By Tatiana Batova
Purpose: As the demand for creating multilingual information products increases, so does the need to manage the costs of translation and to have sound approaches to producing high-quality multilingual texts. While component content management (CCM) is committed to both cost reduction and quality improvement, it also presents several challenges to multilingual quality. In this article, I present approaches for constructing multilingual quality as a global TC metric.
Method: This article relies on the results of two surveys, one conducted through technical communication venues and one through technical translation venues.
Results: The surveys identified contradictions in the beliefs and practices of multilingual quality in CCM environments that led to problems with multilingual quality. I group the contradictions and problems with the help of the activity theory lens and, based on this grouping, present questions that global technical communication project teams can ask themselves to improve their work practices.
Conclusions: Effective communication between stakeholders and the knowledge of end-users are the two prerequisites to creating high-quality multilingual information products in CCM environments. Approaches to multilingual quality need to be collaborative and highly contextualized—dependent on business goals, user needs, and available resources. Taking the lead in multilingual quality management is one area for technical communicators to add value to their organizations.
Keywords: content strategy, component content management, translation/localization, quality, global technical communication
- Provides a data-based analysis of CCM challenges and benefits for multilingual information products
- Outlines questions for global technical communication project teams to improve their multilingual quality practices with CCM
- Overviews a method for analyzing contradictions in multilingual quality practices with CCM and bringing these contradictions to successful resolutions
- Presents arguments for including various stakeholders in global CCM and for a focus on the users in global CCM
As the international trade levels increase and production cycles shorten, the need for fast-produced, high-quality information products in multiple languages rises: After all, international consumers are more likely to buy products if they have information about them in their native language (Common Sense Advisory, 2014). Yet, the need for fast-produced, high-quality information products in multiple languages is accompanied by the necessity to push down the costs of creating such information products—to manage the costs of translations and localizations.
A set of technologies (e.g., translation memory (TM)1, machine translation, and component content management (CCM)2 systems) and methods (e.g., writing for translation, topic-based writing3, structured authoring4, single sourcing, and collaborative development processes) are focused on decreasing the time and costs of translation and localization projects and improving the quality of multilingual information products. These technologies and methods provide sets of global technical communication (TC) metrics. For example, the tool metrics can include “number of words and terms stored in translation memory, number of source and target languages, and accuracy of source-to-target term matches;” the process metrics can include “word count reduction, development time improvements, and amount of content re-use” (“Metrics for translation,” n.d., para. 2).
Although the global TC metrics abound, they do not necessarily reflect the quality of multilingual information products, because multilingual quality metrics are a lot more difficult to capture. Improving the quality of multilingual information products is one of the key arguments for CCM, yet little empirical research—research that relies on concrete evidence—exists on multilingual quality in CCM contexts. What happens with multilingual quality when it needs to be achieved and evaluated in CCM environments?
In this article, I aim to address this gap and report on the comparative analysis of two surveys that focus on how CCM impacts multilingual quality beliefs and practices. The first survey was conducted via TC venues (Batova, 2015a & 2015b) and the second via technical translation venues. Based on the analysis of the survey results, I argue for constructing quality as a metric for global TC in CCM environments. Such metric recognizes the multiple sources of multilingual quality pain points and includes questions that global TC project teams can use to create collaborative, contextualized approached to quality.
Defining, evaluating, and measuring information quality, even in one language, is a difficult process that is fraught with disagreement (for discussions of approaches to achieving and measuring quality see, for example, Beaupre, 2010; Braster, 2007; Carey et al., 2014; Carliner, 1997; Markel & Wilson, 2009; Schriver, 1993; Smart, Seawright, & Detienne, 1995; Smith, 1996; Spilka, 2000; Vitas, 2013; E. Weiss, 2002; Wilde, Corbin, Jenkins, & Rouiller, 2006). With multilingual information products, the disagreements quickly multiply: Opinions about defining and characterizing multilingual quality come from TC and technical translation as fields of research and practice, as well as academic translation studies. Over the years, technical translation and translation studies publications have discussed the following theoretic and practical issues:
- Linguistic equivalence or staying true to the source text versus being target-oriented (e.g., Eubanks, 1998; Hallman, 1990; Hammond, 1995; T. Weiss, 1995)
- Causes and levels of translation errors (e.g., Brunette, 2000; Drugan, 2013; Lauscher, 2000; Pym, 1992)
- Translators’ liability for quality (e.g., Ansaldi, 1999; Byrne, 2007; Stejskal, 2006)
- Usability as a multilingual quality parameter (e.g., Byrne, 2010)
- Multiple possible variants of quality and translation as a process rather than a product (e.g., ASTM International, 2006; Lomme & Melby, 2015; Standardization, 2006)
- Agile development paradigm (Atkin, 2017; Kaptein, 2017; Lukavský & Cormican, 2017; Ressin, Abdelnour-Nocera, & Smith, 2011; Zamborsky, Savola, & Ruane, 2017)
TC—where publications about multilingual quality typically more often come from industry than academic authors—has a few questions of its own. One question, for example, dwells on outlining the strategies that differ for achieving and measuring of monolingual versus multilingual quality (Carey et al., 2014; Hoft, 1995). Another question focuses on the problems of organizational silos and collaboration. For example, Swisher (2014) notes that it is very common to have “the renegade translation activity that takes place across a company” and for stakeholders to have “no idea that other groups are creating content that is being translated” (231–232). Silos—“disparate groups of people in the same company, groups that often work on the same content with no knowledge of each other’s activity” (591–593)—are often to blame. Examples of organizational silos for global TC include technical documentation versus marketing versus technical support versus localization teams. The need to break the silos and to include translators into content development process is not a new idea, and “some companies have figured out that content creators and content translators should at least know each other’s email addresses” (Swisher, 2014, pp. 595–596). Yet, Swisher (2014) notes that “in general, content creators usually have painfully little interaction with localization and translation teams” (pp. 598–599).
One issue of multilingual quality that is present in both translation and TC publications is the need to consider the culture-defined informational needs, expectations, and preferences of global users—to think about the role of localization, transcreation, and translation in quality assurance. These three processes (translation, localization, and transcreation) differ by their place on the continuum of cultural adaptation:
- Translation. The term refers to producing an information product in a target language equivalent to the information product in the source language that communicates the same message and meaning as the source (“Translation, localization, and globalization,” n.d.). Arguably, a translation always has some element of localization (e.g., changing metric measurements to U.S. customary units). However, translation is different from localization in that the goal of translation is to “compose a text only once in a way that will serve as many audiences as possible and then to translate that one piece of writing into multiple languages” (Batova & Clark, 2015, p. 223).
