Don’t be like the book or movie lost in translation; instead, anticipate hiring a proofreader for the final polish of your document (known as translation proofreading).
I have proofread film scripts and websites that have been translated via software and via people. The process of translating words or text from one language into another can be tricky. As well as a way to convey basic information, the languages we use are full of hidden and symbolic meanings. Consider how different languages can be structured. Arabic and English and Chinese, for example have their own unique ways of saying things. Which is why I recommend hiring a proofreader to check translations. Language isn’t simply about translating word for word; it also conveys a meaning and a way of thinking.
Here are my 5 reasons why translation and proofreading are well-matched.
For clarity. Consider this product description: can you understand it?
2. The grinding wheel mounted to the engine shaft, the fixed screw position higher than the engine shaft. The position of the grinding wheel on the axle must be at least 1/8″ diamond part above the operating table.
The above text was translated from Chinese to English. A native-English speaker is going to struggle to understand how to put the glass grinder together from a page of instructions like this. The entire instruction document was full of incorrect terminology. That’s why technical writers exist as specialists in their field. To end up with a coherent and intelligible document consider translation proofreading.
For flow. ‘Flow’ means checking that the text is easily read by a native-speaker, is unambiguous in meaning, and is structured via manageable paragraphs or connecting words. For instance, when proofreading a business report I look for ways to improve the relationship between ideas: by indicating when a new concept will be discussed; and checking the text’s conjunctions which are small connective words crucial to get right for reader understanding.
For confusing words. We’ve all done it. Typed a document then noticed an obvious error. Or not noticed until someone points out an embarrassing word misuse. Coop (a cage for chickens) and coup (to overthrow) are easily confused words…
…when someone is translating a document word usage may be, literally, lost in translation. A fresh set of eyes by a native-English speaker trained to proofread makes all the difference.
For grammar expertise. Translators are very good at what they do (I couldn’t begin to translate Arabic into English), but they might not know spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, inside and out in their second language. Some native-English speakers can’t get the use of the apostrophe right.
For the quality of the final piece of work. Editing and translation are not the same: translation produces a document from its original language while proofreading checks and improves the text. So the translation process does not cease after its first interpretation. Proofreaders find inconsistencies in sentences and paragraph structure, key terms, and so on. Very important if multiple people have been working on a single document. Therefore, combining professional translating and proofreading services ensures the quality of the final text for its intended end users.
Who is Emma Parfitt?
Emma has 18 years of writing experience with businesses, academics and creative writers. She obtained a Creative Writing MA (St Andrews University) and a PhD in Storytelling (Warwick University). Then set up her own proofreading business and became a published author of fiction as well as academic literature such as Young People, Learning & Storytelling (Palgrave Macmillan).