Makers of the hit TV show Homeland learnt the hard way about the importance of proofreading

When artists were hired to spray Arabic graffiti on a set of the latest series of the show, no one thought to check that the graffiti was not of an offensive or damaging nature. However, if the makers had done so, they may have thought twice about filming on a set – which told viewers that ‘homeland is racist’ and ‘homeland is rubbish’, amongst other remarks.

It just goes to show that no matter the size of an organisation, or the budget put in place, proofreading really can make the difference to the message conveyed to your audience. Of course on this occasion there was no mistake. The artists saw an opportunity to quite literally air their views on the programme; however controversial mistakes can just as easily happen by human error.

Perhaps the most important step is to invest in additional proofreading?

If your translation requires the highest level of accuracy – a number of measures can be put into place to limit the risk of translation errors, such as glossaries and translation memories, but probably the most important step of catching any embarrassing mishaps is to invest in additional proofreading once your translation project has taken place.

There are instances where gist translations are perfectly acceptable; where you just need your audience to have a basic understanding of the text. This can be achieved through the use of machine translation. Not only does this speed up a project but can also significantly reduce the cost, but it is still advised that a proofread of the project is completed to avoid any red faces.

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