Revision: the holy grail

Revision is the most important element in the translation process. It is also where things usually go wrong.

According to the dictionary definition, revision is the checking and possible correcting of documents, texts, etc.

In the case of a translation, revision means that a second translator, who has the target language as a mother tongue and is experienced in the subject matter of the text, compares target and source language, sentence by sentence.

He verifies whether everything has been translated correctly, not only linguistically but also with respect to the content. Since even the world’s best translators can make a mistake.

The possible errors are quite diverse: spelling errors, grammatical errors, interpretation mistakes, wrong numbers, wrong punctuation marks, and much more.

Translation agencies vary greatly in how they handle revisions. Some agencies do perform a revision as described above. Some, however, only do a spot check or use superficial software solutions. Others do not do any revision at all, but they charge you for it. They are mere middlemen who offer no added value.

Having ISO certification is absolutely no guarantee of quality work. For ISO, opening a document and closing it immediately counts as a ‘revision’.

When working with a translation agency or a freelance translator, check carefully whether a real revision is being carried out. Don’t take the agency or translator at their word.