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Work as English proofreader in Poland


bolek_tusk 3 | 234
2 Jan 2019 #1
How does one get started as an English proofreader in Poland?
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
2 Jan 2019 #2
I figure the logical follow-up question would be, why would one even need to look for work as an English proofreader in Poland? Translator/interpreter I can well

understand, but foreign-language publications I'd imagine would be so highly specialized that a native English speaker couldn't dream of being hired as they'd be deemed too expensive.

Most likely, the major publishing firms in, say, Warsaw, Poznan, Krakow, would use a run-of-the-mill Pole off the streets who went beyond lyceum English and took some courses at university, possibly spending their holidays in the UK:-)
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
2 Jan 2019 #3
Register as self employed, then make as many connections as you possibly can. It's a very competitive market, though earnings can be very high if you know how to do it properly. You need to hustle like hell, and make sure that marketing/PR departments in every small/medium sized company knows your name.
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
2 Jan 2019 #4
Sound advice! Seems right on the money to me.

The earnings can indeed be very high, but the trick is finding a publishing outfit WILLING to pay for quality!
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
2 Jan 2019 #5
The trick is not to go near publishing houses, but rather private clients who will pay. However, it's also important to have a clear understanding of the differences between proofreading and editing, and to charge accordingly.
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
2 Jan 2019 #6
Yup, makes sense too, delph! However niche markets are typically hard to fill as it is, no?

Text editing was my stock in trade, along with translation, for nearly fifteen years and many firms prefer in-house to freelance nowadays. In the '90's it was a

different world aka economy:-)
jon357 71 | 20,038
3 Jan 2019 #7
then make as many connections as you possibly can

This is key; you generally have to be known to the client, usually by having conducted training there or by personal recommendation.

It's a very competitive market; mostly very well-established (and highly educated and experienced) Brits doing it in Warsaw and others hoping for (and not usually getting) a few crumbs.
mafketis 35 | 11,226
3 Jan 2019 #8
How does one get started as an English proofreader in Poland?

Other people have mentioned some of the practical networking stuff, I'll mention...

The best tactic is to not need to support yourself economically right away. Living in a new country (even one you've visited some) is very different from the long haul and it takes at least a year to learn how things work - the less stress you are to find work during that necessary period of adaptation the better. NB! The less time you think you'll need to adapt the more time you'll probably actually need.

Second, polish your Polish! Ironically, the better your Polish the more work will come your way. More than once when I have gone to meet a potential client they've been nervous and awkward until they realize I speak Polish (a signal that I know how things work and won't burden them with weird foreigner requests) you can sometimes feel their tension dissipate...

Be clear about what you can and can't do. If it's not a field you're familiar with explain that and explain that you might not recognize jargon (or technical terms) in the field and that someone who does know that should check your work out. Professionals often (not always) know this, but you need to be able to explain it.

Make sure your English is up to snuff. Just being a native speaker isn't enough, you need to have a solid grasp of different registers (informal, neutral, formal, general, academic etc) and you need to be willing to look up stuff to back up your changes (many people are liable to second guess or undo your changes if you can't defend them).

Be assertive, Poland is no country for people pleasers... don't be rude (a delicate balance for anglophone people) but if you don't learn to be assertive you'll end up with footprints on your forehead.
delphiandomine 88 | 18,454
3 Jan 2019 #9
Be assertive, Poland is no country for people pleasers

That's by far the best bit of advice I've read on here in a long time.

I'd only add - be assertive, especially when money is concerned.
Shelly T
16 Nov 2022 #10
"Make sure your English is up to snuff. Just being a native speaker isn't enough, you need to have a solid grasp of different registers (informal, neutral, formal, general, academic etc) and you need to be willing to look up stuff to back up your changes (many people are liable to second guess or undo your changes if you can't defend them)." (Bolek)

Yes indeed, just being a native is not enough - you need to be good at finding mistakes in registers, sentence construction, etc. and have a feel for what is right (or look it up if you aren't sure). Also, you need to be very precise, consistent and careful in your work. We had someone (a PhD!) doing proofing of book/article translations from Polish, who has no clue about writing English titles even. (He let a book go to publication without putting capital letters in the title - on the book cover!!) Changes were made inconsistently, willy-nilly, other mistakes weren't noticed. (He will no longer be getting work from us.) As someone else mentioned, it helps to know Polish - if you see something that looks funny, find out what the original was. Probably a wrong word choice. And yes, as Bolek mentioned, it takes a lot of time looking things up to back up your changes (and even to make them.)

