Translation Quality, Quality Management and Agency: Principles and Practice in the European Union Institutions

  • Joanna DruganEmail author
  • Ingemar Strandvik
  • Erkka Vuorinen
Part of the Machine Translation: Technologies and Applications book series (MATRA, volume 1)


Translation quality and translation quality management are key concerns for the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation (DGT), and the European Union institutions more broadly. Translated texts are often legally binding, politically sensitive, confidential or important for the image of the institutions. For legislative texts, an important principle of EU law is that there is no ‘original’: all language versions are equivalent and equally authentic. Consistency in translation strategies and in the approach to quality is therefore critical.

In this contribution, we first outline the context in which translation takes place in the EU institutions, focusing on challenges for quality. We illustrate how translation quality is managed in practice, identifying two guiding principles: consistency of approach, and consistency of quality. We explain how DGT’s quality management policy defines quality and how it should be managed, then demonstrate why achieving ‘equivalent’ quality across all language versions, translators, and institutions is hard. We examine how translated texts are dealt with in the attempt to achieve this goal. Last, we widen the focus to consider what these challenges and the EU approach mean for translators and their status and agency. Issues of translation quality are also issues of ethics, power relations and professional values.


Translation quality assessment Principles to practice European Union Legal translation Translation management Translation policy Translators Translation profession Translator status Translation ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanna Drugan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ingemar Strandvik
    • 2
  • Erkka Vuorinen
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication StudiesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Directorate-General for TranslationEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium

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