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“Surprise” Review. Part 1

Last week, one of our clients contacted us with an update of a manual we had previously translated from English into Russian. The client made changes to the source text and now wanted us to make the same changes in the Russian version by updating the old translations and adding the new ones directly in the manual (Microsoft Word format). While this is not our preferred approach to updates, it’s totally fine with us, because it helps clients to avoid DTP costs (such costs are typical of the industry-standard approach, which is to translate the entire new version using the translation memory from the previous version). We extracted all modified and new sentences and translated them using the old TM. We then proceeded to insert them in the previous version. At this point, much to our surprise, we discovered that our translation had been edited by someone else. For consistency reasons, we now had to examine the “surprise” edits and then adjust our new translations accordingly.

Such “surprise” review also happened to us a few times before, so I decided to put together a blog post about it based on this example. I will focus mainly on the downsides. Please don’t get me wrong, I love clients’ reviews and believe they are mostly beneficial. The “surprise” review is beneficial too, but it may also create unnecessary problems. And in this case, avoiding the problem is definitely easier than struggling with its aftermath.

  1. While a person doing the review, whether a client’s employee or their local distributor, is normally qualified to do the job from the subject matter expertise perspective, this person may not be an expert translation-wise and introduce a variety of errors into the translation. For example, as a translation company, spell checking and automatic quality assurance on each translation are in our DNA. In contrast, a client’s editor may not even be aware of these tools, let alone use them routinely.
  2. A very common type of error associated with surprise review is inconsistency. This is a serious problem that can result in misleading translations. Imagine an end user scratching their head over a manual that randomly uses three different names for the same procedure. Inconsistency will also confuse folks who will provide future translations to this client, because they will normally want to keep the new translation consistent with the old material. But how can they do it with the old stuff inconsistent in the first place?

This post is continued in part 2.

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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.