Do you know exactly what a reviser does or should do? Many of you carry out revision tasks for us, as our translation process includes a revision stage in accordance with the EN 15038 standard for translation services. But do you know exactly what revision entails?

We can start by stating what it isn’t:

  • revision is not a retranslation, i.e. you should not do the translation all over again;
  • revision is not proofreading, i.e. you should not only read the translation and make sure that it sounds good.

Quality approved tickAs a reviser, your task is to compare the translation to the original text to make sure that the translator understood the source text correctly and transferred its meaning adequately into the target language. This means that you are responsible for making sure:

  • that everything has been translated – no omissions should be left unmarked;
  • that the terminology has been properly researched and used;
  • that there is no spelling or punctuation error;
  • that numbers have been transcribed accurately – for example, the number 1,250.30 in English is 1 250,30 in French;
  • that the formatting of the translation reflects that of the original;
  • that the tone and style of the translation match those of the original text and are appropriate for the intended readership.

In doing so, a reviser needs to respect the original translator’s work and style, and accept that the same meaning may be expressed in different ways. For example, ‘I slept through my alarm clock this morning’ and ‘My alarm clock didn’t wake me up this morning’ express the same idea; both options would be acceptable.

In that regard, our personal stylistic preferences are irrelevant. The role of a reviser is to eliminate errors and by doing this, improve the quality of the translation. If the text submitted to you doesn’t contain any errors, then you shouldn’t make any corrections. You can however make rephrasing suggestions if you think that they would significantly improve the quality of the translation.

From a practical point of view, please use track changes to mark your corrections (if you don’t know how to use track changes, read this page), and use the comment function to make your suggestions (learn how to use comments here).

You may also find it helpful to use the error categories mentioned in the article on assessing translations (translation and language errors), as well as a third type of errors: compliance errors – these relate to the non-adherence to instructions, style guides, required format etc; a blatant disregard of instructions would qualify as a major compliance error, while a slight deviation from the instructions given is a minor one.

Thinking of revision in those terms may help you distance yourself from your personal preferences and focus on errors per se. As mentioned earlier, it shouldn’t prevent you from suggesting important improvements – you only need to be able to distinguish between improvements and corrections.

Finally, if you believe that the quality of a translation is too poor to be revised – but that should only happen on rare occasions, shouldn’t it? – let us know and give some examples. Do not start translation afresh without being instructed to do so by the project manager.

We are in the process of developing an ongoing quality assessment system, which should be implemented by the end of the year at the latest. This will involve a few changes in the way we do revision, but the basic concept of revision will remain. Compulsory training in that area will also be provided.