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What does “back translation” mean?

Translation typically involves converting a text into a new language, which we call the target language.

We don’t often talk about back translation, and when we do, we usually talk about how useful it can be, or its potential problems.

What is it used for?

Back translation is the exact opposite of traditional translation. Once a text has been translated, it is translated back from the target language into the original one so that it can be compared with the source text.

Technically speaking, back translation is just like standard translation. What sets it apart from a typical translation is why we choose to do it.

Back translation is used to check how effective the original translation is and whether it corresponds to the original text.

When might you use back translation?

Back translation is used when you need to assess the work of a translator who has produced a direct translation.

It is also handy when working with translated texts that need to strictly adhere to the original.

Technical texts – which contain highly specific terms that only have one correct equivalent in translation – are often retranslated through back translation. In this case, back translation can do an excellent job of identifying and correcting potential translation errors.

The main sectors that use back translation

Back translation is used very effectively in various scientific fields, regardless of the topic.

Back translation is also popular in the pharmaceutical, IT, and technology sectors, with excellent results.

It is often used in the legal and judicial sectors to verify the accuracy of a translated document.

Back translation is fairly useless and ineffective in the literary sector, as there are dozens of acceptable ways to translate fiction, even if they all produce slightly different results.

Back translating technical documents

Nearly all of the industries mentioned above produce technical documents.

These documents are usually simple and direct. They contain precise terms and tend to avoid figures of speech or semantic ambiguities.

Translating these sorts of texts is almost like a mathematical operation. Each term in the original language corresponds to a term in the target language.

Back translation is one of Eurotrad's core translation services. We work with translators specialised in translating technical documents for a wide range of sectors.

Get in touch today to request a quote. Send us the translated text you would like us to back translate and we will give you all the information you.

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October 24, 2022

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