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How can I be sure to find a good English proofreader?
Thread poster: Christina Heger

Christina Heger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:35
English to German
+ ...
Jan 14, 2009

Hey guys,

I am a German native, as is my partner. Now we get - more often than not - German to English translations.

I've corrected both English and German texts, but how can I correct my own mistakes if I don't know they are mistakes; my partner corrects my texts and I his.

How/where can I find a good proofreader (preferably English native) for either American or British or both? And how do I know they are good? My teachers were both Americans and British people ... their spelling/grammar was occasionally really bad - not all - but some. And we had to correct them.

Thanks

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-01-14 13:43 GMT]

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-01-14 13:43 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2009-01-14 15:38 GMT]


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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 02:35
French to English
+ ...
Your best bet Jan 14, 2009

is to hire an English translator, not an English proofreader. You probably translate much more quickly into German. Why spend all that time scratching your head over English grammar and syntax and worrying about missing mistakes and finding good proofreaders? Pass the work on to a native-English translator. Otherwise, you're liable to lose clients over shoddy work. Far better to team up with a German - English translator who can pass their into German work on to you.

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Christina Heger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:35
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That's probably right, but ... Jan 14, 2009

Actually 80% of my work is German > English

And we have been fairly well received so far. So it would actually be an extra for us. As I said, sometimes you just need someone who uses the language 24/7 with all its weird examples of spoken language.

Thanks anyway


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 06:35
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Keep your variants straight Jan 14, 2009

If you do end up using proofreaders for your translations into English, you will probably need to use different ones for BE & AE or be very sure that the ones you use understand the real differences not only in terminology and punctuation but also in style, depending on the subject area and purpose.

However, in most cases, I would give the same advice as PRen. I read these debates about translating into one's second language all the time, and I do support the "right" of translators to do so for any reason they choose. Among my German colleagues the main reason seems to be overconfidence in their own English skills and/or an inability to get enough jobs translating from English into German. In over 30 years of working with the German language and dealing with German translators at the Dolmetscherinstitut in Saarbrücken and elsewhere, I have actually encountered only a handful of Germans who really can translate very well into English, as well or better than the best native English speakers you'll find. But I set the bar very high, and if others want to crawl under it and deliver a different quality of text, it doesn't bother me, as long as I don't have to correct it

I prefer to look at these things from a purely economic viewpoint: if the total time and effort involved in producing a first-rate product is significantly greater than translating into your native language, why bother? In the case of a direct client, where there may be a risk of losing the projects you prefer if you pass on the other language pair, there is usually a need to take some sort of action, but a good partnership with opposite direction translators would probably serve you better on the whole.

Except for pro bono work involving family law or marriage issues, extremely confidential documents for private clients requiring a valid certification for the courts and perhaps two exceptions in eight years, I don't waste my time personally translating in the other direction, although if one were to believe the silly test results from my state exams, I am supposed to be "better" at it. (To me that only discredited the grading process and indicated a preference for simplistic German, or it indicated the use of Brits to review the English parts.)


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 07:35
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Agree 100% with PRen Jan 14, 2009

PRen wrote:

is to hire an English translator, not an English proofreader. You probably translate much more quickly into German. Why spend all that time scratching your head over English grammar and syntax and worrying about missing mistakes and finding good proofreaders? Pass the work on to a native-English translator. Otherwise, you're liable to lose clients over shoddy work. Far better to team up with a German - English translator who can pass their into German work on to you.



Why play around in the dark? There are plenty of fine native English translators who translate Ger-En, so why not line a few of them up and outsource those jobs to them. Translating into English is not the free-for-all that so many non-natives assume it is.


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Penelope Ausejo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree with everybody Jan 14, 2009

No news here... hire an AmE translator and AmE proofreader when aiming at the US audience, BrE translator and BrE proofreader when aiming at the British market, etc. There are plenty of good translators in most language combinations.

Good luck!


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 07:35
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Weird "Englisch" Jan 14, 2009

Qualitylanguage wrote:

Actually 80% of my work is German > English

And we have been fairly well received so far. So it would actually be an extra for us. As I said, sometimes you just need someone who uses the language 24/7 with all its weird examples of spoken language.

Thanks anyway


Good luck with 'weird English'. It's not as weird as you think, but I know it's the impression that some non-natives have, and it makes them think that there is no way they can make a mistake.
And fwiw, like all other languages, there is a huge difference between the written and spoken language. Speaking it a bit has little to do with being able to write it professionally. I recently spent over 20 hours as part a team that was working full time trying to get the "Englisch" translation by native Germans into "English" that sounded like the real thing.


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Christina Heger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:35
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Weird English ;-) Jan 14, 2009

Weird English? Gosh, I really wrote that.

Well, I surely would not want to learn German as a non-native ...



I am well aware of the fact that I do not speak perfect English. That's why I posted this thread because I feel insecure.

Is it wrong to admit that? I think it is not.

Hell, I have sometimes more problems to translate from so-called English into German. So-called because 'some' German or other native thinks they should write it in English and God knows why they want a German translation then.

Anyway, I know what you mean, I had to correct a lot of trash - both German and English.


