What’s the benefit of editing?
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What’s the benefit of editing?

Whatever the context or subject of a professional translation by Agenda Translations Agency, it will be subject to basic proofreading during quality control. Detailed editing is an option for our clients: we recommend that they integrate this service at the time of ordering a translation.

So, why do we think our clients need this?

In simple terms, an editor’s job is to provide a “second pair of eyes”. Reading is an interesting and complex neurological process: the eyes detect words on paper, and the brain decodes the shapes into information. Unfortunately, the brain sometimes takes short-cuts in decoding. It sometimes decodes according to expectation, rather than the reality on the page. It’s sometimes called “reading ahead”.

The editor’s job is to ensure that the information presented on the page is the best possible match to the writer’s intention, whilst also fulfilling the needs of the client and the reader. The editor must ensure that “reading ahead” does not compromise the intended message. After all, the whole purpose of language is clear communication of information and ideas.

What is editing?

There are 4 levels of editing.

1. Proof-reading.

This is the least complex level of editing, but sometimes the most difficult to do well. The writer or translator passes the work to the proof-reader, who looks for “mechanistic” mistakes – incorrect spelling or punctuation, spacing errors and similar. These kinds of mistakes are difficult for the writer to spot, because he or she “sees” the words and format in their brain rather than with the eyes. Proof-reading is a peculiar skill. It demands that the reader “switches off” the information-decoding processes of the brain, and looks precisely at the written page.

The proof-reader will mark up these mechanistic errors and pass the work back to the writer or translator for correction.

2. Basic editing.

In the journalistic sector, this is often referred to as sub-editing. In this process, the editor will not only serve as proof-reader. He or she will correct the errors found. The grammatical and syntactical structures will be scrutinized, and improved if necessary. At this level, the editor may also redact the text in order to fit the needs of the publication method. This makes sub-editors a very unpopular species with creative writers: sub-editors can be ruthless assassins of superfluous verbiage!

3. Nativization.

This level of editing is the most valuable when working with translations. Let us show you why –

“The Slavic languages typically allow of flexible structure to the sentence, the nouns take suffixes for definition of their grammatical status and a sentence can be very long, it makes sense in the original language and is not unusual to the reader because it follows Slavic rules and has the aspect familiar and understandable, so it is easy to read and understand for them.”

This is a very uncomfortable style for English-language readers. There are too many ideas conveyed in the sentence. It is hard to determine the message. Native English readers find this style of translation very challenging to read. By the time they have de-coded the words, they have forgotten the message. Often they just give up – there are thousands of English readers who have started to read Tolstoy in translation, but very few who have reached the end.

The nativizing editor will re-work the sentences and paragraphs of the translation, into a form which the reader will absorb and understand. It will read as though written in the language to which it has been translated.

4. Creative nativization.

Here, the editor can really add value to the process. Taking account of the purpose of the work and the client’s brief, the editor will modify the text content and style in order to maximise its impact to the reader. This may include insertion of idiomatic language or alteration of syntactical structures, but it will always seek to maintain the personality of the original author.

Creative nativization is especially valuable when dealing with poems or songs. Here, transliteration of the original material just doesn’t work. The rhythm and metre of the piece must be preserved in the translation.

It’s also valuable in translation of web content, where an understanding of the readers’ expectations can make the difference between a customer and a click-through visitor.

At Agenda Translations Agency, we are careful to select the appropriate editing style for our clients’ needs. We work with native-speaking editors with experience in the preparation of legal, medical, technical, academic and literary writing in their native language. Editors who will ensure that the finished work meets or exceeds the need of our client, always.

So, spare a thought for the editor. He or she plays a key part in delivery of a top-quality translation for you, and ensures that you receive the maximum value for your investment in translation services. 

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