- Localization. The term in its original sense describes adapting information to the cultural, rhetorical, educational, ethical, legal, and other characteristics of readers and the global, national, and local contexts in which they interact with texts and products (Bailie & Ledet, 2005; Batova, 2014; Byrne, 2010; Hoft, 1995; McCool, 2006; Melton, 2008). Localization can result in radically different information products in source and target languages (Batova & Clark, 2015). A word of caution: People often mean different things when they say localization. In fact, the term localization is often used as a synonym for translation when describing the industry that works on creating multilingual information products. Another common meaning refers to creating locale-specific versions of software and UI products (Carey et al., 2014; Cowan, 2010; Hackos, 2006; Ishida, 2002; Saldanha, 2009).
- Transcreation. The term describes the process where authors who are native speakers of their languages produce new information products in these languages based on the message and the cultural and legal specifics of the target locale (Batova, 2015b). It is different from localization in that it doesn’t start with a source text but rather with a creative brief, and its goal is to produce a desired outcome rather than a desired information product, even if this outcome involves completely different media (Kelly, 2013).
Adapting texts to the needs of global users and their respective cultures is an effective way to achieve multilingual quality. Adaptation helps overcome product resistance (Hoft, 1995), saves money by decreasing the need for user support (McCool, 2006), and increases sales and customer satisfaction (Bailie & Ledet, 2005). Yet, adaptation-based approaches like localization and transcreation are also costly and complex. They require experience and careful consideration of the ROI.
As this discussion illustrates, the task of defining what it means to create high-quality multilingual information products can often seem daunting. Yet, the goal of global TC is to create information products that are usable in both source and target languages, so each organization needs to determine how to achieve and evaluate multilingual quality in conjunction with translation cost savings that are usually the goal of CCM (Batova, 2014; “Metrics for translation,” n.d.).
CCM methodologies, particularly topic-based writing, structured authoring, and single-sourcing, and CCM technologies champion cost-savings and quality improvement and have gained wide-spread adoption. They are particularly important to account for when we talk about multilingual quality: They take the idea of reuse in translation to a different level, challenging the translation industry’s quality practices. When reusing content with a TM, translators still review complete target-language information products to ensure that reused translated segments fit within new contexts and that reuse coupled with linguistic idiosyncrasies (e.g., pronouns that are gender-dependent, adjective inflections) did not make the target information products problematic. CCM allows working with content at a granular level during source content development, so that technical communicators can track all changed and new source components and only send these out to language providers, who then, in turn, typically use a TM to complete the project. Providing background, batching, and giving read-only access to a CCM database to translators alleviates the problem of translating out of context to some degree; yet, translators still don’t know all possible contexts of use for the content they are translating. After technical communicators receive these newly translated components from the language providers, they assemble complete target information products, which become a combination of newly translated content components and components already in the multilingual CCM database. Translators rarely see these assembled information products.
As a result, in academic and industry literature in both TC and technical translation, the topic of multilingual quality in CCM environments is characterized by contradictions. Benefits are very substantial. Some of these benefits include
- Increased consistency (Freeman, 2006; Hackos, 2012; Rockley & Cooper, 2012; Samuels, 2011; Schengili-Roberts, 2008)
- Automation, structure, efficient storage and retrieval of data, and eliminating human error (Hysell, 2001; Ruyle, 2001; Swisher, 2014)
- Additional quality control (Mescan, 2011; Schengili-Roberts, 2008; Trotter, 2004)
- Localization affordances (Hart-Davidson, 2009)
Still, several factors present challenges for multilingual quality5:
- Lack of context, text segmentation, problems with training and human resources (Bailie, 2009; Broin, 2008; Byrne, 2013; Hackos, 2008; Severson, 2008; Swisher, 2011; Yeo, 2010)
- Neglecting cross-cultural reading comprehension principles (Gattis, 2008)
- Favoring translation over localization and transcreation (Batova & Clark, 2015; Clark, 2007),
- Handling the linguistic idiosyncrasies of particular languages (Batova & Clark, 2015; Hackos, 2008; Yeo, 2010)
- Problematic implications for “cooperation, and job satisfaction” (Pym, 2008)
- Conceptual controversy with terminology (Batova, 2015a)
- Lack of attention to strategies for adjusting multilingual quality practices to CCM environments (Batova, 2018)
In addition, some challenges that are typical for CCM implementations in general have impacts on translation and localization as well: inadequate analysis and planning (e.g., Abel, 2013; Andersen, 2014b; Berg, 2007; Dayton & Hopper, 2010; Kostur, 2004; Rockley, 2001; SDL, 2009; Shumate, 2011; Trotter, 2007); lack of organizational readiness and a change management plan (e.g., Bailie, 2009; Gollner, Andersen, Gollner, & Webster, 2015; Hackos, 2011; Robitaille, 2005; Rockley & Cooper, 2012; Shumate, 2011); and problems with buy-in during implementation (e.g., Andersen, 2008, 2014a; Bailie, 2013; Coggio, 2015; Gollner et al., 2015; Hamer, 2007; Robitaille, 2005b; Rockley & Cooper, 2012).
These publications that touch on the question of multilingual quality, particularly in CCM environments, served as the background for designing the two surveys that I report on in this article. In the next section, I describe the methodology for the project: how I approached designing the surveys and analyzing the data I collected.
The approach for studying multilingual quality practices in CCM environments consisted of two surveys. The first survey was conducted via TC venues and was supported and distributed by the Center for Information Development-Management (CIDM) via emails and in the organization’s LinkedIn group; I also distributed the survey through other TC and information management LinkedIn groups (e.g., Technical Writer Forum, Content Strategy). The second survey was conducted via technical translation venues and was distributed via emails by the American Translators’ Association (SciTech division) and in translation LinkedIn groups (e.g., ProZ; L10N; MATI; LocWorld). Both surveys received IRB approval from the Arizona State University.
