Proofreading your English translations

Proofreading Your English Translations

Thousands, if not millions, of words are translated around the world from one language into English on a daily basis. 

The overwhelming majority of translation service providers across the globe do the following: take a document from their client and send it to a translator (either in-house or freelance) and get it back from the translator and send it off to the client without proofreading and editing it before delivery. 

Here lies a significant problem and it is mostly caused by one of two things: a) either the company does not care about the quality of its translation services or b) the company is ignorant of how important it is to get any translation proofread and edited by a professional native proofreader or editor.

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Native tongue v. experience 

Perhaps every company, not only operating in the field of translation but in any other field, claims it provides the best service and have the best staff. 

Let’s take an example to make things clearer: If an Arabic-English translation company is contracted to provide a translation of an Arabic text into English, they would get a translator whose mother tongue is Arabic to deliver the translation. Understandably, they will flaunt years of experience in the field. 

However, the reality is that the many years of experience of a translator do not necessarily or by default equate “a mother tongue”, hence the importance of having this text which was translated from Arabic into English proofread and edited by a native English speaker editor. 

Despite the vast experience and the years that a translator spent translating texts from Arabic into English, they would be unable to deliver an English translation that is 100% idiomatic and understandable to English speaking audiences or readers. 

The English language has got its nuances, shades, intricacies, contexts and cultural connotations. 

Only a native English speaker editor or proofreader would have that required language sense or instinct to straighten a translated text to read exactly as it should for an English audience without altering or shifting the original meaning. 

The English language proofreader or editor will even be able to improve the translated text to make it tighter and more idiomatic, especially in cases where the translator fell into the trap of literal translation. 

How a native editor can improve a text – with examples 

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Let’s take an example to show how a professional native editor can correct errors and improve a translated text. 

Original translated text: “The President went on to say that he asked for a longer period of time to think about the ideas suggested by his consultants.” 

How would this sentence look like when it is edited by a native expert? 

There you go: “The president added that he requested additional time to consider the suggestions made by his advisers.” 

What did the editor or proofreader do to the sentence? A few things: 

-      Tightened the language: By replacing “went on to say” with “added” and “asked for” with “requested”.

-      Used a lower case with “president” because the name of the president is not mentioned and here linguists mostly prefer a lower case.

-      Used stronger verbs and improved the sentence structure overall: “think about” was replaced with “consider”.

-      Corrected a mis-used word and replaced it with a more appropriate and accurate one: “consultants” changed to “advisers”. This is exactly one of the most glaring examples of understanding the subtle differences in meaning between words in English (which can only be available to native English linguists). 

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Important observation 

One important observation about this sentence is that the editor or proofreader has massively corrected, enhanced and improved the original translated sentence WITHOUT changing the original intended meaning in any shape or form. 

Overall, delivering a translation from one language into English through an experience translator is one thing and ensuring that the produced English text is professionally edited and proofread by a native English speaker is another thing. 

If any translation service provider wants to offer real quality translations, it is imperative that the produced translations are examined and edited by a target language native proofreader. 

If you require any professional English proofreading services, we - at the Ultimate Proofreader UK - provide bespoke and high quality proofreading and editing services to translation companies to help them deliver excellent quality. 

We have a pool of highly qualified – all native – English speaker editors/proofreaders who are available 24 hours to help.