After few months of experience in the “real” translation industry, I feel that I can discuss some hot topics that are usually subject of discussion in this market.
Lately, translation quality and efficiency have kind of attracted my attention, however quality has been a big issue for me, as I have been asked to judge translated texts few times by now. What somebody can consider a good quality piece, can sometimes be judged as simply acceptable or average by someone else. As commonly believed, translation is not a precise science and judging it is not always easy. Many LSPs perform suppliers’ quality assessments to ensure that their quality is constantly up to their standards, however at times that is not good enough either.
This topic is usually discussed in translation courses like the one that I attended in Leeds. However, I do think that what is said during the classes does not always reflect the method that professors used to mark our translations. In fact, during the marking stage, the concepts of “right” and “wrong” usually intervene, obscuring all the theories behind translation studies. I am not sure if what’s required is a higher quality translation or if markers would like students to use a different style from what is actually their own way of writing.
It is possible that “translation style” is valued more in the “real” translation market, rather than at university. It is actually respected more and a translation is only considered unacceptable when mistranslations and grammar errors are included in a text. Unfortunately, this side of the coin allows people that do not have any knowledge of translation studies to become translators after having another previous career. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with this, however when they do make mistakes, they simply justify them as “styles choices”. Their lack of knowledge regarding how to perform a translation or how to localise a product is therefore clear.
Overall, I believe that yes, universities should require a high level of translation as they are actually teaching techniques and important theories behind translating, nonetheless I also think that they should accept that students can have their own style and they are still shaping it. Therefore, it will take them years to define how they write as well as to become professional translators. Also, a basic knowledge of translation methods should be part of the background required to be a translator – even if you are an engineer and you speak two languages, you are not a translator.
What’s your opinion on quality in translation? Is there a way to ensure quality?