In the publishing world, editing, copy editing and proofreading have very specific meanings. Since these processes are very well defined, an editor receiving a request from a publishing or communications company to edit or copy edit a text knows exactly what is expected. The publishing or communications company often "speaks" the same language as the editor.
Unfortunately, it is not always the case in the translation world (at least in my experience). Certainly, many translation agencies and translators understand the difference between revision, proofreading, and review, but many others do not. In many opportunities I received requests to "proofread" a translation; however, after a few questions, what the translation agency, an inexperienced translator or a client requires is a revision of an already translated text. Since my intention is to keep this article short and to the point, I am providing a quick guide to understand the services I perform when I put my bilingual editor hat on: revision, review and proofreading.
Revision is the process of comparing the translated text against the original one. This is what I call a bilingual editing. There are many ways to proceed with a revision, but a revision always involves three operations: examining the target text, comparing the source text and the target text, and recommending changes. First, I read the source text to understand the document as a whole and identify tone and audience, for example, and then, I compare the two texts side by side. The purpose is to look for mechanical and linguistic errors, such as omissions, mistranslations, punctuation, excess verbiage, etc., making sure that nothing has been left out, the translation flows smoothly, and the text is appropriate to the audience. As you can imagine, this is a time consuming process that takes several stages. It also adds to the cost of the project.
When I produce a translation, I always self-revise the final product; it is also called "check". My approach is to leave the translation for a while and come back to revise it with "fresh eyes". I have also developed my own revision process in which, for example, I identify recurring typos that a spellchecker will not correct, e.g. form instead of from, or gatos (cats) instead of gastos (expenses). Depending on the client's needs and what/how the translation will be used for, I send my translations to be revised by a third-party.
Review is what I call a monolingual editing. In this case, I only work with the translated text and, if needed, I consult the source text if I cannot understand the translation or I suspect omissions or inconsistencies. During the review process, I check grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style; I check for consistency of mechanics and internal consistency of facts. I make sure that the text flows and that the translation does not read as a translation. This process takes less time than a revision because I do not spend time going back and forth between two documents.
In my lexicon, proofreading is a very specific task. I subscribe to the definition used by the Editor's Association of Canada: reading proofs of edited manuscripts. This is also a monolingual task. When I work with a colleague on a project and we revise each other's work, proofreading is the final stage of the revision/review process. I make sure that all approved changes have been incorporated in the final product and the translation is ready for publishing.
According to the ISO 17100 on quality standards for translation services, it is required to involve a reviser other than the translator to revise a translation. However, in my opinion and when cost is a concern, a self-revision done by a translator who is experienced, meticulous, and competent will suffice; in particular when the translator has been trained in the techniques of editing and copy editing (as I have).
When the project involves translating websites, marketing materials and articles to be published, a revision by a third party can be quite beneficial, since a "second pair" of eyes can find minor spelling mistakes or missing punctuation marks.
The role of the reviser or editor is to improve the translation by identifying mechanical and linguistic problems, and resolve them. However, "judging" a translation by imposing one's own writing style or changing words because of preference is not revising or reviewing. When returning corrections to an author or translator, it is recommended to "propose" changes and support them with evidence; this approach allows the author or translator to learn from his or her mistake or to explain the reasons behind certain choices he or she made.
What about rates and cost of revision and review? It depends on the professional. In my case, my rate is per hour because a translation done by another translator whom I do not know professionally is like a box of chocolates, you never know "what you're going to get".
Patricia enjoys reading and sharing articles related to translation, linguistics, interpretation, and anything that may be valuable to her clients and colleagues.