Should Nonnative Speakers Provide Proofreading and Editing Service?




proofreading and editing

Words are nothing. The work quality is everything.

When it comes to the proofreading and editing service and a bilingual staff member of a company (especially a non-linguist and a nonnative speaker of a target language) says that she/he is qualified to revise a translation made by professional translators, it doesn’t mean that she/he really is qualified.

Here is a story about a well-meaning but over-confident nonnative speaker of Russian, a person in a position of corporate authority, who turned a professional translation of a corporate presentation into a piece of bad Russian:


    A few years ago, a translation company asked me to translate a 25-slide presentation of a leading European bank. The presentation was in English and it was necessary to translate it into Russian.

    I readily accepted that assignment because I had worked as a translator on the staff of a central bank for many years and knew banking terminology and business well enough. In addition, as a native speaker of Russian, I could produce a stylistically authentic translation.

    The presentation turned out to be a demanding text. It was brimmed over with descriptions of banking products and services that did not exist on the Russian financial market at that time.

    I had to do a lot of research and consulted professional bankers, my former colleagues from the central bank.

    I did my best to produce an accurate and faithful translation and was satisfied with the job done.

    The translation company sent my translation for proofreading to the other linguist. (It is a standard practice to ensure quality: one linguist translates, the other does proofreading and editing.) Shortly thereafter, a project manager of the translation company emailed me saying, “I’ve just got the comments from our proofreader that the translation was excellent! Thank you for this great service.”

    How surprised I was to receive my translation back 7(!) months later after it had been revised by someone at that bank’s office in France. The nature of corrections suggested that the editor was obviously neither a linguist, nor a native speaker of Russian.

    Since the translation company expected some feedback on my part, I prepared a detailed analysis of all changes introduced to my translation and sent it to the project manager along with the translated presentation, in which I inserted comments and explanations regarding changes made by the editor.

    In my feedback, I said that the changes introduced by the bilingual staff member of the bank actually did more harm than good to the bank’s presentation.

    I stressed that since the stakes were high (the presentation was addressed specifically to wealthy prospective clients from Russia and former Soviet republics), it was important to use a qualified native speaker, so as not to doom the marketing effort to failure.

    To ensure objectivity, the translation company sent both my original translation and the "revised" presentation to a neutral competent third party for evaluation. The third party confirmed the good quality of the translation and the unprofessional nature of corrections.



The bottom line is that when nonnative speakers (and non-linguists) step in to revise the final version of the translation, they often overestimate their linguistic skills and thus can ruin the translation performed by experienced professional translators.

If you want your translation revised, proofreading and editing should be done by a native speaker.

Didn't find what you were looking for? Use this search feature to find it.


Back to Professional Translation Services Page

Return from Proofreading And Editing Page to Home Page

professional proofreading and editing

In need of professional proofreading and editing?

Professional proofreaders and editors, who are native speakers of English, will help you to polish your business documents, scholarly papers, speeches, essays, brochures, advertisements, etc.

The service is confidential and the price is very competitive. Find out more here!



Would you like to build a solid, long-term future for yourself?

If yes, keep on reading.

Building an online business as a source of extra and steady income was my long-standing dream. I tried two free and one paid web site builders but failed. Not because of my ignorance of HTML codes, but because of the lack of proper tools for and basic knowledge about building business online.

However, what was once a pipe dream, now is happening. How come? My answer is "Site Build It!".

Watch the TV program below for more details.

build your site with SBI

If you are serious about building a stable future for yourself and your children, ACT NOW:

No time to build a profitable web site yourself? Delegate your employee to do it or use SiteSell Services to build your business site for you.

Let SiteSell's specially trained experts build your site, the site that will be your buffer against economic downturns, recessions, and low business cycles.

Tap into SiteSell's professional traffic-generating expertise to grab an edge over your competition:

SiteSell Services