Great things in the translation business are accomplished by a team of translators and proofreaders who accommodate one another’s opinions, who respect each other’s work, and who are all aiming to produce quality output. Are you interested in becoming aware of something this meaningful?
I already started working on this subject last week, after I explained in detail the difference between proofreading, editing, and TEP service in the previous blog post. There is so much to tell about this subject that I am devoting no less than three blog posts weeks to it.
In the previous blog post, I talked about situations wherein the proofreader has corrected the work of a translator too fanatically, so the translation agency ends up saying goodbye to a translator. In this case, therefore, it was mainly a matter of adjustments in the area of style. Because the proofreader has created uncertainty at the translation agency as a result of his corrections, all this agency can do is say goodbye to the translator. A bad thing, isn’t it?
The translation agency’s selection process plays an enormous role in this. What are the agency’s priorities? Is the final price important to the client, or does the agency focus purely on quality?
In the former case, the agency may use a freelance translator who costs little. But which freelancers actually charge a low rate? Are these mainly translators who don’t have a lot of work? Exactly! These may often be translators who have only just started, or who are not native speakers, or who live outside the Netherlands, or who do not have such high translation skills.
What’s more, it is ideal for a translation agency to hire a translator who has a high level of education and yet is reasonably cheap. In such a case, however, one would have to ask why this is the case. After all, someone may have completed a great course of study, but in order to be able to translate well, you should have some sort of aptitude and/or have established a great deal of experience.
If a translation agency engages a translator who is cheap and thinks it can cope with the lower translation quality with a proofreader, then it often comes out cheated. Building on my previous blog post, you can already draw the conclusion that an important phase is being overlooked here, namely the right “editing phase”! Of course, a professional translator will always check his work, but if it is an inexperienced translator, this editing phase will not be sufficient to correct the translation thoroughly. Unfortunately, he or she does not yet have the right knowledge/experience to do so.
If a proofreader is called in after this editing process, he will come across a lot of errors and it is doubtful whether the proofreader will figure them all out. If you have hired a good proofreader who strives for a perfect end product, you need not be so afraid of this. However, a proofreader often charges an hourly rate for this task, which means that he assumes he can proofread a certain number of words per hour. So, the more errors in translation, the longer the process. In this case, therefore, the proofreader will be inclined to go through the text more quickly in order to achieve his hourly rate. It would then be more convenient to give the proofreader the opportunity to go through the text in advance (or a passage from it) and then agree on a rate, whether it be a word rate or an hourly rate.
The use of a proofreader can therefore not be advantageous in the above case. But what would be the best way to select a translator and proofreader? Here is my own theory, but of course it is possible that the reader may have a different opinion. I would like to hear from you in the ‘comments’ section.
Over the past 10 years, I have been able to work with other freelance translators on many assignments, and I have now come to the following conclusion based on working with an international client for whom I have been working for a few years now. After all, it is very important to use a good, professional translator; a translator who seriously and conscientiously corrects his own work and who can do it well. The proofreader will then be there to ‘polish up’ the work and remove any final errors. A proofreader should be able to check 1,000 words per hour with ease; after all, it is all about the “finishing touches”. Of course, there can always be some resentment between the translator and proofreader, and that is not bad at all. When it comes to translators who want to learn from each other (without actually having to know each other), some disagreement can even ensure that they both reach a higher level of translation and become a perfect team with which the client can be very satisfied.
And now the TEP service. Some translation agencies ask translators to provide a TEP service. The intention is for the translator to provide the combined translation + editing + proofreading service. It goes without saying that trust, in the translator in question, plays an enormous role in this. In such a case, the intention is, of course, for an objective proofreader to correct the work. But does this actually happen in reality? It can be very tempting for a translator to take on the three different tasks himself. After all, delivering a corrected document in Word is quite simple. In this case, a solution for a translation agency that requests this would be to ask a translator to have the proofreader send his corrected translation directly to the translation agency. One can then be sure that an objective translator has been engaged for this task.
Next week, the construction of my translation agency will continue and I will take you through even more issues relating to translation rates, communication and the planning process.