METM15 presentation

Is it ready yet? A pilot survey of translators’ self-editing practices

 Mary Savage, Vilafranca, Castelló, Spain

How often can we really say we are one hundred percent happy with our translations? How do we decide when a translation reads well, is fit for purpose and is ready to be sent off? In this presentation I will report the results and conclusions from a survey on the self-editing processes translators follow when working.

The purpose of this pilot survey was to explore our attitudes to revision and the practices we engage in that might affect the final quality of our translations. The survey aimed to find out what self-editing strategies and tools we use, how much self-editing we do, what constraints affect the amount of time and effort we spend on it, and other issues such as where we do it or whether other people are involved in the process. It also explored the impact of working in-house, translating for agencies, dealing directly with clients or working with other translators as part of a team.

To develop the survey, I first conducted individual telephone interviews with a small sample of translators from MET to find out how they edit their translations and to gather their spontaneous ideas about the revision process. These informal conversations formed the basis for the first draft of the survey. In the next stage, the draft survey was pre-tested with another small sample of MET translators and refined before being sent out in spring 2015 to the final sample of all MET members who define themselves as translators.

I hope the survey will provide a starting point for future research and discussions about what we actually do when we revise our translations, and identify strategies and tools that can help us to create highly polished final products. The talk will be structured to allow as much time as possible for open discussion.

Mary Savage is a freelance authors’ editor and translator of Spanish and Catalan into English, working mostly with academic papers from the social sciences. She has been a member of MET since 2005 and was involved in piloting a translation revision protocol devised to translate MET’s charter in 2007. She lives in the mountains near a small town in the north of Castelló where she also teaches English.


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