language, translation, Writing

Proofreading Tips for (Spanish) Translators

When it comes to translation, conveying the message accurately in a target language is only half the battle. In my last blog on what makes a great translation experience for ACR Spanish Translations, I talked about what sets great translations apart from the rest and one of those things is quality proofreading. Believe it or not, there isn’t just one way to proofread your work – the internet is full of tips and tricks to ensure that your writing is free from spelling, punctuation and grammar errors as well as repeated words. I want to share some of my general tips for proofreading your translations as well as some specific advice for those who are working with the Spanish language.

  1. Take a break. This requires really good time management and making sure that you aren’t handing translations back too close to the deadline. Even the most seasoned professional translators can get into the habit of not leaving a few days between completion of a translation and when it must be handed in. Letting the translation sit and then coming back to it with fresh eyes to proofread and find errors is one of the best practices you can do. Not only are you likely to catch the small errors, you might also improve the translation itself by leaving time to reflect on certain word choices or grammatical structures.
  2. Print it. Changing the format you proofread something in can also offer you those fresh eyes you so desperately need in a pinch. If you have been working away on a computer, it might be time to print a document. If it’s too long to print, consider changing the font or the background colour of the document temporarily to help your brain stop skimming.
  3. Read it out loud. This takes a lot of time and if you are working on longer translations, it can be a bit mind-numbing but errors will jump off the page if you hear them aloud. Don’t trust that your brain won’t autocorrect while it’s reading? An app like Playback will actually read a document back to you so you can hear errors for yourself – it’s also a timesaver because you can do other things like tidy your workspace or make dinner while you listen to it playing back, stopping to correct errors as you hear them.
  4. Don’t rely on machines. I know, I know. I just said to use an app but that’s in addition to other forms of proofreading and the machines I don’t recommend people rely on are primarily spellcheckers which won’t detect incorrect words that are still spelled correctly.
  5. Reverse read it. One of the oldest tricks in the book, reverse reading a document (literally reading it backwards) allows you to focus on each word, rather than letting your brain skim. This doesn’t always help to catch grammatical errors though and can take some time so try it on shorter documents and be sure to use it in combination with other techniques for proofreading.
  6. Note errors in the source text. Sometimes an error is not from you! Make sure you highlight errors in the source text and then how you dealt with them in the translated text. Translation doesn’t usually involve editing source documents and an error in that document could dramatically change its contents or legality so it’s important that they are noted and reflected in the translation, rather than glossed over and corrected so that they may not be detected in those reading only the translation.
  7. Be aware of common errors with the Spanish language. If you are providing a translator with a source language in Spanish, there could be some common errors in that text. Or, for beginner translators, some common errors can crop up when Spanish is the target language. Some of the more prevalent ones are outline by Spanish Writer Pro as follows:
    1. Ser or estar – Spanish actually has several versions of the verb “to be” and it requires a solid knowledge of the language to use them accurately and in the correct manner. It’s also exceedingly easy to make errors with it as it’s a really common verb set!
    2. Prepositions can sometimes be a nuisance or be easily overlooked until the proofreading phase especially when there is more than one word in Spanish for a single word in the other language. For example, por or para in Spanish translates simply into for in English.
    3. The subjunctive verb tense can be a doozy for people because in Spanish you do need to distinguish dreams and goals from reality and it is done with an entire tense shift.
    4. Phonetics can also throw a curveball sometimes which is especially relevant if you are doing interpretive work or are transcribing something in Spanish to be translated. Oftentimes, simple letters can sound the same leading to spelling errors like b and v or ll and y.
    5. Accents can, of course, be a source of pain for some people working with Spanish language documents – especially if the document you receive has errors on it. A top-notch Spanish translator should have little issues with any of these common errors, but it is good to be cognizant of them nonetheless. Even the best professionals can have mountains of work to go through and doing a quick proofreading scan for such errors on a consistent basis can help save time and energy later.

Until next time!

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