Conventional or Human Translation can be defined as the literal word-for-word transformation of a source text into a target language, the first stepping stone on any content’s road towards a new audience, as it provides this new audience with the ability to decipher and understand the source text in their native language.
Translation employs linguistic Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), native speakers of the target language with extensive previous experience in the translation topic they are tackling. Conventional Translation uses Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools, Glossaries, and Translation Memories (TMs), which the SMEs harness to translate and culturally align a source and target text, with an inherent focus on correct terminology, grammar, accurate wording, consistency, country-specific language conventions, and style, as well as other project-specific or client and market-specific instructions, guidelines, or regulatory requirements.
To quote the English novelist Terry Pratchett, “the first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” To be able to accurately tell the story to the wider world, the first draft needs to undergo a thorough fine-tuning.
As a rule of thumb when dealing with any form of written communication, the editing stage is crucial for refining a translated text in terms of linguistic accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and meeting specific requirements mandated by clients or shareholders. And just like the linguist involved in the translation stage, the editor must be a native speaker of the target language and have previous experience in the subject field to which the localized text pertains.
There are several important aspects considered during the editing stage, relating to:
- Style or Voice
- Overall text flow
With the dawn of AI, Machine Translation, and Automated spell-checkers, one might think the role of an editor is becoming obsolete, however, it is beyond question that only a thorough editor can ensure structural precision and content clarity for the reader who may or may not be acquainted with the cultural or idiosyncratic background of a certain text to begin with. Thus, if a creative translator is a ‘weaver of meaning’ across languages, the role of an editor is to give structure and clarity to that meaning, for the wider audience.
Another noteworthy prerogative of an editor is ensuring content flow and stylistic adaptation between the source and target. Whereas in the initial TEP process stage the translator renders the tone of the source text to the best of their abilities, it is only in the editing and subsequent proofreading stages that this style is rounded out and defined.
Proofreading can be described as the final review stage, where the focus is on the terminology, message, and structure of the whole text, enhancing the overall Quality of the Localization project.
A recent Grammarly blog post defines proofreading as stemming from the traditional field of publishing before digital publishing even gained popularity. Publishers would print text copies (called “proofs”), upon which the proofreader would perform a final review to detect and correct any grammar or formatting inconsistencies.
Proofreading is instrumental to ensuring TEP localization Quality, entailing an in-depth review to find any lingering errors before the translation project is successfully submitted.