Words from the Wardrobe
Picture of text with editing marks and title Revision is an essential stage of any translation project

Revision is an essential stage of any translation project

Avoid unpleasant surprises by revising your translations

Technology. Innovation. Efficacy. Efficiency. Returns. Metrics. Conversion.

Just some of the words that have revolutionised practically all sectors during the last decade, the translation sector being no exception.

However, achieving a high-quality translation is a lot simpler than we may think.

We live in such a competitive world that we all want to be first over the finish line, but as the idiom goes, more haste, less speed.

Let’s look at this idea with a simple example.

A few days ago, a translator colleague asked for a quote to revise an English to European Spanish translation of website copy that a client had sent her.

I glanced over the text and at first it didn’t seem too bad. I spotted a few things that needed tweaking but it didn’t look like too much of a challenge.

However, her client didn’t accept the quote, as they didn’t feel the service was necessary.

My colleague explained the advantages of getting the translation reviewed before posting the Spanish translation on the website and she must have been convincing because the client eventually agreed.

I got to work and here are some of the mistakes I found:

  • A mix of the polite form usted and informal . The text started addressing the reader formally with usted, and then changed to and back to usted in the last few pages.
  • Spelling mistakes, missing accents and unnecessary capital letters.
  • Mistranslated place names and while it is not incorrect, terms and phrases that are common in Latin America.
  • Clunky, unattractive text. Although the text was for a technological product website, we must not forget that a website is our virtual shopfront, so the text really should be attractive.
  • Incorrect use of verb forms.
  • Serious mistranslations, like translating ‘partner’ as ‘intimate partner’ (pareja) instead of ‘business partner’ (socio).

After seeing the text and the changes, my colleague and I came to the conclusion that a professional translator hadn’t translated the text. The technical language was not too bad, but there were clear signs that this person did not have sufficient linguistic resources to translate the text well.

Can you imagine what would have happened if the text had been published without revising it?

In the end, my colleague was pleased with my work and I can only hope that her client was too.

This tale has taught us a couple of important lessons:

  1. For many companies, translation is considered a secondary task that any employee can do. Work with professional translators and let your employees concentrate on more productive tasks and the results are bound to be more palatable.
  • The purpose of a revision (or proofreading in the case of monolingual texts) is not to look for mistakes, but to ensure that the text fulfils its function and is not going to put the company in a predicament. Even if you think it is OK, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t forget that slow and steady wins the race. Spend the necessary time on each task and don’t take shortcuts.

Do you need help with translation revision? Drop me an email.

See you for the next post!

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