How do you check if your translation is correct when you don't speak the language?
When cooperating with our clients here at ATL, we are frequently asked how to make sure that the translation is good. And this is when an in-country review is usually mentioned.
We have experienced various ways of conducting in-country review. Some translations were into one language and others into multiple languages. There were marketing content translation and software localization projects. All of them had one thing in common: they were all followed by in-country review.
Thanks to this hands-on experience, we were able to make a list of the things that characterize a perfect in-country review. Such review will not only reveal the real quality of the translated text, but it will also help you avoid time-consuming back and forth with the reviewers.
Rule number one is to always review translations using the original text for reference.
For example, if the translation is in Spanish and the original text was written in English, the reviewer needs to be provided with both the English and Spanish versions.
Otherwise, if there is no original text provided, the reviewer can simply verify a text in Spanish, but not the translation from English. It is one of the most common issues when it comes to in-country reviews.
Sometimes it is a result of the fact that the text is provided to native Spanish speakers (or any other language of translation) who are not English speakers. In this case they find it almost impossible to compare both versions.
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There are cases where nobody finds it important to provide the original text for reference. Why should someone refer to the original text when what we care about are local buyers who will read in their native language, right?
That is absolutely understandable. But there are some good reasons why it should be done while referring to the original language version.
If the translation quality is referred to as poor, you will lose trust in your translation company.
The changes introduced by the reviewer may include sentences or words that are not included in the original document. The reviewer may choose to delete some fragments that are present in the English version. Last but not least, the reviewer can also change the order of paragraphs or sentences.
These changes don't mean that the translations are of poor quality.
Failing to understand that may result in rotating translation service providers, which isn't good for long-term projects. Constantly changing translation companies can be a real headache.
It is worth mentioning that some reviewers like to change the text here and there, give a general comment and send back with an instruction saying: Fix the rest.
When the translation company receives feedback saying that their translation is poor, but what they see is a completely different text than the original, they will definitely want to discuss that.
Imagine how difficult it can be to respect the reviewer's preferences if the corrections do not result from errors or changes of style, but include a new piece of information.
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When the in-country reviewer has access to the original, he or she can see that this piece of information is not provided in the original. It may happen that the English version needs an update too. If you are working on a multilingual project, such an update can easily be incorporated into all language versions at once.
All of that is possible when the original text is in front of the reviewer checking the translation.
There is no excuse for not using translation technology for in-country review, when your localization company:
• sets up the tools for your team,
• provides your reviewers with access to the tools,
• shares manuals and trainings on how to use the tools.
Using translation software (Computer-Assisted Translation - CAT tools) during the review stage gives you quite a few advantages.
CAT tools have been created to speed up the translation process by making it easier for linguists. Your in-country reviewers may benefit too. Why work slowly if you can do it more easily and quickly?
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CAT tools do not translate or review by themselves, but they help people translate and/or review.
Thanks to dividing the whole text into smaller chunks - called segments, and presenting the original next to the translation, it is much easier to work.
Most tools use propagation for translating and reviewing repetitions. Repetitions are segments that are identical when it comes to the text, word order, formatting and punctuation.
When the reviewer fixes one word in one segment and switches on the auto propagation option, all the segments with exactly the same text will automatically be updated too. There may be 2, 3, or 8,000 segments like that. That can really make a difference.
Introducing changes is important, but what is even more important is feedback. If the translation team clearly sees what changes have been introduced, they can more easily adopt the style and preferences in future translations for your other products or services.
Using the latest translation technology allows immediate access to reviewed content and a preview of all changes. The linguists can preview the reviewer’s changes as suggestions to be implemented globally.
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Changes can also be introduced to the translated content. The translation team's job is to double-check the final quality (yes, in-country reviewers can leave lots of errors) before the product launches on a new market.
When your translation company invites your reviewers to access their translation tools, you save money that would be spent on translation technology. And you save a lot.
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Less time spent on review also means that your in-country reviewers will work faster. The sooner you get the final versions, the shorter the time-to-market. Consequently, the faster you reach the adequate ROI.
As already mentioned, reviewing in translation software allows the whole team to cooperate. It is crucial for the consistency of your translated content.
Imagine that you send marketing translation to your in-house marketing team for review and product specifications to be reviewed by your local distributor. Both work on a separate document concerning the same product.
