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Poll: Do you read the text through in full before starting to translate it?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 11:54
SITE STAFF
Aug 1, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you read the text through in full before starting to translate it?".

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



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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:54
Member (2006)
German to English
Other Aug 1, 2012

The text being the sentence, yes of course, the text being the document, nope, not enough time for that

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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:54
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Before starting to translate it... Aug 1, 2012

...as opposed to before accepting the order (I'm assuming that you've at least skim-read the text before agreeing to take the job on).

And by 'the text ... in full', I mean the entire source text (the whole document, not just the current sentence).

[Edited at 2012-08-01 18:49 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Hebrew to English
Skim it, don't read it Aug 1, 2012

Skim just to see if anything jumps out at me as being particularly troublesome, but otherwise no I don't read it in detail.

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Maciek Pastuszka  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 20:54
English to Polish
+ ...
No time for reading carefully... Aug 1, 2012

...just skimming. But it would be nice to have a little software tool that would mark all the unusual words that e.g. do not appear in dictionaries. Sometimes skimming is just not enough to predict the difficulty level of the text.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Seldom Aug 1, 2012

In other words, hardly ever. Most clients are always in such an all-fired hurry that it would be a waste of time. A quick once-over scan is usually enough, although sometimes you might find you've bitten off more than you can chew, which can be a salutory lesson.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Skim or scan Aug 1, 2012

Ty Kendall wrote:

Skim just to see if anything jumps out at me as being particularly troublesome, but otherwise no I don't read it in detail.


Maybe I meant skim instead of scan, I always got them mixed up in my TEFL classes too...


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Sarah Elizabeth
Italy
Local time: 20:54
Italian to English
Always Aug 1, 2012

I translate art, art history and history texts - a lot of essays; book-length projects as well - and having a very clear idea of the whole before I start actually speeds up the translation process - by a lot.

And the resulting translations are far more fluid this way.

For this stuff, for me at least, *not* reading the text through in full before starting to translate it would be a waste of time. Counter-intuitive perhaps, but true!

Like that of the authors themselves, my own work is stronger and more confident if I know where I am going and why.

Might be like the difference between driving from New York to LA without consulting a map first versus making the drive after having mapped out the whole trip.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:54
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Sometimes Aug 1, 2012

It depends on a variety of factors: first of all, who asked for the translation (I have been working for some of my customers for such a long time that I know what I can expect from them), and then the matter, the length of the document... but, obviously, I always skim the text before accepting it.

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 04:54
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Very seldom Aug 1, 2012

I translate technical manuals so I will give the introduction and the Contents a quick once-over.
And, a lot of the manuals are over 100 or 200 pages long. So, I am NOT going to read every single sentence through to the end, as you can all imagine.

The process of discovery happens as I get to grips with each sentence.

Corrected small typo

[Edited at 2012-08-01 12:55 GMT]


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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
It depends on the text Aug 1, 2012

Usually the answer is no, because it's completely unnecessary. But there are some exceptions, such as literature or the more elaborate forms of journalism, where it's important to have a mental picture of the text as a whole.



[Edited at 2012-08-01 10:34 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:54
Hebrew to English
Me too! Aug 1, 2012

neilmac wrote:

Ty Kendall wrote:

Skim just to see if anything jumps out at me as being particularly troublesome, but otherwise no I don't read it in detail.


Maybe I meant skim instead of scan, I always got them mixed up in my TEFL classes too...


I'm forever mixing them up. I do sometimes scan a text if it's about a particular topic and I'm anticipating some notoriously tricky terms, I'll scan it to see if they pop up - at least that way I know there's a headache to come! (I don't like surprises).


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Georgia Morgan  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:54
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Always Aug 1, 2012

I agree with Sarah. I cannot imagine translating a text without having read it all, at least in "skim" mode. Having said that, this is probably one of the reasons why I take so long to do a job and therefore don't even bother to bid for most rush jobs. I know I'd never get it done in time!

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just not feasible Aug 1, 2012

Some of the documents I work on are hundreds of pages long, so there's simply no time for reading the entire text.

One trick of the trade I have learned though is to take a good look at the bibliography section before starting to translate. (I'm obviously referring to scientific documents.) Many of the article titles listed are already in English, so they're a goldmine of technical information and it can save hours of research time.


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Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 19:54
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Yes - for pdf files Aug 1, 2012

Usually there's not enough time to read through everything in full, as most clients are in such a hurry - why so much hurry, honestly!!

But - I've recently started typing up the smaller pdf docs that I receive to make a source document in Word, so that I can use them on Studio 2011 without problems. I find that by the time I've done that, the translation is so much faster - I must have been translating the text in my head without realizing it. Much better. Slow though.

And no, although Studio is supposed to accept pdf docs as a source, I've not managed so far.

Also, quoting Georgia Moran -

"this is probably one of the reasons why I take so long to do a job and therefore don't even bother to bid for most rush jobs. I know I'd never get it done in time!"

- Same here. Glad I'm not the only slowcoach.


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