Translation Without Effective Proofreading and Editing is Not Worthwhile

Last Updated On: March 14, 2018

inTranslation Tips

Anyone old enough to remember typewriters may be forgiven for thinking that proofreading and editing is a thing of the past, not just for anything written in one’s own language, but for translations, too. It’s not true, of course. Proofreading and editing are skills that are just as important as they used to be. It’s just that there are more tools available to make those steps a little easier.

For those who do remember typewriters, they were often used to manually type out whole reams of text that had been handwritten. In many offices, stenographers would type from scripts they may have made using something called shorthand. Does shorthand still exist? Probably, somewhere! The fact was that the chance of introducing errors into the final typewritten product was multiple. Proofreading was essential as it was almost inevitable that errors were there. Of course, a typewritten document would have to be typed all over again if proofreading and editing discovered significant errors.

Translation tasks using old-fashioned technology simply increased the chain of possible error creation. Errors in the original text could easily be missed in translation, compounding the errors.


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    So much for the past. But in some ways, nothing has changed in terms of the importance of effective proofreading and editing, especially for translation. Professional translation agencies will always make allowance in terms of time and cost quoted for proofreading and editing, but at least there are far more tools to take some of the drudgery out of it. It must be said that modern proofreading and editing software and the sophistication of modern computers makes these important tasks faster and more efficient.

    Proofreading and editing are not the same processes. Editing, at least as far as translation is concerned, is more about the style of the document. Is the original meaning and content accurately captured by the translation? Is the translated version adjusted to suit the particular target? Are units, if used, appropriate? Is there anything which has been translated unintentionally which could upset or confuse the reader in the translated language?

    Proofreading is more about the accuracy of the spelling, grammar and punctuation, typographical errors and the actual accuracy of the translation itself.

    Modern word processing software allows easy proofreading and editing comments and annotation and the job of the person who has to amend mistakes and errors is made so much easier, too. The proof reader and editor, probably an integral part of the professional translation team, can use, but not totally rely on, a whole host of online tools which highlight inconsistencies and errors, but in the end will have to read through the whole text once, twice or more before passing the copy for final printing or sending to the client.

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