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A-Z of Translation – the letter E:

For the letter E, we’re taking a closer look at the translation process:


Editing The Concise Oxford English Dictionary gives the following definition for “edit”: “prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it”. In the translation world, however, the meaning is slightly different. Editing is the second step in what is typically a three-stage process comprising translation, editing and proofreading (or TEP for short).

In this context, editing is about reviewing and revising a translation to ensure accuracy, consistency and conformity with the requirements. This involves careful word-by-word checking of the translation against the source document, so the editor needs the same kind of high-level language skills and subject knowledge as the translator. The crucial point is that simply reading the translation in isolation is not enough. Serious mistakes could be missed because the text reads smoothly, appears plausible and raises no suspicions. Imagine the – admittedly rather unlikely – scenario of translating an invitation to a state banquet at Buckingham Palace and missing out the “not” in “Decorations will not be worn”, thereby causing a foreign dignitary to appear wearing every medal he can muster and spend the evening feeling uncomfortably overdressed. Reading just the translation, it would appear completely plausible; only a proper editing stage would pick up this kind of error. (More seriously, imagine translating material in the medical domain, for example, and not having this kind of safeguard in place.)

So editing is not a luxury or something that can be rushed, it is integral and essential to any professional translation process.

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