Proofreading makes translation easier and reduces costs

Proofreading makes translation easier and reduces costs

The foundation of a fluent translation project is laid already when writing the source text. The quality of the original is vital in terms of how long the project will take and how much it will cost.

Published 4/25/2016

Good source text – lower costs

When the source text is well written, the translation is quick and easy to make. If the word choices are unambiguous, sentences clearly formulated and the text structure logical, the translator does not have to spend time thinking about different interpretations. In other words, a clear source text makes the translator's work faster, resulting in lower costs. This is why the original should be checked before submitting it for translation.


Proofing pays off

People write a lot of business texts – at a fast pace, and small slip-ups will always occur. However, the following sentences would have benefited from a bit of fine-tuning before having them translated. They seem reasonably straightforward at first glance, but when you start thinking about them in more detail, which is the bread and butter of translators, questions and various interpretations often emerge.


The deal between Yritys Oy and Company Ltd will not be closed until the competition authorities in different countries have given their approval.

The translator reading this is wondering whether this refers to the respective authorities in the home countries of Yritys Oy and Company Ltd or the authorities of even more countries. The company that published the press release is of course aware of the facts, but the translator cannot be sure.


Regarding corporate acquisitions and competition legislation, the official authorisation stage is currently in progress.

The writer apparently means that the company has applied for approval for the acquisition they are planning. The same could have been expressed like this, for example: "We have applied to the competition authorities for approval for a planned acquisition." This would also have made it clear what kind of approval they were applying for.


The bunny hop competition consists of two events: stretching of hind and front legs or wiggling of ears and a jump over a puddle and chewing of carrots.

The translator is puzzled: How do you group the events of the competition? Are the legs and ears part of the same event? Or are the first three events really parts of a bunny triathlon, followed by a separate carrot-chewing session?


A good source text is the cornerstone of good translation

When I was at school, I learned a trick in the arts lesson: view your drawing through your mirror. When you look at the paper, you will see  what you thought you drew, while the mirror will show you what you really drew.

Writing is challenging the same way. Writers can go over their text many times without seeing what they have really written, only what they thought they had written. It is easy to become blind to your own mistakes. (This blog text also contained a number of bloopers until I received comments from my proofreader. Only goes to show!)

Translators, on the other hand, spot problems in the source text and may easily come up with two or three ways of translating a sentence. Sometimes we translators ask the writers to clarify what they want to say. The answer is usually something like this: "I never thought of it, but true, you can interpret it like that, too!" Proofreading is an excellent way of avoiding ambiguities like this before a translator opens the text on his or her screen and gets to work.

This text is a translation by Robin Maylett of the Finnish original.

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