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Reviewing a translation consists of reading a translated text and adjusting it to your client’s objectives. The review work, however, considers several aspects which are not always visible to those who do not take part in this process.
Think of an iceberg, for instance: only 10% of its structure is visible above the water, but there is a mountain of ice underwater that we cannot see. There lies most of the effort employed in reviewing. Check out below 5 aspects we should consider when reviewing translations.
1. Grammar and spelling
Checking a text’s grammar and spelling is just the tip of the iceberg of a reviewer’s job. To help with that, we can count on automated tools like spellcheckers, grammar checkers, and QA tools, but none of these replace a profound knowledge of the language and careful reading. After all, there are spelling mistakes that only the trained human eye is capable of perceiving.
2. Specific instructions
Every project has its quirks. While reviewing, we should be looking out for the specific instructions provided in the project brief or handoff. These instructions can vary, but usually include the scope of your work, reference material, such as style guides, glossaries, among other details. For instance, how to deal with links in the text, if there are terms that should not be translated, and many other issues that should be considered during the review.
3. Reading and comparing
Reading is the prime activity of reviewing. By reading a text we can spot issues in style, spelling, and formatting. But it’s also by reading that we discover what the text is about, what topics are being discussed, and what we should expect from the content. Thus, by carefully reading the translated text, always comparing it to the source text, we can spot inconsistencies, ambiguities, additions, or omissions, and solve the necessary issues.
4. Style and tone of voice
Style is a set of guidelines that define the way we express ourselves in writing or speaking. These guidelines are usually organized in a style guide, which can contain preferences regarding punctuation, date format, numbers, and several other details. When we review a text to “improve style,” we should not be making corrections based on our personal taste, but based on the writing preferences as defined in the client’s style guide.
The tone of voice defines the identity of a company or brand, how they want to sound in their communications, which is also defined by stylistic preferences, such as the use of active or passive voice, or a more formal or informal register.
5. Factual information
In the era of fake news, fact-checking should not be restricted to journalism alone. While reading a text, we may spot outdated or incorrect information, and if that happens in a text we are working on, it is due diligence and ethical practice to research and verify the information, and report to the client in case of factual inaccuracies.
Finally, if you are reviewing a translation or any other text, consider you might be the last person to read that text before it’s published. So, it is your responsibility to ensure the final text is free of grammatical, spelling, and factual errors, and is consistent with the client’s instructions regarding terminology, style, and tone of voice.