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European standards regulate translation quality

Anyone who has ever commissioned a translation knows that professional translations can vary greatly from each other. Although both freelance translators and translation agencies strive for optimum customer satisfaction, each service provider uses a different strategy to achieve this. In order to create more transparency for the customer and to eliminate legal uncertainties, the European Quality Standard for Translation Services, DIN EN 15038, replaced the translation standard, DIN 2345, that had previously been in effect in Germany.

DIN EN 15038

The current European standard DIN EN 15038 regulates requirements in terms of form and content as well as those for internal quality management. According to this new regulation, translation orders must not only be completed accurately in terms of the subject matter but procedurally as well. Unless specific details are included in the contract with the translator, the general standards for translation are assumed. The order is based off of the source text for which only the client is responsible. For example, if the customer makes a special request to have a translation linguistically geared towards a specific target group, the translator must do so. Other customer requests might include special formatting or adapting the translation to a target country based on culture-specific characteristics and is implemented by the localization process. The client is responsible for ensuring that the order is formulated to present a binding basis from which to work and does not leave room for ambiguity. More and more translations are being localized to specific countries in that they are adapted to the target country’s respective cultural background. Localization as well as Desktop Publishing (DTP), which is occasionally requested, are considered value-added services according to DIN EN 15038.

Special regulation changes by DIN EN 15038

One change would be the introduction of the four eyes principle into translation services: DIN EN 15038 dictates that all translations may only be done and/or corrected by a native speaker and requires that they be proofread to allow for more objectivity. They may be performed only by a mother-tongue translator or a specialist of the respective subject matter. All of this may only be performed by a native speaking translator or a specialist in the corresponding subject field. Since “translator” is not a legally protected occupational title as of yet, DIN EN 15038 defines the requisite qualifications for translators. If you have any questions regarding this topic, we are here to help you.

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