines specific requirements for translation service providers with regard to human resources, technical resources, quality and project management, basic terms and conditions of contracts and the procedure of providing a service.

We are hereby providing a short summary of the structure of the translation standard by stages and of the requirements in different stages.

With regard to human resources, the standard provides requirements for the translating competence, linguistic and textual competence, research or information processing competence, cultural and technical competence of translators. At least one of the following is deemed to be a prerequisite for operating as a translator and for the existence of the aforementioned competences:

  • higher education in translation (academically recognised degree);
  • equivalent education in any other subject plus a minimum of two years of documented experience in translating;
  • at least five years of documented professional experience in translating.

With regard to technical resources, the standard also provides a short description of processes that must be operational in terms of archiving, confidentiality, etc. until the disposal of the materials.

The translation agency and each translator must have an adequate procedure for handling documents and information that is described in more detail under other clauses ensured by a quality system. Quality objectives must also be stated and the process of monitoring the quality must be established.

The section concerning project management provides a detailed description of the requirements for the relationship with the client, which establishes the need to assess project feasibility within the requested deadline, rules for preparing quotations, details of entering into an agreement, handing client information and project conclusion.

The quality of a translation service is ensured through the management of a translation project, which includes:

  • monitoring and supervising the preparation process;
  • assigning translator(s) to the project;
  • assigning revisers and, if applicable, reviewers;
  • issuing instructions to all parties involved in the project;
  • enabling and monitoring consistency in translation;
  • monitoring and supervising the process timetable;
  • ensuring contact is maintained with all parties involved in the process, including the client;
  • giving clearance for delivery.

A project in the pre-translation processing stage is registered and all material and human resources are planned. Pre-translation processing covers the preparation of the text for translation, which may include very different activities arising from the nature of the project, for example but not limited to:

  • preparation of a document and/or segmentation of text for computer assisted translation;
  • collection and preparation of reference material, etc.

In the pre-translation processing stage, various linguistic requirements such as the style guide, agreement to adapt the text to the target group, terminology requirements, etc. are also reviewed. If necessary, these requirements are, of course, specified with the client.

The translation process includes translation, checking the translation, revision, editing and proofreading if necessary, and final verification that ensures that the translation is ready for delivery.

Throughout translation, attention must be paid to the following:

  • terminology – compliance with the area and client terminology if no other terminology has been
  • provided, as well as consistency of terminology throughout the whole translation
  • grammar – i.e. syntax, spelling and punctuation as well as typographical and diacritical marks
  • lexis – lexical cohesion and phraseology
  • style – compliance with the client’s or service provider’s style guide, selecting an appropriate
  • register and language variants
  • locale – compliance with local conventions and standards of the target language
  • formatting – in terms of tables, separation of texts, fonts, font sizes, but also using mathematical and scientific symbols
  • target group and purpose of the translation

On the completion of the translation, the translator checks his/her work.

The objective of revision is to make sure that the translation complies with what has been agreed on. As required by the project, revision may also include the comparison of the source and target texts in order to verify the consistency of terminology and the appropriateness of the style and register.

Editing is carried out according to the specifics of the translation in order to ensure that the translated text complies with the agreed purpose.

According to the translation standard, the need for final verification is recommended and depends on whether the service has been agreed on in advance. In Estonian translation agencies, however, final verification is usually included in the original price with the objective of ensuring final inspection with regard to the appropriate compliance with all the requirements.

Support services that may include but not are limited to:

  • legalisation and notarial certification;
  • design, layout design and preparation for printing;
  • localisation, etc.;

must be carried out to the same level of quality as provided in this standard.

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Ragnar Rannamets
Ragnar Rannamets
Phone: +372 614 3241
Mobile: +372 5558 8978
E-mail: ragnar@titania.ee
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