The initial questions for the surveys were created based on a review of academic and trade publications in TC and technical translation and the results of a qualitative case study in an organization that transitioned to CCM to produce information products in English for the U.S., Spanish for Mexico and Latin America, and Simplified Chinese (Batova, 2018). In addition, my 14 years of experience in localization industry (having worked as a translator, language specialist, localization project manager, and global TC strategy consultant) also influenced the survey design. The questions in both surveys were divided into four categories:
- Demographic data (e.g., industry, roles, types of products and organizations, languages, experience)
- Work practices (e.g., translation/localization approaches and technologies and CCM approaches and technologies)
- Multilingual quality definitions, approaches, metrics
- Impacts of CCM on multilingual quality
While the thematic categories of questions remained the same in both surveys, some terminology in the surveys had to be adjusted to reflect usage differences in individual fields. In addition, several questions differed between the two surveys, as they were field specific (see Tables 1 and 2 for the complete list of survey questions). To create both surveys, I used the online survey format and Qualtrics engine because it provided advanced survey logic capabilities that allowed asking individual participants only questions that related to their specific experiences based on their previous answers.
To ensure that I had a comprehensive list of questions for both surveys and to fine-tune question wordings, terminology, and survey logic, I solicited extensive feedback. The survey distributed via TC venues was vetted by the academic and industry members of the CIDM’s Industry/Academy Collaborative Research Initiative. The survey distributed via technical translation venues was vetted and pilot-tested by two expert translation and localization professionals who worked as translators, reviewers, and localization project managers. Grouping questions, selecting wording and terminology reflective of individual fields, and using advanced survey logic helped increase survey completion and decrease participant fatigue.
Results and Discussion
Summary of the Survey Results
The survey distributed via TC venues helped collect data from 185 participants; all participants were working in CCM environments. However, the analysis focused on 98 participants who completed the survey and self-reported as being experienced with translation and/or localization. These 98 participants represented a strong cross-section of organizational sizes and industries. Most participants played multiple roles within their companies and produced a wide range of information products. Table 1 presents the responses to the survey by question.
The analysis of the responses to the survey distributed via TC venues revealed the following findings:
Table 1. Questions and responses to the survey distributed via TC venues
|Which of the following industries best characterizes your company or product? (select all that apply)||enterprise software (54), consumer software (19), consumer hardware (15), semiconductors (3), enterprise hardware (18), medical devices (14), pharmaceuticals (1), industrial/heavy machinery (16), consumer electronics (9), consumer software/gaming (5), telecommunications (12), computer services (9), other (please specify) (9)|
|Which of the following best describes the company you work for?||small business (1-249 employees) (15), medium-sized business (250-499 employees) (3), large business (500-999 employees) (8), enterprise (>1000 employees) (72), other (please specify) (0)|
|What languages do you speak?||27 respondents indicated speaking more than 1 language (each respondent selected the specific languages they speak)|
|How long has your organization or your team been using topic-based authoring and component content management approaches?||less than 1 year (9) 1-5 years (50) 6-10 years (21) more than 10 years (18)|
|Which of the following best describes your role in your organization?||writer (13), information architect (11), editor (2), publisher (1), manager (24), IT support staff (0), customer service representative (0), marketing specialist (0), content strategist (5), content engineer (1), media specialist (0), business analyst (1), graphic designer/illustrator (0), instructional designer (0), translation/localization manager (1), I have multiple roles in my organization (please list up to three roles that you take on the most) (39), other (please specify) (0)|
|What types of information products do you participate in developing? (select all that apply)||user manuals (98), training materials (36), embedded user assistance (help systems) (74), information apps (6), videos (45), magazines (0), books (5), newsletters (13), brochures (13), white papers (23), fact sheets (14), press releases (5), use cases (16), technical data sheets (37), release notes (50), other (please specify) (24)|
|What business practices does your organization or your team employ to produce information products in multiple languages?||We have in-house language specialists (10) Representatives of our organization at specific locations create them (6) We outsource to freelance translators (6) We outsource to translation and localization agencies (54) Representatives of our organization at specific locations outsource to freelance translators (1) Representatives of our organization at specific locations outsource to translation and localization agencies (4) We use different practices for different languages (please specify) (7) We use different practices for different information products (please specify) (3) I don’t know (2) Other (please specify) (5)|
|What linguistic practices does your organization or your team employ to produce information products in multiple languages? (select all that apply)||We translate (convert content into foreign languages) by hiring human translators without any technology (23) We translate (convert content into foreign languages) by hiring human translators and leveraging human effort with Computer Assisted Translation software (“translation memory”) (69) We translate (convert content into foreign languages) with the help of machine translation (8) We translate (convert content into foreign languages) with the help of machine translation (MT) and hire human post-MT editors (16) We localize (adapt information products to make them more meaningful, appropriate, and effective for a particular culture, locale, or market) (26) We transcreate (authors who are speakers of foreign languages produce new texts in these languages based on the message of the source text, their technical expertise, and their cultural and legal knowledge of the target locale) (6) Other (please specify) (1)|
|Which of the following best describes the topic-based authoring and component content management approaches of your organization or your team? (select all that apply)||developing discrete topics that answer a single question and can be used in multiple deliverables (71) developing reusable content at the component level (e.g., hazard statements) (47) developing reusable content at the fragment level (e.g., conrefs in DITA) (57) cutting and pasting (11) other (please specify) (7)|
|Quality Definitions, Approaches, Metrics|
|Do you believe that it is appropriate to localize information products?||No, information products must be the same in every language (6) Yes, information products need to be adapted based on local cultures and practices (70) It depends on the information product (please specify) (22)|
|How does your organization or your team ensure the quality of your information products in target languages? (select all that apply)||We ensure the quality of the source content (64) We promote communication between all stakeholders who participate in creating information products in all languages (35) We provide training in content strategy, including new processes, methodologies, and technologies (23) We invest in processes and technologies that ensure quality of target content and information products (41) We ensure the accuracy and adequacy of technical, marketing, and legal details (32) We make use of strategies and technologies that help ensure consistency of foreign language projects (34) We adjust our practices based on the evaluation of changing goals and resources (22) We hire cultural consultants (2) We hire qualified language providers (34) We have a style guide for our language providers (21) We analyze our audiences in different locales and focus on user-centered design (7) We analyze information products of our competitors abroad (8) We conduct usability-testing of our information products abroad (15) Our information architecture accounts for differences in information needs and preferences of customers in different locales (10) We proofread and edit our target content (topics or other content elements) (23) We review complete information products in target languages (23) I don’t know (8) Other (please specify) (14)|
