ATTRAVERSO – COLUMN BY LETIZIA MERELLO (11)

Attraverso… on re-reading. I like to joke with my colleagues that we wear different “hats” during our work day: in fact, in addition to the non-translation related tasks some of us have (for example Sheila, the face of our YouTube channel), our typical eight hours are a well-balanced combination of translations and revisions.

Image by Jon Tyson from Unsplash

Today, however, I wanted to talk about re-reading, meaning that small (but indeed not superfluous) passage in between the two, before delivering the text to the reviser. In fact, our workflow includes a revision that is always done by a second linguist. Which brings me to address that moment of my day when I take a very critical look at my work – and one of the few cases in life where being pathologically self-critical is a good thing!

I must admit that sometimes, especially Friday afternoons, I just want to deliver the text I spent days on and not have to think about it any longer. A tiny voice grows louder and louder in my head: “The reviser will see to it anyway, it’s time to let it go and move on to something else”, it seductively suggests. I sigh. I consider the idea of giving in…

And my response after hesitating for a moment? I get up from my desk, take a walk, maybe make the walk even better by going to buy a slice of delicious focaccia, and with the extra motivation that only carbohydrates can give, open up the document to re-read it properly.

Image by Mae Mu from Unsplash

Before passing my translation on to my colleague or an external collaborator to revise it, first I do a full round of automatic checks: terminological consistency, spelling, grammar and typos, numerical errors, punctuation… Once I’ve finished these checks, I have a much better idea of how thoroughly I need to re-read the text and which problems to focus on. Of course, only in very few cases do I have time to completely re-read the entire document, so it’s best to focus my attention and understand where any big and/or hidden issues lie, so I can accurately check them and deliver a text that certainly won’t be perfect, but will require only minimal modifications.

Everyone likes to be confident (and proud) of their work and I am no exception, but in my opinion, there’s another aspect that determines the importance of re-reading: the spirit of collaboration. Yes, because carefully re-reading my text makes the reviser’s job that much easier, who shouldn’t be considered a super-villain ready to point a finger at our work, but as our second pair of eyes: not someone who corrects our blunders with a fat red marker, but who carefully evaluates our translation with fresh eyes, since we don’t have time to let our work “sit” and then look at it the next day.

You may have noticed that I love making food references and metaphors, so in the same vein of images I’ve chosen for this article, let’s end on a sweet note. Is someone somewhere waiting to revise your text? Good. Do you want them to find a run-down cafe, or a delicious waffle just waiting to be enjoyed? 

Next time we’ll sink our forks…, um, we’ll dive deeper into the topic by discussing revision!

The cover image is me, drawn by Claudia Plescia.

English translation and adaptation by Sarah Schneider