“When translating, you have to check things, find information etc; it is difficult to measure the amount of this work.”
There are two major differences in the organisation of the Web Translation Unit as compared to the language departments: first, the Unit is multilingual and divided into multilingual sectors, and secondly, translators themselves, organised in small language teams, handle the assigning of incoming requests in
Suivi and send their finalised translations to the requester.
Both of these factors have a considerable impact on their work.
For the reference group members, the multilingual character of the Unit is definitely an improvement.
There is more cross-language cooperation around translation tasks. An away-day in January 2009 further helped language teams to mingle, and some of the translators with a long experience at DGT say that their organisation reminds them of the time when DGT was organised in multilingual thematic departments, when contacts between language Units were more frequent than today.
Most of the interviewed translators did not object to working with
Suivi, instead of having the translation traffic dealt with by assistants and the individual assignment of jobs by the Head of Unit.
Web translations are intended for environments that are continuously changing, meaning that they are never considered as once-and-for-all final versions, and customer DGs think it quite normal to make alterations once a text is online. Frequently, requesters ask translators to take a look at the final website in order to check that everything is correct. If translators themselves spot a mistake on a published website, they can usually still have it corrected. No specific workflow has been created for this. In some cases translators are granted the possibility to make changes on the website themselves, working directly in the corporate web content management system (cwcms).
All in-house web translations are revised
by a second Web Unit translator, because, once returned to requesters, texts are published with no further treatment. Some find that the revision practices in the Web Unit are what really distinguish it from the other translation units in DGT. When revising colleagues’ work in the language department, they used to check that everything had been translated paragraph after paragraph, that numbers were correct, etc.
Now, they check that the text reads nicely, the title is good, the message is conveyed, and there is no redundancy. After all, it is rather the content of the text as a whole that has to be transferred and not individual sentences.
Most outsourced translations are revised, too (Quality assurance policy for web products. DGT Directorate D, 3 December 2008).
Measuring the Web Unit’s or individual translators’
productivity is difficult, especially using the number of pages as a criterion. Web translators’ work consists of short bits and pieces, and background work has to be done for each of them. Because the share of background work is generally inversely proportional to the length of the task, and because on the other hand specialised terminology on the topic has already been created by the language department, comparing the Web Unit’s production with that of the traditional language departments does not give useful results. On the other hand, time use might be a possible criterion to measure the volume of work and/or its difficulty.
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