Before translation agencies present final drafts to their clients, Quality Assurance (QA) tasks are performed – some by human beings alone, some by humans with the assistance of QA software.
Activities such as proofreading and double-checking terminology with clients are QA methods that contribute to the linguistic excellence of the final draft and cannot be replaced by automation. But there are numerous problems that QA software is adept at highlighting for translators, eliminating hours and hours of human scanning and comparison, and improving accuracy where tedium can lead to errors.
The most commonly used QA tools have varying capabilities, but features often include the detection of:
- inconsistently translated phrases
- word/phrase translations that don’t match up with glossary definitions
- untranslatable words or phrases
- missing segments
- punctuation and spacing differences
- numbers and symbols that don’t match-up
The following QA tools are some of the more common: ApSIC Xbench (which is free), Wordfast Quality Check feature, D.O.G. ErrorSpy, Verifika, Yamagata QA Distiller, and SDL Trados Terminology Verifier and QA Checker. These vary in user-friendliness, effectiveness, and complexity.
To give you an idea of the parameters of QA software capabilities, every mistake is detected by comparison with software databases built into the program or those glossaries and translation memories that you create within it. Limitations exist in these programs’ ability to ‘understand’ different grammatical rules between the source and target texts; nor are they able to compensate for a misunderstanding the translator incorporated into the text, nor spot a poorly written phrase. But they have become indispensible to professional translation agencies, especially for large projects.