On people working in text debugging

I’m going to be mean now. I have a lot of anger pent up on this issue.

You know what really grinds my gears? That so many people think that if they can speak a certain language, it gives them the necessary skills to apply for such jobs as translation, proofreading, and editing in that language. And that the other idiots hire them and pay them money for it.

While both translating and checking other people’s translations are parts of my job, and I make a lot of mistakes and see a lot of mistakes there, nothing sets my nerves ablaze as much as checking ‘language debug reports’ that we get from other companies hired to check the localization quality.

While my favorite episode from last few months is still the one where someone reported ‘Good job, hon!’ as a mistake and said we should change it to ‘Good job, hun’ (and my co-worker turned and said ‘What, like Attila?), just another week in one day I had:

1) people pick up every em-dash in a very large text and say first that it’s ‘a 2bit Japanese character and should be replaced with commas’ and then in another place again, report that ‘hyphens in English are only used to connect two words, and these strange hyphens should be deleted or replaced with commas’.

While em-dashes are not exactly very common and are avoided by many people who don’t know how to use them correctly, and can be replaced easily with other punctuation, commas are usually not the way to go. Not even mentioning that instead of considering the fact that if a certain symbol is used in more than a hundred of places in the text there might be meaning to it you’re not aware about, they just think they can say ‘replace them all with commas’ without even thinking to check how the end result would look.

2) people who didn’t know about the existence of ‘no sooner … than’ and wanted to correct it.

(and 3 tons of other issues where they wanted to fix something that wasn’t broken)

The thing is, the people who ‘check’, the people who proofread and suggest corrections, should be held to a standard 3 times higher than the people who actually translate and/or write. They should have higher language knowledge to recognize mistakes, and they should remember the principle of ‘do no harm’.

Unfortunately, this is far from the case. Every time I go through such a report, I feel like some of these people just fill it with random useless suggestions (as in, not pointing out actual mistakes, but suggesting changing things that are no more than a matter of opinion) to create a bubble of illusion of them doing their work.

It maddens me that these people think they have enough knowledge regarding the use of English language to correct others. It maddens me that not only they make useless ignorant suggestions that they have no mind to check themselves on, but they also try to add mistakes to where there ween’t any by making outright wrong ones. It maddens me that I have to sift through hundreds of these unnecessary ‘corrections’ to get to the ones where they really did catch a typo or and extra space that needs to be corrected. It maddens me that if I didn’t insist on going through these bug reports, the developers would just make the corrections as they are told, and these people would just sabotage the final product and get paid for it on top of it.

I’m not delusioned about my own abilities. I might be a terrible language user in my own free time (as can be seen by this blog in particular…). I use wrong words in places, I make up words, I ignore rules of syntaxes and punctuation, and I herd typos. But at least I do know to look up grammar issues, where to look them up, and to not assume someone is right or wrong before I check it when it comes to work. Which I think should be the standard minimum in the field.

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