Another module completed on my translation course, this time ‘translation literacy’. In other words, how to spot inconsistencies and mistakes in the target text (punctuation, spelling, grammar, formatting).
This is an important skill for anyone who writes for a living, or perhaps just anyone who writes. But it is essential for a translator.
To the outside world our finished text is the client’s text and will be judged as such. Their reputation is on the line. So knowing how to proof-read texts will help us spot mistakes before the text is handed over. It will also help us avoid making these mistakes in the first place.
So what did this module involve?
Firstly we were given some background on proof-reading and advice on style guides. I found the latter extremely useful. I have a copy of the Economist style guide already but was very impressed with the European Commission’s English Style Guide. Very thorough, easy to read and updated regularly. And free. What more can a translator ask for?
So having been introduced to style guides and the differences between proof-reading, revision, reviewing and editing, we were set to work.
Our module leader, an English translator at the European Commission, provided us with a one page text. Our job was to spot the mistakes and inconsistencies.
Was it useful? Very much so. I learned:
• to stick to one style guide, unless the client has another
• that proofreading is about spotting and correcting mistakes in the text
• to start off by switching the document’s language setting to English
• to run a spell check
• to switch on ‘show formatting’
• to correct typos, inconsistencies, spelling mistakes, punctuation, grammar and formatting
• to also correct any text that doesn’t make sense, if necessary highlighting these amendments in ‘translator’s notes’
• that quotation marks should be singular unless it is a quote within a quote.
This is just a short list, formatted according to the European Commission style guide by the way. I could go on.
My own punctuation and English has definitely improved. In fact since completing this module I’ve taken to hunting for spelling mistakes and inconsistencies. Restaurant menus, council leaflets, websites. Nothing escapes my critical eye. A hazard of the profession I suppose.
Next time I’ll be reviewing the third module: word processing skills.