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You Can Check Quality of Translation, Even if You Don’t Know the Language

Photo by jinterwas, http://www.flickr.com/photos/32135758@N02

Feeling frustrated, because you cannot evaluate the quality of translations that you buy?

Indeed, as non-speakers of the target languages, translation buyers often cannot evaluate quality directly. While they have indirect indicators such as timeliness of delivery or increased sales, they may want more specific, direct information about quality. Is it possible for a client to run a few quality checks even without knowing the language of translation? Absolutely.

Simple: Visual comparison

Simply open the original document and the translated one to compare them. If you see anything listed below, this might be a red flag:

  • Omissions
  • Weird-looking things
  • Failure to follow instructions
  • Things that are not supposed to be translated, such as numbers, company names, etc.
  • Formatting such as missing bold, italics, misplaced images, and so on

More comprehensive: Quality assurance check

All of the above checks are manual. If you want to take this to the next level, you can use special quality assurance software. It is more difficult to master, but your time investment will definitely pay off.

First of all, ask your vendor to send a bilingual file with their delivery. This should be a TTX, XLIFF, SDLXLIFF, or TMX file. While other file formats might be supported, too, these are the most common ones. Be sure to ask for this file when you order a project. Asking after delivery might be too late.

There is a wide selection of solutions for checking the quality of translated files. These are called translation quality assurance tools. A number of free desktop tools are available, such as ApSIC Xbench and CheckMate. Better yet, you can use an online tool that does not require any installation or difficult configuration. One such tool that I recommend is CrossCheck. Here is how you use it:

  1. Go to https://cc.idioma.com/#/home and click the Run CrossCheck button.
  2. In the Error Checking profile area, select Comprehensive.
  3. Drag and drop the bilingual file(s) your vendor delivered.
  4. Drag and drop a glossary in Excel format, if you have one. This is how a glossary should look: CrossCheck_glossary_format
  5. Click Analyze.
  6. Wait for the analysis to finish.
  7. Download the analysis results as an XLS file.
  8. Review the errors and mark any errors that you find genuine. Send this file to the vendor.

Due to the nature of these checks, most errors will be false positives. Note that if you ask a vendor to review the entire list instead of reviewing it yourself and asking to double-check suspicious things only, a vendor might charge you for doing this, especially if they already ran QA on this translation. Compare this to receiving your car from an auto mechanic: You would not ask the mechanic to go over a long checklist for you. You do it yourself.

Armed with these methods, you will feel much more confident about the quality of translation you buy. Of course, even a QA tool is not as good as a full-fledged revision by a linguist who is a native speaker of the target language, but it is still much, much better than not checking quality at all.

2 comments

  • Hello, Roman,

    Thanks for the useful post, as always.

    I would like to add to your list of solutions, although this may not work for all language pairs and subject areas, but it should be quite good for checking translations into English, at least. Just use Google Translate or a similar online translation engine on the translated document (unless, of course, the original translator used the same service, in which case the back translation could actually turn out to be equal to the original).

    Best regards,
    Stanislav

    • Excellent addition, Stanislav! I was so fixed on quality assurance in this article that I did not remember this practical solution.
      Thank you for reading and commenting.
      Yours,
      Roman

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.