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Proofreading thoughts and tips

For the past two weeks I've been mainly doing proofreading and editing projects. I would like to share a lesson that I learned through one of my editing projects.

There were two proofreaders who worked with the text. (The project was huge, so the proofreading work was divided between two people).

The first proofreader obviously thought anyone can proofread translated texts. After all, if you speak two languages why not earn some extra money? That was the first time in my freelancing career when I realized that a proofreader can actually make a text worse, not better. How? Well, this person didn't check the spelling or grammar, and if he did, he obviously didn't bother about being consistent with the changes he made. He even changed the right grammar into wrong (!) and did everything possible to make the translation sound as literal as possible. (The client needed the text that sounded natural, not funny. So I was quite surprised that this proofreader actually thought that he was doing the right thing!)

After I was finally finished with "editing" (basically, doing the proofreader's and the editor's job at the same time) the files checked by the first proofreader, I felt so much relief when the client sent me the files checked by another person! Basically, all I had to do was agree with the changes made (with very few exceptions). This person checked the spelling, made the terminology used in the files as consistent as could be, corrected the translation so it sounded as natural as possible etc. So he basically did everything that the first one didn't.

I used to hear others say that not every translator can work as a proofreader. Now I can say I couldn't agree more. A proofreader should first of all have excellent knowledge of his/her native language. Besides, he/she should be very attentive in order to keep the consistency of the terminology etc. And it definitely wouldn't hurt to check grammar books once in a while! I actually found some interesting proofreading and editing tips. Hope they are useful to you just as they are for me :)

Have a wonderful, fabulous week!

Comments

  1. Great post Olenka! Proofreaders indeed face huge responsibility, as the text goes to the client right from their hands. I have to admit, I don't feel comfortable as a proofreader, although with practice I gain more and more confidence. You are right, an unskilled proofreader can make more damage than good. I'm sure though, that after your scrutiny, the text was flawless!

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  2. I totally agree! Though, to be honest, I doubt this person would have made a very good translator, either.

    Unfortunately, the role of the proofreader is often undervalued... Even good translators do not pay proper attention, whilst others see it as a means of slandering the competition. If interested, take a look at my blog post on the topic - The Ethics of Proofreading - http://translatorsteacup.lingocode.com/the-ethics-of-proofreading/

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  3. Thank you for your valuable comments, dear ladies! I actually enjoy proofreading and editing and the more I do it the more confident I feel. And yes, I agree with you, Rose, that the proofreaders' role is undervalued. I'll certainly read your blog post on the topic!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Оленька,
    Огромное спасибо за твои ценные советы! Ты абсолютна права. Рада за тебя! Ты приобрела очень ценный опыт в еще одной сфере!

    ReplyDelete

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