Did you know that November is internationally recognised as World Quality Month? Japan has been celebrating the event since 1960 and China since 1978, and North America since 1988, while in the UK they celebrate Quality Day. Sadly, the instability of the world economic crisis put the emphasis on getting low prices, but perhaps the time has come to put the spotlight back on quality.
Although the month is all but over, there’s nothing to stop you from recognising the importance of quality all year round. After all, continuous improvement is the core of what quality means. Translation is a very time-consuming process, something which those requiring our work often fail to take into consideration. Our time is, of course, is not free, but as Benjamin Franklin said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price is forgotten”. How true!
What’s your quality process? My initial translation of a document, when I set out the ideas in the original by interpreting and reframing the concepts in my own language, is usually done in a CAT tool, which keeps the original intact when I go on to step two and go through my work again, looking carefully at the details. Before the next stage, I like to let a little time go by so that I can look at the text from a fresh point of view. In ideal circumstances I will leave it overnight and then come back to it refreshed. This is when I’ll clean the document up, do a spell check and read it all again, preferably out loud. Even better, I’ll give it to a third party to read to make sure that everything sounds natural in the target language.
This takes a lot of time and effort, but when it comes to protecting your reputation, the best way to protect your future is to create it.
The purpose of World Quality Month is to promote the use of quality tools in businesses and communities, hopefully to reduce mistakes and help produce better products. If you are a freelance translator and you work alone, then, as Henry Ford once said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking” and without the opportunity to brainstorm with colleagues, every little helps. What are quality tools? Well, they are sometimes simple things like checklists and flowcharts that everyone can use to do a better job, while there are also sophisticated assisted translation tools that ensure consistency.