A Few Words

Making the Most of In-Country Review

Posted by Agnieszka Ostrowska on Oct 8, 2015 10:47:00 AM

in-country-reviewMany organizations rely on “in-country” reviewers to check translations before release. Since no one knows the subject matter, tone, and content better than someone in the company, this is a valuable step for any translation project. However, many reviewers are doing this as an additional task, and just because they are bilingual does not mean they automatically understand the role. Here are some best practices for getting the most from your reviewer and keeping your translation project on time and on budget.

 “The translation is bad”

Too often, reviewers operate without receiving instruction on what feedback is required. Since writing style and phrasing are subjective, “translation quality” is difficult to define, so one person’s poetry can be another person’s poison. Frequently, when reviewers don’t like the style (or even the original source content), they edit heavily and share their opinion that the translation is “bad” or “wrong”. The challenge for the reviewer is to understand the role, which is to confirm that the translation meets the agreed standards they helped to establish. This will create a repeatable and scalable process. 

Establishing standards – for language and reviewers

The saying, “prior preparation prevents poor performance” is especially relevant for translation projects. Here are some suggestions to establish clear expectations with your in-country review team:

  • All in-country reviewers should be briefed in advance on the purpose, scope, and style choices made for the source-language content.

  • In-country reviewers should approve the project translation glossary and style guides in advance of translation.

  • Consider establishing consistent “error” categories (e.g. Accuracy, Language Standards, Readability, and Compliance) and severity levels (e.g. Major, Medium, Minor, and Preferential). Your translation vendor should have a standard quality scoring procedure they can share with you.

  • Introduce the reviewers to your translation vendor, who will share additional briefing points and provide a language liaison to discuss language-related issues.

  • In-country reviewers should be briefed on the project schedule and know when their efforts will be required and for how long. Respecting project milestones will help the translation vendor keep your project on schedule.

  • For larger volumes of work, the translation vendor should provide the in-country reviewers with a preview of the work product (“first page translation”) to get feedback and guidance before the main translation is started.

The review process

Now the process is in motion – translated content has been delivered by your translation vendor and your in-country reviewers sit down to work. First, consider that the role of a professional translator is to express the meaning of the source content accurately and completely in the target language, as though it had been written by a native-speaker. Unless specifically asked, they will not add to or subtract from the content. This guideline applies equally well to your in-country review team. With that in mind, here are some best practices for your in-country reviewers:

  • In-country reviewers should understand that the purpose is collaborative fine-tuning of the translation — they are not being asked to edit the entire translation.

  • In-country reviewers should be aware of the various types of changes they might recommend:

    • Company-specific terminology (this should be communicated as an update to the project glossary).

    • Company-specific “voice” — phrasing that is unique to the company and supports its brand (this should be communicated as an update to the style guide).

    • Correct misrepresentation of the source text by the translation team.

    • Correct objective errors (grammatical, typographical, etc.) — these should not happen, but in the event that they do, the translation vendor should correct them immediately and at no charge.
  • In-country reviewers should also know what not to do:

    • Minor changes based on the personal preferences of the reviewer that do not fall into the categories above. These should be avoided as they add to cost and increase the likelihood of project delay. Personal preferences cannot be codified in the style guide, so they are not repeatable for subsequent translations.

    • They should not re-write the content to fit their view of how the source should have been written (you might be surprised at how common this is). Their job is to review the translation against the source document and verify it meets the company’s objective standards.

    • If your internal team changes mid-project or a different in-country/native-speaker reviews the final work product, make sure they are provided with the same instructions and reference materials used by the original reviewer. Otherwise, they may lose valuable time making suggestions that are not consistent with the instructions.
  • Post-project

    • If edits to the work product are made after the translation vendor has delivered, it is important that those changes be provided to the vendor so that translation the memory database can be updated, keeping future translations consistent. This helps lower your long-term translation costs, maintains quality, and helps reduce turnaround time. 

Having the resources of an in-country review team is a valuable asset for any translation project. Establishing clear expectations for roles and responsibilities – the ground rules – can help keep your projects on schedule and on budget and reduce unnecessary iterations that consume precious time. It also produces good quality, consistent translation and a rewarding experience for the translation team. Elanex is happy to share best practices with you, including our matrix of translation error categories and severity, which you can download by clicking this button:

Get the Errors Chart  


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Topics: Best Business Practices, Translation Basics

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