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Sandra Bertolini

TRANSLATION & CERTIFICATION – Tasks of a translator 11591 vs 17100

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

In UNI 11591, the professional figures of translators are described in the chapters dedicated to the four specialist profiles (technical-scientific translators, adaptors-dialogists, legal-judicial translators, localisers), divided according to the specific tasks defined for each profile

In UNI 11591 also the common tasks of a fundamental nature outlined for professionals in the sector – another pillar of the scheme for the elaboration of standards for non-regulated professional activities prepared by UNI CT 006 – are the prerogative of the professional translator (and interpreter). The list includes:

➡️ the identification/precision of the objectives of the service;

➡️ the analysis of feasibility and characteristics of the service;

➡️ the definition of the service;

➡️ the organisation and management of its own performance;

➡️ the definition of the service;

➡️ the organisation and management of one’s own activity;

➡️ the use of IT and technological tools essential to the exercise of the profession;

➡️ the use of traditional and IT tools for the search for information, documents and terminology;

➡️ quality management and feedback.

For the administrative and management part of ISO 17100, however, these tasks are the responsibility of the TSP and/or the Project Manager (PM).

Two professional figures in comparison

Who is a TSP, what does it do and how does it relate to a professional translator? What content is provided by the TSP and what content is provided by the professional translator?

The answers are suggested by the definitions contained in the two standards: according to the reference text, the TSP or Translation Service Provider is the “language service provider (2.4.1) that provides professional translation services (2.1.6)”, i.e. “translation companies, individual translators or in-house translation departments”, while the translator is the “person who translates (2.1.1)”.

The description provided for the individual, or freelance, translator in UNI 11591 (a standard on translation competences, skills and knowledge) is more articulated: it is the “professional who has the task of transposing from a source culture-language to a target culture-language written texts of various nature, for example scientific, legal, technical and literary, while keeping the content and meaning unchanged and adapting the style and format to the context of the translation into the target culture-language”.

It is true that an international ISO standard is intentionally left generic in order to cover companies in the sector that differ greatly in size and business model, and that the task of adapting it to their work situation lies with the individual TSP. However, it is clear from the above definitions that in ISO 17100 (a standard on translation services) the key issue does not lie in the translated text, but also and above all in the “other” content, which plays a significant role in the provision of a quality translation service and is placed in the hands of the individual professional only when he is able to manage another set of processes and activities. It is therefore necessary to consider what elements constitute a ‘professional translation service’ and what role they play.

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