|How do you measure the quality of information products in target languages? (select all that apply)||Number, type, and complexity of support calls abroad that are related to the quality of technical publications (16) Number of complaints regarding the technical publications by customers abroad (31) Number of typing mistakes and spelling and grammar errors in a new unit of content in a target language (8) Customer satisfaction measured through surveys (17) Readability, ease of navigation, relevance, technical accuracy, cultural appropriateness (13) Comparison with competitor’s information products in the same language (2) Comparison with information products of locally-based competitors (2) My organization or my team developed our own benchmarks for measuring the quality of global information products (please describe) (4) We do not measure the quality of information products in foreign languages (19) You cannot objectively and usefully measure the quality of global information products: All quantifiable characteristics do not relate to improving customer satisfaction, decreasing costs of doing business, or increasing sales in a foreign market (2) I don’t know (19) Other (please specify) (12)|
|Are there ever any complaints about the quality of information products of your company in target languages?||Yes (48) No (20) I don’t know (30)|
|How do you get data related to customer complaints about information products in different locales?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|What do customers complain about?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|How often do you hear about such complaints?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|How do you address these complaints?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|What helps you avoid complaints?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|What aspects of your quality practices for translation/localization projects would you like to keep/what aspects would you like to change and why?||Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes|
|CCM and Multilingual Quality|
|How do topic-based authoring and component content management approaches in your organization or your team influence the practices of producing information products in target languages? (select all that apply)||They have positive impacts (72) They have negative impacts (18) I don’t know (10) Other (please specify) (12)|
|What advantages do topic-based authoring and component content management approaches have for creating information products in target languages? (select all that apply)||They help us select which content to send to language providers (35) They help us reuse content in target languages (52) They make information products in a target language more consistent (e.g., help with version control, help to keep information consistent for different information products within one language) (54) They help with format and information consistency between source and target languages (51) They improve our processes (e.g., eliminate human errors, help with managing translation and localization projects) (39) They help avoid desktop publishing costs (39) They give us more control over content (e.g., make it easier to switch language providers) (23) They give better opportunities for adapting information products to cultural information expectations of audiences in different countries (e.g., different information models for different locales/languages) (12) Other (please specify) (2)|
|What downsides do topic-based authoring and component content management approaches have for creating information products in target languages? (select all that apply)||They make it easy not to provide language specialists and translators with the necessary context (5) They make it harder to choose localization over translation, since keeping information consistent between languages is so easy (4) They make it harder to find language specialists who are experts in our industry and are familiar with topic-based authoring environment (6) They require additional considerations when we work with highly inflected languages (8) Other (please specify) (6)|
- There are apparent contradictions in the beliefs and practices of multilingual quality as it relates to cultural adaptation.
Ninety-four percent of participants believed that information products need to be adapted for the culture-defined needs and expectations of global users, at least for specific types of technical information products. At the same time, only 35% of those who believed in adaptation practiced such adaptation (through localization and transcreation). This gap between beliefs and practices of cultural adaptation can have multiple reasons behind it, but its existence is an indication of the need to study, analyze, and improve approaches to multilingual quality in TC.
In evaluating this finding, I was particularly careful to avoid biases and false interpretations. First, to make sure that the understanding of terminology didn’t impact the answers of the participants, I provided definitions of the terms localization and transcreation in the wordings of the respective questions and the answer options. Second, I considered possible correlation between industry and adaptation beliefs and practices that could explain the difference based on regulations, liability, and market-defined competition in specific industries and found no significant direct correlation (see Figure 1). Third, I reviewed the possibility that people who believe in adaptation could be more likely to complete the survey about multilingual quality and so sway the survey results to show the overwhelming belief in adaptation. However, this possible sampling bias does not explain the gap between the beliefs and practices of multilingual quality.
- TC professionals perceive more positive than negative impacts of CCM on multilingual quality.
Seventy-three percent of participants noted that CCM has positive impacts on multilingual quality and 18% reported negative impacts.
Of those who reported positive impacts (72 participants), in a multiple-choice question, 75% praised consistency within a language, 71% consistency across languages, 72% reuse opportunities in target languages, 54% process improvement and savings related to desktop publishing, 49% the opportunity to only send select content to language providers, and 32% control over content. While some of these categories overlap, their overall focus is on consistency and reuse. Comparatively, among the negative impacts, the top categories were problems with highly-inflected languages and finding language specialists who are experts in a specific industry and are familiar with CCM authoring environments.
- CCM environments can privilege specific elements of multilingual quality definitions above others.
When asked about advantages and disadvantages of CCM for multilingual quality, 52% of survey participants mentioned consistency across languages as one of the top advantages of CCM. Only 16% mentioned localization: 4% stated that CCM makes it harder to decide to adapt and 12% noted that CCM provides better opportunities for adaptation. All these participants were among those who believed in adapting information products based on culture-defined needs of users.
This result has important implications. First, relatively few participants mentioned localization when it comes to the benefits of CCM despite believing in the benefits of adaptation. Whatever the reasons behind this self-reporting, it indicates that only few participants considered the opportunities CCM holds for adapting texts, as well as possible challenges of CCM to multilingual quality as related to adaptation.
Second, some participants saw format and information consistency between source and target languages as one benefit of CCM. Such consistency across languages6 can often be beneficial, yet we must be careful when focusing on consistency alone: keeping information products largely the same across languages is the opposite of adaptation.
- Strategies for assuring and measuring multilingual quality need more wide-spread adoption.
Thirty-nine percent of participants either didn’t know about or did not measure multilingual quality. Comparatively, 42% measured multilingual quality through user feedback (with a large overlap between these three categories, the top three categories were “Number, type, and complexity of support calls abroad that are related to the quality of technical publications,” “Number of complaints regarding the technical publications by customers abroad,” and “Customer satisfaction measured through surveys”).
Top categories for achieving multilingual quality were ensuring the quality of the source content (65%), investing in processes and technologies that ensure quality of target content and information products (42%), promoting communication between all stakeholders who participate in creating information products in all languages (36%), using strategies and technologies that help ensure consistency of foreign language projects (35%), and hiring qualified language providers (35%).
- User complaints can often be attributed to insufficient adaptation.
When asked about user satisfaction with multilingual quality measured through user complaints, 49% of the participants stated that they received user complaints, from several times every month to several times a year. The number of complaints was related to the length and frequency of the production cycles. It is worth noting that 31% of survey participants didn’t know if they received user complaints and only 15% of participants reported in the open-ended question actively soliciting feedback from multilingual users. This result is in line with what we know about the problems technical communicators experience with acquiring user information (Virtaluoto, 2014).
Those who received and had access to user complaints were asked to name characteristics of these user complaints in an open-ended question. The thematic pattern coding of the answers revealed that many complaints can be attributed to the lack of or insufficient adaptation (e.g., “text inappropriate for a specific region,” “language style and fluency,” “unnatural sounding text,” “no ‘tuning’ to local users,” “confusing text,” and “low findability”).
