Similar to many other fields, the translations industry is governed by standards that have been set forth by various translation organizations throughout the world. The primary motivation for these standards is to protect both the translator and the translator’s client. This is important for both the linguist and the client since a professional linguist can be held legally responsible to some degree should a poorly translated document result in some sort of legal action.

Professional translators inside the US should follow the standards set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The guidelines contained in ASTM F2575-06, Standard Guide for Quality Assurance in Translation, were issued in 2006 with the goal of defining translation processes so that both the translator and client understand clearly what is expected throughout the translation process. The standards set forth in F2575-06 state that the professional translation process should include the following framework:

• Standard specification
• Test method
• Standard practice
• Standard guide
• Standard classification
• Terminology standard

While these recommendations are by no means mandatory, they do provide the groundwork that enables professional translators to use a consistent process that involves a high degree of quality assurance. ASTM F2575-06 also states that the translation process should demonstrate a sensitivity to other cultures – also referred to as “localization” – which is one indication of a truly professional and effective translation. Although ASTM F2575-06 provides a general framework for translation providers and their clients, it does not go into specific details with regard to translations since that varies greatly depending on the project and the parties involved.

Other translation organizations have employed their own standards. EN 15038, for example – the standards employed by European countries – also went into effect in 2006. These guidelines are intended to standardize terminology, list services provided by translators, and define the rights and obligations of both translators and their clients.
The Language Association of Canada established their own set of standards in 2009. The Canadian Standard for Translations Services (CAN CGSB 131.10-2008) defines what services should be provided by professional translators based in Canada.

While each set of standards differs to some degree, all three have the same set of recommendations for individuals and businesses seeking professional translation services:

• Take a great deal of care when selecting a translator.
• Reach an agreement with regard to the scope and process involved in the translation project before it begins.
• Follow the process established throughout the course of the translation project.

Thanks to the standards set forth by these organizations, both translators and their clients can have a clear set of expectations and an understanding of each other’s role in any translation project.