Monday, 5 May 2008

Translation revision workshop with Sue Young

On 12 April 2008 a joint ITI revision workshop and St. Jerome seminar was held on the Frenchay campus of the University of the West of England in Bristol, jointly organised by the ITI Western Regional Group and the University of the West of England, which provided the venue. The day featured speakers Sue Young and Eyvor Fogarty.

Sue, known as ITI’s revision guru, launched the presentation by mentioning that what is meant in most cases when translators are asked by clients to edit, check, correct, revise, review, read through, proof-read, or even “quality-assess” a translation is to revise the translation. Sadly, there is widespread confusion about the correct use of the above terms. She then went on to provide the following very useful definitions:

Revision: examining a translation for its suitability for the agreed purpose, comparing the source and target texts and recommending corrective measures

Proofreading: checking of proofs before publishing

Reviewing: examining a target text for its suitability for the agreed purpose and respect for the conventions of the domain to which it belongs and recommending corrective measures

Have you been asked to edit a translation? Or to check it? Or to revise it? Or to review it?

It is generally essential to put a few queries to the client before the job is carried out: First you should make sure that what a client actually has in mind is revision. Apart from that, as a reviser you should of course be paid correctly for the service provided. Sue generally recommends charging on an hourly basis, the yardstick being that if you find you need more than one hour to revise 1,000 words then there is a problem with the initial translation quality. It may even be advisable to offer to re-translate the text from scratch in some instances. Furthermore, it is important for translation professionals not to be bullied into doing revision work on a per-word basis in most circumstances. On a practical note it is also vital to clarify beforehand how the client would like the work returned, for example by using Track Changes.

Next, Sue elaborated on a few guiding principles from Brian Mossop’s Summary of Revision Principles, which may come in useful in this respect, for example: If you cannot understand the translation without reading it twice or without consulting the source text, then a correction is definitely necessary; check numbers as well as words, as they are also part of the message (e.g. check for formatting); etc.

What followed were a few practical examples, which gave us workshop participants some useful hands-on experience, before we broke for a delicious buffet lunch and networking.

The St. Jerome Seminar in the afternoon was led by Eyvor Fogarty from the ITI Admissions Committee and Sue Young as chairwoman. In this seminar the role of assessors, moderators and examiners was discussed, while guidelines for assessment and mark-up conventions as well as the new examination format were presented. Eyvor Fogarty described the aim of achieving standardisation in marking exams and assessments and stressed that it had always been one of ITI’s aims to maintain a particular standard of translation quality over the years. The seminar overall was also very informative and revealed, for example, how very different mark-up procedures in the context of a translator applying for fully qualified ITI membership are in comparison with those in a university environment.

(Part 1, the revision workshop, is based on Anna George's report.)