Everybody makes mistakes
The translation process is not necessarily finished once the text has been translated. A translation without any mistakes is uncommon—not because there are no fine translators in the industry but because "good" does not mean perfect or error-free. Still, shouldn’t translators double-check each and every word they submit? Although this is a professional standard, you can't rely solely on professionalism to detect your own mistakes. (see Understanding Why Translators Make Mistakes by Candace Séguinot).
Fortunately, translators are well aware that errors are inevitable and this is why they work together with proofreaders and editors. This cooperation ensures high-quality translations on a regular basis.
So, what is the difference between proofreading and editing?
Proofreading is a basic review of the translated text. It can be custom-made for each client and it usually includes checks for mistranslations, omissions, grammar checks, punctuation errors, spelling errors, consistency issues, and similar mistakes.
If the style is inappropriate, the proofreader will notify the client, but will not make any changes. In rare cases where the translation quality is below industry standards, the proofreader will stop further work and suggest retranslating the material from scratch.
The final phase of proofreading is optional and consist of providing a brief assessment of the translation. This usually includes determining error severity levels in categories such as grammar, consistency, and accuracy, as well as providing an overall quality evaluation. Some of the CAT tools and QA software generate proofreading/editing reports automatically.
Rather than correcting errors as in proofreading, the main idea of editing is to improve or enhance a translation that has already been checked for mistakes. Editing is more focused on style and subtle differences, and can be viewed as fine polishing of the text. An editor will focus on style, logical structure of the text, readability, local idiosyncrasies, etc. When clarity, readability, and fluency are essential to your objectives, editing is indispensable.
It is not unusual that clients require a service that combines elements of both proofreading and editing. That is why we encourage our clients to precisely define the service they need. In this way, we can focus on what is important for you, and reduce costs and time of delivery.
It is easy to make a mistake. It is much harder to accept it.
Disagreements between translators and proofreaders are usually benign and involve errors that are minor or preferential in nature. However, there are cases where conflict can have serious consequences for the project or brand reputation, and where it is critical to evaluate errors and address them properly. Since both the translator and proofreader might be subjective in their reasoning, it's a good idea to hire an independent, impartial proofreader to resolve the dispute.
We will assess the severity of the issue and suggest our own proposal for the solution. We will also explain in detail the rationale behind any such solutions.