All professional translators and translation agencies will, or at least should, set great store by the quality of their work. After all, translations are not just words on a page; they are a means of spreading a message.

Whether the translation contains important safety information or will be used for the marketing launch of a new product, mistakes can be costly.

Translation feedback is therefore vitally important for professionals in the industry, both from their customers and from translation colleagues.

The importance of this translation feedback has been enshrined in the ISO 17100 translation quality standard.

The ISO 17100 standard stipulates that all translations should receive a review by a separate translator, with translation feedback being shared with the original translator. It also lays out a requirement for language service providers to handle client feedback in a defined process.

The 4-eye principle

The translation philosophy across the STAR Group is built on the 4-eye principle.

It might sound strange, but this basically means that four eyes take a look over every project. Two belonging to a translator, and two belonging to a reviewer.

In other words, every project is reviewed and there is the opportunity for translation feedback on every piece of work that a translator submits.

In practise, this works in one of two ways. Either two translators either work in conjunction on a project, such as display texts, or translation projects undergo a separate review by a second translator before being delivered to the client.

Where a separate review step is carried out, the reviewer (or reviser to use the ISO 17100 terminology) completes a translation feedback sheet to list all changes made to the text.

What are we actually checking when we review a translation?

In essence, we are checking that the translation is fit for its intended purpose. That means that it must contain no errors, either of spelling or grammar, but also that it should be suited to its intended audience. The translation of a medical report shouldn’t use any slang words for body parts, for example.

As part of our standard workflow at STAR, we also include a string of quality checks into every project. Therefore, in addition to reading through the translations and checking for misunderstandings, the reviewer also checks terminology, spelling and formatting to ensure that the end text is fit for purpose.

The translation feedback sheet is a form detailing the type of error found in the project and provides examples of each. We have 20 categories ranging from mistranslations and terminology errors through to grammar and punctuation mistakes.

This might be overkill, but we don’t think so. It can be really useful to the translator to see if they make the same type of error over and over again.

Every translation feedback sheet is automatically made available to the translator, whether part of our in-house team or a freelancer.

Our translation feedback process aims to share a list of changes made due to errors being made, but also changes that were made for other reasons, such as to comply with terminology preferences or an in-house style guide.

By sharing the feedback sheets, we ensure that key customer knowledge is shared across the team and that each translator is able to see any errors that they make frequently, allowing them to fix this.