How to correct translations?
Nobody is perfect – and that’s why we need proofreaders
Translations are usually prepared by expert linguists – no wonder then, that the results of their work are expected to be of high-quality. And while the text might be perfect when it comes to its substance, perfectly conveying the intended meaning of the source text, they might be less than ideal when it comes to punctuation errors, spelling mistakes or unclear phrases. Every translation agency and individual specialist should develop their proprietary system of quality assurance; this most often refers to the proofreading and editing stage of order execution. When we entrust the task to a professional, they face yet another dilemma – how to correct someone else’s work without pointing out their mistakes in a straightforward way?
How to tackle the tough task of correcting other professional’s work?
A perfect relationship between a translator and a proofreader should be based on mutual trust and respect. It is always worth to acknowledge the effort and amount of work that the other person has put in preparing a given piece of text. When we consider translation agencies, both professionals rarely contact each other directly; usually there’s project manager in between, supervising and coordinating the harmonious work of the two linguists. There are many issues which might cause the cooperation to go awry – and just as many solutions to prevent that rather unexpected turn of event. Below are just a few tips on efficient and effective text correction.
First and foremost, the fundamentals: excellent comprehension of native and foreign languages. Though it may seem obvious, this step tends to be overlooked by the professionals when hiring native speakers – just because someone knows the language very well doesn’t mean they will make a great language specialist. Ensure that people you cooperate with are competent, efficient and reliable.
Proofreader’s scope of responsibilities should be clearly established – this helps to avoid problems when a person correcting the text interferes too much in its grammatical structure, style and register. Clearly set boundaries foster quick and fruitful work between the translator and proofreader.
Suggestions and alternatives instead of categorical changes. Balanced approach is key when it comes to change implementation, be it during complex company transformations or text proofreading. Adding a comment to an unclear phrase, containing a polite request for review of a given sentence, or suggesting an alternative term in a specialist text is usually appreciated by translators. Two heads are better than one and sometimes the input from a second professional might tremendously help in resolving some linguistic dilemmas.
The underrated value of patience. Finding mistakes in the text is the cornerstone of proofreader’s work. These professionals go through hundreds of pages on a daily basis, employing various sets of skills and adapting work methods to the guidelines set by the client. Perfect candidates for such job are detail-oriented and read their text… slow. That’s right, slow reading allows to find more mistakes and ensures high quality of the target text.
Last but not least, in case of long collaborations between the same translator and proofreader, it is advisable to make a list including common mistakes made by a particular specialist. This way, the corrector always knows what should they look out for and are able to spot the mistakes in split second.
Ensuring the best quality of translations
Proofreading should by no means be treated as a brutal way of pointing out one’s errors. It can be a great source of reliable feedback from other language professionals, allowing to step back and look at the completed order from a different perspective. In many cases translators are just far too close to notice the mistakes – having spent days, weeks, and in case of literary translations (in which case proofreading is unavoidable) even months working on the same text. Trust-based and respectful cooperation between these two professionals can be mutually beneficial – and that’s why it is crucial for the successful completion of an order.