- Successful strategies for multilingual quality in CCM environments combine knowledge of the localization industry practices, effective use of technology, effective communication with multilingual quality stakeholders, and access to users.
There were only two respondents who reported lack of complaints and who, at the same time, reported soliciting user feedback. The small number of participants in this group is very significant as it shows the urgency of developing strategies for achieving multilingual quality in CCM environments—and, of course, for getting access to user data.
Yet, the responses of the two participants in this small group provided some initial insights about their strategies for success with multilingual quality, because, in a specific set of questions, their responses were virtually identical. The two participants had over ten years of experience with translation and localization and spoke at least two languages. They believed in and practiced adaptation. They reported saving time by leveraging multilingual content with TM and a CCM software and investing this time into quality practices. They often re-evaluated their goals and resources and discussed how to adjust their quality approaches with their colleagues, and they provided individual contracts for each translation and localization project with specific requirements for each project. This group self-reported working with sales personnel in the respective countries, having good working relationships with translation vendors, valuing quality of source material, and usability testing complete information products in target languages.
The survey distributed via technical translation venues included 144 participants. However, the analysis focused on 58 participants who answered all the survey questions and self-reported as working with microtranslation projects—projects that involve translating components of content rather than complete information products7. These 58 participants represented a strong cross-section of industries and translation business types and a variety of professional roles and types of information products created. Table 2 presents the responses to the survey by question.
The analysis of the responses to the survey distributed via technical translation venues revealed the following findings:
- Beliefs and practices of multilingual quality as it relates to cultural adaptation hold potential.
Eighty-six percent of participants stated that they believed in the importance of cultural adaptation, depending on the types of technical information products. Out of those, 88% reported practicing cultural adaptation through localization and transcreation. This correlation of believing in and practicing adaptation could mean excellent news for global TC.
Yet, it is important to consider possible biases that could have influenced such a response. First, the reason could be the selection bias—people who are more interested in the topic are more likely to take part in the survey and, thus, a sizable percentage of participants would report believing in and practicing adaptation. Second, the belief versus behavior bias and the recall bias might have influenced the results. In other words, it is hard to remember and correctly evaluate events from the past if one is solely relying on one’s own recollection of these events. Third, the image management bias could have impacted the results as well. Saying that you believe in something but do not follow through on your beliefs can cause cognitive dissonance, and it is common for us humans to try and avoid this state.
- CCM challenges the quality practices of the translation and localization industry despite overall level of experience and experience working with content components.
The survey participants reported an overall high level of experience in translation and localization industry and a substantial experience with content components: 67% of participants had ten years or more of experience in the translation and localization industry, and only 9% had less than one year of experience with translating content components. At the same time, only 22% reported feeling comfortable or very comfortable working with content components rather than complete information products; 32% reported the same in the group with 10+ years of experience with both translation and CCM (see Figure 2). The top reason for discomfort in the open-ended follow-up question was named as the lack of context.
Table 2: Questions and Responses to the Survey Distributed via Technical Translation Venues
Questions Responses Demographic Data How many years have you worked for the technical translation and localization industry? less than 1 year (1) 1-5 years (12) 6-10 years (6) more than 10 years (39) Which of the following best describes your business? (select all that apply) I work for an organization in-house (11) I am a freelancer and I work for translation agencies (4) I am a freelancer and I work for clients directly (25) I am a freelancer and I have different practices for different projects (26) other (please specify) (4) Which of the following best characterizes the businesses you work for? (select all that apply) enterprise software (18), consumer software (16), telecommunications hardware/software/systems (19), semiconductors (11), enterprise hardware (11), medical devices (21), pharmaceuticals (19), industrial/heavy machinery (26), consumer electronics (21), consumer software/gaming (11), computer services (17), other (please specify) (21) What types of texts do you work with? (select all that apply) user manuals (50), training materials (43), embedded user assistance (help systems) (19), information apps (18), videos (10), magazines (11), books (9), newsletters (25), brochures (41), white papers (18), fact sheets (28), press releases (32), use cases (12), technical data sheets (39), release notes (13), I don’t know (please explain) (1), other (please specify) (13) Which of the following best describes your role? (select all that apply) technical translator (47), localization engineer (4), transcreation expert (8), reviewer (20), QA expert (10), translation/localization project manager (9), other (please specify) (4) How long have you been working with microtranslation projects? less than 1 year (5) 1-5 years (26) 6-10 years (8) more than 10 years (19) On a scale from 1 to 4, how comfortable are you with microtranslation projects when compared to working with whole documents? 1 (not comfortable) (19) 2 (somewhat comfortable) (26) 3 (comfortable) (9) 4 (very comfortable) (4) What makes you comfortable or uncomfortable? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes Work Practices What type of tasks do you usually perform? (select all that apply) I translate without any type of translation technology (23) I translate and use a Computer Assisted Translation software (41) I do post-machine translation editing (15) I localize (adapt technical texts to make them more meaningful, appropriate, and effective for a particular culture, locale, or market) (32) I transcreate (produce new texts in these languages based on the message of the source text and my cultural and legal knowledge of the target locale) (16) Other (please specify) (5) Quality Definitions, Approaches, Metrics Do you believe that it is necessary to adapt technical texts? No, technical texts must be the same in every language (7) Yes, technical texts need to respond to local cultures, marketplace demands, and legal specifics (36) It depends on the technical text (please specify) (14) Other (specify) (1) What strategies to ensure quality do you employ? (select all that apply) I have a degree/certificate in translation/localization (26) I only work into my native language (36) I do research for each project (51) I stay in touch with the target languages and cultures (38) I communicate with technical writers who wrote the text in the source language and ask them questions (25) I follow project specifications (43) I know who potential audiences for the text I’m working on are (32) I always have another translator review my projects (20) I follow a style guide (29) I attend translation/localization conferences and seminars as part of continued education (20) I use a terminology database (40) I use a translation memory (43) I comply with industry quality standards (ASTM, ISO, EN, CEN, DIN) (20) I use a quality assurance check tool (33) I don’t know (0) Other (please specify) (6) In your opinion, what parameters show that a target text is of high quality? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes Are there ever any complaints about the quality of projects you worked on? Yes (13) No (34) I don’t know (11) What are these complaints about? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes How often do you hear about such complaints? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes How do you address these complaints? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes What helps you avoid complaints? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes What aspects of your quality practices would you like to keep/what aspects would you like to change and why? Open ended question: answers coded for patterns and themes CCM and Multilingual Quality How does the shift to microtranslation approach impact the quality of technical texts in target languages? (select all that apply) Microtranslation projects have negative impacts (36) Microtranslation projects have positive impacts (4) I don’t know (10) Other (please specify) (8) What are the positive impacts of microtranslation on quality? (select all that apply) Consistency between different documents in my target language(s) (3) Consistency for the same document in my target language and the source language (2) Improved processes (e.g., fewer human errors, help with managing translation/localization projects) (2) Better opportunities for adapting technical texts to cultural information expectations of audiences in different countries (4) I don’t know (0) Other (please specify) (0) What are the negative impacts of microtranslation on quality? (select all that apply) I don’t get enough context to work with granular content (32) There are fewer localization and transcreation projects (2) I cannot spend much time on researching each individual project (19) There is no training on how to work with granular content (8) I don’t get to review whole documents (27) I don’t know (0) Other (please specify) (19)
This finding reveals the dire need to include translators in discussing multilingual quality, so that their opinions and concerns are taken into account. Working with content components out of context is difficult at best, and it cannot be automatically assumed that technical translators will know how to do this on the spot and on their own. Although only 14% complained about the lack of training, training can be one avenue of communicating about challenges of working with content components when organizations transition to CCM, whether translators are in-house employees or contractors. Such communication can promote preserving the dedicated teams of translators who are familiar with the product lines of specific organizations during transition to CCM.
