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Poll: How much of your time do you spend proofreading your translations?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 22:43
SITE STAFF
Mar 15, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How much of your time do you spend proofreading your translations?".

This poll was originally submitted by Oliver Lawrence. View the poll results »



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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:43
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
In an attempt to be clear,... Mar 15, 2012

... and to stave off the usual howls of protest about lack of clarity in these polls, the point of this one is to ask how much of the time, on a "typical" translation project (and I'm afraid you will have to use your goodwill and judgement as to what that means for you) you spend revising and proofreading it. The model of the translation process that I'm assuming is drafting + revising + proofreading. So if you typically spend 10 hours drafting, 8 hours revising and 2 hours proofreading, then you spend about 50% of the time on revising and proofreading. The question says 'proofreading', but it means 'revising and proofreading' (it's been edited by ProZ).

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Patricia Prevost  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Maybe around 20% Mar 15, 2012

I'm really not sure but I know it takes me quite a long time to proofread my translations, as I take all the important decisions regarding terminology and style at this final stage. By this time I absolutely know the subject and feel sure about my choices.

Edited to add: After reading Oliver's post, it's obviously more than 20%.

[Edited at 2012-03-15 09:28 GMT]


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Rob Lunn  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
50% Mar 15, 2012

For me it normally works out to be around 50%, which is a fairly accurate figure because I am anally retentive enough to keep track of this type of thing .

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:43
English to German
+ ...
Percentage? No idea. Mar 15, 2012

At the NYU I was taught to file and improve, file and improve, file and improve on my texts before delivery.
I process my texts in three steps before delivery:
1.) I will compare the translation to the source text to make sure that no text and no information was omitted
2.) I will do monolingual editing. This is when I read my text from the recipient's / target group's view to make sure that it sounds fine
3.) Then I will do proofreading, turning my brain into some detached mode and analyzing spelling only.

What percentage? I will treat technical manuals differently from PR articles. To be honest, I can't even tell when translating is finished and when cosmetics begin.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:43
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Mar 15, 2012

Depends on how much time I have

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malaudes
Argentina
Local time: 02:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not sure about percentages... Mar 15, 2012

Although, I'm not sure about percentages, I agree with Patricia.
I believe, the proofreading stage should take almost as long as the translation process itself. Checking your work as many times as possible is the only way to guarantee a high quality process and final product.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 06:43
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No idea, but Mar 15, 2012

if I had to risk a number, I would say between 20% and 50%, but it depends on a lot of variables: the subject field, the source language, the volume and even... my mood!

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Amandine Added  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
English to French
+ ...
Hard to say but at least 30% I would say Mar 15, 2012

It's a bit hard to quantify as even during the translation step, I always check a sentence then the paragraph just to make sure everything make sense and I did not forgot any part or term (step 1).
Then I make a spelling, grammar and punctuation check and read through without source doc to make sure it means something in target language and that everything is sound, flows and is easy to read (step 2). However, in case of doubt in meaning or structure I always go back to source doc just to make sure I don't get too much freedom.
And finally I recheck with source doc (step 3).
Of course in case of tight deadlines, step 2 and 3 are a single one.

But Theresa is right, in the end the actual time spent "depends on a lot of variables"...


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Marc Cordes  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:43
English to German
+ ...
Very difficult to say (20-50%) Mar 15, 2012

In my experience it mostly depends on the time I have available. The reason I mention the factor of time here is mainly about the "detachment period" one needs to be even able to start the proofreading/editing process.

I think we all know this "wired" feeling when finishing a huge job which we have been working on for the last couple of days. We are all used to our styles and if you have churned out big chunks of information through your system in a relatively short amount of time you are virtually blind for at least stylistic improvements which might be possible in your end product. The brain needs time to adjust to a high input same as it needs time to cool down to be more "impartial" again after that input has decreased.

I cannot quite find the right words to explain it but I think you all get the point and have similar experiences. I would be surprised if there is anyone out there who does not need time to cool down before re-reading the work done (If so I would LOVE to get to know how you skip that part!)


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 14:43
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Difficult to hazard a guess Mar 15, 2012

Nicole Schnell wrote:
What percentage? I will treat technical manuals differently from PR articles. To be honest, I can't even tell when translating is finished and when cosmetics begin.


Nicole, so succinctly and eloquently put! Niiiiiiiiiiiiice

The proofreading process is so far imbedded in my translation process these days that I can only say that it begins once I start punching in the words, typically involving

- on-screen proofing as I type and after I have completed a TU
- frequent backtracking to the beginning of the document to conduct specific searches
- pre-delivery proof by individual discrete sections of the document, etc, etc.

And, as Nicole aptly points out, different types of documents require different levels of proofing.
The nature of the document - manual vs PR - and the level of creative writing required to render the document into a deliverable product dictates the complexity and, poroportionately, the time needed for the proof.

And this is why, judging from the answers to the poll so far, there is no clear answer to exactly how long we need.

Happy translating!


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Mar 15, 2012

I don't know, it varies, but not too long if it's my own translation. Am too busy to spend any time finding this out, since I don't see what use it would be if I did know.

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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Between 20 and 40 percent depending on the text Mar 15, 2012

I agree with Marc about the need to cool off. After ploughing through a text for several hours, I have to go away and do something else first to revive my brain. Then I read through the translation first without looking at the source text to make sure that what I have written is proper English. Next I check carefully a second time against the source text making sure I haven't made any stupid errors (which I usually have!). For some jobs, particularly literary texts, there is a third stage which involves some more tweaking according the customer's feedback, and this can sometimes be a long process.

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Petro2  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:43
Afrikaans to English
+ ...
It differs from project to project. Mar 15, 2012

I go over and over the project till I am satisfied with the end product.

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
Somewhere between 5 % and 300 % Mar 15, 2012

With a short and "easy" text I might just revise/proofread each sentence as I translate and then do a quick read-through at the end. As for literature, it can revisited endless times after the first draft and the revising part is where a lot of the quality is added. When translating poetry or songs, and when the translation is also in verse, the revising sometimes takes much longer than the translating.

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