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They change the way the core features of the product are translated and each of them uses different terminology. This may lead your clients to confusion and even product malfunction.
This is something that is easy to prevent. Get everybody involved in the translation and review to work in the same environment.
When the translation company invites your staff to access their CAT tools, connect your people and let the translation company do the rest.
You may choose to manage the in-house reviewers on your own. For some reason, you may wish to avoid connecting your reviewers with the translation company.
If that is the case, remember to always share the same reference material with the reviewer as with the translation company. This can save you a lot of time and unnecessary stress.
Reference material may include special instructions for localizing product names or leaving them in English, or for example instructions concerning measurements (kilograms or pounds) or currency (USD, EUR, exchange rate). Also, this can include additional context like photos, graphics, and references to other websites or products.
Terminology is also an important reference material to share with both parties. The approved translations for your products' key terms should not be modified without notifying the whole translation team and cross-checking all the translated texts.
If this is not checked, you can end up with inconsistent translations of key terms across the website or product specifications.
Sharing feedback is important for your translation team to develop, learn the reviewer's preferences and learn even more about the specifications of your product or service.
Moreover, by sharing feedback you are sure that you clearly communicate how you want the translations to be done in the future. This is one of the reasons for carrying out in-country review on a translation sample before even starting a big project. It is a good place to start. You can work on the process, allow the reviewer to meet the translation team, and give final instructions.
What is even more important is to show the introduced changes to the translation team. If the in-country review is done outside of the CAT tools, for example on the final text, even the smallest change should be discussed with the linguists.
Let me tell you a story.
There once was a project manager who received an annotated pdf file with one word crossed-out and replaced with another word. The text was written in a language that the project manager didn't understand. This person replaced the words in the project according to how it was changed on the annotated pdf and sent the files to print.
The next week, the project manager called the translation company and asked why the in-country reviewer was so surprised by an obvious grammar error left in the printed documents.
It turned out that the reviewer changed terminology but didn't update the remaining part of the sentence. The project manager was trying to quickly fix the issue and introduced the change just as it was suggested in the pdf file.
If somebody in this chain had returned either the annotated pdf file or the final version of the project to the translation team, the printed documents wouldn't have included the grammar error.
As you can see, providing the translation team with information about changes not only helps you build a proper and correct long-term relationship, it also enhances the quality here and now. Remember that the next time you want to save time on feedback.
One error that companies make with regard to in-country review is that they forget to plan it. It is either because they don't see it as a part of the translation project or because they have issues with reviewer’s availability.
Think about it this way, the busier the reviewer, the better it is to give them a heads-up.
Every translation company can give you the estimated turnaround time. You can work with staggered deliveries and organize review for batches. Ask the reviewer which is better and ask the translation team to adjust.
Review is a slow process and so is feedback implementation. Plan it early enough to finish the project before your final deadline. A properly planned and managed localization process can be smooth and provide you with excellent multilingual content that will win over an international audience.
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For better results when it comes to time and resource management, ask the translation company to integrate their translation tools with your content management system (CMS), or content repository.
This will make it much easier to monitor the status of assigned projects. You will be able to easily see which parts of your content are currently under in-country review, which have been returned to the translation team, and which are ready for publishing or printing.
In-country review is often conducted by local product distributors or marketing teams. These are people who have their own nine-to-five jobs. They have families and friends, responsibilities and obligations outside of their regular jobs.
Sending review tasks their way and asking them for a favor may be fine when it happens from time to time, or when the text is so short and the deadline so far off that they really can do it in their free time.
You can imagine various ways of compensating for time spent on reviewing the translations, but a simple thank you may not be enough.
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If you don't compensate for the time spent, you may end up with a frustrated reviewer who will hate the translation quality, not because the translation is bad, but simply because it had to be done.
Be careful with reviewers who work as freelance translators. They may intentionally score the translation quality badly in order to make you switch translation providers.
In order to avoid such situations, companies are very serious when it comes to categorizing errors. Thanks to error categorization, it is clearly visible what kind of changes were introduced and if these were errors, or simply preferential changes.
Even if your in-country review is still far from being perfect, don't worry. There are companies that don't do this step at all, so you are still ahead of the game.
Check the latest feedback you received concerning the translations that your localization company delivered.
Depending on how you answer these questions, consider rethinking your internal review process. Do not give up on it. Change it, adjust it to your needs and use it to your advantage. In case of any doubts we're happy to help.
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