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Proofreader's point of view
Thread poster: Alain Dellepiane

Alain Dellepiane  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:25
English to Italian
May 4, 2004

Very often I see posts moaning about proofreaders and their work. Well, I am a proofreader (the horror!) and I'll try to explain how it works "from the other side",
And I can tell you, it ain't that easy.

First of all, the hurry. At least in my field (computer games) most of the text has been rushed out. I assume the translator needs to make the most out of his per-word rate, but how many times I had to explain that Location (in english) is not Locazione (in Italian), and you that you can't translate Massacration with Massacrazione?
A corollary to this is the almighty "TM artifact". Once I had "the girl" translated as "the girl married for interest". 'Pity we didn't get the full story

Then, the pride. Translators hate seeing our filthy hands over their babies. That's why I usually leave aside everything that can be even slightly controversial. But even like that, I often get wonderful excuses. We had once a character with a broken arm, a criminal. A girl would approach him and say "you're nothing more than a one-armed bandit". The spanish translation? You're nothing more than a slot machine (una tragaperras)! When this was brought to the translator's attention, he said that it was "a pun"... Another old classic is when I spotted a massive subjunctive error in an Italian sentence. Something really really ugly. The answer? "The Italian language is changing".

Come on, let's respect each other! Style belongs to the translator, choose any word you fancy, but please, be honest. You're (still) human!

Cheers, Alain.

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Claudio Nasso  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
You have all my support May 4, 2004

Dear Alain,

as publishing/advertising proofreader and copyeditor (and not only translator) I fully agree with you, and you have all my support.

Only a little example: it's our job to proofread and write "Il COMPIANTO sul Cristo morto" when a translator wrote "Il CAMPIONATO sul Cristo morto".


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Kirsty Mason  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:25
German to English
Proofreaders and translators unite! May 4, 2004

I don't think that anyone in the previous proofreading thread is trying to say that the translator is always right and the proofreader is always wrong.
The question brought up earlier in the forum was more what to do if a certain situation arises.

As a proofreader and translator, as many of us are, I can appreciate both sides here and I don't believe it is a case of "us vs. them". There are good and bad (and sometimes even very bad) translators and proofreaders, and we can all make mistakes despite close scrutiny. This is partly why we have proofreaders, and any professional translator should appreciate the value of a second opinion without always taking it too personally, and be able to respond with their opinions or queries. The proofreader should also always be able to justify their own changes.

In case of arguments, one can only hope the agency or client concerned appreciates the qualification and knowledge of either professional to evaluate the situation objectively.

May we continue to work in peaceful harmony with the ultimate aim of improving the text for the reader!

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Pablo Roufogalis
Local time: 15:25
English to Spanish
Lessons Learned May 10, 2004

I do both and the lessons learned are:

1) When translating, do not fall in love with your job. Translations are ALWAYS, ALWAYS perfectible.

2) Unless you go to extremes (like reading backwards or having SEVERAL in-house proofers), there\'s always a small thing. It\'s better to be humble.

3) Many translators leave the tough cookies to the copyproofers. This is quite unfair as rates for proofing are way lower in my experience. Sometimes it can take 5-10 minutes to research and write a 12-word phrase, something the translator should have done.

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Annamaria Leone  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:25
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
Ciao, Alain! May 27, 2004

Alain Dellepiane wrote:
First of all, the hurry. At least in my field (computer games) most of the text has been rushed out. I assume the translator needs to make the most out of his per-word rate, but how many times I had to explain that Location (in english) is not Locazione (in Italian), and you that you can't translate Massacration with Massacrazione?

Hello, Alain!
Nice to meet you again
Well, I fully agree with you as regards videogames translations, since, as you know, I used to be a videogames proofreader too. The translations are always done in hurry and often they have to be proofread twice or even three times before they becoma acceptable. However I find that videogames are more difficoult to translate than technical texts, because of the language used (and more difficoult to proofread as well as regards the style).
I think it's a bit different in other fields.
I think that ususally the technical texts that arrive in serious translation agencies are of a better quality than videogames translations that arrive in serious localization agencies, even if, as a medical proofreader, I really complain the style used by doctors who make translations as a plus, just to earn more...
I agree with Kristy, we all make mistakes and a proofreading is always auspicabe and always useful.
See you!


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:25
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
"That's really fine, and I like this bit, but here.... Jun 1, 2004

I had a colleague who was really brilliant at proofreading. Admittedly, he had had many years of experience. But he always started with the positive bits. Maybe he did not spend many seconds on it, but it did make the translator (me) receptive to suggestions for improvements! (There were always those, that's what a proofreader is for...)

I think it had the same effect on others. I try when I remember, now I proof read for others, to find something really good to comment on first - and usually there is plenty, luckily.

But wow, I wish there were more of the patient, encouraging proofreader types about - there are enough texts where they would have been useful!

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