3 Steps for a smooth in-country review

Validating a translation with an in-country review is a great idea for content targeted to a specialized audience or industry. Even the best professional translators may not know everything about your particular field, so a final review might be recommended.

But without the proper planning and reviewer selection, the review process can delay your project and frustrate everyone involved.

The following three steps are crucial to the success of the in-country review:

Choose the right reviewer

The right reviewer is someone with a linguistic background, industry knowledge, review experience, and adequate time to complete the review. It may not be possible to locate someone who fits all these criteria. Nevertheless, any reviewer should, at the least:

  • have strong language skills in both the source and the target language (the ability to write well in the target language is critical);
  • have knowledge of industry terminology; and
  • be able to devote sufficient time to complete the review within the planned time-frame.

The reviewer should be a native speaker of the target language. However, being a native speaker of the target language does not in itself qualify a staff member to review a translation, especially if he or she works in a different department or role. Knowledge of the subject matter is absolutely necessary.

For example, an in-country sales team should review marketing content, and an on-site engineer should review technical content.

Engage the reviewer prior to translation

Getting the reviewer’s input prior to translation can save time and effort in the long run.  Have reviewers review and validate the glossary and style guide (if available) to make sure the translation team uses the correct specialized vocabulary and strikes the right tone. Focusing the reviewer’s attention at this stage will provide guidance to the translation team and prevent the need for corrections later on in the process. It also secures reviewer “buy-in” to the project by acknowledging their expertise up front.

Since reviewers might be employees, distributors, or others with specific jobs, work with your language services partner to schedule the in-country review as part of the project timeline. That way your reviewers can plan for this extra work and advise you if they have any conflicts that might cause problems. If reviewers have contributed to both the scheduling and the content, they’ll finish the reviews in a timely manner.

Clearly specify the reviewer’s role

Reviewers sometimes attempt to impose their own style or even to try to rewrite the translation. Rather than focusing on substantive errors, a reviewer might want to demonstrate their own dedication and writing skills by “making it better.” This causes more problems than it solves. Every change made by your reviewer requires vetting by the original translator. “Preferential changes,” or matters of personal taste, will waste time. In addition, re-writing increases the risk of new errors being introduced.

By the time the translation reaches the reviewer, it has been carefully proofread and spell-checked by a native speaker of the target language. It does not need a proofreader or an editor. Instruct your reviewer to focus on the accuracy of industry terminology and the acceptability of the overall style from the perspective of the intended customer. For example, should it be more or less formal. If the reviewer had already helped to create the glossary and/or style guide, there should be minimal errors.  If the proofreader missed true mistakes, such as typos or grammatical errors, flag them. However, the reviewer should review the translation from the perspective of an expert in the field, not as a writer or editor.

Any experienced localization professional can tell you: the in-country review process can be difficult to manage.  By following these best practices and planning for translation review, you’ll increase your likelihood of success.