Language can be a tricky creature at times, as all professional translators will no doubt appreciate.
You can spend hours working on a document and have the ‘perfect’ translation in front of you, having read through it multiple times in order to check it. Yet within ten minutes of you sending it to the client, he’s on the phone querying a mistake on the first page.
This is where the ear test comes in. Don’t rely purely on a silent read-through of your work. Instead, take the time to read it out loud as you review what you have translated. It’s a good idea for three distinct reasons.
#1 Document flow
While a document may flow beautifully in its original language, this can often be lost in translation, leaving the document sounding awkward. This can be missed on a silent read-through, but the ear test will highlight it almost instantly. This is particularly important for business documents such as presentations, or for literary texts such as stories or poems.
#2 Brain trickery
They say you should never proofread your own work – and for good reason. The brain has an impressive ability to gloss over mistakes that you may have made when you are re-reading your translated text.
Instead of showing you the text as it is actually written, the brain is able to present you with what you thought you wrote, thus hiding any mistakes. When reading a document aloud, however, this brain trickery is often foiled, as the tongue usually trips over the mistakes that the brain tried to gloss over.
#3 Style and tone
Depending on the target language, it’s often possible to use several words when translating. The selection of synonyms available in many languages means that a professional translator has some flexibility when choosing the words that he or she uses.
The result of this is that the translated document can take on a different style or tone, depending on which choices the translator has made. Undertaking an ear test can highlight the impact of these choices, with more formal wording making the text sound too stiff and dull, or colloquial phrases making it sound too casual. Reading the text out loud can showcase these choices and flag up where an alternative synonym might be more appropriate.
Next time you’ve completed a translation, take the time to read it back to yourself – out loud – and see for yourself the benefits that the ear test can provide.
click to tweet this image
Do you undertake an ear test on each document you translate? Tell us about your experience of doing so via the comments box.