Deep editing not proofreading
Thread poster: parolagiusta
parolagiusta
United States
Local time: 23:34
Italian to English
Jun 18, 2013

I have to admit that I have not done many proofreading jobs. Today I got an inquiry if I was available for one. I said I was and got sent part of a document to proofread in an hour. I had expected "proofreading" - typos, punctuation, the odd word out of place. Instead it was something that seemed to me to have been MT'd. I found I was re-writing every sentence! In the end I gave up and told the outsourcer that I could not meet the deadline with the amount of corrections necessary. Plus, there was more than one person working on "proof reading" the document - so how could a cohesive result possibly come about? It's nice to get an offer but.... Hope I did the right thing renouncing.:-?

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Right and wrong Jun 18, 2013

You did the wrong thing by accepting any proofreading, revising, editing, post-editing... job without first seeing the text and finding out chat the client expects you to do with it. Then you did the right thing by rejecting this post-editing job - it wasn't a proofreading job and needs to be paid considerably higher, maybe as high as your translation rate (or even higher!).

I doubt that a cohesive text could result from the working method your client is using, certainly not without a further step, with one person trying to tidy things up. It sounds like a classic example of a client trying to save by using free MT rather than finding a qualified translator, and ending up paying considerably more for a sub-standard practice. If clients like that can learn from their mistakes, well and good. If they can't, we all need to stay well away from them.


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Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:34
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Re-translation Jun 18, 2013

I did the same once, and learned my lesson very quickly. What a customer calls 'proofreading' can vary immensely. For some, it means reading a well translated document and correcting a couple of spelling errors. For others it can mean re-translating the whole thing. In my case, the 'translation' had clearly been done by a computer, and I found it was actually quicker to re-do the translation from scratch instead of trying to make sense of the translation. Now, I never accept proof-reading tasks without reading the document carefully beforehand, and, if the translation is of poor quality, I insist on charging my full translation rate (although the customer usually goes away at that point!).

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Timothy Barton
Local time: 23:34
French to English
+ ...
My thoughts... Jun 18, 2013

parolagiusta wrote:

I have to admit that I have not done many proofreading jobs. Today I got an inquiry if I was available for one. I said I was and got sent part of a document to proofread in an hour. I had expected "proofreading" - typos, punctuation, the odd word out of place. Instead it was something that seemed to me to have been MT'd. I found I was re-writing every sentence! In the end I gave up and told the outsourcer that I could not meet the deadline with the amount of corrections necessary. Plus, there was more than one person working on "proof reading" the document - so how could a cohesive result possibly come about? It's nice to get an offer but.... Hope I did the right thing renouncing.:-?


In future you should make sure you see the text before accepting it. If a text has clearly been machine translated I would insist on my full translation rate. Although machine translation can speed things up for certain types of text (although it sounds like this is not the case for your text), by sending me the machine translation they've not simplified the task in any way I couldn't have done myself in just a few seconds. If it's not machine translation then you should either give a per-word rate based on the quality of the text or give a per-hour rate and an estimate of the amount of time it will take you based on the quality of the text.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:34
Chinese to English
The cynical view Jun 19, 2013

Some unscrupulous agencies try to get cheap translation services by using a very cheap, unqualified human translator or free MT, then paying normal proofreading rates, in the hope that the proofreader will conscientiously make something readable out of the rubbish they are sent. Always reject this practice when you see it.

Having said that, even among good, reputable agencies, the word "proofreading" can mean many different things. It's always useful to check with the agency exactly what they mean: checking against source or not; editing for content or just proofing; etc.


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parolagiusta
United States
Local time: 23:34
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
thanks all Jun 19, 2013

for the words of wisdom. I noted, after posting, that the email from which the request for proofreading services came from did not match the Proz member site info. Perhaps this is a situation of someone having "lifted" a name. Also suspicious because the person is a native English speaker but the language used in the emails was a bit sketchy. I've contacted the real person just in case my suspicions are correct. Thanks again. Learned lots of lessons here!

