Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

The TransCert Project: Ensuring That Transnational Translator Certification Meets Stakeholder Needs

Academic journal article Translation & Interpreting

The TransCert Project: Ensuring That Transnational Translator Certification Meets Stakeholder Needs

Article excerpt

1. Introduction (1)

This article first distinguishes various types of certification and describes social and business attitudes toward the certification of translators. It then addresses how the EU-funded TransCert program can address some of the difficulties faced by existing certification programs. Based on numerous interviews with professional translators, representatives of language service provider (LSP) companies, and institutional buyers of translation services, it presents issues that must be addressed to ensure that future certification efforts will be seen to have relevance in the marketplace. It discusses these sometimes-contradictory attitudes in the context of TransCert, which aims to design and implement a pan-European, transnational, voluntary certification program for translators. TransCert was designed with the benefits freelance translators expect from being certified, as well as the detrimental effects they fear, in mind. It also addresses the needs of a heterogeneous group of stakeholders, all of whom must "buy into" certification for it to be truly effective. In a global workforce and marketplace, certification will need to be implemented at a transnational level in order to deliver its full benefit.

2. Framework

Consistent with relevant international standards and the predominant usage in many Anglophone countries, certification in this article refers to third-party attestation or validation that a product, process, or individual meets standard requirements. (2) The underlying motivation for certification is to increase the quality of and/or trust in products, organizations, and persons. Certification relies on pre-determined and standardized criteria (often specified in standards documents) that are agreed upon by the stakeholders concerned.

2.1. Types of certification

In general there are three primary types of certification, distinguished by their object. These types apply to the translation industry as well, and any discussion of certification must keep them distinct. These types are explained below.

2.1.1. Certification of products

Certification of products (and services viewed as products rather than processes) focuses on qualities within the product itself, separate from the method of production or the individual producing/delivering them. This sort of certification is based on standards for product qualities. In the translation environment, product certification would be realized as a certification that a particular translated text meets certain requirements. Despite long-standing interest in this topic, there are currently no international translation standards for translation products (ISO/TC 37/SC 5 "Translation and Interpreting" is responsible for this topic).The lack of standards here is largely due to the difficulty of certifying translations themselves when faced with many varying, and potentially conflicting, usage scenarios: a translation eminently suitable for one use or scenario may not be suitable in another. However, there are projects on translation product assessment standards that could eventually become the basis of standards on how to create translation quality assessment metrics.

2.1.2. Certification of systems

The second type of certification focuses on managing the process used to make a product or provide a service. This manufacturing perspective assumes that by appropriately controlling the process many quality issues can be addressed. As a result relevant standards (such as the ISO 900 (3)0 series) focus on building relevant and repeatable processes. While the goal is to deliver a quality product, certification in this area focuses on the organizational and process structures used.

In translation, this aspect is addressed by EN 15038:2006, (4) which lists process and provider requirements for quality translation. EN 15038 does not examine translated documents or certify them, although it does mandate that appropriate quality assessment procedures be in place and that translators be qualified. …

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