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Most translation services wholeheartedly agree that translation quality can be measured to some extent by counting the errors found in the translation. Of course, some mistakes are more serious than others, so this makes it more difficult to assess the quality of translation just based on mistakes alone. One way to make counting the number of errors more scientific is to allocate a grading of the errors for each translation.

This can be done in the following way by assigning ‘High’, ‘Low’ or ‘Medium’ to the number of mistakes:

High: A high number of errors that would mean that the meaning would be unclear if they weren’t corrected.

Medium: A medium number of errors would mean that the company which has paid for the translation would lose its reputation because of the difficulty of understanding the translation by the targeted audience.

Low: A low number of errors means that the number of errors is unlikely to seriously affect the meaning of the text so the recipient of the translation needed worry too much about the quality of translation.

Once you have decided to use this method to calculate the quality of a translation you can then give a number to represent the weighting of the ranges such as 10 for a high number of mistakes, 5 for a medium number of mistakes and 1 for a low number of mistakes. This sort of number calculation will allow you to compare the accuracy of 2 X 5,000 worded translations.

The question that may be of some concern when using this method is whether a translation with more mistakes necessarily means lower quality. Also, the technical complexity of a text is not taken into consideration.

There are other kinds of errors, as well as measuring meaning and terminology. Grammar and spelling errors do occur and can’t be excused as they can be checked with well-known software. With proper checking software, they should all be identified and corrected. Any translation which has many grammar and spelling errors would be viewed as of lower quality than one with no such errors. These types of errors could be included in the number calculation for quality as well.

Sometimes a translation doesn’t match the quality asked by the client because the tone is not quite right. It’s important to discuss this aspect of a translation before the translation takes place. The style of a translation is hard to evaluate with the number’s method too.

Overall, it’s possible to use the number method but it doesn’t cover every aspect of translation quality.

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