- Technical translators perceive the impacts of CCM on multilingual quality as largely negative.
Compared to the TC survey, the participants of the technical translation survey were skeptical about the advantages of CCM for multilingual quality. Sixty-two percent of participants noted that CCM has negative impacts on multilingual quality and 7% reported positive impacts.
Of those who reported negative impacts (36 participants), in a multiple-choice question, 89% complained about the lack of context, 75% about not reviewing whole documents, 53% about not having time to research each individual project, 22% about no availability of training that would focus on content components, and 6% about fewer localizations. Comparatively, among the positive impacts, better opportunities for adaptation and consistency between different documents in the target language were the two top categories.
- There is a need to collaboratively re-think strategies for assuring and measuring multilingual quality.
The question about measuring quality was refocused to ask about understanding quality and was switched to an open-ended format: the question needed to involve both freelance and in-house language specialists, as well as employees of translation agencies, and freelancers don’t typically get access to measurements. This rephrasing had certain methodological disadvantages (e.g., inconsistent phrasing can lead to difficulties with categorizing responses) but proved to uncover important insights.
The pattern analysis of the open-ended answers revealed the following themes: consistency, correct terminology, the combination of style/tone/grammar, and cultural appropriateness. These themes, yet again, point at the interweaving of consistency and cultural adaptation as multilingual quality parameters—this time without multiple-choice prompts.
The top strategies for assuring quality included doing research for each project (88%), following project specifications (74%), using a translation memory (74%), and using a terminology database (69%). While the last three answer options mirror industry best practices, the first one deserves more attention. Fifty-three percent of participants who complained about negative impacts of CCM on multilingual quality reported not having time to research each individual project, yet 88% of participants overall cited such research as an important multilingual quality strategy. These numbers indicate a conflict between best practices and changes in quality practices in CCM contexts.
- Language providers who receive complaints about multilingual quality attribute them to the shift in translation processes.
Twenty-two percent of survey participants reported receiving complaints about quality, while 59% reported no such complaints.
A large percentage of participants not receiving complaints about multilingual quality can be encouraging but can also be a false negative. Getting to know about complaints depends on communication strategies, available resources, and specific processes. For example, TC teams might not be relating complaints to technical translators who are contractors but rather trying to solve them in-house; translation agencies might be referring the problematic projects to a different team of translators to validate/invalidate and correct quality issues.
The pattern analysis of the open-ended question about the reasons for complaints revealed the following themes: time constraints on the microtranslation projects (combined with poor pay rates), little emphasis on research, being a contractor (having to switch between small projects for different clients), lack of instructions/specifications, source text (misunderstanding or poor quality), and lack of an established terminology database.
- Technical translators see adaptation, effective communication with technical communicators, and more knowledge of end-users’ needs as the basis for creating high-quality multilingual information products.
Eighty-six percent of translators believed that information products need to be adapted. The thematic pattern analysis of the answers to an open-ended question that asked the participants about their understandings of multilingual quality revealed a strong presence of the adaptation theme as well (e.g., “fluency and clarity,” “flow,” “ease of understanding by target users,” “reads natural in the target language,” “logic and understanding by a different culture,” “impossible to say that it’s a translation,” and “natural style of the target language”).
In the multiple-choice question about the negative impacts of CCM on multilingual quality, more than half of the group who selected negative impacts chose “other” in addition to the options provided in the survey. These open-ended comments emphasized the need to have solid teams with good collaboration strategies and open lines of communication, as well as more knowledge of end users as the prerequisites to creating effective technical information products for the global market. In another open-ended question, more than half of the participants who reported not having complaints about the quality of their work also reported communication with technical communicators and effective collaboration strategies as the main reason.
Constructing Quality as a Global TC Metric
The survey results revealed several aspects of multilingual quality practices in CCM environments that are symptomatic of changes happening at a pace that prevents cross-functional stakeholders from developing collaborative, contextualized approaches to multilingual quality. Activity theory provided a way for a productive intervention: It allowed me to group the contradictions and problems identified by the survey based on their source, formulate the questions global TC project teams can use to create collaborative, contextualized approaches to multilingual quality in CCM contexts, and devise communication strategies for global TC project teams that would lead to appropriate and practical corrective actions.
Activity theory is a multidisciplinary descriptive framework for examining human activity (Engeström, 2000) that is particularly useful for studying human activity when it involves technology (Nardi, 1996). Activity theory strives to provide an understanding of humans and their social entities in their everyday life contexts by focusing on the creation, structure, and processes of their activities—their purposeful interactions with the world (Leontiev, 1978). Activity theory depicts human activity as an activity system that consists of several nodes: subjects, objects, mediating artifacts, community, rules, division of labor, and outcomes. Subjects are the doers of the activity, and they strive to achieve the object—the goal of the activity and the motivation behind it. Subjects and objects interact and influence each other through this interaction (Kaptelinin & Nardi, 2006). Mediating artifacts are cognitive, social, or material means that help subjects strive toward and/or achieve the objects. Subjects belong to a group or an organization that is their community. The community determines how they perform the activity (rules) and how they share their responsibilities in the activity (division of labor). The outcomes of an activity system symbolize the consequences of the activity (Cole & Engeström, 1993; Engeström, 1987, 1993; Yamagata-Lynch, 2010).
