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Proofreading/Review: Are there any industry standard categories/types of errors?


How can we establish industry standard categories of errors, if we haven't managed yet to separate "editing" from "proofreading" and "copy-editing" from "review" :-)

As far as I know there some basic categories/types of errors. The names of these categories change, depending on the persons involved in the process. For example, some proofreaders refer to "terminology" errors while others, who do not have any theoretical background in translation, refer to "vocabulary" errors. In both cases however, the problem is the choice of words. For some of us, "stylistic" corrections are equal to "preferential" corrections. Needless to say that some reviewers believe that "register" is identical to "style". Even though I've been taught to distinguish the types of errors in the following basic categories, I still haven't been able to conclude whether these are the basic ones or not. And this is mainly due to clients, who introduce their own categories each time, such readability errors, naturalness errors, structure errors and so on.

Basic categories of errors

1) Accuracy (in relation to the ST)
2) Grammar/Syntax
3) Punctuation
4) Spelling
5) Terminology/Vocabulary
6) Style/Register
7) Format/Layout
8) Consistency/Coherence
9) Content
10) Reference (in relation to any reference material provided)

It would be nice if we could read some of your thoughts about this topic.

Hi Evdoxia,

My first reaction is that your numbers 1 - 4 are the most tangible and easiest to consider as standard.
After that, there are variations and differing opinions which cloud things more ...isn't 'terminology' also a specialised subset of 'vocabulary'? 'Register' I understand to mean local 'sociolinguistic' usage of language, whereas 'style' usually implies 'writing style' - but is used in too many different aspects and I've also seen it (ab)used to refer to 'format' (e.g . 'MLA style' / 'SLA style' ;-) so even if something is industry standard, this doesn't necessarily mean that it's correct.
-just some first thoughts...

Common Problems in Translation

Newmark (1988) and Barnet & Stubbs (1980) classify the errors found in translation into the following:

Different sense

In this category the translation is totally different from the original text in terms of linguistic sense of meaning, be it in the word or sentence level. In this category, the translation is a misstatement of fact. (Newmark, 1988)

Less precise or less accurate

There is nothing perfect on the works of translation but it must cover the words into an original meaning of a sentence in whole. That is why this category is related to the precision or accuracy of the original text meaning.

Misuse of phrases

To translate the phrase to an exact word must be selected into several categories, whether the order of a word is accurate or not. In this category, the translation misuse of phrases such as ‘more and more’ for ‘increasingly, ‘above all’ for ‘particularly ; ‘job’ for ‘work’; ‘got well’ for ‘recovered’ and excessively familiar phrasal verbs (‘get out of’, ‘get rid of’) (Newmark,1988).

Misuse of formal or official register

The translation errors are in the degree of formality, generality, and emotional tone of a text. For instance, ‘decease’ for ‘death’ (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

Less coherent

The result of the translation does not fit in standard phrases and forms. For example in a narrative, it has formulaic opening (‘Once upon a time”) and a formulaic close (‘they all lived happily ever after’).

Less cohesive

In this category, the translation error is related to the relation between sentences. The most common forms these take care connectives denoting addition (‘however’, ‘on the contrary’), result (‘therefore’, ‘consequently’), and other connectives. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)


Sometimes, the translation adds additional information which does not exist in the original text. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

Left out

In this category, the translation misses the ideas of the original texts. (Barnett & Stubbs, 1980)

Multidimensional Quality Metrics (MQM)

The 19 issues are defined in the MQM core as follows:

Accuracy (accuracy)
Addition (addition)
Mistranslation (mistranslation)
Omission (omission)
Untranslated (untranslated)
Design (design)
Fluency (fluency)
Grammar (grammar)
Grammatical register (grammatical-register)
Inconsistency (inconsistency)
Spelling (spelling)
Typography (typography)
Unintelligible (unintelligible)
Locale convention (locale-convention)
Style (style)
Terminology (terminology)
Verity (verity)
Completeness (completeness)
Legal requirements (legal-requirements)
Locale-specific content (locale-specific-content)



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