My Translation Method

From the time I receive a manuscript (in Spanish) to the time that I send a final translation (in English) to a client, I pass through the following steps:

  • Initial review: I read the manuscript for understanding, look up terminology to clarify its meaning, and try to get an overall perspective on the subject, determine the goal of the publication, and get a feel for the author’s voice and style. Sometimes more extensive background research is involved if I need to get more acquainted with the subject matter.
  • 1st draft translation: I create a rough first draft in English. In this first draft, I just aim to translate ideas, facts, and numbers as accurately and precisely as possible, and sometimes quite literally. I try to incorporate the author’s voice and creativity when appropriate and when this translates well into English. Depending on the length and difficulty of the article, sometimes I will create a glossary or list of terms to guide myself throughout the translation and maintain consistency in term usage (although I admittedly have a good memory and don’t struggle to maintain consistency, even without a glossary).
  • 2nd review: Then, I review the resulting manuscript and edit extensively to make sure ideas flow well from start to finish. Here, I am less interested in a literal translation and more focused on patching together the ideas of the article or publication to make a cohesive whole. I focus more on things like word order and proper transitioning from paragraph to paragraph.
  • Final review: I read over the final result once or twice, and often I will make very minor corrections or double-check the terminology. I like to start this step after having “left” the manuscript for at least 24 hours, meaning that I haven’t looked at it for a little while. Sometimes this helps me get a fresh mind and perspective, without completely forgetting the subject matter. This is also the final opportunity to catch any mistakes that I might have looked over during the previous step.

So, any manuscript that I receive will be reviewed extensively by the time it is finally returned to my client. For revisions or editions of English manuscripts, step 2 is irrelevant, but I still review all translations or editions that I receive on at least three separate occasions, following the above steps.

I also generally work about 45 minutes per hour. I will take a mini break every single hour to distract myself from the subject matter for a little bit (without completely getting off course). Sometimes this means very unprofessionally (cough cough) playing Candy Crush, looking at clothes or shoes or recipes online, checking e-mails, or preparing a nice, hot cup of coffee 🙂

This is a study method I have used since college – I find it difficult to exclusively concentrate on anything for more than an hour, and sometimes little mini breaks are something to look forward to and serve as a reward!

Published by Allison M.

Technical and Scientific Writer, Editor, and Translator

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