editing the source text
Thread poster: Nina Spencer

Nina Spencer  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:18
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Nov 21, 2007

Hi - this is just a question about how things are done generally and not a complaint of any sorticon_smile.gif

I have worked as a freelance translator for just two years, (but also have experience doing in-house translating for another four years) and it is the first time I have come across this request, hence my query.

I have been asked to do a 15000 word translation which I am well on my way with. Yesterday, the agent tells me the client has also asked for the original text/source text to be proofread... I am not feeling 100% sure if I should take this on. What are your feelings on this? Should the source text not have been proofread before it was sent for translation? Has this happened to you?

[Edited at 2007-11-21 12:59]


Local time: 01:18
Dutch to English
Easy Nov 21, 2007

If the edit was not part of the original job, I would say, yes, I'll edit the source text, but it will cost extra. (If you do it for free, they might expect this from you in the future).


megane_wang  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Nov 21, 2007

Buck wrote:

If the edit was not part of the original job, I would say, yes, I'll edit the source text, but it will cost extra. (If you do it for free, they might expect this from you in the future).

I would take the job if I could do it. Just make a separate offer to edit the original AND UPDATE the translation you have already done, if needed.

Of course, the original is usually proofread first, but translators are not the only people in the world under pressure due to impossible deadlinesicon_wink.gif



[Edited at 2007-11-21 13:49]


Local time: 01:18
English to German
+ ...
Buck is right Nov 21, 2007

If you are qualified enough to proofread the source text, you should charge extra and you should ask for extra time, too.


nordiste  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
English to French
+ ...
ask what kind of proofreading they want Nov 21, 2007

If the source text is not in your mother tongue, it's a bit strange to ask you to proofread it.

However, if is a technical text, they might think of a "technical proofreading" , not for style or language correctness but more for consistency with figures, use of names and abbreviations or acronyms, references and indexes, page numbering, titles , that sort of things.

I have sometimes to translate technical reports which were written in hurry, where the table of content was not updated, some references in the text are missing or point to the wrong page, etc.

If you accept, of course make an offer based on your hourly rate, and include any update of your translation too.


mediamatrix (X)
Local time: 21:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Thin end of the wedge ... Nov 21, 2007

When I worked as an in-house technical translator in a bilingual organization I often got the impression that I was the first (and possibly the last...) person ever to read the source text from start to finish. Many of our authors who wrote in French did not have French as their native language and were not able to pick up many of their own errors. In the days when they had typists to type up their handwritten or dictated drafts those typists were more-or-less bilingual - but they didn't understand the technical terminology and so could not (or didn't dare...) 'adjust' their bosses' French as they typed. And they certainly never proofread anything...

So by the time the stuff landed on my desk it was often in a pretty poor state as regards the French and, if the truth be told, as regards the rendering of the content in terms of structure, organization, style, etc.; after all, the authors were on the payroll for their engineering and project-management skills, not for their competence as wordsmiths.

Knowing that the majority of readers of these documents would use the English translation rather than the French original (a sad fact of life in the global economy), and with the blessing of the vast majority of the authors in question, I ended up using the French text more as a 'guide' than as a source text to be subjected to 'faithful translation'.

Actually I found this work far more satisfying than 'pure' translation - although it made no difference to my income since I was on a fixed salary.

There came a time when some of the non-native English-writing authors found themselves being reproached for the quality of their output. A couple of them ended up coming to me to have their drafts proofread in English before submitting them to the French translation team. One day one of them - a fellow from Slovenia - confessed to me that he'd just been commended by the Technical Director - an Irishman - on the great progress he'd made with his English in the few months since he'd joined the staff and that he'd explained my involvement in this apparent 'miracle'. Shortly afterwards the Director called me to his office, handed me some scruffy handwritten notes, and said: "This is my speech for tomorrow's committee meeting. Pull it into shape, will you?"



Local time: 01:18
French to Dutch
+ ...
Do it Nov 21, 2007

I would accept this, but I would call this "translators suggestions for modifications/amendments of the original text".


Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
If the source text is good... Nov 22, 2007

Nina Spencer wrote:
Yesterday, the agent tells me the client has also asked for the original text/source text to be proofread... I am not feeling 100% sure if I should take this on.

Did you notice when you translated the text that it is of poor quality? Did you tell the client that you suspect the text you're translating is not the final text?

Anyway, if the proofreading isn't going to change any of the *meaning* of the source text, then it shouldn't matter if it is done before or after the translation, right? And if you're also the proofreader, then you can make sure no new meanings are inadvertently added to the source text that shouldn't be there, right?


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