Translation Editing Tips

editing tips

Editing tips:
three stages of editing

Editing of a translation is inherently a comparison of two texts – an original (source text) and its translation (target text) – in order to find out what has to be corrected and to make respective corrections.

The editor should first look at the translation to see if it is logical and understandable.

At this stage, the comparison of the translation with the source text is not necessary. It is a monolingual editing. It helps to detect – right from the start – sentences with the awkward syntax and unclear meaning, which may escape the editor's attention during the next stage.

The editor then proceeds to a comparative reading between the source and target texts. The aim is to introduce changes, if need be, in an unbiased manner.

The subjectivity should be reduced to a minimum.

Specialized literature describes editing parameters to be used in editing of translations. These parameters help editors to be objective. The basic parameters are:

  • Accuracy. The meaning of the source text must not be mistranslated. Ambiguities, omissions, additions are unacceptable.

  • Grammar, syntax, spelling must be correct.

  • Style and register must be maintained.

  • Cultural and functional adaptation. Idioms, proverbs and sayings, neologisms, figurative language, metaphors, units of measurement, ways of addressing people, dates, etc. must be adapted to the target audience and culture.

Upon completion of editing, the editor sends the edited text back to the translator who makes the final decision on whether or not to accept the proposed changes. Teamwork of the editor and translator enhances the quality of the final translation.

How this scheme works in real life?

It would be great if these editing tips were implemented in full in each translation process.

However, practically, the first and the last stages are often omitted. Regrettably often, monolingual editing is not performed because of very tight deadlines or an insufficient compensation for this work.

In addition, I can tell from my experience that teamwork of the editor and translator rarely happens. Translators often do not receive the edited translation and do not have a chance to discuss, accept or reject proposed changes.

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_____________________________________________________________________ Website owner: Irina Lychak, self-employed freelance linguist, Russian translator, Ukrainian translator, Kiev (Kyiv), Ukraine

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