Back Translation is the process of translating a document that has already been translated into a target language back to the original language, preferably by an independent translator. In a normal translation process, the translator translates the document; an editor then reviews the translation and makes corrections.

Back Translations

Back translation is done to ensure the reliability and validity of translation in different languages. The back translation and the original documents can then be compared.

However care must be taken NOT to expect a matching back translated document. A literal word in one language, for example, may have no equivalent in another language. This is why translation is an art rather than a science. No translation can be expected to convey perfectly the "meaning" of what author meant to convey in the original language.

However, the back translator must have excellent command of the target language as well as the English language (a rare, if not impossible, combination) and perform a more literal translation than normal. The original authors of the document then compare the original and back-translated documents.

The aim of back translation is to achieve different language versions of the English documents that are conceptually equivalent in each of the target language. That is, the document should be equally natural and acceptable and should practically perform in the same way. The focus should be on cross-cultural and conceptual, rather than on linguistic/literal equivalence.

Implementation of this method includes the following steps:

  • Forward translation
  • Back-translation
  • Comparison
  • Editing
  • Corrections, modifications
  • Final version

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