Revision or editing (as the process is more often called in the U.S.) is a crucial part of the translation services offered by translation agencies or freelance translators. Translators, like all serious writers, put their work through many revisions. A professional translation that reads like an idiomatic, original creation in the target language always come under careful review.
Common Revision Techniques Used by Translation Services
Although different translation services and translators have their own processes, here are a few common revision techniques in professional translation that could benefit any writer or translator:
• A strong first draft
Starting with the most fluid, idiomatic translation you can muster in a first effort cuts down on editing time and tends to produce better results. A sloppy first draft means more revisions. Moreover, starting with an overly literal first draft makes it harder to achieve a strong final draft.
• A fresh set of eyes
Getting another person involved can be the most effective revision technique. Professional translation often entails multiple translators. Many translation services have senior translators on staff who review other translators’ work. Simply having someone else review your document can give a fresh perspective on style and help eliminate the kind of pesky typos and mistakes that can be so hard to see in your own writing.
• Reading out loud
When another reader is not available, reading out loud or having software read your writing is an alternative method. This technique helps you pick up on errors that can slip your eye when rereading your own work. Having to speak each word makes you less likely to gloss over an infelicitous turn of phrase or typo.
• Taking at timeout
When time permits, taking some time away between drafts creates a fresh perspective. Even break of an hour or two can help you see a text in another way. Have you ever looked at your writing a few days later and felt like someone else had written it? Stepping aside for a while can be almost as effective as having another reader’s feedback. When time is short, sometimes stepping outside for a quick breath of fresh air can give you a new way of looking at your text.
• Splitting up the task
Many professional translators split their review process into distinct components. Reading for everything at once—style, mechanics, typos, accuracy—can be overwhelming. It is too easy to be sidetracked by one aspect and lose sight of another. If you review one component at a time, you heighten the focus on the task at hand. Revising one facet makes it easier to spot weaknesses, speeds up the review, and boosts creativity.
A quick read is an integral part of the process for many translators. Irregular patterns and structures (often mistakes) tend to stand out when you skim a text.