This year´s well attended AGM took place on the 22nd of June at Friends Meeting House in York. The meeting was preceded by a talk by Dr. Joanna Drugan of the University of East Anglia about Quality in Translation, where she shared with us part of the content of her book recently published, Quality in Professional Translation: Assessment and Improvement.
The day began slowly as the members of the YTI took the opportunity of registration and refreshment time to catch up and network over a cup of coffee. Dr. Drugan started her talk asking us to consider in small groups how we understand and ensure the quality of our work, taking as a reference a recent job. The groups reported a variety of answers that reflected how we approach the evaluation of our work, such as correct use of language, grammar and expression, fitness for a purpose, as well as knowing and meeting the client´s requirements and expectations.
Dr. Drugan passed to illustrate the gap between how the academia and the translation industry approach quality in translation. She talked about how academic research could help the translation industry as, at the moment, she had found no professionals who use an academic theory of quality in translation. This is because the academic models are not efficient for the industry from the point of view of the return on investment. On the other hand, she highlighted that professional translators often don’t recognise their own quality control processes, imbedded in their practice, or for example remember that their training and experience are part of their quality control process. So, while at the moment it seems academics and professionals are asking different questions about quality, Dr. Drugan sees the whole world of translation at a very exciting point where the strengths of both the academic and the industry approach to quality are being drawn out, and leading somewhere which could be mutually beneficial.
In the final part of her presentation, Dr. Drugan split the audience in two groups and gave each group the task of evaluating one approach towards quality control and assessment available in the professional arena. These two extremes illustrate the top-down and bottom-up approaches to quality control. In a top-down model, the aim is to control quality from the outset, control processes as well as control the product. This was illustrated with the procedures of the translation department of an organisation that has in place stringent and numerous controls in the pre-translation, translation and post-translation stage, such as approved vocabulary, peer to peer reviews, or reading translations aloud. It was generally agreed that it would be almost impossible to implement such tight controls widely in the industry.
The second approach, the bottom-up approach, aims to build in processes to encourage providers and users to take control of quality themselves. To illustrate this model we took a look at a well known, international group and database of translators based online, which operates with extremely open registration criteria and little control on the quality of the job provided to the client by its members, as it allows anyone registered to tender for jobs. This model presents serious quality control issues and risks for the client.
From Dr. Drugan’s point of view, the top-down model works best in practice to control the quality of translations. In this sense, she mentioned the important role that professional bodies play as a source of information and reassurance for the client. She also emphasised the relevance of training and continuous professional development as a tool for quality assurance.
After a lively lunch where there was opportunity for more networking, the AGM took place and we learnt of the healthy state of YTI’s finances and the rapid growth in membership. We also said goodbye from their official position to two devoted and hardworking members, our Treasurer for over a decade, Gottfried Pollhammer, and an extremely active Membership Secretary, Charles Rothwell. We all wished them well with their next projects and showed our gratitude with cards and presents.