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There is a hierarchy of translation quality, with the base being grammatical correctness and the peak being Shakespearean prose. But what if Shakespeare isn’t your thing, you’re more of an Oscar Wilde fan? Enter subjectivity, which raises the question: is preference more important in translation the complete accuracy?

Defining quality

Accuracy

Can your users understand the intended message and complete their end goal with the quality of the translation provided? If so, it’s an accurate translation. Accuracy also includes correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

Preference

Can your users understand the intended message and complete their end goal with the quality of the translation provided? If so, it’s an accurate translation. Accuracy also includes correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar.

Striking a balance

Occasionally, there are cut and dry answers to the accuracy versus preference question. For example, legal, medical, and personal document translations should always be reviewed through the lens of accuracy because exactness is paramount. Marketing translation QA, however, should be based more so on preference than accuracy, as you are trying to bring a potential client to a specific action. But what about everything else?

To put it simply, you must strike a balance between preference and constant revision. Language is extremely subjective, and you could spend weeks going back and forth with your LSP, hammering out all predilections. By determining the value of your translation via content analysis, you can deduct how much time and money you should spend clearing up preferences.

Content analysis

Take a moment to simplify your expectations of your translated content. For example, if you are trying to bring a product or service to market or spread awareness, focusing on messaging over details might be a cost- and time-effective strategy. On the other hand, if you’re adding supplement content to express brand voice in a new market, you might want to spend more time on preference-based QA.

At the end of the day, you’ll always take both accuracy and preference into account when reviewing a translation. Yet taking a moment to consider the difference between these factors and analyzing the end-goal of your translation project can save you time and money.

Mitchell Thomas

Author Mitchell Thomas

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