Poll: Do your translations tend to be longer or shorter after editing?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:50
Nov 20, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do your translations tend to be longer or shorter after editing?".

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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:50
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Er.... Nov 20, 2015

As long or short as they have to be

This option was not available so "Other, N/A"

Short and simple English is always what is required in my field - technical translation - so I always consciously break up wordy sentences and eliminate subordinate clauses wherever possible, anyway.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 17:50
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends! Nov 20, 2015

Julian Holmes wrote:

As long or short as they have to be

This option was not available so "Other, N/A"


EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:50
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Depends on the language pair and on the topic Nov 20, 2015

To take an extreme example, a very polite letter will be up to 40% longer in French than in Czech or English. So that my translation will be longer when translating into French and shorter the other way round.
When there is no such reason (e.g., EN/CZ), my rule is: if your translation is substantially longer than the source, it is wrong.

[Edited at 2015-11-20 09:17 GMT]


Chris Schröder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Confused Nov 20, 2015

Surely the whole point of editing is to put things more elegantly and concisely?


Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:50
Member (2012)
French to English
Shorter Nov 20, 2015

In my first draft, I often put two or more suggestions/synonyms for tricky words/phrases, so my final draft is inevitably shorter than the first one.


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other: They tend to flow better Nov 20, 2015

When I'm translating, my commitment is to the original writer, to convey their ideas as faithfully as I can.

While editing, my commitment is to the targeted reader, so they'll grasp these ideas accurately with the minimum pain and effort possible.

This latter outcome is achieved by crafting the text that would be the most natural way to express those ideas in the targeted reader's culture (which includes language, of course).

Now, if a river that flows "better" for any particular purpose is longer or shorter, I wouldn't know.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:50
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
About the same Nov 20, 2015

I try to produce a final translation the first time around, so it's not really a draft. When I go through it afterwards, I often improve on my first version, which may make it shorter, but I don't set out to make it more concise when I review it.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:50
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
About the same, Nov 20, 2015

I only change a few terms that sound better when I'm reading. The probability of changing a word for an expression or vice-versa is about the same, so the size doesn't change much.


Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
German to English
+ ...
I couldn't make sense of the question Nov 20, 2015

A translation reflects the original so its length and style tend to be determined by the source text, combined with the nature of the target language. After completing my work I check it for accuracy (reflects meaning of the original) and appropriate language and style - it's a two-way compromise. I don't think much happens in terms of longer or shorter. Certainly there is no kind of a pattern.


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Poll: Do your translations tend to be longer or shorter after editing?

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