Welcome to the unofficial start of summer. With the daylight hours growing longer and the temperatures rising, many of you may be thinking of vacation plans. Ironically, that’s not what’s going on in the ASTM.
Within ASTM F43, there are a number of new initiatives being worked on. I thought as a change of pace I would draw your attention to these initiatives insofar as they impact Language Service Companies (LSCs).
Currently there are standards being written in subcommittees on terminology, translation and interpreting.
Within translation, there are in fact two standards being drafted: one dealing with the metrics by which translation quality might be measured, and the other dealing with translation in general. For those who provide translation services, this is of immediate import because what our colleagues are writing will make it very difficult for translation companies to operate.
For example, the current draft revision of Standard F2575 specifies minimum qualifications for employees working on a translation project. The subcommittee also has a section on compensation that defines guidelines for remuneration, which is quite intrusive. Further, there is language setting specifications for deliverables.
These three examples are not exhaustive. They are merely indicative.
Now, this is not to say that there aren't useful aspects to the work being done. There are. Moreover, if these standards were being drafted as Guides and not as prescriptive Practices, there would certainly be utility in discussing aspirational concepts.
But that is not the case. As matters currently stand, the translation subcommittee F43.03 is writing requirements (i.e. Standard Practice) as opposed to suggestions (i.e. Standard Guide). This means LSCs would be required to cede a great deal of control over who they hire, how much they pay, and how they prepare final deliverables.
I offer these comments not in a derogatory sense, but in the interest of transparency.
It is my sincere hope that the good work being done by the subcommittees continues. The prescriptive overreach, however, would literally kill companies. The onerous standards currently being contemplated within F3.03 not only are examples of extraordinary overreach, but also represent a metaphorical straitjacket that interferes with the functioning of LSCs in a real-world, competitive environment.
With all this in mind, I implore each of you to take an active role within the ASTM. We need your involvement and your participation in the collaborative processes, so that the standards being written (whether Guide or Practice) reflect the concerns of those affected by them. Equally importantly, we need your votes as each of these initiatives are balloted. As LSCs, we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines. Your livelihood is at risk.
If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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