As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, people who can translate and proofread text to suit different linguistic and cultural contexts are in high demand. So, if you love language, becoming a professional translator or proofreader could be a promising path.
To help you determine if this might be the field for you—or to help you brush up on your skills if it’s already your vocation—we’re sharing here LadyLingua’s secret sauce: the processes and steps applied by our professional translators and proofreaders.
PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE AUTHOR’S SHOES (WITHOUT UNLACING YOUR OWN)
Like every skill set, approaching translation or proofreading is a process that first requires a keen understanding of the author’s intent and audience.
Academic researchers hoping to publish their articles in journals have much more specialized audiences and vocabulary than, say, tea producers hoping to expand their product sales to consumers in new countries and markets.
Determining the goals and the audience is thus the first step for freelancers; from there, the translation and proofreading processes are distinct, as the following discussions show.
But don’t forget to keep your own shoes laced up; freelancers need a distinctive style, a clear voice, and a talent that makes them stand out from the crowd. It takes time to discover these qualities, but make sure to keep on searching for them and putting them out there for the world to see—without losing the original author’s voice and intent.
TRANSLATING: COOK IT THROUGH
Being a professional translator, you should be ready to take on the job, grill your text, and cook it right through. To ensure a delectable (and accurate) translation, follow five key steps:
- Read the document. To fully understand a topic, translators read the document at least twice to ensure they understand the author’s intention and audience.
- Screen the text for key terms. In this step, freelancers skim the text for domain-specific terminology to troubleshoot possible translation issues and gather terms for the glossaries.
- Research the topic. By researching the topic to be translated prior to starting the task, freelancers become more familiar with the subject and thus help ensure a successful translation.
- Translate and iterate. Freelancers review the document several times, rereading and revising it before finalizing the translation.
- Final recheck. In this final step, translators recheck all specialized terms and proper names to ensure an accurate, high-quality translation.
Depending on the service level our clients desire, when our translators complete their task, LadyLingua might forward their work to our proofreaders for additional review.
PROOFREADING: WATCH THE TEXT LIKE A HAWK
Proofreading is a job of precision and support. If you are a proofreader, you are the one who eyes the translation closely, skillfully preying on and fixing any holes in logic, style, or meaning.
Before starting, prepare your tools. Use Microsoft Word editing tools, including “track changes” and “new comment” to show your revisions of the translated text and to ask the translator any questions related to style, grammar, spelling, or meaning.
Then, move on to the following process, which includes five key steps:
- Read. As with translators, proofreaders begin their work by reading the translation (and referring to the original as needed) to understand the content and intended audience.
- Compare the translation with the source text. This step ensures that the translator fully understood the source text’s intended meaning and successfully conveyed it to the target audience.
- Check the terminology. Key terms and domain-specific language are carefully checked using recommended tools—including online reference books in the target domain—to ensure that the target words and phrases are properly translated.
- Read the translated text. Read the translated text on its own to address any spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or indistinct content.
- Do a final review. Accept the file’s “tracked changes,” then reread the document a final time to find and fix any typos, extra spaces between words, or other errors.
Whenever possible, proofreaders shall send the client/translator two versions of the file: the cleaned version and the tracked version. The tracked version not only facilitates communication, but it also offers additional feedback to translators—fostering their continuous education and growth.
BE PUNCTUAL, BE PROFESSIONAL, BE TRUE TO YOURSELF
Accepting/declining work. Do not accept a job if you are incapable of delivering it properly or if you cannot deliver it on time. Be True to Yourself.
Quality assurance vs. early delivery. Freelancers are expected to produce documents completed at the highest of standards. Utmost care must be taken in translating documents, giving extra attention to the fine details. The quality of the final version should always take precedence over early delivery. Be Professional.
Deadlines. Abiding by deadlines is a high priority. Should a crisis or an unexpected event occur, you must inform your clients immediately so they can to take the appropriate action. Be Punctual.
THE HUSH-HUSH POLICY
Discretion builds trust, which is essential to maintaining positive relationships with your clients. So, whether you’ll be working with LadyLingua or any other company, you should maintain the utmost confidentiality. Never pass on or forward to a third-party any documents without your client’s prior permission first. Likewise, freelancers should never reveal—out of professional courtesy—the names of clients or the specific nature of their work in their resume or elsewhere without prior permission.
So, there you have it: our secret sauce served up for your professional plate. Bon Apetit!
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LadyLingua is committed to ensuring clear and polished communication across cultures so that our clients can communicate their content with efficiency and power.
We are also deeply committed to our community of freelancers. To ensure its continued growth, and the ongoing education and support of our community members, our LadyLingua E-Library offers numerous resources and supportive forums.