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How to Make Sure a Translation is Correct

How to Make Sure a Translation is Correct

Posted on: April 1, 2024 by admin

From complex legal documents and certificates to marketing materials and books, translations must be correct to avoid misinformation, embarrassment, or potentially even injury and legal consequences. Imagine that an error in a medical translation instructed a patient to take medication ‘once per day’ instead of ‘once per week’. This could have a life-threatening impact on the patient. Similarly, a translation error in a contract could result in a significant loss of time and money, and also legal action. So how do you ensure that a translation is correct? This article will explore several ways to ensure the accuracy of a translation.

Identify the Document Type

Before translating a document, it is important to know what type it is. Whilst the translated document must mirror the source document as best as possible, sometimes it is not appropriate to be a literal translation. For example, when translating documents such as resumes and literature, clients and readers would not appreciate a word-for-word translation as it would not sound natural or make sense in another language. However, with other types of documents, a more literal translation is needed. This includes when dealing with medical or technical texts. 

Provide Clear Source Texts

A correct translation starts with a clear source text. If the source text is unclear, there is an increased chance that the translation will not be accurate. Where possible, Plain English should be used in documents to be translated into other languages. This will set the foundation for a smooth and accurate translation by reducing the opportunity for error and misunderstanding. 

Avoid Machine Translation Services

Even though translation technologies and digital services are constantly evolving, dependency on machine translation alone should be avoided. Machine translation is a process where text is instantly translated from one language to another online. It has some advantages, such as time and cost efficiency and accessibility. However, the accuracy of these translations is compromised by the lack of contextual understanding. This can be seen in a 2021 study that found Google Translate to be as low as 55% accurate in preserving the overall meaning of a translation. In addition to this, machine translation services have quality limitations as well as serious privacy and security concerns. Moreover, these digital tools can be helpful to get a basic understanding of text in another language, but should always be used in conjunction with a professional translator to ensure the context is accurate and consistent. 

Choose an Experienced Translator

Clients depend on the skills and professionalism of translators to ensure that their documents are translated into other languages without changing their context. Unlike machine translation services that translate the text only, an experienced translation company can revise, proofread, edit, and review the final document to make sure the context is upheld. 


In Australia, the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) is responsible for setting, maintaining, and promoting high standards for language service providers. To become a NAATI Certified Translator, an individual must undergo extensive training and successfully pass an accreditation test. This ensures they meet the standard expected of translators in Australia. To keep this certification, NAATI Certified Translators need to recertify every 3 years to demonstrate they are actively maintaining their skills and knowledge. At Speak Your Language, we offer the industry’s finest translators and interpreters, each one NAATI Level 3 qualified or higher. Our skilled professionals have the knowledge, skills, and linguistic abilities to translate even the most complex of documents. Rest assured if you choose a NAATI Certified Translator, your translation will be high-quality and correct. 


In addition to the above, choosing a translator who comes from the country you intend to target will also increase the accuracy of the translation. This ensures the translator has knowledge of the cultural preferences and appropriate language to use when translating your document. This can lead to a more accurate and effective translation. Where possible, it is also recommended that you use a translator who is an expert in the related industry. For example, to ensure the correct translation of a medical document, a medical translation specialist who has both practical knowledge and linguistic experience would be the appropriate choice. At Speak Your Language, we have a team of professional translators with experience in different industries to provide reliable translations in legal, medical, and technical sectors, just to name a few.

Give a Detailed Brief

Once you have chosen a translator, it is essential that you provide them with a detailed brief that provides information about how the translation will be used. This includes the target audience, purpose, and message. The more information provided, the better the translator can understand how to adapt the text for a correct and high-quality translation. 

Review the Translation

Depending on your content and intended audience, translation alone may not be effective enough to create a high-quality product. Sometimes, translation is limited by language and doesn’t take other factors into account such as emotion, cultural norms, humour, and colloquialism. These translation challenges may cause the translation to seem out of place and not be received well by the audience it is intended for. Transcreation and Localisation are strategies that allow for changes to be made to the translation, making it more adapted to the expectations of the target audience. 


Localisation involves changing content to ensure it makes sense to the intended audience. It considers images, graphics, date and time formats, currency units, spelling, and other factors. Alternatively, transcreation creates a new message altogether that will be better received by the intended audience. Transcreation is common with texts that deal with emotion, such as marketing and advertising. It ensures the same message is conveyed in a new way that is appropriate and meets the expectations of the intended audience.


No matter how qualified or experienced a translator is, they are only human. Naturally, they may make mistakes sometimes. This is why it is important to have the translation checked and reviewed at the end of the translation process. This minimises the risk of errors in punctuation, spelling, and tone, making sure that your translation is correct. At Speak Your Language, there is a quality assurance system in place to double-check and proofread all translated documents. After this, our guarantee is a translation that is as accurate as possible. 

Consider Back Translation

Back translation is a process that evaluates the accuracy of a translation by translating the target text back into the source language. It can prove useful when dealing with technical translations, such as scientific or medical documents, or where a correct translation is of great importance. The original text can then be compared to the back translation to assess the quality of the translation produced. If these two texts are read similarly and convey the same message, it means that the translation was correct. 


At Speak Your Language, we recognise that a correct translation of any type or size is a critical requirement. If you are looking for certified, quality, and accurate translation services, contact us at Speak Your Language today.