What Is Back Translation? – Speak Your Language

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What Is Back Translation?

Posted on: February 22, 2022 by admin

Back translation, which is also referred to as reverse or double translation is a localisation method that involves retranslation of the text word-for-word from the target language back to its source language. For example, if a professional translator is translating a document from English to German, they’ll also include a translation back into English. So how popular is back translation, who uses it and what does it involve?


What Is Back Translation Used For?

Back translation is part of a quality control process, which looks to identify any errors within the translation or localisation process and evaluate the efficiency of the translated material. It is important to undertake this process when translating critical or sensitive documents as well as for highly creative content that requires localisation to avoid any potential negative adaptations.


For example, if you are translating a medical protocol or a safety manual, there can be no room for errors or inaccuracies. While accuracy is an important consideration for all translated documents, some documents are extremely sensitive and the smallest mistake could lead to huge negative consequences. Some of these sensitive materials include:

  • Medical Documents: Protocols, pharmaceutical guidelines, clinical research and trials documents
  • Legal Document Translation: Taxation laws, custom legal and insurance documents
  • Business Document Translation: Financial reports and contracts.
  • Production & Manufacturing Documents: Safety notices, catalogues, packaging labels and manuals


Back Translation Benefits

An obvious benefit of using a back translation is to avoid any potential human errors that may have occurred during the initial translation from the source to the target language. These errors could include more than just typos, but also misinterpretations that might alter the context of the information. When back translation is done, the chances of these mistakes from occurring is lowered. This is also a great process in identifying any inconsistencies, confusing sentences or errors in the source text.


It is important to note that the process of back translation will involve more than using one professional translator. Back translation will most likely affect the final translation cost, timeline and deadline. Therefore, it should only be used when absolutely necessary.


Back Translation Process

The process seems straightforward, but we will look at it in detail:

  1. A professional translator will translate the content from the source to the target language.
  2. Another translator will complete the back translation.
  3. A thorough comparison between the original text and back translated text will be done by both translators. During the comparison, the translators will try to identify discrepancies in the information.
  4. After identifying any discrepancies, the translator will retranslate the original translated document to remove all discrepancies


So what should businesses consider while performing a back translation?

  • Consider using a different translation company for your back translation to avoid any conflict of interest
  • Back translation is used for quality assurance purposes and cannot be used to provide the initial translation as it defeats the purpose
  • Provide the context and ask them to pay attention to the connotations and context of the information.


It is important to think about whether your documents require a thorough check and whether you can afford the time and costs associated with back translation. At Speak Your Language, we can guarantee that you will be satisfied with our NAATI certified translation. We can translate any documents into over 120 languages and can provide back translation if required. Contact us today for a free document translation quote.