What are the steps in doing a translation?

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There are seven main steps in producing a translation. The order of the steps and the details of how each is done may vary. The basic steps are these:

1. Carefully study the portion to clearly understand the meaning. Then produce a first draft. Sometimes this draft is done orally first to help make the passage sound natural in the local language. Drafting can be done using pen and paper (when the work is done in a remote location), or on computer using Paratext (see above), or something in between.

2. Perform a team check of the first draft to ensure it is clear and accurate. All of us have blind spots and need help from others on the team to correct what we might miss.

3. Test the new draft within the community. Reading it aloud is a good test of how natural it sounds to others. Asking the listeners some comprehension questions helps the translator to determine if the draft is clearly communicating what was intended.

4. Review the corrected draft with a group of church leaders. These leaders help the translators to ensure that certain key terms are accurate and acceptable to the various churches in a certain language area. What are key terms? They are important concepts in the Scriptures that are used frequently, such as “forgiveness,” “Son of God,” “righteousness,” “priest” and “faith.”

5. Prepare a literal back-translation of the draft. A back-translation is done by a team member (not the translator) reversing the process: translating the text from the local language into English, French or another major language. This is the text that non-speakers of the language will use to check it for accuracy.

6. An experienced, trained translation checker (called a consultant) reviews the text (back-translation) to be sure it is faithful to the original text. Often they are also able to pick up naturalness and cultural clues that the translator may have missed and offer alternative ways to translate.

7. Edit and proofread the polished text one final time before the book is printed.