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Editing (II): Checklist for Editors from EN to ES

As analysed on the first part: Editing (I): Tips and Boundaries, in my opinion, editors should limit their changes or suggestions to those that can be justified in a reasonable way. And they should refrain from introducing modifications that are based exclusively on a personal preference.

Based on the book Normativa lingüística española y corrección de textos (Normative Linguistics in Spanish and the Correction of Texts), by Alicia María Zorrilla, I have prepared a checklist that might result useful for language experts editing translations rendered into Spanish.

What Should Be Corrected in a Text?

Orthotypography

  1. Capital and lower-case letters
    • Check how titles and subtitles have been capitalised. Rules differ between EN and ES. In Spanish, not every content word is capitalised.
  2. Spelling
    • For the sake of consistency, a decision needs to be made regarding words with two kinds of punctuation. One of the options should be chosen and kept throughout the entire project. For example: adecuan/adecúan, cardiaco/cardíaco, elite/élite, olimpiada/olimpíada, video/vídeo.
  3. Separation of words at the end of sentences
    • If later on the editor will be working with a software programme other than MS Word (for example, InDesign), make sure the language is set to Spanish. Otherwise, the program may separate words in syllables respecting the separation rules of a different language.
  4. Type of font used to differentiate words
    • Verify the names of works of art and literature, songs and music albums, magazines and newspapers, etc. They should be distinguished by the use of italics. Fundeu’s style guide will be a good friend here.
    • Foreign words that have not been adapted to Spanish should be italicised.
  5. Use of punctuation marks individually or in combination with others
    • For instance, commas and periods go after quotation marks in Spanish.
  6. Titles of works or publications in other languages
    • They should be translated Title (Translation).
  7. The use of abbreviations
    • There should be consistency in the use of abbreviations that are repeated throughout a project. Have this list of abbreviations at hand, it is very useful.
  8. The use of symbols
  9. The use of acronyms
    1. Pay attention to how they are expanded and how they are used after the first time they appear in the text. Check consistency throughout the project.
  10.  Arabic numbers
    1. In texts belonging to the humanistic or social science areas, Arabic numbers should not be used when the concepts are not precise. For example: * Cocina para alrededor de 100 personas. OK: Cocina para alrededor de cien personas.

Morphology

  1. Verb conjugations
  2. Genre
  3. Plurality
  4. Use of prefixes and suffixes

Syntax

  1. Very long sentences
    • It is better to avoid the use of extremely long sentences that may get the reader lost or may even tire them.
    • If a considerably long sentence is to be retained, special care should be given to how/if punctuation helps the flow of the sentence.
  2. The incorrect use of connectors
  3. The use of the gerund
    • Be careful not to replicate the use that is typical of the English language.
  4. The cases of laísmoloísmo and leísmo
    • E.g.: * “Yo la di un beso a Josefa” (Pombo Héroe [Esp. 1983]). RAE
    • E.g.: * Los dije que no se movieran de aquí. RAE
    • E.g.: * “Tu padre no era feliz. […] Nunca le vi alegre” (TBallesterFilomeno [Esp. 1988]). RAE
  5. Concordance when using the pronouns le/les
    • For example: Mañana le enviaré el sobre a Claudia. Mañana les enviaré las tarjetas a los invitados del exterior.
  6. The order of words in a sentence
    • Special consideration should be given to how words are arranged within the sentence so as to avoid the anacoluthon1 or inconsistency. For instance: * El trabajo de la maestra jardinera, además de enseñar y entretener, su función es cuidar a los niños. OK: El trabajo de la maestra jardinera, además de enseñar y entretener, es cuidar a los niños.
  7. Prepositions
    • Be careful with verbs that require different prepositions in Spanish, especially when in English there are several verbs enumerated.
    • I recommend another book by Alicia Zorrilla: Diccionario de las preposiciones españolas (Dictionary of the Prepositions in Spanish).
  8. Lack of symmetry should be corrected
    • For instance: * Por un lado, quisiera decirle que está equivocada, señora Mirtha y me parece que se le fue la mano. OK: Por un lado, quisiera decirle que está equivocada, señora Mirtha y, por el otro, me parece que se le fue la mano. 
  9. Concordance between nouns and their adjectives
  10. Concordance between the head noun in the subject and its verb in the predicate
  11. Passive voice
    • Many style guides for both translators and writers suggest that the passive voice should be avoided or its use should be limited to those cases where it is extremely necessary: when we do not know the doer of the action or when we want to avoid mentioning them.

Semantics

  1. Unnecessary repetitions
    • Sometimes, English tends to be quite repetitive. A literal translation may sound tedious for a reader of Spanish. Both translator and editor will have to evaluate when synonyms can be used without forgetting consistency.
  2. The following should be avoided:
    • Ambiguity, for example: * Juan y Pedro fueron a visitar a Carlos en su auto. OK: Juan y Pedro fueron en su auto a visitar a Carlos.
    • Rhyme among words in texts written in prose. For instance: * “Era consciente de que esa tarde transparente hasta lo hiriente desnudaba su creciente y ardiente soledad”.
    • Cacophony, for example: * ¡Pero qué querés que te cuente yo que no sé nada que vos no sepas!
  3. Foreign proper names: check all foreign names; verify if they have been adapted to the target language.

Lexicon

  1. The use of barbarisms:
    • Archaisms
    • False friends
    • Pleonasms
    • Foreign words (anglicisms, italianisms, etc.)
    • Solecisms2: For instance, in prepositional phrases, we can have these cases: * bajo el pretexto, (OK) con el pretexto; * de acuerdo a, (OK) de acuerdo con.
  2. The exact meaning of words
    • The translator has surely done the job of checking definitions; however, the editor will have to be alert, especially to literal translations.

Some Meanings You May Want To Review

  1. EN > Anacoluthon: Syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence; especially :  a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another (Merrian Webster). ES > Anacoluto: Gram. Inconsecuencia en la construcción del discurso (RAE).
  2. EN > Solecism: An ungrammatical combination of words in a sentence; also :  a minor blunder in speech (Marrian Webster). ES > Solecismo: Gram. Falta de sintaxis; error cometido contra las normas de algún idioma (RAE).

Editing Is Not an Easy Task

This linguistic responsibility requires that we have a solid knowledge of the language in question, an eye for detail and a respectful attitude towards the author of the translation. Therefore, no, neither translating nor editing is easy!

In this checklist, I have tried to include as many aspects as possible, but if there is anything I have forgotten, do not hesitate and leave a comment. And thank you very much for visiting Homing Words again 🙂

References and Further Readings

Normativa lingüística española y corrección de textos (Normative Linguistics in Spanish and the Correction of Texts), Alicia Maria Zorrilla

Merrian Webster

RAE

Oxford Dictionaries

Solecismos en locuciones preposicionales

Photo: Flickr

Published by Victoria Principi

Victoria Principi

Victoria Principi is a National Public Translator of English who graduated from the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. She translates, localises and reviews texts between English and Spanish, specialising in marketing and business, information and communications technology, and social sciences and humanities. She is a member of IAPTI and has been working as an independent translator since 2012. Currently, she is based in Lucca, Italy, and helps translation agencies and end clients who need to reach a Spanish-speaking audience. She is the creator of this website and the author of the blog.

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