Almost all translators – almost all clients as well – would agree that editing a draft translation by someone other than a translator is a great solution for achieving high translation quality. But then how come most translators don’t want to engage in reviewing someone else’s work?
Should a translator agree to this job and if yes, on what terms?
There is a type of clients that like to hire the cheapest translators (students, amateur translators) or use free machine translation software and then (who could’ve thought it), upon receiving an odd text that’s completely impossible to understand, they look for an editor hoping that he or she, with some corrections, would rescue the translation. Taking on such a job is a very unappreciated task because such “editing” would take a lot more time and effort than a translation “from scratch”. And a client who thinks that editing would only take a minute would probably not pay a proper sum for such a job.
On the other hand, however, in some cases (e.g. when the quality of a translation is vital), editing and proofreading of a good translation done by a professional translator is required in order to find and fix the smallest errors: typos, small oversights, errors in detail; or in order to improve the overall style of the text meant for publication.
I have a preference for such orders because they provide me with an opportunity to take a look at the translation process from a different angle, trace the thought process of my fellow translator, find some new solutions to translation problems. I am always happy to edit high quality translations and I also believe that it’s beneficial for my professional development.
However, due to these two advantages, I prefer not to take text editing jobs offered by translators I don’t know, without first taking a look at the original and the translation and consequently placing this text on my scale of quality between these two advantages.
When reviewing the works of those translators who I know well, who have been working with our translation agency for a while, I know their mistakes (yes, everybody makes them, even the best translators) and, therefore, pay particularly close attention to them.
I think that translation editing is very beneficial. Not only does it improve the quality of a draft translation, making it almost perfect (almost – perfection is unachievable) but also leads to increase in quality in the long-term perspective. It’s important to discuss mistakes with translators – by knowing their “favorite mistakes”, they will be more attentive and would eventually stop making them. Also, even a mere awareness of the fact that their translation would be checked by another translation often has a magical effect on translators and makes them take a more responsible and serious approach.