Mar 6th, 2007
If you’re new to the Cedar Mill Communications blog and website, you’re probably wondering what that handsome dog is doing in the upper right-hand corner. And you’re probably wondering why Brian is getting all the airtime. Wonder no longer! The dog is Felicity, our mascot and spiritual guide. A Buddhist priest once told me dogs are gurus, and he couldn’t have been more correct about Felicity. She and our small auxiliary dog Frankie will crop up from time to time because our world includes much more than just words.
About the heretofore (isn’t that a great word?) lack of words from the other half of CMC — me — I’ve been mulling over this whole blog business for some time now. I couldn’t decide if I really wanted to join this public airing of thoughts. It can get you thrown in jail in Egypt or fired or just dissed. But I do have something to say now and then, and a blog is a good place to throw out thoughts and elicit comments. So, I’ll likely add thoughts about my editing, writing and other word-related stuff — both written and spoken.
Among the kinds of editing I do through CMC is localization editing. That means I edit documents that have been translated into English. I try to make sure the copy reads as though it was written by a native English speaker. Editors needn’t speak or read the source language, but I think it helps to be able to do that. Maybe that’s because I’m a perfectionist about meaning. From three years living in Germany, I read and speak German well enough (though I need another class!). I work with a fine German-to-English translator, Hilary Higgins. The two of us fuss over wording so that the German writer’s core message comes through, but in a way an American reader (or sometimes British) can fully grasp.
After nearly six years of doing this type of editing, I’ve learned some valuable (wertvoll) lessons:
1. Discerning meaning is hard to do, but when you get it right, the ah-ha moment is wunderbar.
2. Translating describes only half the job; copywriting is the other half because clients often want us to make the translation better than the source.
2b. The source could have been better.
3. Working with a good translator makes the job a pleasure.