Knock on wood, but I’ve never had one of those nightmares where you’re in the middle of taking a test and you realize you’re in big trouble because you’ve forgotten to go to class all semester.
No, my dreams of tests are far more positive, no doubt stemming from the fact that I was always reasonably good at taking them, helped along by my penchant for sitting in the front row and taking copious notes. My dreams of tests involve me panicking momentarily because I’ve read the wrong chapter, and then deciding I can get through it by looking for clues in the test itself, something that I did in college more than once. This works for things like public relations quizzes, where coming up with something suave and self-assured is half the battle, and not so well for foreign language essay questions, where you need to expand your suave and self-assured answers beyond the realm of English.
When you’re testing in a different language, all sorts of things can go wrong. Incorrect accent placement, incorrect conjugations, the wrong word choice, misunderstanding idioms. When it comes to errors, the possibilities are endless. I recently took a few programming workshops online, and the same goes for code, even more stringently. In coding, one little forgotten semicolon can ruin your whole layout. Whereas punctuation marks can be a matter of debate in natural language, and a missed one will probably not halt the flow of communication (though it may lower your grade) in coding it can be (figuratively speaking) life or death. In a certain way, from an editor’s point of view, this is actually deeply gratifying.
In the real world, post-college, the testing continues. Linguistic testing, software testing, trying to suss out the bugs created by things like missed semicolons. Only it’s more difficult this time around, because at least to start with, there are no neat parameters, no particular chapter the test is being drawn from. Testing is supposed to cover every eventuality, every line produced. The prospect could give you nightmares.
Or, if you are prepared, testing could be just another thing you’re good at. We hope the articles in this issue will aid your testing and quality assurance endeavors. We offer some parameters to help you test well, study material designed to help you ace these new exams, so to speak. We cover testing scenarios and best practices, testing for agile, quality assurance for localization and more.
Some people tend to think testing is boring. It isn’t, of course — it’s challenging, and a challenge can be the antithesis of boring. Particularly when the results are in and you find that you did well.