The four eyes principle

I don’t always translate and interpret but also regularly revise and/or proofread German translations. Different people – clients, translators or publishers – may use a different definition of the terms “revision”, “proofreading” or “native speaker checking”.

Most clients who ask me to proofread a translation mean in fact a revision, i.e. they want me to compare the English source text with the German translation and check:

Is the translation correct and complete?

  • Have all terms (particularly defined or glossary terms) been translated consistently and according to the context?
  • Have all nuances, ambiguities, vague wordings, references etc contained in the English been rendered into German as far as possible?
  • Is the German text free from any spelling, grammar or punctuation errors?
  • Has the translation been kept in the same register as the original?
  • Does the German translation read like an idiomatic, original text?
  • Are there any inaccuracies in the English text that need to be clarified with the client before delivery?

Most of the time I am trying to make as little stylistic changes as possible because I don’t want to change the translator’s style of writing. I sometimes make suggestions that the translator can either accept or consider.

It goes without saying that I apply the same strict revision criteria to my own translations which are sometimes proofread by another equally qualified colleague before delivery to the client.

For many years, in fact since we first came to Oxford in 1992, I have been working with UK publishers (one of my longest clients is Pearson Higher Education & Professional, formerly Heinemann). Proofreading or checking for publishers means working with (most of the time hardcopy) proofs and exclusively with German text.

Last but not least – I am very proud of a project that I completed in 2001 together with Steve Williams and Jeannie McNeill where I was one of the authors of an A level textbook, published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2001 (now out of print).

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