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Translation Review: 1 reviewer or 2?

Internal translation review process: one reviewer or two?

Some coordinators (with only the best intentions in mind) send the translation review to more than one reviewer per language. This is great if the two (or more) reviewers agree on their feedback, as the coordinator can now be doubly sure that the translation is correct and appropriate for the company’s needs. But experience shows that this is seldom the case; the chances that two reviewers agree on the quality of a translation are slim.

Sending a translation to two reviewers is going at the problem from the wrong end. The best way to guarantee optimum output is to clearly define what you are expecting from your reviewer and work closely with your translator or Language Service Provider (LSP) — and trust their judgement.

Scope of the internal translation review

Problems arise when the scope of the reviewing exercise has not been properly defined. In this case, a coordinator will typically pass the translation onto the reviewer with only the most minimal instructions: “Please review this translation.” If the in-company translation review process has not been clearly defined, the duties of the reviewer are unclear.

If your instructions are ambiguous, your reviewer may well do something you hadn’t intended. For example, reviewers can assume the translation has now become their responsibility, and so want to re-word it to their style. They can end up changing perfectly good text simply because they would say it differently. This can result in a lot of time and effort spent on edits of questionable value.

A client reviewer should focus on:

  • Technical review. Confirm that everything makes sense from a technical point of view and the most appropriate, or most preferred, terminology has been used.
  • Branding and style. Ensure that your brand messaging has been communicated effectively and in a way you’re happy with.
  • Consistency. Confirm that the wording, style and tone matches that of your other materials or communications.

As well as being a native speaker of the target language, ideally, you should select your reviewer on the basis of technical knowledge of the product and/or market. A reviewer who knows their market and clients thoroughly, can judge what the correct tone and register of the final document should be.

Note: If your reviewer is authorised to make changes to your brand messaging, to ensure consistency — they must also be a skilled copywriter — and remember, most people aren’t!

Find out more: The role of the Internal Reviewer — best practices

The Client-LSP relationship

A client should also establish a clear and defined line of communication with their LSP — whether that is a Translation Agency, such as Quicksilver Translate, or a freelance translator. Both parties must be in no doubt about what is expected in each circumstance (with regard to target audience, tone, technical terminology, personal preferences, and so on). Make sure everyone is aligned on style guides, glossaries, and the team responsible for the translation review. Without defining these, quality remains subjective, and it will be difficult for us — your language partner — to meet your expectations. 

But even more important than the individual reviewer to the project’s success, is the relationship that the LSP has with them. We have seen again and again that if a reviewer has had no contact with the LSP, they will tend to cover the translation with (metaphorical) red ink. If, on the other hand, the LSP and the reviewer have communicated — even if it is just through a phone call or a few emails — the number of ‘corrections’ the reviewer makes drops off sharply.

There are undoubtedly profound psychological reasons for this. If the reviewer is able to connect the translation in front of them with an individual, they are more likely to trust that individual’s judgement and expertise. After all, as your LSP, we are effectively a branch of your communications team, and we’re invested in the successful outcome of your project!

Indeed, a successful relationship between LSP and client often depends on an awareness of the difference in expertise between the client and the LSP — and trusting that expertise.

Find out more: What can I do internally to Streamline the Translation Process?

Further reading: How to Review a Translation | American Translators Association

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