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Translation Standards

Just like any other supplier of goods or services, a translation company and the individual translator bear ethical and legal obligations towards the buyer or the contracting party. With the development of language industry servicing on a global scale, this has turned out to be of enormous importance. For the protection of both parties, standards have been developed seeking to spell out their mutual duties.

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There is, however, a view within the translation industry that, while not doing any actual harm, an over-reliance on such standards can give a false sense of security. Following translation standards blindly cannot on its own possibly provide real assurance regarding final translation quality. The argument is that the path to quality in translation is reached by focusing more on providing on-going training and feedback to translators and the quality assurance tools and general tools available to linguists, such as terminology tools.
Pangeanic was a leader in the implementation of European translation standard EN 15038 (now ISO 17100) in Spain, its QA processes being certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 after an independent audit. Pangeanic was awarded a post-editing contract by the European Union in 2007. Other ISO standards include:

  • Post-edition ISO 18587:2017, which provides requirements for the process of full, human post-editing of machine translation output and post-editors’ competences.
  • ISO 14001, which provides requirements with guidance for use that relate to environmental systems and specifies the requirements for an environmental management system that an organisation can use to enhance its environmental performance. Pangeanic wants to do everything it can to revert climate change in all its operations, from managing waste at its facilities to reducing electricity use.
  • ISO 27001, which is widely known as the gold standard for an information security management system (ISMS). Pangeanic is one of the few language industry companies in the world to demonstrate a fully operational Information Security Management System. ISO/IEC 27001 is a security standard that formally specifies an Information Security Management System (ISMS) that is intended to bring information security under explicit management control. As a formal specification, it mandates requirements that define how to implement, monitor, maintain, and continually improve the ISMS. It also prescribes a set of best practices that include documentation requirements, divisions of responsibility, availability, access control, security, auditing, and corrective and preventive measures. Certification to ISO/IEC 27001 helps organisations comply with numerous regulatory and legal requirements that relate to the security of information.

Since Quality Management systems first hit the translation industry early on in this century, and particularly since the advent of the European Translation Standard, enormous importance has been placed on translation quality metrics as a result of the development of the language industry on a global scale. For the protection of all parties involved in the translation process, standards have been developed seeking to spell out their mutual duties.

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In general, there are two main international standards which apply to the translation and localisation industry:

  • ISO 17100, which is a quality standard specifically written for the translation industry. This standard ensures the consistent quality of the service and the processes involved. ISO 17100 replaced EN 15038 (published by CEN, the European Committee for Standardisation in 2006, for which Pangeanic became a leading company in its implementation in 2007). The ISO 17100 certifies our quality management system for translation through an independent, on-site audit. At the same time, Pangeanic performs regular internal audits on top of the external audits carried out by a certification body. If any discrepancy is found, the certification can be revoked. Whilst the private industry may choose to work with uncertified companies, the European Union has started to include this standard as a benchmark in its tender specifications.
    The requirements mandate that the translation services company has documented procedures and works according to them during the translation process, in all its dealings and contact with the client, and quality assurance. Sub-sections of ISO 17100 certification also focus on project assignments, technical resources, pre-translating process, source text analysis, terminology, and style guides.
  • The general Quality Management System 9001 differs from the ISO 17100 standard, as it does not only introduce requirements for compliance with certain common procedures, which is the case with the general ISO 9001, but it monitors the processes especially developed for the overall performance of the translation, starting from the acceptance of the order to its final delivery to the client. Furthermore, ISO 17100 certifies the translation service and not the process management (where ISO 9001 applies).

With ISO 9001, an organisation

  • needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide a product that meets customer and applicable regulatory requirements, and
  • aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for continual improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable regulatory requirements.

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