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:34
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I do not proofread for some agencies on principle Jun 19, 2013

Always see the document first and agree precisely with the client what they expect you to do, and how they will pay for it.
An hourly rate is nearly always preferable.

Quote high - say you will give a reduction if you take less time than expected. Then give a small reduction if possible, and with many clients this works well. Even 15 minutes or a very small amount oils the machinery and gains you a lot of good will!

If in doubt, do not let yourself be exploited - it is better to turn down the job, or they will expect you to carry on at the same rate in future.
___________________________

I had a request a couple of days ago for 'only 450 words, we have allocated 30 minutes' ...

This particular agency sends a 10-item checklist with their proofing requests, including printing out and returning a slightly smaller checklist...

It takes half an hour in administration before you even start work!

The same agency is quite reasonable about translation, but simply does not understand how long proofing and editing take, so I never proofread for them.


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Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:34
English
+ ...
Mechanics or style and content? Jun 19, 2013

Helen Hagon wrote:

... What a customer calls 'proofreading' can vary immensely. For some, it means reading a well translated document and correcting a couple of spelling errors. For others it can mean re-translating the whole thing. ...


Yes, as I've mentioned before, I try to educate clients on the differences between various types of editing and proofreading, as I describe them on my profile page.

I think Michael Wetzel succinctly summed up the difference perfectly in an earlier thread: "editing (content and style) from that of proofreading (mechanics)..." http://www.proz.com/forum/professional_development/249932-how_to_avoid_careless_mistakes.html

And I definitely agree with those who say you must never accept a text for proofing or editing without first taking a very good look at it, to determine whether you need to be addressing the style and content or the mechanics, or perhaps (quite often) ALL of these.

Edited to answer your question: Yes, I think you did the right thing. It's unfortunate and unpleasant to have to quit a job already started, but next time, looking over the text before accepting (or rejecting) it, will prevent that.

[Edited at 2013-06-19 10:02 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 23:34
French to English
Factor in some extra time Jun 19, 2013

Not only should you look carefully at the text, you should always factor in some extra time.

Sometimes something reads pretty well, then you suddenly realise that in fact there's more work than you thought. It can be that the writer has an impressive command of vocabulary, but they are using slightly wrong words, or the syntax is rather closer to the original than it would normally be. The message is being put across but the reader has to concentrate harder than if the text had been written properly. Suddenly you find yourself ripping things out and starting again.

This happened to me just the other day. The PM asked me to just quickly look at a file that their client had complained about and make any necessary corrections. The file had been translated pretty much word for word, without any effort towards clarity. It was only a letter to be sent out to MEPs! I ended up spending at least as long correcting it as I would have spent translating it.

The PM insisted on me correcting what she already had simply so that she could send the file with track changes to the original translator. There were two files, I did as she said for the first, then for the second I just translated it myself and then used the comparison feature in Word, which produces a file that looks like I corrected it using Track changes.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:34
English to Polish
+ ...
In Central/Eastern Europe proofing is fixing Jun 19, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

Having said that, even among good, reputable agencies, the word "proofreading" can mean many different things. It's always useful to check with the agency exactly what they mean: checking against source or not; editing for content or just proofing; etc.


In Central/Eastern Europe proofing is literally 'correction'. It becomes less deep when the proofer doesn't know the source language, which is often the case with native speakers of the target language.

Here, we're very serious about comprehension and fidelity, to the point that having grown up here I'd be inclined to look for native speakers of the source rather than the target language in order to get a reliable translation. On the other hand, 'native speaker' has always been a marketing buzz expression that works. We do have monolingual 'corrections' here that alter the meaning of the source.

Actually, there are people who believe it's even better when the proofing native speaker (or even near-native speaker) of the target language doesn't actually know the source language or see the source text. Again, in such a case the proofer is not supposed to fix mistranslations, although a fussy client might actually complain to the proofreader if the target doesn't reflect the source.

