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.

I don’t know what changed and why now, but words with multiple different meanings have been jumping out at me and confusing the hell out of me like they never did before.

When you hear that someone is a ‘vet’, do you think veteran or veterinarian?
When you hear ‘groom’, do you think wedding or stables?
We can go on and on.
The problem is, if there’s no context, what makes you pick the right one?
And what makes you stop?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve never grown out of the baby-talk. Not the one adults use to talk to babies, but the one when babies can just babble on and on by themselves or at someone, and when people speak back to them, they may have a genuine desire to communicate, but they kind of speak in entirely different language, about entirely different thing, without noticing. And sometimes I feel like I keep talking out loud because I’m waiting for someone to not only speak back in the same language, but also say something that I didn’t already hear the voices in my head say like 50 times before. Preferably something nice.

I howl. And I listen back.
And when someone answers but doesn’t say the right thing I, depending on my state, either sigh tiredly and turn away, or snarl back. And it’s stupid and not fair to anyone, but is life. Sort of. And sometimes I’m sorry for not being adult and sane enough to interact with everyone reasonably (and be properly grateful for everyone who tries to respond whether they’re helping or not), but sometimes I’m not sorry anymore, and I forget to care about pushing blameless people away, because I’ve been howling into the emptiness practically all my life. Yet still too stubborn to just shut up.

And on a more fun note, it’s easy to tell when translators start to freak out about some otaku topic when they suddenly start writing ‘mate’ instead of ‘meet’ and ‘grope’ instead of ‘group’ … I’m not even kidding. My co-worker had a lot of fun proofreading a text a while back.

I wish I could do accents. Like on regular basis. 
My ears are all ecstatic about the sound, but I can never really control how I pronounce things for more than one specific second. 
Hell, I can’t really control what I say in general. Let alone how I say it.