If we look at the problems and contradictions identified by the survey through the lens of the activity theory, the object of the global TC activity system is efficient creation of high-quality multilingual information products. This object is highly problematic, because the ways it is understood and practiced do not always coincide, particularly when considering cultural adaptation and consistency. Although the quality of individual components can be rather high (and the content of the components can be consistent), it does not equal the quality of the potential information products, as those can depend on the linguistic peculiarities of individual languages and culture-defined informational preferences of local users. In fact, insufficient cultural adaptation is one of the common themes of user complaints. Negative feedback from users can be quite common, yet, in many cases, subjects do not have access to this feedback. In such a way, although it is important to measure time and money spent on creating the object, global TC project teams who work in CCM environments also need to answer the following questions to evaluate multilingual quality:
- How well written and internationalized is the source content?
- How well do users respond to target language information products?
- How well do we know the characteristics and information needs and preferences of these users? How different are these characteristics, needs, and preferences from those of the users in the source language?
- How well do we meet other standards/methodologies/criteria for quality?
The subjects of the activity system of global TC are technical communicators, technical translators, and other stakeholders who might not necessarily refer to themselves as belonging to these two categories, but who are involved in creating multilingual information products (e.g., reviewers, information managers, etc.). The subjects mention the importance of effective communication strategies with other subjects and the community (other people within their organizations who might be supporting global TC, such as marketing, sales, and engineers) as a strategy for achieving multilingual quality. In such a way, constructing quality as a global TC metric means asking the following questions in global TC project teams:
- Who are the multilingual quality stakeholders and their community (irrespective of their job titles and contractual relations to the company)?
- How do these stakeholders relate to one another?
- What part of the content lifecycle do they participate in? What are their roles and responsibilities?
- Are they participating in the multilingual quality discussion? What are their pain points in multilingual quality processes?
The mediating artifacts of the global TC activity system are the technologies and approaches to writing, including topic-based authoring, structured writing, single-sourcing, CCM systems, TMs, and content components as specific genres of writing. CCM technologies and methodologies as mediating artifacts create multiple pain points. Technical translators perceive the impacts of CCM on multilingual quality as largely negative, while technical communicators as largely positive. CCM environments can privilege specific elements of multilingual quality definitions above others, e.g., consistency above cultural adaptation. In order to take advantage of the CCM technologies and methodologies and counteract the challenges, global TC project teams need to ask the following questions:
- What global TC technologies (e.g., CCM, TM, DTP software) and methodologies (e.g., topic-based authoring, structured writing, minimalism) do stakeholders and community use? Are our tools configured properly to support localization? Who owns the TMs? What pain points are related to these technologies and methodologies?
- How can we encourage the multilingual quality stakeholders and community to share their opinions about these technologies and methodologies? How can we encourage them to investigate more beneficial or suitable technological solutions or adapt existing technologies to better fit our needs and goals?
- How do we best educate multilingual quality stakeholders and community about CCM technologies and methodologies, as well as global TC approaches (translation, localization, transcreation)?
The changes in rules and division of labor in the global TC activity system challenge the quality practices of the translation and localization industry despite overall level of experience and experience working with content components of the language providers. Language providers who receive complaints about multilingual quality attribute them to the shift in their processes after transition to microtranslations. Working with components without the knowledge of the potentiality of these components (i.e., all potential contexts where these components might be used) and the inability to follow best practices that include researching each individual project lead to the decrease in multilingual quality. TC stakeholders reported quality of the source text as the main multilingual quality assurance strategy, with other strategies being reported by considerably fewer stakeholders. In such a way, while the strategies of the language providers require collaborative rethinking, the strategies of TC stakeholders require a more wide-spread adoption.
In addition, no stakeholders from TC or translation and localization industry reported being in decision-making roles about the choice of translation, localization, or transcreation as the global TC strategy. Very few of these stakeholders had direct access to users, yet many of them reported the knowledge of the users as one of the foremost strategies for achieving multilingual quality.
While both groups emphasized the importance of communication with one another, the multilingual quality issues in CCM environments did not seem to be resolved based on current communication strategies. One explanation could be that language providers are typically contractors and perceive bringing up the issue of not feeling comfortable with content components to people who provide work for them as risky, because they can come across as incompetent.
To evaluate the practices and processes of multilingual quality, the following questions can be useful for global TC project teams:
- What are our market priorities, globally? What is our company’s globalization strategy? Who decides on the global TC strategy and how do they make these decisions? What is our budget for global TC?
- What are the current practices for the stakeholders and community of global TC (e.g., terminology management, controlled language authoring, topic-based writing, microtranslations)? What are the pain points in these practices, if any? How can we find out more about these pain points?
- How do current multilingual quality practices contribute to the success of our technical information products?
A word of caution: It is important to think of the questions above as a starting point for negotiating multilingual quality as a CCM metric; these questions need to be adapted based on the specifics of teams, available resources, and expertise.
Metrics are the signals that show whether something is working, so using metrics is key to tracking changes, both positive and negative, over time. In TC, metrics are “critical to running a successful documentation team and negotiating for improvements,” because they help to “demonstrate that promises were met,” “validate or correct assumptions,” “alert the team to irregularities,” and “track progress toward a goal” (Stevens, 2017, pp. 101–102). The impacts of CCM on global TC need to be measured to evaluate how CCM re-shapes the practices and fulfills on the promise of reducing time and cost, while improving quality.
Typically, the metrics that are collected for global TC in CCM environments are content components sent for translation, cost of translation, and time for translation. These metrics compare the cost of translating content across channels before CCM and the cost of change with reduction in words translated due to reuse and minimalism, reduction in time required for translation, reduction of content sent for translation because existing translation is reused from CCMS, and reduction or elimination of digital publishing costs (Lewis, 2012; Rockley, 2013). I argue that multilingual quality needs to be included as one of multilingual CCM metrics: Not only do users make purchasing decisions and product and brand recommendations based on technical information products (Melville, 2014), international businesses need to meet “ethical standards of utility, rights, justice, and care” (Lipus, 2006, p. 76) by providing users with high-quality information products (Lipus, 2006; Markel, 2001).