Also, Polish punctuation is very different from that in English. Footnote style is different. One needs to know how things must look in English. Intuition or a 'feel' for it is also important. Some can develop this, others never get it and don't make good proofreaders. If you want the work, you need work at getting a reputation for being good at your job. (And those who have that can make good money.) I verify texts as well as proofread them. One needs to be humble as well, and ask questions when not sure about something. Be consistent, be a stickler for details and people will start to ask for you.
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
16 Nov 2022 #11
In addition, you must know the international proofreader symbols as listed in the Chicago Manual of Style.
mafketis 35 | 11,226
16 Nov 2022 #12
not necessarily used in Poland which has its own symbols... when working on paper I used a mix of systems (explaining to clients what each meant).
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
16 Nov 2022 #13
The symbols or icons might well have changed depending on certain formats.
jon357 71 | 20,038
20 Nov 2022 #14
The symbols or icons might well have changed

They aren't used that much nowadays, not least because of the "track changes" function in Word.

Personally, I refuse to do proofreading but will do translation.
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
20 Nov 2022 #15
In my experience as well the latter is certainly better paying on the whole.
jon357 71 | 20,038
20 Nov 2022 #16
And paradoxically, some texts written or translated by non-natives (including those who translate for a living) are so poor that they have to be retranslated completely rather than proofread.

Better to use translators who are native speakers of the output language (or both, in those rare cases) rather than only of the input language.

Nevertheless, there are still texts, including for publication that haven't been proofed and were translated by people who were either overconfident about their ability in the output language, got the gig because they know someone or both.

I was watching the Sky series 'Berlin Babylon' (very worth watching, BTW) the other day and the subtitles were appallingly low quality; obviously done by a German with a dictionary. Around half the text was the wrong register for the context and there were odd things like the term 'scallywag' and someone bizarrely calling a man a 'termagant'. Given Berlin Babylon's high production values and huge budget, they could have at least got a British person (or a native speaker of other varieties of English in the colonies/former colonies) to do the titling. Sad that Sky allowed that through.

When BBC Prime existed in Poland, the subtitles from English to Polish were obviously done by a Pole with limited skills in English. The two funniest I ever saw (done by the same titling company) were:

1. "Czuję się jak mały koń."
2. "Poznałem go w marcu w Oldham Aston."


Can you guess what they were supposed to be translating?

(With the second one, a very elementary knowledge of British 20th century history is needed however it's so elementary that the translator could have asked literally anyone from there with an average IQ and over about 30 at the time.)
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
20 Nov 2022 #17
Jon, as usual, you took the words (right) out of my mouth, 'scuse the hackneyed expression:-)

Although I too know a number of languages with relative fluency, I'd NEVER dare to translate a text, even a relatively "simple" text, from English into Polish for pay. Into English from Polish etc. is of course another story entirely.

The only languages which are native to me are German and English and can translate handily into both.
jon357 71 | 20,038
20 Nov 2022 #18
I'd NEVER dare to translate a text, even a relatively "simple" text, from English into Polish

I've done it, however of course with a proofreader who is a native speaker of Polish.

You're lucky to be a native speaker of both English and German; it's a shame Sky didn't get you to do the titles on the show I mentioned.

Can you guess what the originals of the two sentences were?
Lyzko 37 | 8,566
20 Nov 2022 #19
Oddly enough, those two terms "scallywag" and "termagant" remind me of the Captain Haddock character in the Methuen Ltd. edition of Herge's Adventures of Tintin, whereby often the good captain would give some bloke a piece of his mind, using similarly antiquated, comical English words nearly no one's ever heard of, perhaps even of his own invention ("gibbering rigipod" etc.).

If truth be told, yes, I once translated a page-length handwritten letter from English into Swedish as a personal favor for an office mate. Luckily, the office manager of the translation bureau where I was working was herself a Swedish native speaker and so feverishly went over my translation with the finest of fine toothed combs:-) She admittedly found little to edit, if I do say so myself, yet to be frank, enough to discredit it as a professional translation sans a once over from an educated native speaker!

Actually got full pay for it too.


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