Concept of a back translation

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Concept Of A Back Translation

People might be familiar with how the translation industry functions, or at least have an idea of how translation works. It is a common service nowadays and a simple Google search will return thousands of results. While not necessary a new industry, people have only recently been acquainted with this niche little industry.

While translation is already a popular and well-understood concept, not a lot of people knows about a what ‘back translation’ is. Some might easily dismiss this as an output that has been returned back to the agency due to poor quality, or for some other reasons. That could not be farther from the truth.

A back translation can be defined as a set of procedure employed by a team of translations in order to interpret a project which was previously translated to a different language and back to its original form. It is one of the most complicated form of translation. In order to keep the integrity of the final output, most agencies use a different team of translators that were not previously attached to the project. It is also required that this new team that will handle the back translation has no prior knowledge of the project’s context.

There are cases that a particular project was checked for quality and accuracy, and they would check out fine. Most of the time, agencies will only release a project if its hits 100 percent accuracy. However, when the same output is subjected to back translation, a different team will provide a different translation context. This result is suspect to mistranslations. As such, an agency will promptly issue an order for back translations in order to make sure that quality and accuracy are maintained.

Back translation has huge application for industry that are considered high value content. Among these are pharmaceutical companies, research organizations, and the medical device industry. Notice that most of which have something to do with the medical industry. It is because a single mistranslation in this industry might spell life or death to the end user.

  • Can you translate your own documents for USCIS?

    If you want USCIS to accept your immigration application then you should not translate your own documents. USCIS has set requirements for every translation that reaches them. All of the translated documents must come with a signed statement of the translator, which is something only a qualified linguistic expert can help you with.

  • How do you know if a translator is certified?

    If you want to be certain that a translator is certified then ask them to show you their electronic seal. ATA gives every certified translator an electronic seal with their language combination. The seal is posted on every certificate of accuracy. If a translator does not have the seal then that means they are not certified.

  • How do I translate a legal document?

    If you have a legal document that you need to get translated then you should hire a legal translator. Legal documents are very complex. Their language cannot be understood by everyone. Even if you are bilingual, you won’t be able to handle the translation of a legal document, so hire an expert.

  • Does immigration interview require translation?

    The immigration interview does not require translation. USCIS does not have interpreters present during the interview. However, if an applicant is not comfortable with speaking English, they can bring an interpreter themselves. USCIS has certain rules about bringing an interpreter to the immigration interview. The applicant must follow the rules if they decide to bring an interpreter with them.

  • Can you translate your own documents for USCIS?

    If you are not a qualified and experienced translator, you cannot translate your own documents for USCIS. You will have to get in touch with a qualified linguistic expert who has plenty of experience of handling immigration document. They are the one who can provide you with a translation that won’t be rejected by USCIS.

  • How do you translate a document officially?

    In order to officially translate a document, you must be a qualified translator. If you are not one, then you should get in touch with a linguistic expert instead of trying to handle the task yourself. A qualified expert will be able to translate a document officially within a day and hand it over to you with a certificate of accuracy.

  • Do you need a certification to be a translator?

    You do not need a certification to be a translator. You should have the relevant qualification and some experience in the field to be considered a professional. As soon as you have gotten the relevant qualification and practiced your skills, you can start working as a translator. But you can get certification by giving an exam if you want to.

  • Does USCIS require apostille?

    The USCIS does not require an apostille. If you are applying for US immigration, you will have to submit the original copy of your personal documents, and their certified translations if they are not in English. The translations must be carried out by a professional and must come with certificates of accuracy.


When to use back translation?

Back translation is usually employed in order to maintain quality compliance. It is considered as a very helpful practice that maintains an agency’s adherence to quality and accuracy of their output. Some professional translators even demand to have their projects back translated. They find it useful in making sure that only they maintain the quality and accuracy of their outputs.

Some might wonder why back translation is useful. Well, despite strict quality measures employed by some agencies, there are rare cases wherein inconsistencies can fly under the radar. Despite spending hours poring over the project as part of the quality check, time and time again there will be that one single mistranslation that might spell trouble for the company. Despite the amount of time resources allotted in performing back translation, agencies and professionals still want to use this practice. Not only for the sake of keeping quality high, but also for personal improvement.

Other uses of back translation.

Aside from keep the quality of outputs high, back translation has a lot of application as well. In order to boost their market, some agencies will opt to have their company certified or at least receive accreditation. Third-party companies usually do the certification and part of the process usually involve back translations of previously finished projects.

What happens is the accreditation will take a bunch of previously finished projects and perform back translation to it. If the two translations will match perfectly, chances are the company will receive high accreditation score. For companies that will not pass the minimum quality and accuracy requirements, they usually receive a poor grade and will be subjected to another certification check months later.

One of the main purposes of back translation is to provide extra quality checks, especially in different translations. The main point for the utilization of this process is to look for translation that a company can trust.


Sometimes even clients, especially large corporations, perform the back translation as a way to gauge a potential translation partner. What these companies usually do is pick several agencies and have them translate the same set of documents and have their outputs back translated by a notable agency. Whichever agency will get the highest score will have the highest chance to be picked for the job.

It also works as a benchmark for new translators looking for a job. If an aspiring translator applies for a job in an agency, chances are they will be given a set of projects to translate in order to gauge the quality and accuracy of their output. The applicant’s output will then be subjected to a back translation from the company’s pool of highly skilled translators. If the applicant’s output reaches or passes the required level of quality, there is a big chance that they will get the job.


Translation is an industry that requires a keen eye to accuracy and quality. Even a single mistranslated word could spell disaster to a both the company and its client. Because of this, clients usually pick only those that are highly regarded and those that have built a reputation as only providing the best outputs.

Agencies usually adopt a lot of quality measures in order to maintain the quality and accuracy of their outputs. However, if there is one unifying procedure that gauges quality, it is back translation. It is a tried and tested procedure that has proven effective over the year, and probably in the years to come as well.

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