Editing skills; the USDA Grad School

Recently I’ve been taking some copy editing classes with Alice Levine, a Boulder-based editor and trainer whose praises I’ve sung here before. In the translation industry, I think it’s not uncommon that translators who earn a client’s trust are often “promoted” into the role of a translation editor, although very few of us have extensive training in editing in our target language. These classes have brought me to a few realizations about editing and how it applies to translation.

  • I should have paid attention in 11th grade journalism class when we studied proofreaders’ marks. Now that I’ve spent six years writing longhand corrections on my own and other translators’ translations, I’m completely sold on the value of proofreaders’ marks. They’re much faster than crossing out and rewriting all of the corrected words, they fit better on a single-spaced page and they make the editing job a little more interesting too!
  • Target language editing skills are critical to our work as translators. In my case, I’ve invested a great deal of my professional development time in maintaining and improving my source language skills, but very little time in improving my English language skills, which are critically important to the quality of my work.
  • We translators get complacent about our target language skills. It’s rare that I hear into-English translators really get into the nuances of effect versus affect, insure versus ensure, that versus which, and in which cases you need or don’t need serial commas. Again, concepts such as these are critical to the quality of our translations and shouldn’t be ignored.

Another great tip I picked up in Alice’s class is the variety of correspondence courses offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Grad School. It’s an unlikely location (or maybe not!) for affordable (about $355 each) graduate level correspondence courses on topics such as Editing, Proofreading, Project Management and Business Law, but this looks like a true gold mine of topics that relate to the work that most freelance translators do. Many of these are traditional/offline correspondence courses where you complete the work on paper and mail it in to an instructor who gives you feedback before you progress to the next lesson. Has anyone out there taken one of these courses? And if so, what were your impressions?

4 Responses to “Editing skills; the USDA Grad School”
  1. Ryan Ginstrom May 19, 2008
  2. Durf May 19, 2008
  3. Corinne McKay May 19, 2008
  4. Eve May 23, 2008

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