Point-to-point is not a sound approach to translation.
Seeking a one-to-one correspondence between a set of words in one language and a parallel set in another language is the bane of translation. Unfortunately, this is what I commonly see in most translations that I edit (or review, or check).
There are many reason this is not a sound approach, but the fundamental reason is that it is simply contrary to the way human languages work, as opposted to other signification systems, such as animal languages and machine languages. Human languages reflect human nature, which is fundamentally unpredictable. As a form of behavior, human languages cannot be pinned down in a pointillistic manner, with a point of meaning assigned to each word, or a particular response for each kind of stimulus. In technical fields, where precise communication is critical, and where expression is minimal, it is desirable to have a high degree of precision, but even in these areas, human languages have shown surprising unweildiness. The chagrin experienced and expressed by C.S. Pierce when the meaning of the word he coined, "pragmatism," was changed by William James is a good reminder that Pierce's desideratum of "one word for each meaning and one meaning for each word" does not fully obtain, even in a subject as arcane as philosophy.
The ideal of one word for one meaning is very attractive. It resonates with the desire for economy and order: everything in its place. Even professional lexicographers, especially in the pre-scientific era, have fallen for it. An example of that is الثعالبي in his book فقه اللغة
When a word is born in a languages, it comes in response to a praticular need in a particular situation. If the new word strikes a chord with the public, it spreads and stays until it no longer fulfills a need, or until it is replaced by one that has greater immediacy, versatility, or appeal. When a word is born, nobody checks first to see to what words in other languages this new word corresponds.
When presented with synonyms or near synonyms, it makes much better sense to divide the translation task to two steps:
First, find out what the words mean in their own language: How are they similar? How are they different?
Second, find suitable expressions in the target language that carry similar meanings.
Attempting to abbreviate these two steps to one step is one of the quickest ways to confusion.
As we proceed with the first step, we need to guard against our intuitive expectation that each word will have a specific meaning that exclude those of the other words. Meanings of words are neither mutually exclusive nor jointly exhaustive.
We will also find that many of the reported differences are purely incidental, and often personal. In the translation industry, for example, there is no full agreement as to what any of these words actually means. This is so much the case, that I felt impelled to spell out what I personally mean when I use such terms as "edit" and "proofread," and publish that on my website, just to avoid misunderstanding with my clients. Each one of my clients uses these terms somewhat differently. To review, take a look at:
As we proceed with the second step, we also need to guard against the intuitive expectation that once the meanings have been precisely defined, each word will have its own specific translation.
To review, as its structure indicates, originally, meant to look again. It is still used in the sense of taking a second look at something with the possibility of making a decision or a change. In many cases the term is used simply in the sense of "looking" or "reading," as in "I was reviewing the news when the telephone rang," or "Attached please find my CV for your review." We commonly and appropriately use the word مراجعة, but in some contexts, a different word may be more appropriate.
In contrast, to revise is to modify something, as when a book is updated, when a law is changed, or when a translation is corrected. In most context, تعديل is not far off.
To check is to verify, and it applies to anything that can be verified. Example:
- Please check if the mail has arrived.
To check a translation, simply means to verify it. Depending on the situation, this could cover any number of aspects: grammar, semantics, spelling, and even formatting. The word تدقيق is often used because the point of verifying is often related to دقة, but دقة should not be understood in the simple sense of accuracy, but in the fuller (and more precise) sense of adhering to the most minute requirement. There is nothing wrong with using the word مراجعة or تصحيح
Proofreading generally means to check a reading material. In my work, I use it specifically in reference to checking the spelling, typing, punctuation, and minor formatting and mechanics. I do not, however, fault anyone who uses it to mean checking other things. For the meaning I use, it can be translated
تدقيق إملائي، تدقيق طباعي، إلخ
To edit has a broader range of meanings. It is generally translated تحرير, but there is no need to be rigidly attached to this translation.