Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 5 – Numbers (3)
This is the third and final post on numbers (see below for links to the previous two posts).
Whether to write numbers as figures or words, put abbreviations before or after them, or leave spaces between symbols preceding or following them is all far more complicated than we might at first imagine.
It’s also easy to get confused as style-guide rules and recommendations can differ and many non-native speakers writing or translating into English simply copy usage in their own language, which is often not correct. As a translator and editor, I’ve written these posts on numbers to highlight errors I’ve come across in my work and also to clear my own confusion between source usage and UK and US English preferences.
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 4 – Numbers (2)
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication is a series within the Bite-sized Tips series.
In the first and second instalments, I presented some common errors I find in the academic papers I revise or edit. Although they are generally made by non-native speakers of English in the texts I see, a lot of them can trip us up as well, especially as there are often differences between US and UK usage and everything can become quite muddled.
In the third instalment I looked at some issues with numbers. As it’s a vast, complicated area and lots of mistakes crop up, I’ve divided the focus on numbers into three parts. This is the second of those parts on dates and currencies.
Common Mistakes in Papers for Publication Part 3 – Numbers (1)
I spend a lot of my work time improving academic texts. This can involve revising the translations that authors have produced of their own work or editing their non-native efforts at writing directly into English. Unfortunately, the results are never error-free and, as I mostly revise and edit articles and papers written by Spanish speakers, I repeatedly come across the same mistakes.
In the first instalment of this series within a series, I highlighted ten of these common mistakes including the use of etc. and et al.
In the second, I focused on whether to use data is or data are, some punctuation problems and issues with capitalisation.
Way back in 2015, I asked my blog readers whether the purchase order I’d produced was merely a pipe dream or a document I could actually use with my clients. The general consensus was that my overly long PO would prove daunting for direct clients and unnecessary for agencies. After tweaking it a bit based on the many suggestions I received, I instead came up with a purchase order checklist. The idea was to fill it in ourselves using the information we gleaned in negotiations with clients and for it to be a handy reminder of what questions we should be asking.
A recent tourism editing job had me scouring through many translated websites of hotels (Spanish to English, my pair) and I was appalled to see the same mistakes made again and again.
Of course, this might be because the company used machine translation (MT) or non-native speakers for the job. Because a lot of people think tourism texts are so simple that MT will be good enough.
Unfortunately, that’s why many in the sector refuse to allocate a high enough budget to translating their marketing material. The less they are willing to spend, the more likely their translated text will fail.
It’s been over two years since I decided my bottom was going to spread no further and that it was high time I got off it and started being more active. Walking the dog (I’ve got a greyhound) just wasn’t enough to counteract the huge amount of time I was spending sitting down either at my desk or with the family on cold winter nights in front of the TV or playing board games.
The very last question in my revisions survey (answered by 229 of the 232 people that filled it out) focused on finding out what, if any, training colleagues have in revision techniques. Out of the 80 people who responded yes to this question, 77 went on to give me the details (thank you!).
The third section of the revision survey switched to focusing on the perceived quality of a revision and satisfaction with a reviser’s job. But it kicked off with asking respondents whether they were aware of the definitions of reviser and revision in the standard ISO 17100:2015, and two thirds are apparently not.
It’s quite simple, really. A revision is the comparison of the source text and the target text (i.e the translation) by a second person, the reviser (and, therefore, revision does not refer to the check the translator makes of his/her own work). Click on the above link for more definitions of terms used in the translation process. I have also written about the differences between revision and proofreading here.
As we saw in Part 1 of the Revision Survey Results, the main reason respondents gave for not offering revision services on their website or social media profiles (91 people explained their response) was poor translation quality. This was corroborated by the next survey question, shown above left.