EN 15038 (2006)*

EN 15038 is an industry-wide quality standard developed by the EU Committee for Standardization in 2006 "to establish and define the requirements for the provision of quality services by translation service providers".

The standard is gaining acceptance worldwide, and the European Union has begun including it as a benchmark in its tender specifications. Yet EN 15038 does not, as is so often claimed, ensure the quality of the translations produced by those who adopt it. Its focus is on various discrete elements in the process, not on the product.

A list of five procedures (two optional)

EN 15038 defines five "procedures" in the overall translation process: translation, checking, revision, review, and proofreading, with the last two being optional.

The translator checks his/her translation (checking), but after that, EN 15038 seems to take the translation out of the translator's hands! The reviser, reviewer and proofreader are all different people, and the translator apparently has no further role.

The reviser is another translator and checks the translation against the source; the reviewer is a specialist in the subject and checks the translated text for suitability; and the qualifications of the proofreader at the end are left completely undefined.

It is left entirely up to the translation service provider to decide how all these different roles and people fit together and who has responsibility for the final text. The scope for errors to creep in with so many different people involved is enormous.

NB: EN 15038 also has requirements with regard to the education and experience of translators, revisers and reviewers, but has no native-speaker requirement at all.


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