Managing Internal Review of Translation

You’ve contacted a company to translate a document for you, worked with them to define exactly what you need, and received the completed translation. What’s
next? Can you feel confident publishing it?

teamworkMany people in your shoes would feel better if someone else reviewed the document first, someone in their organization. This process is known as “client review” or “internal review,” and if you aren’t careful, it can cause delays and headaches. Fortunately, a little bit of preparation can really smooth the process out.

Prepare for Review Before Translating

The review process must be built into your timetable. Otherwise, you’re asking for a delay.

Additionally, the translation team should be aware that you’re planning to review the document. They can then make room in their schedule, and save language-independent tasks like DTP for after the text is approved.

Most importantly, by thinking about the review process up front, you can share what you plan to check with the translation team, increasing the chances that they’ll deliver what you need. Project specifications and a style guide can drastically improve the suitability of a translation, and they lay the foundation for the review process.

Select a Reviewer Carefully

I’ve written before about the risks of using a bilingual employee as a translator. When it comes to review, equal care must be taken.

Here are the three guidelines we provide to our clients:

  • Choose a reviewer who is a native of the country for which the translation is intended and also a native speaker of the language the text is translated into.
  • English proficiency is essential so that the translated text can be compared accurately to the English version.
  • The ideal reviewer should be detail-oriented and proficient in grammar, punctuation, and spelling in their native language.

Give the Reviewer Clear Instructions and Guidelines

It’s important to remember that translation isn’t your reviewer’s primary job. They need as much help and support as you and the translation team can give them.

They need to understand that the question they should be asking themselves is, “What must be changed?” not, “What could be changed?” since there more than one way to say everything.

The reviewer should read the translation, comparing it to the original version, to make sure it is clear and accurate. Any suggestions on word choice should be related to vocabulary specific to your company. Other objective errors should also be marked, with a comment explaining the issue.

Your translation team can provide more specific guidance, including a form for making comments and suggestions.

Get Feedback from the Rest of the Translation Team

The reviewer is an additional member of the translation team, not an external critic.

All comments and suggestions should be sent to the rest of the translation team for approval, rejection, or explanation. Since you’ve focused the review process on objective errors, this won’t be a battle over personal preference, but rather a professional discussion about real issues.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Depending on how the process goes, and what level of scrutiny the document deserves, another review cycle or two may be in order.

If not, take what you’ve learned and improve your style guide and project specifications, along with the review process itself. Continual improvement is a path to excellence.

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