How I Work
You only have to read this longish description of my translation process if you wonder why good translations are so expensive and take so long – simply because there is a lot more work involved than meets the eye when you read an excellent target text.
Raw translation (approx. 60 percent of the total time spent on a translation)
I begin by reading the client’s instructions and the text (if the volume and format of a text permit this). Then I start translating in SDL Trados Studio, constantly consulting the client’s and/or my own terminology data base, style guide and reference material and adding to it.
Online and offline research of target language terminology, but also of background information in both the source as well as the target language, takes up a huge proportion of this step of the process. If necessary, I consult with colleagues, native speakers and subject matter experts, insofar as this is possible without breaching my confidentiality obligations.
While working, I highlight passages I’m unsure of or unhappy about for further research and consideration after the end of the raw translation process. As soon as the raw translation is completed, I try to find satisfactory solutions for the highlighted passages. If questions remain at that point, I get in touch with the client.
Bilingual revision (approx. 20 percent of the total time spent on a translation)
This is where the revision process starts. I read the source and target text sentence for sentence in parallel. At this stage, I mainly make sure that the translation is an accurate and complete rendition of the original and that terminology is used consistently.
Layout (approx. 2 percent of the total time spent on a translation)
In this step I check and correct the format and layout of the text and run the spell-checker. After this, I print the text. If this is not possible (due to the text being complex Excel sheets, software strings, XML code etc.), I choose the format that gives me the most natural reading experience possible on a computer monitor.
Monolingual editing/proofreading (approx. 18 percent of the total time spent on a translation)
In this step, I read the final text in print or in a print-like display mode on the computer screen, trying to put myself in the reader’s position and evaluate if the translation is coherent and easy to read. At this stage, I also spot and remedy inelegant wording, word repetitions, typos, minor formatting errors and the like.
If at all possible, I time the steps of raw translation, bilingual revision and monolingual editing/proofreading in a way that they are separated at least by a night, preferably more, to make sure I start working with new, fresh eyes each time.
I use three huge monitors with my computer. During the translation process, this is helpful to display SDL Trados Studio’s translation environment on one monitor and reference material, Internet search interfaces, the original document or a preview of the final document on the other. During the revision stage, I can display the original document and the translation side-by-side on two monitors for easy layout checks.
As a final quality check before I send my translation to the client, I work through a pre-delivery checklist containing items such as re-reading the clients original instructions to make sure they have been fully observed, removing any highlighting that may still be present in the document, re-checking the numbering of pages, headers, footnotes, tables, ensuring that all boxes, graphs, hyperlinks etc. have been translated and that the table of contents has been updated (of course not all of those items are relevant for every document).
Client feedback is always welcome, as it allows me to further improve my skills and adapt even better to the client’s requirements. I apply incoming text-related corrections to my TM and to my terminology database, if appropriate. If comments are of general value and interest, I also make a note of them (complete with source and date) for future reference.