Errors in Translation

Errare humanum est, to err is human. This also applies to the translation field and let us not forget that translation is not an exact science.

How do errors occur?

Errors can occur, whether they are caused by

• lack of time to properly complete the translation process

• distracting factors

• fatigue

• lack of proper documentation or knowledge of the translated field.

These errors may be related to meaning, accuracy, style, terminology, national standards, formatting and others.

How easily can you correct translation errors?

While some types of errors can be easily amended if the translator takes the time to carefully read the source and target texts (for example, incorrect numbers), other types of errors need more time to be corrected. For this last case, if the translator has the tendency to follow too closely the word order in the source text, it may take some time until (s)he can achieve a more natural sounding target text.

The consequences of translation errors in the real world

Whatever the cause may be, translators need to be aware that the mistakes they make in their translation have consequences in the real world. Because we are not just talking about a mistake on a piece of paper but about problems in a trial, for example, if the translator doesn’t correctly render the facts mentioned. Or take the situation where someone writes 50 instead of 500 or 5 in a medical or technical text. The user may suffer serious consequences.

Solutions for translators and reviewers

These last years, numerous QA programs have been developed in order to minimize the number of mistakes and have been designed as a useful tool for translators. For some of these programs, clients can even customize their own checklist, that can be inserted in the QA software and thus obtain a personalized verification.

We always encourage translators to use these programs so that the translation is of the highest quality and to read their translation at least one more time before submitting their project.

But practice makes perfect, so nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it.


Adina Brașovan

Translator & Editor