What is editing?

When a translated document is edited, it is fully checked against the source materials and involves making sure that correct terminology was used. The editor not only checks for accuracy, spelling and grammar mistakes, typos and awkward phrasing, but also verifies the content of the text. This is achieved by researching each term that raises a doubt, or even terms that are unknown to the editor, just to ensure the correct terms were used. This typically involves research – whether online or in specialized dictionaries – accompanied by recommended corrections. Usually, when working in Word, the track changes feature is used, and sometimes only comments are added through the commenting tool of Word. In either case, the editor only recommends changes and does not implement them. This is because, when there are errors, it is usually up to the original translator to correct their own mistakes (many translators have a clause in their contract for this, as well as agencies). So, the recommendations of the editor are usually sent back to the translator first so that he/she can correct his/her mistakes, and only then is the text proofread, if it needs to be at all.

One of the most common mistakes seen in translations is what is known as a calque. A calque is a word or phrase borrowed from another language and can often be described as a word-for-word or a literal translation. As translators are often multilingual, at times a certain word or phrase may sound completely natural to them in their own mother tongue when in fact, although one can understand the meaning of the phrase, it is not typical of the target language (the language the document is translated into). For example, translating the French phrase il existe… as “there exists”, instead of “there is”.

This can often happen with false friends, for example, when translating “eventually” into Spanish, one may often see “eventualmente“, instead of “finalmente“. Another mistranslation we have seen recently was that of “Emergencias” instead of “Urgencias”, a calque from the English “Emergencies”. Mistakes like these can easily happen to Spanish translators who spend a considerable amount of time reading in English.

Lack of Localization

Localization is slightly different from translation in that it requires a comprehensive study of the target culture to be able to adapt the text to the specific country or culture. Localization is mostly needed for product information or marketing campaigns. The localization process might include adapting graphics, adopting local currencies, using proper forms for dates, addresses and phone numbers, the choices of colors, etc. All these changes aim to recognise local sensitivities to avoid conflict with local culture and habits. Localization aims to offer country-specific websites of the same company, or different editions of a book depending on where it is published. When there is a lack of localization, quite humorous mistakes can be seen. For example, when the Chevrolet Nova was released in Spanish speaking countries, sales were not as high as expected given that, in Spanish, “no va” means “doesn’t go”. In a similar case, Mazda released a car called Laputa, and were asked to change the name by distributors in Spanish speaking countries, as “la puta” means “the prostitute”.

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