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What is the Right Amount of Quality Control? bY Professional Japanese Translators

Quality control (QC) can be defined as “a procedure or set of procedures intended to ensure that a manufactured product or performed service adheres to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the client or customer”. 

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Obviously, QC is very important for professional translators. Unless you have the superhuman ability to translate first time without introducing any errors at all into your work, the product you provide to the end user or translation company will be improved, compared to your first draft, proportionately to the amount of quality control you allow time for. 

So, what is the right amount of quality control? If you are a salaried translator, this question is a lot simpler. Determination of the correct balance between output and quality will be decided by the translation company you work for. For freelance translators who are paid according to output, on the other hand, this is truly a dilemma, as there is a clear trade-off between output and quality.  Too much QC and you may be able to produce near-perfect translations but the resulting decrease in output may mean that you are unable to earn a living wage. Too little QC, on the other hand, may boost your output in the short term, but the corresponding dip in quality is likely to lead to less work coming through the door, thus defeating the original objective of increased output.

Although translation tools, such as Memsource and Trados, have quality tools built in, much of the QC work will be the responsibility of the translator themselves. This has both positive and negative aspects. On the plus side, this enables the professional Japanese translator to judge for themselves how much QC they need to implement, and also means that they have the opportunity to save themselves time (or increase the amount of QC) by devising more efficient ways of carrying it out. On the negative side, giving the responsibility solely to the translator introduces a reliance on aspects of human nature that are prone to weakness. When a translator is busy and/or tired, there is an incredible temptation to skip or water down QC procedures.

At the end of the day, the translator needs to discover the best balance between output and quality that they can live with. The benefits, however, of making QC more efficient, however, are clear. In the next article, I will make some suggestions about good QC practices that can be implemented by the freelance translator.

About the Author
Simon Way is a contributing author to SAECULII YK, Professional Japanese Translators Tokyo, Japan Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news by Japanese Translation Services

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