I recently translated more than 50 pages of Russian—nearly 16,000 words–for a video course about Microsoft Word 2010. Half of the job was supposed to be proofreading a previous, partial translation. Unfortunately, I had to retranslate from scratch, because the original translation was utterly unacceptable.
Utterly unacceptable? Well, how much confidence would you place in a mechanic who wants to sell you a “grease change” instead of “oil change”? Or a doctor who recommends a “physical quiz” rather than a “physical exam”? If I don’t have confidence in your ability to teach me about Microsoft Word 2010, then I won’t be watching your video course. And if the content of your Microsoft Word video course casts doubts in my mind, I won’t likely trust any of your other content. Nearly everything worth translating has specialized terminology that must be used correctly.
Video courses for text editors are no exception. During my proofreading, I found terminology used incorrectly. Consider the following Russian text about applying text effects in Microsoft Word 2010:
Также вы можете добавлять эффекты по одному, для этого раскройте один из списков: структура, тень, отражение или свечение и выберете один из предложенных вариантов.
Here is the original—and utterly unacceptable—translation:
You can also add effects one by one. To do this, open one of the lists: structure, shadow, reflection or luminescence and select one of the offered options.
The Russian text refers to a specific part of the user interface. A proper translation must make the connection between the user interface and the terminology used. Here’s my translation:
You can also add effects one at a time. To do this, open one of the submenus: Outline, Shadow, Reflection, or Glow–and select one of the options.
Note the correlation between the list of submenus and the relevant part of the user interface. The original translation uses “structure” rather than “Outline” and “luminescence” rather than “Glow”. Do you trust a Microsoft Word expert that’s telling you how to change the “text structure” or apply a “luminescence effect”?