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The Ropes 

The 10-Step Translator’s Checklist

OTTIAQ past president Bruce Knowlden developed this checklist, which has been adapted with Circuit readers in mind.

by Barbara McClintock, Certified Translator, and Bruce Knowlden, Certified Translator (Nova Scotia)
  1. Check task instructions and references.
  2. Read source text
    1. At least skim it if it is long
    2. For an overall understanding of the text
    3. It's worth the time
  3. Search key phrases in
    1. Translation memory
    2. Google
  4. Do terminology research (beforehand and as you go along).
    1. First try TERMIUM, then dictionaries, Tradooit and Linguee.
    2. For complex translations, you might want to draw up a terminology list or style sheet to ensure consistency (bilingual vocabulary list, official titles, turns of phrase, etc.).
  5. Translate
    1. Adapt your approach to the type of text.
    2. Concentrate on writing the message in English, rather than translating the French.
    3. Rely on your intuition: if something doesn’t “feel” right, double-check it.
    4. Use reference works freely: collocation dictionaries for collocations and prepositions, thesauruses, dictionaries, to find the correct word and usage guides.
    5. Check syntax in Google. Do other people say it this way?
    6. Agree with your reviser on what dictionary to use for spelling variations (e.g. co-operation/cooperation, database/data base).
    7. Keep a running list of your reviser’s preferences (e.g. Anglophone/English-speaking).
    8. Keep a running list of jargon and buzzwords (e.g. results/outcomes).
  6. Do a spell-check and quickly reread your translation to make sure it reads smoothly and you have not forgotten to translate something.
  7. Do a comparative rereading on paper with a ruler to follow the French line by line.
  8. Make any changes and print a clean copy of the translation. (Check to see that you made all the changes if you have time.)
  9. Reread your translation only to make sure it sounds like English. Can you replace an “of” phrase with a possessive (the office of the minister/the minister’s office)? Can you replace a noun with a verb (filled out an application/applied)?
  10. Do a final proofreading or send your translation to a reviser or a proofreader.

N.B. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


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