In a recent English to Russian translation project, we worked on a file with all internal repetitions extracted (received like this from our client). As this is a relatively uncommon practice, I decided to use this opportunity and explain my thoughts on this subject.
Example of a Repetition
Let’s take a look at this example to illustrate the main challenge associated with extracting the repetitions:
“Note:“ can occur in at least three different situations, and, as plain as it seems, may cause problems:
- Below a paragraph. The colon is often replaced by a dot. (Примечание. Обратите…)
- In the middle of a paragraph. I prefer to keep the colon and begin the actual note with a lower-case letter. (… кнопку. Примечание: обратите…)
- As a subheading. The colon is often deleted. (Примечание)
In this example, the identical source requires three different translations. Imagine what happens when the identical translation “Note.” is used across all three situations instead. For instance, a standalone sentence “Note.” appearing in the middle of a paragraph may look weird. In a subheading, it wouldn’t be that bad, but might still be inconsistent with punctuation in other subheadings, so why let it happen at all?
Does it mean that extracting the repetitions is evil? No, of course not. In some situations, the benefits derived from such extraction may outweigh any potential problems. Consequently, you need to consider applying this approach on a case-by-case basis and exercise caution, making sure you understand the implications.
- A significant, if not the main, gain is the possibility of savings. This is especially true when many thousands of repetitions are considered for extraction. The client’s willingness to reduce the costs through extraction is perfectly reasonable in such situations.
- Extraction might be vital when two or more translators work on the same project simultaneously. Otherwise, they will likely translate repetitions in two or more different ways. This means double work, hence a plain waste of money. An arguably better solution might be to extract the repetitions into a separate file and have it translated by one linguist and then checked by another and/or the editor.
- Extraction also helps eliminate or at least reduce inconsistent translations of the repetitions. Although many translation environment tools ensure consistency by automatically changing all occurrences when you edit any single repetition (auto-propagation feature), there is always room for human error in this area.
- Extracting the repetitions means that you don’t get a final file from your translator. What you get is an intermediate file, which you then need to process to create the final file, e.g. by creating a translation memory and applying it to a source file. Before you go for extraction, you may want to compare these additional management costs against the expected benefits of extraction.
- As a translator, I prefer to work on a copy that retains its original look, rather than an intermediate “censored” file. With the repetitions extracted, you cannot see the whole picture, which may decrease your understanding of the source text and the sense of ownership. The pain can be somewhat eased if you have the original copy (with all repetitions) at hand for reference. For this reason, I believe that providing such file is a must in most extraction scenarios. Aside from taking the guesswork out of the translation process, it is also important for understanding more technical things such as tags.
- I believe that in most extraction scenarios the repetitions must be checked in the final file. In practice, however, this step is sometimes skipped, as it seems unimportant. This approach may backfire in various forms of damage, from minor slips to weird mistranslations. Unless you are prepared for substandard quality, I advise to keep this step in your process, perhaps in a form of a quick proofreading.
By the way, Velior provides discounts for the repetitions in our quotes, making it quite affordable to let us handle the repetitions. And how do you approach the repetitions in your translation business? Do you accept work with any unpaid repetitions?
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