The Translation Process – How Is It Done?

Translating is not just typing a text in another language, even though many seem to think so. It rather involves a standard procedure of steps which must be strictly followed to obtain adequate results.

These steps are:

  1. Reading of the complete text
  2. Analysis of terms and terminology research
  3. First translation run
  4. Contextual and technical research
  5. Fine-tuning
  6. Revision
  7. Proofreading
  8. Correction
  9. Double checking
  10. Triple checking
  11. Spell check
  12. Finalizing the text
  13. Delivery

Read the steps in detail…

1. Reading of the complete text

This is necessary to fully understand the intended message and meaning and to get the big picture of the text.

2. Analysis of terms and terminology research

This may involve many loops of cross-checking between translator and client to consider already existing bilingual terminology used in-house.

3. First translation run

This never produces a satisfyingly complete text. Let me explain why: Just imagine publishing a press release right after you first wrote it down (in your native tongue, of course). Nobody ever does that, because most likely this draft will be sporting typos, incomprehensible phrases or sentences. Or simply, there may be a better way to put some things. Often, this first translation is done with a translation memory (see entry What is a Translation Memory and How Does it Work). Their sentence-by-sentence processing method sometimes can cause the translator to lose track of the big picture.

4. Contextual and technical research

This will somewhat overlap both with step 3 and step 5, because some of it will have to be done already during the initial translation run. Other questions may need background confirmation during fine-tuning.

5. Fine-tuning

This is the first proofing cycle of a translated text. It is usually back-checked against the original to detect omissions or mistakes. Any unclear passages are levelled out.

6. Revision

The combined learnings from steps 4 and 5 are used to re-evaluate the translation and make amendments, if necessary.

7. Proofreading

This is the official corrective run for a translated text. Ideally, it is done by a second translator or with a sufficient time lapse between translating and proofreading.

8. Correction

The findings during proofreading are considered and either incorporated into the translation or entire passages re-written.

9. Double checking

This step should never be omitted. Some mistakes escape even the most diligent proofreader. They are trapped in the double check.

10. Triple checking

Some very demanding texts may even require a third proofing cycle, just to make sure…

11. Spell check

Considering the translated versions of e.g. many websites online, this step is the most frequent to be forgotten. Pity, because it’s the easiest by far.

12. Finalizing the text

This involves checking the formatting or additional tasks agreed between translator and client.

13. Delivery

Ah, at last. The text is shipped to the client on time and on target.

make it count
Karoline

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