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Dual Translation and Its Benefits PDF Print E-mail

Two are better than one, for they have a good return for their work.

These words have been quoted for centuries in reference to marriage, and they can often be seen on wedding invitations. However, they can also apply to many partnerships in life.

One such partnership is that of dual translation. This article explains the process, conditions, and benefits of this method of translation. It is built on personal experience in using this dual translation system with my husband for many years. However, it is by no means exclusive to couples and can work with any form of partnership, including that of translation colleagues.

How does dual translation work?

Both translators should have their own computers, and the document to be translated should be open on both computers. The first translator should translate out loud from the source document, first passage for example, while the second translator types what the first says. The second translator should delete the source text after the other translates it so that he or she will see only the text that has already been translated and the text that still needs to be translated. The first translator works orally, using available dictionaries and references, online and otherwise to help find translations of difficult words while the second one is thinking in the second language and scrutinizing the text. This way he or she can silently edit any mistakes that aren't worth bringing up, or suggest out loud a substitute for a word or a change in sentence structure if it's necessary.

It might seem like both people are doing the job of one translator and it's a time-wasting effort, but the productivity resulting from the process is more than double that of the traditional method.

Pre-requisites of dual translation

1. Each person should be qualified in translating the same language pair. It isn't a job where one person is doing the translation work and the other is doing secretarial duties.

2. The second translator should be proficient enough in typing to type as fast as the first translator is talking.

3. Both translators should live close geographically to save time spent on transportation. That's why the exemplary situation would be the duo who live in the same house or work in the same office.

4. Both translators should have respect for each other and the ability to work well together for extended periods of time. Translation is an intellectual effort and requires more patience and compatibility than do every day tasks. If a woman and her mother-in-law find it hard to cook a meal together when they can't get along, how much more difficult it would then be to get along on a job that requires much more than just manual skills.

Don't try to translate together with someone who is overly critical or controlling, or you will spend time arguing and disagreeing. On the contrary, try to be encouraging and praise your partner when he or she comes up with the right word. Everyone can use a good word now and then and good moods can increase productivity.

It's also important for the second translator not to interrupt the first one, but rather to wait until he or she finishes before bringing up suggestions. Only bring them up if the suggestions are worth mentioning at all. Otherwise don't say anything and make the changes yourself, especially if it's something as simple as gender and number agreement or other small grammar details which won't affect the overall meaning.

5. Finally, both translators need to be serious and diligent. It should be noted that the second translator's role is not any less important than the first one's; hence, he or she should be alert and should concentrate on the current translated sentence. If he notices that the colleague stopped at a word and became quiet, it would be the right time to try helping with the translation.

Though seriousness is important, a sense of humor is also highly recommended. There's nothing wrong with commenting or laughing about what we read and translate keeping the same monotone for hours on end would be boring.

Benefits of dual translation

1. The first translator is not occupied by typing, changing fonts, and technical matters. All his or her concentration is on the source language, while the second translator can focus on the second language and watch for problems in sentence structure, verb conjugation, and word repetition. This makes proofreading fast and easy after the work is finished. When the second translators have the text in front of them, they can copy any numbers, references, and strange names quickly. They can also pull up programs of previously translated material, such as the Bible and other religious texts, and copy it while the first translator is working on the next passage.

2. Sometimes the first translator can't think of the right word. In this case the second translator can suggest a fitting word. This by itself can save time that may have been spent looking for meanings.

3. Translation is a tiring mental effort and if someone is alone it is easy to get distracted by Internet diversions, checking e-mail, chatting, and other things. Having someone else there helps maintain the focus and increase productivity.

Dual translation could represent an alternative method of translation. It's not a perfected system, but it has proved useful to me and I hope it will be useful and productive for those who try it.

Written by: Lamis Maalouf

Proofreader: Musab Hayatly