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My focus this week has been on mentally and physically surviving the historical cold that hit Oklahoma. That has mainly consisted of painting my house to get it ready to sell, training jiu jitsu, seeking gratitude to keep panic at bay, and finding ways to entertain my dog indoors (snow + below zero temps).
So, I haven’t been thinking very deeply about science or translation. I did manage to articulate my 2 least favorite and 2 favorite types of translation jobs. Have you ever made that distinction? I believe this will help me decide which projects to take and which to avoid going forward. In therapy talk, that would be called setting boundaries.
2 Least Favorite Types of Translation Jobs
1. Large volume of numbers/dates in post-editing
These projects require “post-editing” a file directly in a CAT tool with an associated translation memory. They contain loads of numbers that need decimals to replace commas without accidentally changing one of the digits (i.e. 1,8 becomes 1.8, not 2.8). They also require a client-specific date format. What reads as 12/01/2021 must be changed to 01/12/2021 or maybe 12 JAN 2021. I dislike these projects because I hardly consider it translation when I’m simply re-formatting dates and numbers. Any monolingual person could do that. Plus, it’s mindless work that still requires a certain amount of focus. By the time I finish one of these projects, my brain is fried, like an egg.
2. Reports riddled with spelling/grammar mistakes or missing words
I have to guess and make lots of notes in files like these. The source was usually prepared by a resident or nurse who wanted to quickly record the notes and move on to another patient. So, they did not take the time to check for spelling errors. Sometimes, they are prepared using voice dictation, which causes confusion since that technology is imperfect and misunderstands the speaker on occasion. At this point, it becomes my job as the translator (far removed from the actual situation being reported) to GUESS what word is missing, what the author meant, and what the word was supposed to be in the first place.
2 Favorite Types of Translation Jobs
1. Academic articles
I have a routine with articles, since most follow the same layout. A title, list of the authors with their associated institutions, an abstract, the body of the text, and, sometimes, images or figures. I format and translate them section by section, making it easy to track my progress. Also, they’re easy to read since they tell a distinct “story” with a beginning, middle, and end.
2. Post-editing clinical trial documents (informed consent form, patient information leaflet, trial protocol, etc.)
When post-editing is done right, it’s a fantastic tool. Many clients need these types of documents translated, which means the agency has a rich translation memory. As a result, the files I am given have very accurate machine translated segments, making the work go faster and smoother. In addition, the documents are written to be understood by a non-technical audience. Literary, flowing sentences are frowned upon. Simple is better. This makes for straightforward sentences (the opposite of #2 above) that are easily translated.