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E.g., 08/23/2019

Quality Assurance - 5 Tips to Avoid Human Error

By: Irena Gargula, Project Manager - Capita Translation and Interpreting

13 March 2017

Everyone knows that all humans sometimes make mistakes, no matter how hard we try to avoid them, there is always a risk that things could go wrong.

Here are 5 tips to help avoid human error during the translation process:

1 – Use CAT tools

We sometimes lose concentration due to tiredness, and the monotony of some tasks cause us to nod off every now-and-again. So instead of us denying that this is a natural reality, why don’t we just embrace it, and find a way around it? Within the translation industry we have a plethora of quality tools that can help us to avoid mistakes, so we can concentrate on the tasks that rely on human judgment, and leave those repetitive tasks to computers.

One of the aspects of translation that must always be carefully checked is terminology, not just concerning accuracy, but also compliance with client glossaries and consistency throughout all jobs. Checking these aspects manually would be not only monotonous and a mammoth task, but also very time consuming and open to oversight. However, by using CAT tools, the process can be a lot faster, and more importantly, safer.

2 – Ensure compliance with client glossaries

To assist with the above, editable files are converted into a translatable format, which allows CAT tools to analyze text and flag any glossary matches or if a text similar to it has ever been translated in the past.

The translator will then review these glossary matches, as some matches could be ‘false,' for example when a glossary term such as “IT” refers to “Information Technology,” but within certain texts could appear within the context of “SAVE THE WORLD. SAVE IT NOW.”

Despite this entirely different meaning, “IT” would still show as a match, and it would be up to the translator to determine the difference and make sure their translation remains compliant with the client’s glossary.

3 – Use termbases

Glossaries aren’t the only tools in a linguists’ arsenal – after all - not all terms would be included in the glossaries, but would still need to be translated consistently.

Terms like these are usually kept in “termbases.” Every time a linguist translates a new term, they would add it to their termbase, which would later flag their previous translation to them when the same term appears in the source text, again helping to improve consistency.

4 – Leverage the power of Quality Assurance tools

When the translated text has been proofread, it is subjected to a quality assurance stage – which like translation, benefits from specially designed QA tools. These tools not only flag terminology mismatches but also let project managers quickly and easily find any untranslated terms.

In many cases, the source and target terms would be purposely identical, for example when handling company names, but in some cases, it might be a simple oversight. We can also see numeric mismatches, for example checking that every single digit in a 1,000 page long financial report would be an extreme task for a human, but QA tools can go through each page in a matter of seconds and produce a report for review by a project manager.

We also use these tools to find any instances where the same sentence has been translated inconsistently, which is especially important when multiple translators have worked on the same project.

5 – Create a customized checklist

Create a customized checklist, for example when you want to ensure the translation does not include any prohibited terms or keep an eye on common mistakes.

Finding the right balance between human ingenuity and computer speed is key, while CAT and QA tools offer great help and additional possibilities, the final word always needs to belong to a human.

Irena Gargula

Irena completed MA in Japanese philology and then went on to work as freelance translator and project manager. Currently she is a Project Manager in Legal and Financial vertical at Capita TI. In her free time she likes to read books, play video games and take photos, she is also a proud owner of little tabby cat.

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