Translation is, or at least should be, a regulated and standardized process that results in a product, i.e. translation, of the highest quality. Although the quality of the target text depends on a number of different factors such as, for example, the quality of the source text, the deadline, the price, how focused the translator is etc., there are three basic steps – translation, revision and proofreading – that should be taken in the translation process in order to always guarantee its quality.
The first step, i.e. the translation, is the step that is implied and the step for which the client is always willing to pay. The following two steps – revision and proofreading – are just as important in the translation process. If these steps are skipped, there will almost certainly be errors in the target text that the translator has overlooked. Revision is the process of reviewing the text by comparing, or reading the original and the translation side-by-side. The person in charge of this step should have equal qualifications as the translator. In this way, the person reviewing the translation identifies errors made by the translator such as typos, wrong numbers, omitted words or sentence elements, word choice errors and so on. This step is crucial for producing a high-quality translation. Without it, the client may end up with a translation of an invoice that says that they have to pay EUR 300 instead of EUR 300 thousand because the translator was not focused. The third, and often the final step, is proofreading. Depending on the source and target text, the task of proofreading, i.e. the final check of the translation without consulting the source text, will be entrusted to a native speaker of the target language. Thus, if the translation is, let’s say, from Serbian into English, proofreading will be done by a native speaker of English. Another reason why this step is so important is because even after the revision process, the target text might contain some syntactic and stylistic errors that the translator and the person in charge of revision simply fail to notice because their linguistic intuition is not on the same level as the intuition of a native speaker. If this step is omitted, the client will get an accurate and high-quality final product, yet it will probably not be 100% natural and adequate in terms of style.
In addition to these basic steps, there is another important segment to be considered in the process of checking the quality of the translation. If more than one translator is working on a large-scale project, in addition to revision and proofreading, it is also necessary that the translators agree on the terminology that they will be using, which is done either before or during the translation process. This step is necessary in order for the terminology and the style of the target text to be consistent and uniform after the translation process had been completed. If the translators are provided with a term base, they should stick to the existing terminology. In addition to accuracy, this guarantees terminological uniformity, which is crucial because translating the same concepts differently throughout the same text would cause confusion.
Finally, it should be noted that there are quality assurance tools that make this process not only easier, but also much more precise. These tools help identify inconsistencies, perform spellcheck, detect double spacing and formatting errors, etc. Such tools are very useful when one project is delegated to not only several translators, but also several people in charge of revision.
Therefore, quality assurance is just as important as the translation itself. It guarantees the consistency, coherence and accuracy of the target text, which is certainly what the client expects. With that in mind, it is clear that quality assurance, as a key element in the translation process, should never be omitted and disregarded, regardless of the length and complexity of the text.