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Translation Typos and Other Bothersome Little Annoyances

Last Updated On: June 28, 2021 by The Migration Translators

Translation Typos and Other Bothersome Little Annoyances
Last updated:April 9th, 2015 by The Migration Translators

Typos seem to be an inevitable accompaniment to typing. In the days when translators used the pen, rather than a typewriter or computer, mistakes in spelling and grammar were probably less common, but the translated text still would have needed proofreading, as there would have been inevitable mistakes in the way the text sounded which would have been hard to correct as the translation was actually being written out.

These days, even the best and most professional translator makes small mistakes in spelling or grammar which have to be corrected if the translated material is to appear professional. Few translators would get away without proofreading their own work and larger translation agencies may even have a division of labor where somebody’s job is to do the proofreading for the translator.

Typos and other bothersome little mistakes are the stuff of proofreading but should come after editing, which is a different task altogether. Editing involves looking at the meaning of the translated text and ensuring that it is correct. Only when editing has been completed does the work of proofreading take place. This involves checking the format, style, language use, typography, spelling, and grammar are all error-free. There are some established ways of perfecting your proofreading skills as described briefly below.

1. Read out the text aloud. Read the text slowly so that when obvious small mistakes show up, you will notice them. You can get someone else to read them out too because they are more likely to spot the errors that you didn’t.

2. Manually checking for spelling and grammar is still more reliable than using custom-made computer checkers such as those available on MS Word. The spellchecker, for instance, is fine for checking nonsense spelling but falls down when the spelling is correct for the wrong word. For instance, ‘no’ and ‘know’ would both pass the spell check, because both are actual words, although ‘kno’, a simple typo, would show up.

3. Another way of proofreading your work is to read from the bottom of the text backward or from bottom to top. This can be a bit exhausting for a large chunk of the translated text and the danger is that you will get so tired that you will make mistakes in proofreading, but it’s a useful trick for smaller segments of text. This allows the mind to see the little mistakes that have been made.

4. Delay the proofreading for a few hours, or preferably a day or two. If you proofread it too quickly your mind won’t concentrate on individual words, but on whole sentences or phrases, which allows small typos to persist.

5. Make sure you check for things like date and time order, which can depend on the destination of the translated material as well as units (metric doesn’t go down too well in the U.S.!)