It is paramount to adjust the approaches to measuring quality to CCM contexts (as compared to whole-document multilingual practices), because CCM reshapes the practices of the translation and localization industry. So, how do we construct quality as a global TC metric in CCM environments? First, metrics need to align with the larger goals, or else they can lead to “unwanted side effects and skewed numbers that result in unrealistic expectations” (Stevens, 2017, p. 101). Quality metrics are, traditionally, the measurements used in ensuring customers receive acceptable products; they need to directly translate user needs into acceptable measurements. While the goals of measuring quality are connected to user satisfaction, broadly defined, measurements need to reflect the fact that “creating global products seems to come in stages, starting with simple translations and basic internationalization, then thinking about cultural differences, and finally working toward a deeper understanding of people in different places” (Quesenbery, 2011, p. 16).
Second, metrics should reflect the collaborative nature of global TC, in which high-quality information products reflect success or failure of the entire project team. Identifying multilingual quality stakeholders and designing effective communication strategies with them is a large part of achieving quality.
Third, “what you should measure is almost always a subset of what you can easily measure combined with a little bit of what you can’t” (Stevens, 2017, p. 102). For CCM environments, constructing quality as a global TC metric includes measuring not just savings of time and resources but also the reaction to the information products by global users and the collaborative process of creating these products.
Limitations and Future Research
It is worth noting that the participants of both surveys were not randomly selected but rather volunteered. It is impossible to say if their views were impacted in any way by their interest in the topic of the survey and, as a result, if their answers would be representative of the entire fields of TC and technical translation and localization. I mitigated this limitation by making the surveys available through multiple venues on LinkedIn in addition to professional listservs. As a result, the survey participants came from a strong cross-section of industries, organizational sizes, and workplace roles. However, in the future, the analysis based on the results of the two surveys would benefit from a larger number of participants and random sampling. It could also be extended to include more source languages. In addition, it is important to target professionals who might not be accessing TC or technical translation forums or organizations (because they do not refer to themselves as belonging to these groups, e.g., in-country reviewers who are SMEs) but who are nonetheless multilingual quality stakeholders.
Another possible limitation of the study is inherent to survey methodology. Surveys typically rely on self-reporting, so biases such as belief versus behavior, honesty/image management, and introspective ability need to be carefully considered during interpretation. In addition, changes in precise wordings of the questions, the order of questions, the understanding of questions by individual survey participants can also impact the responses. To counteract such biases, I relied on experts in the fields of TC and technical translation to vet the survey; I also explained to the participants in the informed consent that their answers are anonymous. Although these measures were aimed at eliminating survey biases, they do not provide a 100% guarantee.
The results may be limited by specific industries represented in the survey. In the future, it would be useful to compare current results with more participants from highly regulated industries, such as petroleum product manufacturing, motor vehicle manufacturing, or financial services. Such industries might have differing approaches for global TC strategies prescribed by regulations (see Figure 1).
Both TC and localization are fast-changing industries, with practices and approaches continuously developing, technologies evolving, and new books and articles being published. Since the time I conducted the surveys, for example, The Language of Localization (Brown-Hoekstra, 2017) appeared, which is an excellent source for consistent and uniform definitions. Such publications are paramount for improving how we construct and negotiate multilingual quality in CCM environments, because not only can terminology and practices be uncertain and fluid, change itself is often variable, faster or slower in some locations, industries, and organizations than in others.
Implications of the Study
This study has important implications for TC theory, education, and practice.
For TC theory, the study helps to better conceptualize the impacts of CCM on global TC, where content components as texts help examine “the ways in which texts act in the development and mediation of knowledge in a variety of settings” (Rude, 2015, p. 369).
For TC education, it forecasts skill sets required for TC graduates who strive to have sustainable careers in global TC environments mediated by CCM methodologies and technologies. It also emphasizes the focus on users and the global context of use in TC education regardless of the class: Even in classes focused on CCM technologies, it is important to prepare students to think of global contexts of their work, the impacts of technologies on work practices, and the importance of safe-guarding the emphasis on users, because in the increasingly intertwined world economics, success for technical communicators will be “a matter of usability—creating products and services that are easy to use in a range of cultural environments. Achieving this objective will require technical communicators to approach user experience design according to the contexts of use found in different cultures” (St.Amant, 2017, p. 123).
In addition, this study shows the necessity of teaching students how to be job crafters (Batova, 2018): people who make ‘‘the physical and cognitive changes […] in the task or relational boundaries of their work’’ (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001, p. 179) to “move from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ job description to an individualized enactment of the job” (Wrzesniewski, LoBuglio, Dutton, & Berg, 2012, p. 287). In such a way, students can learn to align their internal goals with business goals in their work contexts (Berg, Dutton, & Wrzesniewski, 2007), which leads to better job satisfaction.
For TC practice, the results of the study provide strategies for more effective and efficient decision-making in global TC project teams, better language and pathways for collaboration between technical communicators and technical translators, and additional arguments for including translators at every stage of information development and management processes.
With significant implications for TC theory, education, and practice, the results of this study also create an important link between academic research and industry practice. This study took exigence in the field (Andersen et al., 2013; Benavente, Rude, Hart-Davidson, & Andersen, 2013), built upon previous research, and, as such, contributed to creating a coherent body of TC knowledge that informs and is informed by practice (Rude, 2015; Spilka, 1993).
- A translation memory (TM) is a database of previously translated segments of text (e.g., sentences, phrases, paragraphs); in this database, source and target segments of text are separated from their visual presentation and are matched together. New texts are compared to the database to identify identical and similar segments. Such segments can then be reused.
- Component content management (CCM) is a set of technologies and methodologies that allows working with texts as granular, structured, reusable snippets rather than complete documents.
- A topic is a unit of information that has a title and content and that is short enough to be specific to a single subject (Hackos & IBM, 2006).
- Structured authoring “is a publishing workflow that lets you define and enforce consistent organization of information in documents, whether printed or online” (O’Keefe, 2009, p. 2).
- For an extended literature review of multilingual quality in CCM environments in TC and technical translation publications refer to (Batova, 2014).
- Versus consistency within a language where information is consistent over a range of genres that relate to a product series or product versions in one language.
- Even though two expert translation and localization professionals advised me to use the term “microtranslation” in the survey, I explained this term to avoid possible terminology confusion. Informed consent and the initial inclusion-exclusion question provided explanations of the term “microtranslation” and placed it in the CCM context.
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About the Author
Tatiana Batova is an Assistant Professor and a Senior Sustainability Scholar at Arizona State University, where she teaches technical communication and user experience. Her research interests include global technical and healthcare communication, user experience, content strategy, and sustainability. She has worked as an information developer, translator, localization project management, and multilingual consultant in healthcare and pharmaceutical fields. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manuscript received 18 August 2017, revised 22 December 2017; accepted 2 March 2018.