Plus translation speaks for itself, we are supposed to add more value to our translation, but how and by whom?
Important: Please read Standard Translation Article first, because this is a continuation of a three article series.
By definition, Plus includes an improvement step by a native speaker of the target language. This is expected to be more than a typical proofreading; I will elaborate below. It also includes a third person as subject matter expert or a senior editor who knows the client and/or the industry very well.
Having two other person on the workflow does not mean that translators can be lazy and deliver lesser quality. Quite the contrary, translators are also expected to have if not acquire native-like linguist skills. And if or when a translator delivers plus quality, the pay grade should ideally increase, too. That is, give me more, I will pay you more.
The suggested maximum review percentage for copy editors is 30% of the total word count. That means translator is expected to deliver no less than 70% of the translation in plus quality level. Believe me, this is no easy task given the tight deadlines and poorly written source texts. (It seems like the world is losing its writing skills – a possible side effect of digitalization)
Here are some of the key quality requirements for plus quality (on the top of standard level):
1. Sentence restructuring: Includes splitting long sentences, converting long paragraphs to bullet points, changing word order, adding/replacing/omitting connecting phrases, and reducing relative clauses.
2. Usage and synonyms: Starts with client and/or industry specific terminology management and goes beyond to cover: Choosing the most appropriate synonym to deliver the message, adding/replacing/omitting connecting phrases.
3. Removing ambiguities: The first two set of tehniques clean 90% of the ambiguties. For the remainder you may need to shift the gear to: avoid over using (abusing) passive voice, remove junk or filler words, reduce auxillary verbs (or find the actual verb and focus on it).
If you do not fully understand all of the above, it is not your fault, because you were not trained on writing well. This knowledbase features several articles on these techniques. You are also welcome to watch & join our webinars on PLUS Translation Techniques.
Dragoman’s company database is also a wealth of information. Please explore our concordance menu for over 10 million sample sentences.
Coming back to the 30% suggested copy-editing percentage. This does not mean copy editors do not review entire file. They do, but they use QA module of Nubuto, Quality Filters (fuzzy matches, consistency, key words, etc.) of Nubuto Editor and they also give a final skimming before releasing the file.
Do we ever review 100% of a file? Yes, if it is smaller than 500 words or when we agree on GOLD Translation Level. I will write more about Gold later next week. 100% review is not realistic for tight deadlines, copy editors can’t just make it. Because, reformulation of the target text is an extremely time and energy consuming labour. Mastering this form of writing takes years to acquire.
Reformulation is not an easy task. Sometimes it is a very exhaustive mental effort, given the poor quality of the source, ambiguities, limited availability of resources, etc. My take home message to fellow translators & copy editors is: read more on writing well and try harder. My message to dearest clients is: Understand (the gist of) different levels of translation quality and use them wisely from both cost-effectiveness and also corporate image related concerns