Back-translation is the process of translating a document that has already been translated back into the source language. The aim of the process is to provide a document that can be compared to the original text, allowing the client to check if they say the same thing, and measure the accuracy and quality of the work. The back translation is normally carried out by a separate translator who was not originally involved in the project.
My question is: is this process really worth it? The truth is that back translation has many limitations and it definitely isn’t as effective as a proofreading process. For instance, back translation does not enable you to pick up and correct spelling mistakes, typos or incorrect text. It’s very time consuming and the cost involved for the client in re-doing a translation is higher than proofreading. Due to these disadvantages, it is not overly common to carry out back translation as part of other translation services.
Here at Veritas, we are aware that some clients prefer back translations, or are required to include back translation as part of their quality control regulations. For this reason, we are happy to provide back translations as one of our translation services to those clients wishing to make use of this quality control procedure. These clients, however, must be aware that that there is never just one single translation of any given text, but that there are always several correct ways in which the document can be translated and back-translated. Therefore it’s very unlikely that the back translation will produce an identical result to the original document. This makes the effectiveness of the process doubtful.
Our experience in quality translation services has taught us that an independent proofreading and editing process results in a more accurate target document and that’s why we strongly recommend proofreading over back translation to check the quality.
What do you think? Have you ever done or used back translation as a quality control process? Has it been effective?
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