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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pérez Herrera


In my opinion, reviewers and editors should pause before altering anything in a translation or deeming it incorrect and ask themselves: is this a genuine transfer error or simply a matter of personal style? It's evident that we all have our own ways of expressing things, based on individual preferences and approaches, but that doesn't automatically make your method or mine superior. If there are no transfer errors, then the translation is adequate.

I've encountered this scenario with prominent and well-established companies, where they've rejected some translation samples because "they chose to go with a different 'voice'." Another voice? What does that mean when there are no style guides provided? Unfortunately, even the project manager couldn't explain it: "that's all they said," was the verdict.

Another common oversight by reviewers, in my experience, is altering words or sections in a translation without prior notice, because they don't grasp (or don't inquire about) the background, thought process, decisions, and research the translator underwent.

I've found myself in situations where I could witness the revision process, only to suddenly observe significant changes in my translation that alter the intended meaning of a text. Consequently, I've had to explain my decisions to the reviewer, because they didn't ask, and why their correction might not be the best choice.

For instance, in a recent case involving a Chinese comic, the English translation already contained errors... The phrase "xiao gege" in Chinese means "boyfriend" or someone you admire romantically, whereas the term "gege" alone means "brother." In the Chinese text, in a dialogue between two children pledging eternal love, the girl referred to the boy as "xiao gege," meaning my boyfriend, darling, love—any affectionate term would suffice. However, the editor (they're called editors in this agency, but they primarily serve as reviewers; moreover, the agency lacks style guides to warrant the title of editors [...]), following the erroneous English translation "little brother," corrected me to "little brother." I had to explain all the aforementioned points and stress how peculiar it would be, in this case at least, to imply a romantic relationship between siblings. Additionally, within the same story, it's clarified that they come from different families.

I understand that the reviewer's duty is to identify errors and adhere faithfully to the original message, but it's also essential to exercise some common sense and recognize that not everything they encounter is necessarily an error. Likewise, it's crucial always to facilitate discussion and negotiation regarding the final decisions for said translation.

No, gentlemen, stating "el bello florero" in a literary text doesn't imply it's incorrect because Spanish typically places adjectives after the noun, nor does it mean that the alternative "el florero bello" is the only correct one:

Therefore, we assert that the placement of the adjective, whether preposed or postposed, is predominantly guided by semantic rather than syntactic considerations. While postposition is more prevalent in Spanish, preposition—except when it alters meaning—engenders special nuances tied to affectivity: great job, wonderful afternoon; to the impressionistic depiction of a particular reality: gloomy clouds, melancholic evenings; or to rhythmic, aesthetic, literary necessities in general, as evidenced in literary texts: The scorching morning of February... (Borges), The dark swallows will return... (Bécquer). (Gonzales, 2014)

For all these reasons and for the betterment of the translation's outcome, reviewers and editors should focus solely on genuine errors and always allow room for discussion and negotiation with the translator. This would differ in the case of an editor, publishing house, or agency adhering to established guidelines in a style manual, which both the translator and reviewer are aware of, thus correcting what needs rectification.


Alcoya, C. (2017, abril 20). Las diferencias entre el corrector y el revisor de traducciones. Recuperado marzo 28, 2019, from Palabras a medida:

Gonzales, E. (2014, diciembre 15). Castellano Actual. Recuperado marzo 28, 2019, from Universidad de Piura:

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