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What is a Back Translation?

Many times clients will request what is called a back translation which is essentially a way to verify the accuracy of a translation. The most common areas for back translations are science and medicine, whether they are medical forms, informed consent forms, research study protocols, etc. For instance, let’s say a client submitted a document in Spanish for translation into English. A back translation would involve using the translated text in English as the source document and translating it back into Spanish. The client would then compare the original Spanish text with the translated Spanish to make sure the English text was a correct translation of the original. For medical and science translations, it is especially important that all information is accurately represented in both languages.

Back translations can also be a helpful tool for freelance translators, especially when wanting to ensure absolute quality of a translation. Although it implies an extra cost, it is worth it to know that the document you translated represents the original text to the highest degree.