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Ravishankar Govindraj
India
Local time: 11:05
English to Gujarati
+ ...
Deutsh end Englisch froof reading! Jan 15, 2009

Hi

May be a non-native proof reading professional could be of some help.

Academics and Economics apart, non-natives generally tend to be more careful when they write in or translate into a second or third language.

As in all other matters, Nature plays its tricks in making a native feel that the so called native language comes naturally.

Well it doesn't as far as written language and proof reading is concerned. Please spare a little time to the article 'Mother tongue-How crucial is it' on this portal.

Further, proof reading has acquired a broader meaning to include a few tasks that actually belong to editing. So a trained non-native linguist could be the answer.

I am not marketing myself!


Regards


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Post it Jan 15, 2009

Perhaps you are new to the site? You can either try posting your proof-reading/ correcting/ editing jobs as they come up, or you can run a search in the directories for an English/English or a German/English professional who is willing to help you out for a mutually agreeable fee.

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Taija Hyvönen
Finland
Local time: 08:35
Member (2008)
English to Finnish
+ ...
A bit off the topic Jan 15, 2009

So let's assume there just isn't enough work in your language pair, and marketing your business and being professional and so on has taken you as far as it can - do we agree that such a situation is possible? Which alternative would then be better: to start translating to your source language, or taking up a new source language? Hypothetically, I would like to hear your opinions.

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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 07:35
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
You are addressing professional translators here Jan 15, 2009

Ravishankar Govindraj wrote:

Hi

May be a non-native proof reading professional could be of some help.

Academics and Economics apart, non-natives generally tend to be more careful when they write in or translate into a second or third language.

As in all other matters, Nature plays its tricks in making a native feel that the so called native language comes naturally.

Well it doesn't as far as written language and proof reading is concerned. Please spare a little time to the article 'Mother tongue-How crucial is it' on this portal.

Further, proof reading has acquired a broader meaning to include a few tasks that actually belong to editing. So a trained non-native linguist could be the answer.

I am not marketing myself!


Regards







So, 'careful' non-natives are actually better proofreaders (one word in English) than professional translators who are silly enough to assume they are capable of proofreading (also one word) a text written in their native language?
After nearly 7 years on Proz, I am well aware that some native speakers of other languages truly believe in their superiority over native speakers, especially when it comes to English, but I must say this attitude never fails to amaze.
I suggest 'sparing a little time on this portal' 'to' this article: http://www.proz.com/forum/kudoz/21666-english:_who_needs_the_natives.html#146849



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xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 02:35
French to English
+ ...
Hmmm. Jan 15, 2009

Taija Salo wrote:

So let's assume there just isn't enough work in your language pair, and marketing your business and being professional and so on has taken you as far as it can - do we agree that such a situation is possible? Which alternative would then be better: to start translating to your source language, or taking up a new source language? Hypothetically, I would like to hear your opinions.


Well, consider an analogy - an orthopedic surgeon isn't getting enough work, revenues are down, and so decides to pursue a more lucrative stream and hangs out his shingle as a heart surgeon (or brain surgeon). After all, it's all about anatomy, right?


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
an additional source language Jan 15, 2009

Taija Salo wrote:

So let's assume there just isn't enough work in your language pair, and marketing your business and being professional and so on has taken you as far as it can - do we agree that such a situation is possible? Which alternative would then be better: to start translating to your source language, or taking up a new source language? Hypothetically, I would like to hear your opinions.


A new source language, becuase you can quickly (with some effort of course) get to a level where your passive knowledge is adequate for translation purposes, especially if you focus on your areas of specialism.

For translation purposes I know Spanish inside out, for all kinds of texts, Catalan very well for science (but not for literature), and Portuguese (only for med/pharm). I focus almost all my efforts in professional training on improving my knowledge of professional standard writing in my target language and in my specialisms (and find that the more I know the less I feel I know!).

To try and achieve perfection in your source language as a pro writer (that is, writing to a standard acceptable for publication purposes) is extremely difficult for even natives:-) It requires a lot of knowledge of picky issues and of different style guides, and even a lot of confidence in terms of decisions about things. So, it's really almost preferable to focus on perfection in the production of a single language. Becuase the quality of your product is assessed in comparison with field experts writing in their native language. EG, if I translate a medical article to English, what ultimately matters is that my English reflects the kind of English used in that particular language domain.

A specialist translator (that is, someone with a lot of acquired knowledge of a particular field in the target language) can relatively easily add a new source language from the same language group and so leverage their field experience acquired in translating from a similar source.




[Edited at 2009-01-15 17:58 GMT]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
weak arguments Jan 15, 2009

Qualitylanguage wrote:

... how can I correct my own mistakes if I don't know they are mistakes ....

.... My teachers were both Americans and British people ... their spelling/grammar was occasionally really bad - not all - but some. And we had to correct them.



That's the point. You are supposed to be able to detect your own and other people's mistakes if you claim to be a professional writer in a field:-)

As for your teachers, that's a rather subjective argument and doesn't justify anything or anybody! Were they speaking, teaching (and at what level), or were they producing texts of a professional standard?


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