Anyway, if you work with people from Central or Eastern Europe, you may as well presume that proofing means 'making sure it's right' unless you aren't show the source or the client knows you don't know the language.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 05:34
Chinese to English
Yes, but there are many other variations, too Jun 19, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Anyway, if you work with people from Central or Eastern Europe, you may as well presume that proofing means 'making sure it's right' unless you aren't show the source or the client knows you don't know the language.


Yes, I think that is the most common set up by far. I have my doubts about it, as I tried to express here: http://www.proz.com/forum/proofreading_editing_reviewing/228286-how_much_responsibility_do_you_accept_for_a_proofread_text.html

But I've also worked with agencies running a three-pass system: bilingual translator, bilingual editor, monolingual proofreader. And in my own work, I have one client who asks me to use a Chinese-native proofreader because they are concerned to capture all the subtleties of their text - so his brief is *only* to look at translation issues, and not to bother with the style or English language questions. Sometimes there's is client-specific language which the proofreader can't touch...

So you get all kinds of set up, and it's always worth clarifying.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
I think the distinction between editing and proofreading is meaningless. Jun 19, 2013

When the customer outsources this task to you, they want a translation that's fit for purpose. This may require a lot of work on your part, or hardly any. It just depends on the quality of the translation.



[Edited at 2013-06-19 19:17 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:34
English to Polish
+ ...
Roles reversed Jun 19, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Anyway, if you work with people from Central or Eastern Europe, you may as well presume that proofing means 'making sure it's right' unless you aren't show the source or the client knows you don't know the language.


Yes, I think that is the most common set up by far. I have my doubts about it, as I tried to express here: http://www.proz.com/forum/proofreading_editing_reviewing/228286-how_much_responsibility_do_you_accept_for_a_proofread_text.html

But I've also worked with agencies running a three-pass system: bilingual translator, bilingual editor, monolingual proofreader. And in my own work, I have one client who asks me to use a Chinese-native proofreader because they are concerned to capture all the subtleties of their text - so his brief is *only* to look at translation issues, and not to bother with the style or English language questions. Sometimes there's is client-specific language which the proofreader can't touch...

So you get all kinds of set up, and it's always worth clarifying.


In the three-pass system you described, the standard proofer from CE/EE is the editor rather, although local agencies sometimes use a T-P-E system that might as well include three translators from the same pair swapping roles from project to project. In such a case, the proofer deals with everything, but only the editor is the person primarily responsible for ensuring appropriate style. There might be a separate, last ditch proofer for print-ready publications.

My gripe with monolingual proofing is that it deemphasises comprehension and fidelity and promotes guesswork by proofreaders (editors) because they won't be able to tell that an oddity they have encoutered results from the intentional wording (substantive content, basically) of the original rather than some miswording by the translator. Correct use of a less frequently used grammatical structure may be confused with error in the application of a similar, more popular form. Intentional variations from typical wordings (e.g. when a lawyer specifically wants a slightly non-standard wording to achieve an adjusted result for his client) may also be defeated in the course of such proofreading.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:34
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Basic proofreading Jun 23, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

My gripe with monolingual proofing is that it deemphasises comprehension and fidelity and promotes guesswork by proofreaders (editors) because they won't be able to tell that an oddity they have encoutered results from the intentional wording (substantive content, basically) of the original rather than some miswording by the translator. Correct use of a less frequently used grammatical structure may be confused with error in the application of a similar, more popular form. Intentional variations from typical wordings (e.g. when a lawyer specifically wants a slightly non-standard wording to achieve an adjusted result for his client) may also be defeated in the course of such proofreading.


This is one of the "flaws" of mono-lingual proof-reading. Although the basic genuine proof-reading doesn't require the original, it is still adviceable to have the source text at hand to avoid any misconceptions/misinterpretations of the translation.

Outsourcers don't distinguish between proof-reading and editing (any why should they?) because they want a perfectly translated document back that they can use immediately.

It's upon the SPs to gently educate their clients. As our colleagues have already outline here, the education of the SP includes to never accept a revision project without having seen the translation first.


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