The ‘four eyes’ principle of quality assurance

The idea that four eyes can see more than two is indisputable.

But is also indisputable is the fact that the third and fourth eyes have to be paid for – sorry!

But I would not completely write off the view that a translation by a single translator cannot be of exceptional quality either.

In order to make a reasonable balance between efficiency and quality, or to use your budget effectively, in my view you can sometimes save the costs for a proofreader by employing a highly qualified translation service provider with a sense of accountability:

Proofreading by a second translator is often unnecessary in the following cases:

  • The translations are for internal use and prestige is not an issue; the value of the information is the most important.
  • An internal company review of the translation is planned from the outset (possibly by several people). Occasionally translations serve clients only as a starting point and are subsequently subjected to extensive modifications according to conditions in the target country.

A four-eyes review is recommended in the following cases:

  • The translation has been ordered for publication.
  • The translation is sensitive and the smallest irregularity will result in a significant loss of prestige or safety.
  • The client is unable to review the translation before it is used externally.

By default, my translations are not produced according to the four eyes rule. However, you can explicitly order this kind of translation. Additionally, I will point out the four eyes principle when I receive enquiries which include information about the translation purpose or further use that lead me to believe that a review would be appropriate.

Please also consider that quality is determined to some extent by the client. While there are objective criteria, such as translating in a way that is appropriate for the text and target group, using standardised terminology, using correct spelling and ensuring completeness, opinions often differ when it comes to some questions of style and particular terminology. When a client does not supply the necessary requirements, even a second translator is unlikely to lead to any improvement.