Back-Translation and Reconciliation for High-Value Content

Back Translation and Reconciliation for High-Value Content

If you have particularly sensitive or high-value content to be translated or localised with the greatest possible accuracy, our back-translation and reconciliation service is the answer. But what are ‘back-translation’ and ‘reconciliation’, who uses them and how can they help your business?

What is back translation?

Back-translation is the process of double checking the accuracy of a document that has already been translated by giving it to an independent translator with no knowledge of the original text. They then translate the document back into the original language. This allows you to compare the translation that has been produced with the source text for quality, accuracy and any confusions or ambiguities that may exist.

Such is the nature of language that the back translation will never be completely identical to the original document, but it will give an accurate depiction of the precise meaning of the translation in the target language.

Back translations are often performed as literally as possible to identify any errors in the nuances of the language. This means back translations do not always read naturally. If there are any major semantic differences between the back translation and the original translation, it can be difficult to know where the fault lies. This is where reconciliation can help.

What is reconciliation?

Once the back translation has been performed, a ‘reconciliation report’ is produced that outlines all the potential issues that exist between the source text and the back translation. This includes any potential discrepancies or confusion in meaning. During the reconciliation, these discrepancies are identified and traced back to the source text to find exactly why they have occurred. This can involve conversations with the original translator to find out why the errors have been made.

The next stage in the reconciliation process is for any amendments to be made until the source material and the back translation have exactly the same meaning. A final reconciliation report will then be submitted to the client with the completed translation and an explanation of any discrepancies that were found in the original document.

Why are back-translation and reconciliation services used?

Any high-risk, high-value translation where a single inaccuracy could have serious consequences should go through this process.

For organisations in certain industries, a back translation to verify the accuracy of content is a legal and regulatory requirement. For example, in pharmaceutical and medical device companies, back translations and certificates of accuracy must be submitted with all translated materials. Similarly, for clinical trials, ethics committees and Institutional Review Boards, this level of translation accuracy is often necessary.

However, even where back translation is not a legal or regulatory requirement, if you have sensitive or valuable information that must be accurate and/or the source text is technical or complex, you should always include back translation in the translation process. This will remove the risks associated with publishing content and other information that could include mistranslations or cultural and factual inaccuracies. This includes marketing materials, protocols, surveys, questionnaires, reports, assessments or anything that contains high-risk information.

A word of warning

The back translation and reconciliation of your documents is a faster and smoother process if you use the same translation team for the entire project. This is due to the fact that it can be difficult to reconcile translations if the original translator was not part of the same team. Another sticking point is the fact that many translation companies will not issue a certificate of accuracy for translations they have not performed.

How can we help?

At Linguistica International, our translation team can complete every stage of your translation, from the writing, proofing and editing of the original forward translation, to the back translation and reconciliation, wherever required. To discuss your project in more detail, please call 02392 987 765 or email