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The skill of reviewing translations

In-market review is a powerful tool. We already talked about its importance, scope and benefits in this article. Now we would like to share with you some best practice guidelines for making the most of the review experience.

Skills for a great in-market review

Reviewing sounds fairly simple, but it is a professional skill with its own intricacies. Irrespective of their actual job in your company, the reviewers you select should know the tricks of the trade.

Let’s play a review game! Can you spot both errors in the phrase below?

Customers are reminded that the sale of tobacco products are limited to those 18 years of age or younger.

Scroll down to the end to check if you got it right!

Even our native language has more complexity than we would expect. This paragraph from Mark Forsyth’s The Elements of Eloquence sums it up nicely for English.

Adjectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac. It’s an odd thing that every English speaker uses that list, but almost none of us could write it out.

Two of the challenges that reviewers face are to recognise and correct all mistakes and to avoid false incentives. The “incentive problem” puts pressure on the unversed reviewer, as they might think their work is only useful if they find as many mistakes as they can. Professional reviewers, however, are guided by the premise to leave untouched what can be left untouched, and only corect what needs to be corrected.

If that’s not enough, we recommend a review should always be done in context of the source text and by taking the translation brief into account. A “translation-only” review type serves a different purpose and addresses very different quality issues. If you are, however, planning to review the translation in its own right, i.e. not compare it to the source, we can discuss how to best achieve and manage it.

We can share some of our proofreader best practices to help with this step and even organise training on this topic.

Harvest the results of your in-market review

If, in time, you want to reduce the scope of this review, our key recommendation is that revisions made by your reviewering during the in-market review step are in line with your company’s style guide. If you don’t have one yet, this is a good time to create it. Once you have consolidated it, changes are ideally supported by the existing style guide, or they are added to the guide. An updated style guide equips our translators and your reviewers with the necessary and updated information for the next project which, in turn, reduces the risk of perpetuating the same issues and revisions.

Answer: Customers are reminded that the sale of tobacco products is limited to those 18 years of age or older.

If you didn’t get it right, don’t worry. It is actually quite hard to spot both errors in “one go”, because they are on different levels – a macro-level (meaning) and a micro-level (grammar). Most people would spot one error first and then have to read it again to catch the other one.

Christof Schneider joined Lingo24 in 2004 to support clients and the team with his workflow and technical expertise. He has a degree in Philosophy and Translation, and has worked as a translator and consultant, as well as teaching Technology and Localisation skills at Auckland University. He has been deeply involved in the integration of technology into Lingo24’s workflows and helped with the development of Coach, the translation technology platform.