Never Rush to Edit
September 28th, 2013, Roman Mironov
Many translators do not like editing (reviewing, revision). For this reason, it is important to make editing as pleasant as possible. One way to do so is to avoid making edits on the spot; that is, correcting things you do not like, as soon as you see them.
Incorrect corrections can drive anyone crazy
As an editor, I hate to find out that the changes I made earlier during editing were incorrect and I have to restore them to the way they were before. But this is exactly what happens, when I rush to make edits. Translation is all about context, and rushing to correct a potential error means ignoring the context—you are simply unaware of it yet. Here is an example:
An editor reads an English to Russian translation and comes across this segment:
English: General caution should be taken when subculturing positive culture bottles as they could have been overfilled or contain high gas-producing organisms.
Russian: При пересеве материала из положительных флаконов следует соблюдать общие меры предосторожности.
The editor immediately assumes that the highlighted part of the original sentence is missing in the translation and makes an appropriate correction in the translation.
He then goes to the next segment only to find that the translator chose to put the translation of this part of the sentence there:
English: Positive culture bottle contents may be under increased internal pressure.
Russian: Внутри флакона может быть создано повышенное давление при внесении излишка жидкости или наличии микроорганизмов, активно вырабатывающих газы.
The original translation was correct, and the editor has to restore it.
The main point is that editing is better done, when an editor sees the big picture of a translation, which can happen only after reading the entire translation. Before seeing that big picture, any editing is suboptimal, because an editor will likely have to reverse some of the edits.
- You may want to send a translation back to a translator for rework. If you already made changes, your changes may only confuse the translator.
- Making changes on the go is not as effective as doing them globally by using the search function (where possible, of course). If you can do a global search and replace operation, you will save even more time.
- Style corrections are especially problematic, because they are often subjective. For this reason, they are the first type of edits to avoid during the first editing run.
What to change on the spot
Only obvious and simple errors, such as spelling or punctuation, lend themselves to immediate correction, because you will definitely not need to reverse them.
Whenever I forget this golden rule of editing—never rush to edit—I end up regretting it. I recommend that everyone avoid this feeling by simply keeping your editing instinct on a tight leash, until the time is right; that is, after you have read the entire translation and can see the big picture.
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