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Thoughts on Translation Evaluation Process. Part 2: Communicating and Confirming Changes

Translation evaluation processThe actual process of evaluation against the metrics suggested in the 1st part of this post has its own challenges. One challenge is that an editor may incorrectly assume something to be wrong, particularly because normally the editor doesn’t have the same level of understanding of the source text as an original translator. To ensure no “false positives” are corrected during editing, it is important to get the original translator confirm potential errors and preferential changes.

Easy In-house Communication

Within Velior’s workflow that revolves around in-house translation, the editor simply sits down with the translator to go through suggested changes. The translator can challenge any suggestion and explain decisions behind the original translation. Although this process is much more time-consuming than simply letting the editor go ahead and edit the translation freely, we find it worth the cost, because we see a tangible payoff in quality and employee development. The organized effort of two people helps improve translation and reduce the risk of similar errors in the future.

Communication with Freelancers Requires More Effort

With freelance translators, this process can’t be applied easily for obvious reasons. In my experience, what usually happens is that a freelance translator is kept in the dark about the editor’s changes. For instance, read this post in the Medical Translation Insight blog by ForeignExchange Translations. This is the rule rather than the exception in our profession, which is quite understandable—communicating errors takes energy and resources, while offering little direct benefits to a translation agency.

Those agencies that do confirm the editor’s changes with the original translator typically have the editor compile a list of changes, ideally with explanations, and send this list to the translator for approval. The downside of this process is that it’s quite formal, and the translator often makes it their job to reject as many changes as possible, because their reputation with the agency is at stake (“Will they trust me with another job after seeing that this one was edited heavily?”). Unlike informal in-house dialogue, email-based communication also makes it more difficult for the freelance translator to explain why a specific translation was preferred over another. Devoid of human touch, a straightforward list of errors is likely to arouse resentment and defensiveness (“I did a perfect job, and they just mangled it!”). Compare this with a face-to-face conversation: when the translator actually hears suggestions directly from the editor who invites feedback and disagreement, the translator is in a better position to take criticism more positively, which results in adding value to the translation and learning from the errors.

Do you consider it important to communicate and confirm changes with an original translator? Is such communication worth the effort? What is the best way to confirm changes with a freelance translator?

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.