What Proofreading is really about - On how to correctly proofread translations.
When it comes to translations, everyone knows their job - look at the text, find an accurate corresponding sentence in the target language, then insert it. Now we're done. If you're working with a good proofreader and want to make their life hell, that is truly the end, but if you want to go easy on them or are an aspiring proofreader yourself, this article might just be for you.
Let's dive into what a good proofreader does to make sure the project receives the best possible translations. I'm talking about the ones that work in a real environment, not just look pretty when reading 1000 words at a time.
What does it mean to proofread translations?
In a world where translators provide translations of dubious quality, which is unfortunately the world of open source, the main (but not only, of which you'll learn later in this article) job of a proofreader will be to ensure that the translations are accurate, contain no typos, straight up incorrect translations and translations that are incorrect in the provided context. They're basically the quality police, making sure whoever translated the texts was qualified and not drunk while submitting them.
Unfortunately, a common misconception, even among the Davinci&Utopian community, is that this is the only job of a proofreader, which couldn't be further from the truth.
So what does it REALLY mean to be a proofreader?
As someone who has proofread thousands upon thousands of words working as an Utopian Moderator (later Supervisor and CM) and now Davinci Language Manager, I can tell you, with full certainty, that most people trying to help out in this field have close to no idea what to do with this responsibility. If you're not one of them, that's amazing! If you are - worry not. Everyone has to start somewhere, understanding that you're lacking in this field is the first step to fixing the issue. As long as you're willing to improve, we're onto something.
Something I talked about briefly in the first paragraph, but still deserves a mention here for clarity purposes is the importance of making sure the translations are accurate, take context into consideration and contain no typos or made up words. Trust me, that last one happens a lot, even I tend to make up words before I proofread my own text and realize they don't quite exist in my mother tongue. On Utopian&Davinci, as well as platforms like Crowdin that allow people to submit translations more or less anynomously, without required prior experience, this is of critical importance.
Not only does it eliminate the factor of someone submitting faulty translations (for a reward from incentives like Utopian, to boycot the project or just because they have a sad life and want to make others suffer), but as I've talked about in this post about account restrictions - everyone makes mistakes. Those mistakes are easy to spot and fix while proofreading - much easier than when you're actually working on translating - and getting rid of them is very important for every project with no exceptions.
You might even not know that, but the main role of proofreaders is to provide consistency in an environment where multiple translators work on the same project.
If you only speak one language you probably don't know, but not every sentence can be translated to any language of your choosing. Languages work differently, they have different rules, the building blocks of every sentence vary and some things are plain impossible to translate closely while ensuring the meaning of the initial sentence is preserved. Because of that, more often than not different translators will choose different words to translate the same topic.
Let's take Pull Request. A topic you'll encounter a lot while dealing with anything related to Git, including texts for most of the popular languages, frameworks and libraries. The words "Pull Request" are easily recognizable by any programmer around the world. Unfortunately, if I talk to an another Polish programmer, I will always call it "PR" or "Pull Request" as well. There's no good, consistent translation that can be easily understood by anyone, which is why no one even bothers.
Imagine reading through a pile of text where you'd sometimes read about Pull Request, then the next time see Request of Merging or Merge Recommendation. You'd obviously be confused as to why the words keep changing, and more often than not you would not even understand that those things talk about the same topic.
This is where the proofreaders come in. Their job is to choose one - believed by them, or the group as a whole, to be the best - translation and consistently apply it to every single mention of the initial topic. This, honestly, takes ages. Not only is it a lot of work to correct every single instance of this, the List of Consistency keeps growing and growing as the project progresses. Which is why, if you want to make your proofreader's day, you should check with them what words you should use. And if they don't have that list already for the project you are working on, suggest working with them on making one.
Everyone has a different style of proofreading, you might use different tools than I do, you might memorize your entire List of Consistency or write it down - either way it all boils down to knowing what to do, not how to do it.
I am diving deeper into the Davinci project every single day and getting to understand it more and more, so expect more posts about that in the future as well. For now, I'll leave you hanging - I've got some proofreading to do.