A process that we occasionally turn to in the translation world is back-translation. But, what does back-translation really mean? Back-translation is the process of translating the target document, in other words an already translated document, back into its original language. This allows us to catch mistakes that may have occurred during the translation process. This is an effective method to correct conceptual mistakes, whether it’s in the original document or the target. However, back-translation implies additional costs. At this, the question we can explore is: When is back-translation necessary?
When translations have involved the three step process of translation, editing and proofreading, the back-translation step seems nearly unnecessary. When respecting the three steps, you will most likely end with a translation that stays true to the original document, or source. However, back-translation can become extremely handy, and this is especially true in the case of technical texts. Technical texts often require research work and with back-translation, one can recognize the research that went on during the translation process.
My personal experience with back-translation is that there is often a positive outcome. As an example, I once had a client provide us with a text to translate. While looking over the document, we quickly realized that the text was a translation itself. The client requested a back-translation and we were able to point out mistakes that were clearly a result of lack of verification. This will most likely mean that the translation has gone through only one resource. That is to say that there was a translator, but not an editor or a proofreader.
Therefore, in a text that requires quite a bit of research, a back-translation can help assure its quality. However, it is important to keep in mind that client will incur additional costs. There is always the choice of translating, editing and proofreading the documents. By reassuring these three steps, the results should be a top quality translation.
To read the original version of this article in Spanish, you can visit: http://blog-de-traduccion.trustedtranslations.com/cuando-es-necesario-una-backtranslation-2013-08-14.html