The Journal of Specialised Translation
Issue 8 - July 2007
One translator reported re-reading the previous paragraph before drafting the next paragraph to ensure coherence, especially when there was no time for a post-drafting revision. Seven reported that they only consulted the source text occasionally during revision, and two reported that they never looked at the source text. Shih interprets this in the light of the typically small amount of time between completing the draft and proceeding to revision: the translator does not actually look at the ST but has a memory of it still in mind. Alternatively, she suggests, many translators just assume that their drafts are accurate, and use the revising phase to check other things; they may mention ‘accuracy’ as important when asked, but they don’t actually check for it during the post-drafting phase.
Office quality procedures An area that cries out for empirical work is office quality control procedures. Every translation company and translation department has some procedure, formal or informal, for checking and correcting translation work—some combination of comparative reading to detect mistranslation, and unilingual reading to detect nonsense and incoherence, correct terminology, improve style, or just remove mechanical errors. Depending on such factors as the purpose of the text, the translator and the client, all or part of a text will be subjected to one or more checking/correcting processes, by one or more people. As always, however, what happens officially and what happens in practice may be two quite different things. While some translating organizations have no doubt conducted internal studies of their quality control processes, and while anecdotal descriptions can sometimes be found in proceedings of translators’ conferences, to my knowledge there are no published empirical studies in English that describe in detail the control procedures actually used at a translation workplace. However, readers who have
German might like to look at:
Fachkommunikation im Informationszeitalter. Tübingen: Narr This book describes the organization of translation work at a Vienna translation company, including information on quality control (sections 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124).
In passing it is worth noting that most empirical studies are still taking place in vitro, usually at a university campus. There is a need to study revision in workplaces, during actual production for the market, since otherwise subjects’ decisions may be determined by the fact that they know their output will never be delivered to a client. Thinking aloud and recording of conversations among colleagues may not always be practical in an office setting, but screen actions can be recorded, and emails to and from colleagues, clients and subject experts can be inspected.