Poll: Has a proofreader ever "ruined" a translation you've done?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 04:50
Aug 10, 2017

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Has a proofreader ever "ruined" a translation you've done?".

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Teresa Borges
Local time: 12:50
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No, not to my knowledge! Aug 10, 2017

Most of my translations are proofread in-house and my clients know this (and pay for it). I work with a few translation agencies that have their own proofreaders but over the years we developed a mutual professional relationship. One of these agencies (the only one, I must admit) even sends the proofread files for my final approval.


Connected Trans  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:50
Member (2017)
Chinese to English
+ ...
No Aug 10, 2017

Surprised to see so many people voting yes! Do we really have so little confidence in proofreaders? I don't think I've ever had a problem with one. Maybe I've just been lucky.


Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:50
Member (2009)
Spanish to English

Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile

It's not 'proofreading'... Aug 10, 2017

Revising, correcting, editing... fine. But it's not proofreading! Unless we are all submitting proofs to be given a final read-through before publication.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Several times Aug 10, 2017

I am often very grateful to editors or whatever you like to call them. I have done my share of proofreading, back in the day when it basically WAS proofreading, to extensive revising and editing, and I am afraid I may have ruined other people's texts before I knew any better. However, when I started, I was working in-house, and had to call the translator and discuss any changes I wanted to make. My colleagues kindly explained why their versions were better than my suggestions, and I learnt a lot. And sometimes they even accepted my suggestions!

Now and then, I have been asked to accept or reject the results after a proofreader has been through my work. Often I simply accept all the changes, or reject a few, but they are not worth fussing over. However, I have on occasions written lengthy mails explaining my choice of wording or whatever...

And on at least two occasions the client has preferred the original, unedited translation. icon_smile.gif


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't think so Aug 10, 2017

However, I do have a vague recollection of something like that happening on at least one occasion - you know the kind, where the "proofer" replaces perfectly good words with synonyms, like nevertheless/however. But in general, I think most of my translations are usually taken at face value, at least by my regular (non-agency) clients.


Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
English to French
No Aug 10, 2017

At least none that I am aware of.
My agency customers who outsource editing/reviewing work (as opposed to in-house agency review or end-customer review) usually send me the revised version to confirm or ignore changes made to my translations.
Although I tend to accept all changes that in my opinion are only preferential, it has happened that corrections made did alter or defeat the intended meaning, mostly because of shortcomings in figuring out English expressions/sentence structures/phrasal verbs...

But it also happens (not every day, granted) that the reviewer of a text I translated spots something I totally missed out or misunderstood.
Even after on-the-fly rereading, then overall in-CAT rereading and QA (only for segments that I am paid for, of course), then target-only rereading.

The second-pair-of-eyes principle should be made compulsory by law for any material that needs to be flawless.



Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Not actually RUINED ... Aug 10, 2017

I don't think "proofreaders" have ever actually RUINED my work, but there have been occasions when they have damaged my exquisite grammar and syntax - insisting on phrases from some standard "style sheet" or possibly not being native speakers of English themselves.


Egmont Schröder  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:50
Member (2013)
Chinese to German
+ ...
Yes Aug 10, 2017

It was not that long ago that I got back a translation with complaints from the customer.

It turned out that the errors were "corrections" from the editor who apparently didn't run a grammar and spell check.


Local time: 07:50
Member (2009)
German to Korean
+ ...
indeed Aug 10, 2017

Imagine that a reputable large agency comes back with a proofed document unprofessionally done.
Even asked what can be done to avoid mistranslation.


boostrer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:50
Member (2007)
English to Russian
+ ...
Almost always Aug 10, 2017

My proofreaders would manage to revert a correct translation into a Google Translate styled pile of words. Usually it results in decreased readability of the target text, but fairly often they add severe mistakes.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:50
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A thousand times Aug 10, 2017

In fact, it's what most revisers do best.
Generally, there is a very strong need of the reviser to show they are necessary and they are working hard, so they change several terms and expressions with synonyms, and change the order of the terms in the sentence.
Also, they replace an entire phrase like "The majority of the voters are lost" to "The majority of the voters is lost", insetead of changing only the word "are", so the entire stretch is red and underlined.
Also, they change correct translations to literal or incorrect ones.
Finally, the agency submits your translation to a reviser, but gives you no feedback. When the client complains, the agency sends you the translation with the client's remarks, and only then you see all the shit the reviser did in your work. Then you have to discuss with the PM and say all those very undue changes were made by the reviser and you were not even aware of them.
This is a very, very undue practice of many agencies.


Ana Vozone  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:50
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes... Aug 11, 2017

A proofreader changed, not a small translation, but an entire book I had translated about sailing.

The book was published with my name as the translator, but of course the proofreader's name was not included so, "officially", I am the translator of that mess.

I complained to the publisher, but there was nothing they could/would do...


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