The 3 stages of the translation process

Francesco Di Tommaso

Francesco Di Tommaso

The translation process corresponds to the technical part of a translation project and is made up of 3 consecutive and essential phases: 1) the preliminary phase, 2) the translation phase and 3) the revision or quality assurance phase. Let’s analyse in detail these 3 stages of translation.


This is the phase that precedes the actual translation of the text, and concerns all those operations that the specialized translator carries out before starting to translate. The first operation is the complete reading of the document, which allows the translator to know the identity of the text, to place it within a context, but, above all, to detect the type of language to be translated and the possible presence of a particularly technical sectoral lexicon, for which research work is necessary. Once the context has been identified and the language type has been detected, the translator identifies any specific terminology and nomenclature of places, bodies, offices, entities, titles or other references to contextual elements present in the text that require research and in-depth study of linguistic sources, which can lead to the right equivalents. The translator decides whether to carry out a preliminary search of the linguistic equivalents of this specific lexical component, or whether to do the search later, in the following phase, the translation phase.


This is the main phase of the translation process, where the translator chooses linguistic equivalents, and where the translation takes shape. During this phase the specilized translator weaves his web, and gives life to a textual product linked by a relationship of equivalence to its original text. In the translation phase, the translator makes use of a series of research tools and tools of the trade, which assist him in identifying and choosing the right equivalents and favor the fluidity and accuracy of the translation. Finding the right linguistic equivalents is crucial in identifying the most accurate linguistic solutions. A professional translator has excellent research skills, and always knows how to use search tools to find the best equivalents. Searching for a particularly technical term can often take a relatively long time. But in any case, even in the case of the use of machine translation and computer aided translation tools, a quality translation is always the result of an accurate and meticulous linguistic research work by the translator.

A quality translation is always the result of an accurate and meticulous linguistic research work by the translator


The revision phase is the third and last phase but of the same and fundamental importance as the previous phases. We often tend to ignore or underestimate the importance of revision, or to conceive it as coinciding with the translation phase. Revision consists of the complete re-reading of the text and the correction, modification, addition or omission of parts of the text, at the reviser’s discretion. It is important to underline that revision always takes place after the completion of the translation phase. it is carried out only once the translation is complete. A revision of a partial or incomplete translation is not a revision. Revision is the optimization of translation, and that is why it is associated with the principle of quality assurance, which consists of series of interventions that are operated on a translated text in order to correct, improve or modify it on all levels, from grammar and spelling to page layout and formatting.

The revision phase can be divided into 3 components. Te first component, the spelling and grammar correction, known as proofreading, is the correction of any typos, spelling, grammar and syntactic errors. Proofreading is particularly important in case of poor translation quality, and in case it is written by someone who does not have adequate linguistic knowledge and translation skills.
When we move on to the semantic and lexical level, we speak of real revision (or editing), that is aimed at improving the style and refine the lexical and verbal choices of the text. The editing interventions vary their impact according to the type of text. If the text is very technical, the editing will operate mainly at the lexical and linguistic choice level. In the case of a literary translation or a marketing text, for example, the editing will also affect the style of the text, improving or refining the initial choices of the translator.
In case of web or app translation, or translation of any online content, it may be necessary, following the revision phase, a DTP intervention. DTP (Desktop Publishing) is a set of operations related to the layout of an editorial text, which adapts and prepares the text for its online publication. DTP (when required) takes place after the quality assurance process, and is considered as external to the translation process.
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