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Revision: the exchange of good practice with Louise Brunette

17 november 2011
Promoting exchange, encouraging debate and harmonising good practice in the field of revision in translation, are the aims of a revision seminar which three specialists from the Translation Centre have been teaching for quite some time now.
It was with great pleasure that the Centre welcomed Louise Brunette, a professor in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Quebec, on 13 October, to exchange views on the practice of revision.

The three specialists from the Centre met Louise Brunette in Antwerp, during one of the seminars attended by this vivacious Québecoise who, like them, had come to speak about revision to translation students from the university. The Canadian, who enjoys sharing her knowledge with others, easily won over her audience with her finesse and humour.
The brilliant specialist defines revision as a relatively subjective, pedagogical comparison of the source and target texts, performed in accordance with predetermined criteria (implicit criteria) or criteria that have been reached by agreement (explicit criteria). Revision allows the target text to be improved and to be adapted in accordance with the company’s preferences. Reviewing is monolingual and is, more often than not, carried out by an expert in the field. Post-editing consists of correction carried out by a computer: the machine will not accept the same mistake twice. Lastly, evaluation is not part of the translation process, but instead is a task carried out by management.  Evaluation is also one of the many tasks carried out by Canada’s Translation Bureau (, the federal government's centre of expertise in translation and the authority on language and terminology standardisation in the public service of Canada. Unlike the Translation Centre, the Translation Bureau of Canada classifies errors into just two main categories: language errors or transfer errors, which may be minor or serious. This is simple and effective.
The reviser must firstly be a reader, and then a judge. What are the limits to his work? A failure to respect implicit criteria means that correction becomes necessary. In particular this concerns issues of transfer (accuracy, meaning) or specific aspects governed by rules, which the client is aware of and is able to check (grammar, linguistic conventions, idioms, the Interinstitutional Style Guide, etc.). Readability is a less essential criterion, which is intended to ensure that the text reads well, and the reviser must demonstrate relative objectivity. Ensuring that a text is ‘fit for purpose’ is another of the more subjective criterion. Lastly, one must consider revision in terms of economic returns: for example, texts which are not intended for dissemination are not revised.
In the afternoon revision exercises were carried out. Louise Brunette also mentioned some interesting reference works and talked about the advantages of using certain computer software tools to assist with editing tasks as part of our daily revision work.

Being a professor at the University of Quebec, Louise Brunette has worked with Brian Mossop, among others. Like him, she has written a book on revision, which is expected to be published in January 2012. This book will undoubtedly become a standard reference work in the world of translation.