Ensuring that standards won’t be lost in translation

Whenever I interview mangers on the challenges of global design and manufacturing, the importance of communication is one of the top concerns. It’s a huge waste of time to send files halfway around the world so work can be done overnight, only to find that the recipients interpretation led workers down an errant path.
That happens even when both teams speak the same language, but problems are often driven by subtleties in translations. IPC is moving to reduce the potential for these problems by translating standards so engineers and technicians in more regions can focus on the content of the documents, not the meaning of individual words.
It takes a lot of skill to translate standards and guidelines that use complex terms. I spent a short time rewriting technical articles that had been translated from French to English by nontechnical translators. I spent a lot of time thinking of synonyms. Some were amusing, like “charge” in a place where it didn’t fit at all. It took several minutes to figure out that it was a strange interpretation of ram, which in turn meant memory, not crashing into something.
IPC’s efforts are proceeding at a good clip. In India, many training programs are now taught in Hindi and Kannada. IPC-A-610 is the first standard that has been translated into Hindi. “It’s been very well received; companies are pleased that we’re showing an interest by making documents available in their local language,” said David Bergman, IPC vice president of international relations.
In Russia, eight standards have been translated into the national language. There’s also substantial progress in China. Chinese committees have written their first standard, which is now being translated into English. There’s plenty of ongoing work as 28 existing IPC  standards have already been  translated into Chinese with another 10 close to completion.
Standardization has proven to be beneficial in helping markets grow. Ensuring that global companies properly interpret those standards will bring substantial benefits for this industry.

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