What is meant by revision in the field of translation?

Revision consists of proofreading a translation or a text to improve its linguistic quality, sometimes without referring to the source content. The linguist focuses entirely on terminology, meaning and consistency, also correcting possible typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Finally, they make any necessary changes in order to improve the text and make it lighter, more detailed, more impactful, more “trendy” or more plain, depending on your needs.

In the world of professional translation, revision matches this definition; the only difference being that it is carried out by another translator or reviewer, unlike proofreading, which the translators do themselves.

The key to a high-quality revision

The reviewer must compare the source and the target content in order to make sure no part of the text has been forgotten. Then they check for terminological consistency and proper use of linguistic register and style. They review all the details that are sometimes overlooked, such as typography. They rephrase repetitive or clumsy phrases, as well as expressions not suited to the theme of the document.

The reviewer’s main goal is to make sure the translated content is suited to the target audience: is it aimed towards the general public or experts in a given field? Moreover, they are responsible for ascertaining that the client’s specific needs are met and that the text is perfectly intelligible.

Translation always implies a degree of subjectivity. That is why there isn’t just one level of quality. A suitable check enables us to guarantee that the right people were chosen for the right type of service, based on their experience, skills and specialisation. At Tradissima, we offer partial deliveries. This way, the client has the opportunity to provide feedback and make recommendations for the rest of the project.

The reviewer must have perfect knowledge of the various grammatical, spelling and typographical rules (which differ from French to English, for instance) as well as being vigilant and coherent throughout their mission. They are often required to work on several pages and to apply changes to the text as a whole. Although spelling and grammar checkers may be of help to the linguist, they aren’t enough to guarantee the quality of a translation.

Unilingual and bilingual revision

The reviewer can choose to focus exclusively on the translated document and not refer to the original text: this is what we call unilingual revision. This has the advantage of enabling them to distance themselves from the original text in order to deliver extremely fluent and idiomatic content. The aim here is to guarantee the purely linguistic and informative quality of the translation, which must be perfectly in line with the client’s expectations in terms of the conveyed message. This method is often used when a reviewer is short of time or works on the assumption that the translator does impeccable work and has no doubts as far as the accuracy of the translation is concerned.

The purpose of bilingual revision, also known as comparative revision, is to compare the translated text and the original version. The reviewer’s task is to check that the target translation is equivalent to the source. If they have any doubts, they can refer to the source document; reading a sentence or paragraph in language A first, then in language B, to make sure the intended message has been transposed accurately.

The choice of a unilingual or bilingual revision will therefore depend on several factors: allocated revision time, initial quality of the translation, reliability of the chosen service provider, client expectations and guidelines, budget, etc.