Proofreading & Correction
No-one will read your work more closely than a translator - our livelihoods depend on it. Every reputable translator proofreads their own work carefully - many of us are also asked to proofread that of other translators. Additional proofreading can add value to a translation - but whether or not this is necessary depends on a number of factors. In general, I'd say that if the document is intended for publication, it's well worth doing.
Killer value: a second pair of eyes, coupled with native-speaker instinct
All over the world, non-native speakers of English are writing for publication in English. Many of these people are involved in academic research, and what they are writing needs to communicate complex ideas, information and theoretical constructs - while also demonstrating sound scholarly practice.
Many of us would find this a tall order even in our native language - so there's no shame in requesting a helping hand from a native-English proofreader.
What I have learned from my clients at the French School of Public Health (EHESP), the Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO) and the Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne (URCA) is that it is very helpful to them if that native-English proofreader is also fluent in the writer's native language - in this case, French. This is because, when their English doesn't quite cut the mustard, I am able to look through it to see the French thought that inspired it - and nine times out of ten, I can figure out what they meant to say. Though of course if I am in any doubt whatsoever, I always check back with the client.
Non-Native Proofreading & Correction Process
- I always use Word's track changes feature: this leaves the final decisions in your hands
- I read the text out loud, so that I can hear whenever anything hits a false note
- If I have the slightest doubt about which meaning was intended, I use comments to ask questions: ("Did you mean this, or that?")
- I work through the text, checking spelling, grammar, syntax, and so on, but above all making sure that the text flows naturally
- I send the document back to the client in two versions: with and without tracked changes. I ask them to look over my comments, and respond to them
- The client returns the document to me, with their responses in the comments. This part of the process sometimes involves several back-and-forth stages
- At this stage we arrange to talk on the phone, or over Skype, to finalise the document. During the call, we work on each outstanding issue until both parties are satisfied
- Lastly, I read through the whole text one last time, and run a final spellcheck, before delivery
The process is long and painstaking - but also very enjoyable. As a bonus, it's a learning experience for both of us!