Hire a Proofreader or Not? (Part 1)

enable a proofreader

This blog post tackles the interesting destinies and functions of the three-part collaboration: the translation agency, the translator, and the proofreader. How do they work together? Are there any losing sides? What risks can arise from this collaboration?

In the previous post, I talked at length about the difference between a proofreading and editing service. There is still a great deal of confusion about this terminology, even among professional translation agencies. It very often happens that someone asks me to proofread a text when they are actually asking for an editing service or an editing/proofreading service. Over the years, I have come to feel exactly what is expected of me. I have also discovered that it doesn’t make much sense to ask the client a detailed question about this. Every client simply wants the ‘i’s’ to be dotted and a document or website to be made ready for publication.

book editing

Editing and Proofreading

I told you in my previous blog post that you can expect a writer or translator to read and perfect their own content afterward. Unpleasant readable sentences need to be reformulated and errors need to be corrected. I will not go into this any further, because I already discussed this in the previous blog post.

When the translator has finished his editing process, there may have been some errors left that he has overlooked. Moreover, every translator has his own style of writing and sometimes you just don’t have enough inspiration to put something into words in a nice readable style. After all, translation remains human work. It can also happen that due to certain events, your mood can be felt a little bit in the text you write. Compare it to the work of an artist in which his state of mind shines through. Of course, as a translator, you have to try to avoid this, but that is not always possible.

A proofreader can therefore take an objective look at your text afterwards and polish it up a bit. During this process, the last errors that the writer or translator has overlooked are also filtered out. At first glance, this may seem like a task that can take content to a higher level. Is this always the case in reality?

Over the years I have come to a different conclusion, although I can confirm that the proofreading task is in itself a great process to give a text the final ‘finishing touch’. As long as this will be done in an objective way! I will explain this in more detail.

SEMrush

Relationship between Freelance Translators

There are a lot of freelance translators and copywriters on the market who, like me, are all looking for work. In addition, there are also many translation agencies that can fish out of that big pond with freelancers. When it comes to a popular language, such as English, French, or Spanish, these larger translation agencies often have employees who can proofread translations. In the case of a language spoken by a few people, such as my own language Dutch, it is a completely different story. If the client has requested proofreading, it is therefore up to the translation agency to find the right candidate. As I indicated in the blog posts “Building up my translation agency” and “Where do I get freelance translators“, it is not easy to find reliable translators at first.

Building up trust also takes a long time. When it comes to a translation into a non-standard language such as the English-Dutch language combination, translation agencies will often not have translators available in this combination. In such a case, it very often happens that a proofreader, whether intentionally or not, wants to customize the style of a text in addition to the real polishing work. A translation agency that subsequently receives this text back will of course be worried by the amount of adaptations and will ask the translator questions about this. Then the translator will probably indicate that many style changes are involved. However, a translation agency cannot give an opinion on this itself, because it does not master the language. Unfortunately, an agency is then often inclined to agree with the proofreader, which is quite understandable. As a reader of this blog post, you can already feel the unfairness that lies behind this.

Colleague Translators

Fortunately, the cooperation with other translators goes well, but sometimes something unpleasant happens and you need a colleague to deal with it. As a freelancer, it is therefore important that you maintain contact with other freelance colleagues. You can learn from each other’s work and experience, and sometimes you even need ‘a shoulder’ to cry on. It can be quite a loss that you do not have any colleagues around you on a daily basis.

Next week, I will continue on the subject of proofreading. I will also discuss the practical reality of the “TEP” service.

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