An essential step in guaranteeing you get a great German translation!
Whether it's called lektorieren, korrigieren, or redigieren, editing and proofreading services are an essential part of making sure any German translation you buy is up to the mark – German meaning fully understood, English truly English!
All professional translation agencies will include editing & proofreading services as part of their offering.
This is an essential step before any translation is sent to the client.
Certified translation services will use a second translator qualified in the same language pair as the original translator for their editing and proofreading services.
After all, that’s one of the major reasons for working through an agency.
When you commission a German translation from a freelance translator you should check whether their charges also including asking a second party to proofread their work before submitting the final version to you.
This should be reflected in their price....it’s the usual monkeys and peanuts scenario.
A fellow translator recently asked me what they should charge for a proofreading job for a government department.
My experience is that the going rate is anything from 25% to 40% of the standard line or word rate.
And, that you can edit & proofread around 500 to 1,000 words per hour.
But unsurprisingly, the time needed to do a good proofreading job depends on the quality of the original translation.
So translators and agencies should look at the text carefully before quoting a definite figure!
The work involved in editing & proofreading can vary from reading through an excellently written/translated text, just rearranging a few commas, to hours of trying to decipher just exactly what the writer intended to say.
Plus, sometimes it’s extremely difficult to calculate the number of words or lines in a document.
This is often the case with PowerPoint presentations which include graphs, PDFs and other graphic elements.
In this case, translation agencies and translators will probably quote an hourly rate for editing & proofreading services.
This usually fairer to the translator – PPTs, for example, always seem to involve a significant amount of “non-translation” time spent playing with formatting etc.
And don’t underestimate the work that goes in to proofreading – when a text is presented to a fresh pair of eyes, they effectively have to start from scratch.
TIP! Save time & money by ensuring the proofreader only needs to focus on the language, rather than formatting. Supply texts as editable Word documents which are much easier to correct than PDFs, PPTs or graphics - saving you money.
According to the UK’s Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL), a good German to English translation should be:
"Functionally accurate, stylistically appropriate & faithfully
render the style and meaning of the original piece of writing."
Here’s a brief outline of what I think makes a translation “good”.
The proofreader's work involves:
I am constantly impressed at how well English is spoken in German-language countries.
It’s not surprising really: English is the main foreign language taught to kids at school, certainly from the age of 10 onwards, and often from the age of 6.
The radio is full of English songs, most of the web is English, and most professional careers demand an excellent command of English. English is simply an accepted part of daily life. (All very impressive to a Brit from a monolingual culture!)
But spoken and written English are two different kettles of fish.
In some of the texts I get to proofread, the words are properly spelt, the sentence structure is correct – but the meaning is indecipherable.
Tactfulness is required here.
After all, who likes being told they’ve written nonsense?
Especially people with important jobs or in important positions.
And quite right, they have enough to do without having to be able to express themselves perfectly in written English as well.
But English is beautifully subtle and nuanced - just take my favorite example, the Lynne Truss sentence from her book Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation:
The judge said the defendant is mad.
The judge, said the defendant, is mad.
There you go, 2 commas = 180° change in meaning!
If you enjoy Lynne Truss on punctuation, you could also try the German version, Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod, by Bastian Sick who writes a column in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, on common German grammatical errors.
I hope you find these tips on buying editing & proofreading services for your German to English translations useful!
Other articles in this series:
I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively. How can I help you today?