Quality standards for translation services


The development of the translation services market in most countries of the world has led to the creation of quality assurance standards in this area, containing the basic rights and obligations of translation companies and their customers. The first translation quality standards were created as accompanying quality assurance standards for industrial production (GOST in UK, as well as standards of the International Organization for Standardization, including the ISO 9000 series).

With the growing interest in improving the quality of translation activities, specialized quality standards for translation services have been developed, the most famous of which are the Italian standard UNI 10574, the German DIN 2345.


The EN 15038 standard was put into effect on August 1, 2006. Its development was initiated in 1999 by the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies (EUATC). At the same time, more than 30 national standards of the member countries of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) were cancelled, many of which formed the basis of the EN 15038 standard. This standard is aimed at ensuring the unity of terminology in the field of translation, contains general requirements for translation service providers (human and technical resources, quality control and translation project management), and contains general rules for interaction between the customer and the translation service provider, their mutual rights, and obligations. The EN 15038 standard also sets out the requirements for several related services that may be provided by translation firms. Particular attention within the framework of the standard is paid to management processes, documentation, quality control processes, as well as requirements for specialists who control each stage of translation work. Annexes to the EN 15038 standard contain recommendations for bringing the activities of a translation service provider in line with the requirements of the standard.

Most European translation companies, to prove the quality of their services to potential customers, have certified their activities according to the ISO 9001 standard. At the same time, this is not proof of the quality of the services provided, but only the quality of business process management in the enterprise. The ISO 9001 standard was developed without considering the specifics of translation activities and cannot be considered a guarantee of translation quality. In this regard, the introduction of the EN 15038 standard was a significant step towards the standardization of translation activities. Currently, the EN 15038 standard has become quite widespread in Europe.

The EN 15038 standard concerns only translation, not interpretation. The developers of the standard considered that the establishment of criteria for assessing interpretation is too complicated a task and its solution will unreasonably burden the document being developed.

The first task, which was solved in the EN 15038 standard, is the unification of the terminology describing the translation activity. In particular, the document defines the following terms.

  • A Translation Service Provider (TSP) is an organization or person that provides translation services.
  • Interpreting – the transfer of information spoken in the source language, orally in the target language.
  • Editing (Revision) – assessment of the translation in terms of its compliance with the tasks set, comparison of the original and translation and development of recommendations for correcting the translation.
  • Correction (Proofreading) – checking the text before its publication.

Secondly, the EN 15038 standard contains requirements for the provision of translation companies with human and technical resources, including the competence of best certified translators and other participants in the translation preparation process (editors, proof-readers), equipment and software used in the work, communication equipment, as well as documentation of the management process. projects.

In accordance with the EN 15038 standard, the relationship between the customer and the translation service provider includes the following stages: request, response indicating the cost of the translation, signing the contract, processing confidential information related to the project, completion of the project. As for the translation process itself, it should consist of the following steps, each of which must be documented in accordance with the EN 15038 standard: project registration; appointment of persons who will work on the project; preparation of technical resources; text pre-processing (scanning, recognition, file format change); analysis of the original text; creation of a terminological glossary and style guide; the actual translation process; checking, editing the translation.

The EN 15038 standard does not define the procedure for quality assurance of related translation services (for example, notarization of a translation in UK), but indicates that a translation company must do everything possible to ensure that the quality of such services matches the quality of the translation.


The United States has a standard for the quality of translation services ASTM F2575-06 (Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation), which contains criteria for assessing the quality of translation, which can be used when agreeing on the terms of work on a specific translation project and serve to achieve mutual understanding between the supplier and customer of translation services. This document does not contain specific criteria for ensuring the quality of the translation of a particular order or the whole project but is aimed at parameters that must be agreed upon before starting work on the project. The ASTM F2575-06 standard contains quality requirements rather than guidelines for how a translator can achieve them.

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