Top-down or bottom-up: Industry approaches to translation quality, standards and tools

Joanna Drugan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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The diverse approaches to translation quality in the industry can be grouped in two broad camps: top-down and bottom-up. The author has recently published a decade-long study of the language services (Quality in Professional Translation, Bloomsbury, 2013). Research for the study covered translation providers from individual freelance translators working at home, to large-scale institutions including the European Union Directorate-General for Translation, commercial translation companies and divisions, and not-for-profit translation groups. Within the two broad ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ camps, a range of further sub-models was identified and catalogued (e.g. ‘minimalist’ or ‘experience-dependent’). The shared distinctive features of each sub-group were described, with a particular focus on their use of technologies.

These different approaches have significant implications for, first, the integration of industry standards on quality, and, second, the efficient harnessing of technology throughout the translation workflow.

This contribution explains the range of industry approaches to translation quality then asks how these map on to successful integration of standards, and features of the leading tools which are designed to support or enhance quality. Are standards and technologies inevitably experienced as an imposition by translators and others involved in the translation process? Significantly, no straightforward link was found between a ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’ approach to assessing or improving translation quality and effective use of tools or standards. Instead, positive practice was identified across a range of approaches.

The discussion outlines some painless ways these developments are being channelled to improve quality, or more frequently, to maintain it while meeting tighter deadlines. Some models existed beyond, or were partially integrated in, ‘professional’ translation (e.g. pro bono translators, and volunteer Open Source localizers). What lessons can we learn from enthusiasts in such communities, who sometimes adopt or create approaches voluntarily?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranslating and the Computer 36
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014
EventTranslating and the Computer - One Birdcage Walk, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Nov 201329 Dec 2014


ConferenceTranslating and the Computer
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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