Editors, anyone?

The following excerpts read:

« … à des milieux de travail différents, à des besoins différents, à des clientèles différentes… »

« Je désire remercier X… pour son invitation à participer à ce projet… qui nous a permis de vivre une expérience… Nous exprimons une vive reconnaissance à X qui nous a permis de vous offrir cette grande activité… »

“And we are pleased to announce that thanks to a new team of volunteers, we are offering…”

“We are also pleased to announce that X will present a conference…”[1]

(All bold prints are mine.)

The subordinate sentences, phrasal verbs, prepositions, adjectives, or definite articles highlighted in bold represent repetition often overlooked prior to publication. Readers like me then notice them and ask the following question: where are the editors?

I cannot begin to tell you how annoying it is to see unnecessary repetition in clients’ texts. These are the same clients claiming to be writers, showing off their savviness and knowledge. In fact, writing I’ve seen is overly pretentious, heavy, and lifeless, not to mention that it’s chock full of jargon and bureaucratese. Yet, no editors seem to be in sight. Could it be because clients believe editors are expensive or unnecessary?

If you think editors are overly expensive, think again. Yes, we understand your business wants to save every penny possible in light of difficult financial times. We can also accept that outsourcing work can potentially be time-consuming. However, if you care about quality of language, you’ll reach out to editors. They look at texts like the ones above and remove unnecessary repetition, make texts more concise, eliminate jargon, reorganize paragraphs, and much more. They have the education and experience with language to make your texts sound better. And trust me, editors offer fair and reasonable rates. But don’t expect editors to work with you if you propose ridiculously low prices. After all, someone needs to pay the bills, buy groceries, put clothes on their backs—do you get it?

Do you need to reflect repetitions in translated texts? My short answer is no. Like good editors and writers, translators can tell when source-language material is repetitive, badly written, or glaring with incomprehensive jargon. We can improve original texts by proposing better sentence structures, choosing alternative words, and using plain language. What’s more, we can suggest changes to clients. Some are open to suggestions, while others are not interested in discussing any aspect of their original work. You might receive negative feedback about a translation because it did not reflect repetitions needed for a certain effect or rhythm. In these cases, we need to be firm and tactfully explain why we translated a text one way and not the other.

A word of advice to clients before sending texts to translators: hire an editor, ideally one in each language. Let them decide what works in one text and what doesn’t in another. You can then send the edited source text to translators—and make it easier for us to provide a translation that meets or exceeds your expectations.

[1] To protect the innocent and avoid possible backlash, I have altered some of the quoted passages above and have not mentioned any sources.


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