Language Quality Talks: An Expert Q&A with Eveline Jebaili

Who are the people who make language quality happen? And what are the perspectives they bring to their work every day? 

Those are the driving questions behind Language Quality Talks.” In this new Q&A series, we ask language quality experts to share their stories and insights in their own words. 

For our first installment, we connected with Eveline Jebaili. Eveline is a translation quality manager at Acclaro, with more than 20 years of localization industry experience. As a specialist on the front lines of language quality, she offers a keen-eyed view of the field and where it’s heading. 

Let’s get started! Read on for the full Q&A. 

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Question: How did you end up in your current role? 

Eveline Jebaili: I started my career as a Brazilian Portuguese translator and reviewer when I was still living in Brazil over 20 years ago. In 2002, I moved to Dublin, where I got a job as a multilingual language lead. Then, I started to be responsible for languages other than my own. That was my first contact with quality management because it was one of the responsibilities of the role.

I very much enjoyed it from day one, because I’m passionate about languages and I could see how different other languages can be, and what works for one language doesn’t work for another at all. 

I enjoyed how nuanced and strategic quality management was. I always liked the approach of embedding quality within each step of the process, not just as an afterthought. Because I understood translators’ challenges, I became the bridge between clients and our translators and editors.

That’s how I became a quality manager. I’ve worked in quality management for about 15 years, and I’ve been working for Acclaro for 18 months now. 

Question: What are your everyday responsibilities and goals? 

Eveline Jebaili: The biggest responsibility is defining our way of managing quality. We have a proactive approach, not a reactive one. Whenever we start working for a new client, we put in place the building blocks that lead naturally to quality.

By building blocks, I mean selecting the right linguists, having the reference material in place, having clear instructions, having a clear and cost-effective LQA strategy—meaning language quality assurance, where we take samples from translated files to see whether linguists are on the right track or not. If the LQA flags any issues, we can spot them very early on and make adjustments before those files reach our clients.

Another big focus is to monitor the overall performance of our linguists over time. Some linguists can be great at creative content, but they might struggle with legal translations. So, it’s important to track how they perform with a variety of accounts and content types.

Question: What’s the most rewarding part of your job, and what keeps you motivated?

Eveline Jebaili: Well, first of all, client satisfaction, right? We want to meet our client’s expectations and help them get their message across to their customers and reach their goals in each target market. 

One of my main motivations is to foster a collaborative environment between linguists. We use external freelancers, but we also have in-house language leads and independent LQA reviewers. So, we like to bring them all together and work collectively to produce the best possible translation for our clients. 

Our linguists like to work for Acclaro because they feel part of the team. As most of us have a linguistic background, we understand the challenges they face and we support them every step of the way, trying our best to equip them to meet our clients’ requirements.

 Question: In one word, what’s the most important challenge you face?

Eveline Jebaili: I chose one that’s actually two words! I hope I get away with that. But it’s CAT tools. 

I would like to see translation tools developed with the translators in mind. Especially when it comes to marketing creative content, or if we are doing transcreation as a service, they don’t allow much room for creativity. And there are automated QA checks that bring too many false positives and create noise instead of helping the translators.

There’s a lot of work to be done in that area, especially now that we work with so many languages, including long-tail languages. For those languages, the tools need to be developed further. At the moment, some things like segmentation rules and tags are real issues and put obstacles in the way of quality. 

Question: How do you justify investment in language quality? How do you find the right balance between accuracy, speed, and cost?

Eveline Jebaili: I think planning is essential. When we start engaging with a client, we need to understand what quality means for them. What “quality” means for one client can be completely different for another. So, a lot of discussions need to take place before the translators start working on a project. But it’s worth the investment because it prevents so many queries and issues down the line. 

Then, the key is to select the right linguists. We need to see exactly what type of content we are translating. Are we doing legal translations? Is it marketing content? Then select the right linguists, because when you have the right fit between these two, you’re halfway on the path to quality.

For me, I invest in quality at source, so we have quality from the very first step. We select very strong translators, reviewers, and then evaluate a sample—see if all the requirements were clearly understood and if we are on the right track. 

Client satisfaction leads to repeat business, so the investment in quality clearly pays off.

Question: What trends will shape language quality management in the next five to 10 years, and how will these changes affect your day-to-day work?

Eveline Jebaili: We are seeing an improvement in the quality produced by MT/AI engines. Therefore, translators will likely become post-editors in the near future. But that role needs to be very well defined.

We will need really good editors who understand what post-editing means. We need to instruct them very clearly on what they should focus on, how they spend their time, and what quality levels are needed. The translation cycle is going to be shorter, but that post-editing step is going to be essential.

In order to have that, we need to know our editors very well. That’s where I think quality management will play a key role. By having quality data and monitoring linguists’ performance over time, we will know who is more suitable for the task.

Question: How will these changes affect your day-to-day work?

Eveline Jebaili: We must find out from our clients as much as possible what they are looking for, what audience they are targeting, and what tone they expect for each language. Close collaboration at the preparation stage is key for the success of a project.

Some clients might expect that with a click of a button, you have a million words translated with perfect quality at a low cost. But it doesn’t quite work like that. As good as the engines are, there is specialized work involved.

I think it will be crucial to manage client expectations, especially around some languages—because as we know, MT and AI are more advanced in certain languages than others. 

The way linguists work is going to change. As the bridge between our clients and the linguists, we will need to have a very clear understanding of the requirements and guide our linguists in the process. At the moment, I hear a lot of noise and high expectations, or people being really against it.

Question: What’s the top misconception people have about language quality management, and why does it matter? 

Eveline Jebaili: That there is only one correct way of translating a piece of text. 

Language is an incredibly rich and varied field. People have strong opinions about it.

Learning about clients’ preferences is part of the process, and close collaboration speeds up the learning curve, especially when it comes to tone of voice and style. What works in Spain may not work in Japan. That’s why the pre-production stage is so important. We learn what clients expect, what audience they are targeting, and then we provide our linguists with this information from the outset.

It’s a big misconception that translators don’t need instructions. In Brazilian Portuguese, for example, I have words I don’t particularly like. I can’t expect another Brazilian Portuguese speaker to have the same preferences unless I tell them in advance what they are. But this is a very common scenario that we face, almost every day. 

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