Let’s Work Together


I’m a certified translator in compliance with UNI 11591:2015, but what does it mean?

In recent decades, technological change and globalisation have generated new needs and therefore new professions, many of which are not clearly recognisable and have no rules in terms of definition of their qualifications, skills and protection.

ISO, CEN and UNI (at the Italian level) have kicked off numerous initiatives to qualify these professional activities. In Italy the legislator has recognised the importance of this standardisation activity through Law 4/2013 that applies the principle of a strict collaboration between legislation and technical standardisation. Article 9 refers to UNI standards to define the principles and criteria governing the self-regulated exercise of a professional activity.

What is the difference between the Italian Standard UNI 11591:2015 and EN ISO 17100:2017?
They have two different starting points: UNI 11591 is rooted in the Italian Law No. 4 of January 14, 2013, which regulates the role of professional associations in Italy. According to this law the technical standards UNI ISO, UNI EN ISO, UNI EN and UNI are now, along with the certificate attesting the quality of services provided and professional qualification issued by associations listed by the Ministry of Economic Development (Articles 4, 7 and 8), the tool for voluntary self-regulation of individuals who exercise these professions (Articles 5, 6, 7 and 9).

ISO 17100, on the other hand, developed within the Technical Committee ISO/TC 37, whose scope is the standardization of descriptions, resources, technologies and services related to terminology, translation, interpreting and other language-based activities in the multilingual information society, “provides requirements for the core processes, resources, and other aspects necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications”, specifying the criteria for translation service providers of all sizes (TSPs) and including translators, revisers, reviewers, project managers (PMs) and clients among the figures that play an active role in the translation process.

Compared to this scenario, it is very clear how different the scope of application of UNI 11591 is, since it “defines the requirements relating to the professional activity of the translator and interpreter, i.e. practitioners who allow communication between different linguistic and cultural realities, and establishes the qualification, knowledge, skills and competences”.

It is precisely the theme of knowledge, skills and their combination – i.e. competences – that points to a further difference in the criteria adopted for the two documents. To begin with, the choice made by the UNI 006 Technical Committee “Non-regulated professional activities” is based on documents approved at European level, and in particular on CEN Guide 14:2010 « Guidelines for standardisation activities on qualification of professions and personnel » and on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (EQF). Competence here means the “proven ability to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and/or methodological abilities, in work or study situations and in professional and personal development“, and the competence is accompanied by the Tasks and Activities specific to each professional figure. Knowledge + Skills = Competences?

In ISO 17100, however, competence is rather collectively defined as « the ability to apply knowledge, experience, and skills to achieve intended results” with reference to all people involved in the translation process (Clause 2.4.9). With regard to the specific “Professional competences of translators”, the following is limited to a list in point 3.1.3: a) translation competence; b) linguistic and textual competence in the source and target languages; c) competence in research, information acquisition and processing; d) cultural competence; e) technical competence; f) competence in the semantic field.

Add Comment