Behind the Scenes: The Proofreading of Translation

How Much Information Is Too Much?

Proofreading of translation
Too much detail? Is proofreading of translation required?

Do you sigh at too much detail or appreciate the clarity about what you should expect from your business partner or supplier?

A web developer colleague asked for a ballpark figure for translation in an online forum. Prices vary just as they do in your industry and so do the levels of service and professionalism. After suggesting a rough price range for guidance, I advised him to check that individual quotes included proofreading by a colleague to ensure a fair comparison.

Another forum member was shocked:

“I assumed that no (professional) translation would be delivered without being proofread by another person”

What would you expect?

When I elaborated further and explained there was translation to suit every budget but the service provided would differ, he gave me his perspective:

“From a client perspective, I just see two offers and assume the same quality from each person. The fact that one contains proofreading and one doesn’t is too much information for me personally. I want to know the price and be done with it.”

If you feel the same, that’s fine.  Just know that the services you’re comparing may not offer the same benefits. For instance: I translate into my native language – English – and include proofreading by a similarly qualified translator colleague as standard.

Not always the case

Some professionals translate out of their native language and quality assurance stops at proofreading their own work. Not only do you lose the second pair of eyes and perspective, you miss the cultural insights and idiomatic phrasing that a native speaker naturally adds. This is what can take a translation from adequate to impressive, with the corresponding results for your business.

A sprinkle of native speaker glamour for sparkling texts

Optimisation potential

Another option for non-native speakers translating into their second language is to partner up with a native speaker editor. One of my Austrian colleagues who translates into English describes my role as sprinkling some “Native-Speaker-Glamour” on her translation. I wanted the same for my newsletter so I ask my German colleague, Zoe, to sprinkle hers. That way readers can focus on enjoying the content instead of stumbling over the odd awkward phrase – written by someone who speaks and writes German on a daily basis but will still never pass for a native speaker.

As with anything in life, make sure you’re comparing apples with apples not artichokes (or machine translation) and evaluate the services on offer in terms of the results and enquiries you want to achieve.