ISO standards in the translation sector

Published on 22/05/2023

ISO standards are a set of provisions agreed by this international organisation whose general mission is the standardisation of products. Thanks to these "laws" established for all areas of the business sector, consumers and buyers can enjoy satisfactory quality standards. It currently boasts one of the highest international recognition among large companies. In these terms, it can be said that companies that adhere to ISO standards have more prestige and sales volume than those that do not.

When thinking of companies, the collective imagination may envisage large factories and buildings with a huge global production of clothes, computers, cars and multi-purpose products. But the truth is that ISO standards are present in much more areas, and translation agencies are not exempt from their "surveillance".

How do ISO standards affect translation companies?

The standards usually deals with 4 well-defined aspects: resources, pre-production, production and post-production. In all of them, the company's contact with the client is crucial, as the main premise is to guarantee a satisfactory end result. In the field of translation companies, according to ISO 17100:2015, the company must maintain direct contact with the client in order to set and review the objectives to be met at all times.

In terms of production, the translation must be carried out by a professional who meets at least one of these three requirements:

A degree in translation from a recognised higher education institution.
A degree in any other field from a recognised higher education institution and at least two years of full-time professional experience in translation.
Five years of full-time professional translation experience.

Is translation enough?

The answer is no. In addition to the translation process carried out by a qualified professional, translation companies must have in place revision procedures. In the first instance, the translator himself will review the result for possible errors or improvements that need to be made. A second review will then be carried out by a reviewer to look for details that can be polished to ensure that the target text is a quality translation of the source text.

Of course, reviewers must also meet strict requirements that qualify them as qualified for the position. Like translators, they need to have some of the three requirements mentioned above, plus demonstrable experience in translation or proofreading in the fields in which they specialise.

Why are ISO standards important for translation services?

Especially in these times when knowledge of other languages is the order of the day, checking the quality of a good translation is important. This helps to avoid intrusiveness in this sector and to value the higher education of true professionals in this field. Translating is not just doing literal translations of words from a source language into a target language. Its technique goes far beyond that and its mechanisms are precise, which is why the translator must be required to have knowledge of all these aspects.

Languages such as English, German, Spanish, Italian, French or Portuguese are languages with obvious links, but whose differences are perfectly visible even in their similarities. The culture of the speakers is also different and, therefore, the way they understand the realities is also different. Transliterated words and speeches often do not exert the real influence expected of a good translation. Precisely for this reason, tools such as machine translation programs should be timely allies. Of course, no serious translation company would use them if they are offering translation instead of post-editing.

In short, translation is a precise and technical discipline in which the training and qualifications of professionals are essential. If you need a good translation, ISO-certified translation agencies are the best option.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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