Linguistic Quality Assurance: Essential for Successful Language Translation

August 31, 2011

If you have explored many language translation services blogs, or if you have had a Quote done for a translation project, no doubt you have seen the term "LQA" (Linguistic Quality Assurance.) Some clients who are new to language translation and localization don't understand what this service is. Some may even think that this service is optional, or is something that can be skipped to reduce costs.

Linguistic Quality Assurance is an essential step in any successful language translation project, from document translation to website translation. This blog will give you a good general overview of what LQA is, and just why it is so essential. There are a number of ways to measure language translation quality. Let's begin with what sometimes leads to client dissatisfaction with translation projects.

Linguistic errors are never acceptable

Clients always expect and deserve a high quality deliverable for their language translation projects. Linguistic errors in a translation project can erode the customer's confidence about both the project's integrity and their language translation services provider's professionalism.

It doesn't matter how insignificant a translation error may seem. At the end of the day, a missing space, a spelling mistake, or a wrong choice of words are still major errors in the eyes of the target audience and more importantly in the eyes of the client. In such cases, the client will often pelt their language translation services partners with criticism like:

  • "I doubt this translation was completed by professional linguists"
  • "Did you use a translator and an editor on my project?"
  • "Are your linguists native speakers of the target language?"
  • "This text doesn't 'sound' as if it has been translated by a person… does your company use machine translation?"

How LQA Teams are staffed

First of all, it is very important that the linguistic editor and the proofreader (i.e., the linguists working on the editing corrections and the Quality Assurance steps in a localization project) are not the same linguists who did the original translation step.

Many translators attempt to do self proofreading and copy editing; in my opinion this is a real challenge. Simply running a spell-checker and reading the entire text again by the same person who did the translation is definitely not enough to guarantee the highest quality for the final translated deliverable.

Why LQA takes more than one person

*Translation AND editing is a two-step process performed by two different linguists. During this process the editor checks and proofs the work of the original translator for completeness and accuracy. Then, the translation and editing must be followed by a proof/linguistic QA step (LQA) which is the final quality control step performed by native linguists in context. Translation agencies must always implement a Linguistic Quality Assurance procedure designed to review the translated text for the technical, linguistic and industry correctness of the final product. This is the only way to ensure a perfect and successful language translation deliverable in every document, website, multimedia and software localization project.

During the LQA process, the linguistic expert will ensure that the final translation is technically accurate, meaning that it only contains proper grammatical structures, no spelling mistakes, proper use of words/collocations, appropriate tense, and consistency in terms of grammar and style.

The purpose of LQA

LQA is also intended to review the work for proper use of linguistic phrasing, i.e., terminology, local terms, idiomatic expressions and cultural accuracy. This is done so that the final translation is the perfect rendition for the target locale (the country or region where the language will be used) and "sounds" as natural to the target audience as the source language text did for the original audience. LQA also ensures that your content does not sound like a stilted and awkward "literal" translation.

Last but not least, during the Linguistic Quality Assurance phase we must review the translated content for "industry accuracy", (for example, lodging and hospitality, food and beverage, tourism, health, technology, etc.) in order to guarantee that the corresponding terminology or jargon of the specific subject matter is used consistently throughout the whole text.

Achieving the goals of LQA

These are key items that need to be taken into account to conduct a successful Linguistic QA and assure that not only terminology and stylistic requirements have been met during translation but that the translation is contextually appropriate and consistent.

That way, your language translation services agency can ensure that they won't hear those frustrating complaints from clients, but only congratulations and referrals due to the high quality, professional service provided!

Additional resources on project management

LQA is one of many important steps that a competent translation project manager will make sure takes place. To further understand GPI you can help optimize input for project management on your next project, read two of our previous blogs on translation project management: Project Management for Translation Projects, Part 1 and Project Management for Translation Projects, Part 2.

Useful resources on translation industry definitions

Globalization Partners International (GPI) has created a series of blogs and website resource pages to help you understand key concepts and vocabulary used in the translation and localization process:

Globalization Partners International, the translation company, has created a more extensive overview of website globalization for several key locales in collection of downloadable globalization white papers known as our Website Globalization and E-Business Series. You may contact GPI at or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about your target global markets and your project goals. You may also request a Translation Quote for your project as well.

Document Translation
Project management, LQA, Linguistic Quality Assurance, Translation Editing and Proofing, translation process, translation services, localization process

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Marina is a native Spanish speaker from Rosario, Argentina with over 15 years’ experience as a certified English-Spanish translator and interpreter. She graduated with a dual degree in Technical-Scientific and Literary Translation and Simultaneous and Consecutive Interpreting from the Instituto de Educación Superior Olga Cossettini in Rosario. She has extensive experience with most well known CAT tools including the range of SDL tools such as SDL Trados Studio, MultiTerm, Wordfast, SDL Idiom WorldServer, Translation Workspace, XBench, etc. She has also served as a CAT Tool Instructor conducting an average of 50 courses and workshops for many associations, private institutes and conferences. Over the years she has provided Spanish language translation and interpreting for a multitude of translation agencies, Global Fortune 500 companies, Governments and NGO’s. When not working she enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and movies with her family.