Did it ever occur to you that after sending a translation to a customer, a well-developed translation for which you managed to find good solutions to its terms and concepts and of which result you feel satisfied and confident, you suddenly receive the revision of the customer, who informs you of a couple of typos found. What? A couple of typos? How come? I run the spell checker and I read the whole document once more before sending it to the customer! Well, this kind of things happens all the time, spell checkers are not infallible and when one reads a document, especially if it is long one and you are in a hurry, typos can slip through. Making these errors really make you angry because you know you could have avoided them. They make you look bad in front of the customer and, in addition, that customer may not send you more work in the future, so you better be careful!
The spell checker is a crucial tool for a translator or a writer. For those of us who did not manage to have a good command of typing, who have thick fingers that press 2 and even 3 keys at the same time, it is of great help, as when we look up to see our text, it marks in red everything that was incorrectly typed and helps us to do the corrections. But, of course, thinking that a spellchecked text is free of errors is simply false. Let me give you an example that recently occurred to me. I had to write the Spanish word “datos” (it means data), but for some reason I typed “daros”, but this word also exists in the dictionary and, as such, the spell checker did not consider it an error. There are countless cases similar to this one. This is why I recommend you to not trust the spell checker. As I said, it is very helpful, but not infallible.
Reading the translated document one last time is a good idea, but this reading should be done slowly, taking your time. We are usually under great stress by immediate deadlines and when it comes to review the document, we read it very quickly and as a result our “human” eye is not capable of detecting some of the errors. If the document is not a long one, this reading phase can be more efficient, but in the case of a 200 or 300-page document, forget about it, either you take a couple of days for reading carefully the whole document or typos will slip through irremissibly.
How can you avoid typos? Good question! This post is the result of having made one and I have been in the business for almost 20 years. I think that one should always be aware of the fact that you can make mistakes while typing. Mistakes that the spell checker cannot detect, and also, when reviewing, that if you read a document hastily, you will not manage to identify the errors. If you use a CAT-type program in the translations, such as Trados or any other, do not forget to read carefully both the original and the translated sentence before confirming it and moving to the next segment. You should consider that moment as the final revision from a spelling perspective. You may have to modify something later on, but again, before confirming the segment, take a few seconds to make sure that everything is well translated and written. This seems to be obvious, but it is often forgotten, normally because we are always in a hurry. As I said before, it is a shame that a good job can be tarnished by some typos. They make translators very angry as they could have been avoided, and if you make them on a continuous basis, customers will label you as “careless” and may not send you more work. As things stand out now in the business it is better to not mess around with this issue.