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How much do you edit when proofreading?
Thread poster: Jinouk Chung

Jinouk Chung
South Korea
Local time: 19:52
English to Korean
Mar 3, 2004

This sounds a bit stupid. But my problem is that I haven't met enoughly good primary translations that require "just a little bit of" correction. I always found many mistakes in the original translation including mistranslations and unnatural expressions.

I don't think it's because I insist my work is the best. But this may happen more frequently in my language pair (English-Korean) because of their linguistical gap (e.g. grammatically opposite order, difference in use of passive/active form, and etc.)

So it didn't take less time than translating. If I trust the original translation below 80% I need to check every line to ensure good quality. And, like any of you, I don't want any work done under my name to be unsatisfactory to readers.

I'd like to hear your previous experience and advice.


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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
It depends... Mar 3, 2004

Hello,

I do some edition at times, and what I have found out is that it is best to charge per hour, that is, you calculate how much you earn translating and then apply that rate to your edition per hour. Usually it works out well: if the translation is very good, you do not spend a lot of time and the client pays less, if it is really bad, you earn the same as if you were translating, so you do not lose.

I hope that helps.

Good luck,

Mar


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Graciela Carlyle  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:52
English to Spanish
+ ...
she's asking something different Mar 3, 2004

Hello Mar,

Mar Rodríguez wrote:
Hello,
I do some edition at times, and what I have found out is that it is best to charge per hour, that is, you calculate how much you earn translating and then apply that rate to your edition per hour. Usually it works out well: if the translation is very good, you do not spend a lot of time and the client pays less, if it is really bad, you earn the same as if you were translating, so you do not lose.
I hope that helps.
Good luck,
Mar


I'm afraid she's asking about "how much you edit" not "how much you charge"...

As regards how much you edit, I've found all sorts.
I generally use Track Changes to have a clear view of the corrections made. Sometimes documents end up with LOTS of red marks and sometimes with only a couple or even none.
I'd say it depends on the quality of the translation.
However, I would like to point out that you should refrain from correcting things just because it's not your style, and focus on what is really necessary.
Remember there are often many ways of saying the same thing...

regards,
Grace.


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Agua  Identity Verified
Spain
English to Spanish
+ ...
You are right, Graciela :-). Mar 3, 2004

Hello again,

You are completely right. I just focused on the end of her message and skipped the start when I was replying...

As for how much to change, it really depends on the translation: sometimes it is a lot and sometimes very little, because style, vocabulary, etc. has been previously agreed or because it is a continuous project (where less and less changes are needed as it evolves).

Usually I change only those things that are clear mistakes, if they do not translate the original as fully as possible or misinterpret the original, and also if the original had one meaning and the translation is a bit ambiguous...

As for style, I tend to leave the one that is there, unless specifically told to do so.

Good luck again,

Mar

[Edited at 2004-03-03 11:30]


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Seadeta Osmani  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 12:52
English to Croatian
+ ...
Mistakes or style? Mar 3, 2004

Hi Jinouk,

Just ask yourself if what you're correcting are mistakes indeed (grammar, typo, etc.) or changing colours to the same shape, so to speak (if you're changing translator's style to fit your own). If you are positive you correct mistakes only, then you have nothing to worry about. Changing style often creates problems, as the translator (if being informed on your changes) might not agree with you, you might then not agree with the translator's rejections, the client is left confused... When clients really need stylistic changes or style polishing, they usually ask you to do that.

Anyway, I'm sure you know the difference

Best,

Seadeta


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
It depends on the quality of the translation Mar 3, 2004

I agree with the members who have replied above.

From my personal experience, in general I do not make lots of changes, since the translation is (usually) of a good quality.

Occasionally, I have to notify the client that it would be more efficient for me to translate it from the beginning, rather than to edit and proofread it (this happens usually when the translator has not used any of the special Albanian characters "ë, Ë, ç, Ç") plus lots of mistranslations and grammar mistakes.

The first rule I learned when I worked as an in-house translator and editor was: Do not change it if it is not a mistake.

IMO, the editor/proofreader should maintain the translator's style, unless there is something wrong.


My 2 qindarka,
Monika

[Edited at 2004-03-03 22:21]


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David Brown  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:52
Spanish to English
It always "depends" Mar 3, 2004

I proofread/edit scientific and medical texts which have been translated from Spanish to English by students and academics of universities in Spain, and I feel that in general, I am correcting the text to make it seem it has been translated by a "native". With highly specialised texts we can only do this as we cannot be experts in all subjects.

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Sarah Downing  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:52
German to English
+ ...
I agree with everyone above, but ... Mar 3, 2004

I tend to leave the style as it is and just change any genuine mistakes (after all, language is subjective). I know from experience that if you change things unjustifiably, you can get the translator in to trouble (I've been on the receiving end), because the customer sometimes assumes that if a lot has been changed (and many hours have been supposedly spent) the translation is unsatisfactory and tries to use this to make the translator pay proofreading fees. I suspect some proofreaders purposely change a lot, either because they want it to look like they've done "a good job", or they want to spend hours on the job in order to get paid more and I don't think this is right.

On the other hand, I now and again correct things that have been done by non-native speakers and here I tend to be a bit more rigorous - there are very, very few professional translators who translate into a language other than their own and completely understand the fine nuances of the foreign language - after all, many are at a disadvantage if they haven't grown up with the language. Of course, there are the odd few genii, who can really claim to be multilingual and those who are somewhere in between - damn good translators into a foreign language, whose texts just need a bit of polishing.

Other texts that I would change more rigorously tend to be those that have been written by employees because the company seems to think that they can save money and don't need "an expensive translator to do a job that can be done by anyone" ... With jobs like these, it would have been cheaper for the company to get them translated by a professional right from the outset.

All the best,

Sarah

[Edited at 2004-03-03 18:59]


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Jinouk Chung
South Korea
Local time: 19:52
English to Korean
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all, Mar 3, 2004

All your comments really helped me, esp. Mar's.
I believe I try not to make many changes to the original. I learned and experienced many different (but good) writing styles. But, you know, sometimes it happens.
I think charging by hour is a good idea. It'll save my frustration and time.


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invguy  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 13:52
English to Bulgarian
Depends mostly on the type of translated text Mar 4, 2004

For instance, in a technical translation (e.g. a maintenance manual) I'd refrain from interfering with the style of the original translation, even if I believe that it could be improved. However, I'd be very careful about correct terms usage and overall clarity.

OTOH for a newspaper editorial style would be a major concern.

In a literary translation, the basic criteria might vary a lot. One might even have to leave in certain wrong spelling and grammar, if they are used intentionally.

For some texts there are third-party requirements that need to be observed in the first place - like in official documents (certified translations), patent descriptions, scientific publications etc. In these cases, even text layout might need touch-up, even though this is basically neither the translator's, nor the proofreader's duty.

Etc.

I'd say, the main purpose of proofreading is to check the ability of the translation to carry the functional value of the source text to the end user - be it information, ideas, emotions, aesthetic value, whatever. If we take this as a reference, it would be clear why proofreading criteria are very much case-dependent.


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