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Professional editors of Spanish texts for the United States

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SEA Blog

  • 24 Jun 2020 5:02 PM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    En tiempos de crisis, la claridad puede salvar vidas. Por eso, el Center for Plain Language acaba de añadir la categoría COVID-19 a la nómina de premios ClearMark de este año.

    Si usted o su equipo publican información en español sobre este temaya sea escrita directamente en español o traducida, ¡podrían aganar el prestigioso reconocimiento ClearMark!

    Los trabajos a nominar debe utilizar los principios del lenguaje claro para ayudar al lector a encontrar información sobre la enfermedad del coronavirus, entenderla, identificar síntomas, tomar medidas preventivas o paliativas y acceder a recursos para aprender más.

    El período de nominaciones estará abierto hasta el 10 de julio. Luego de la selección, se anunciará a los ganadores en la ceremonia de premios ClearMark durante la Conferencia virtual de octubre de 2020, que abandera el lema “Acceso para todos”.

    Además, todos los trabajos que se nominen recibirán comentarios, sugerencias y, seguramente, elogios, de los jueces, gane quien gane.

    Para más información o para remitir sus nominaciones, accedan a

    La expansión de los premios pone en evidencia la importancia de la comunicación sobre salud, y su expansión en español, la importancia que tiene nuestro idioma en el ámbito nacional.

    Los alentamos a presentar sus trabajos y, ¡les deseamos la mejor de las suertes!



    ClearMark Awards: New COVID-19 category

    In times of crisis, clarity can save lives. That's why the Center for Plain Language just added the COVID-19 category to this year's ClearMark Awards.

    If you or your team publish information in English or Spanish on this topic, either written in the language or translated, you could win the prestigious ClearMark Award!

    Entries should use the principles of plain language to help readers find information about COVID-19, understand it, identify symptoms, take prevention or other measures, and access resources to learn more.

    The nomination period will be open until July 10. After the selction process, winners will be announced at the ClearMark Awards ceremony during the October 2020 Virtual Conference, with the theme Access for All.

    In addition, all of the entries will receive feedback, suggestions and, of course, praise from the judges, no matter who wins!

    For more information or to submit your etry, go to

    The expansion of the awards underscores the importance of health communication and health literacy, and its expansion into Spanish, the importance of the Spanish language at the national level.

    We encourage you to submit your work and wish you the best of luck!

  • 8 May 2020 3:03 PM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    Los premios ClearMark, patrocinados por el centro de lenguaje claro Center for Plain Language de los Estados Unidos, reconocen las comunicaciones en lenguaje claro creadas por organizaciones de América del Norte, ¡lo que incluye entes gubernamentales y no gubernamentales, empresas e instituciones de México, Estados Unidos y Canadá!

    Los premios ClearMark se otorgan cada año desde 2010. Entre los ganadores anterior en idioma español se encuentran el Rhode Island Department of Health (Division of Community Health and Equity) y MAXMUS Center for Health Literacy.

    ¿Tiene una nominación o tiene curiosidad por saber algo más? Vea el webinario informativo preparado por el Center for Plain Language. En el webinario, encontrará información sobre el proceso de nominación y selección y sobre la preparación de nominaciones. Es una excelente forma de empezar a prepararse para los premios.

    ¡Comuníquese con nosotros si tiene preguntas o sugerencias!

  • 6 Sep 2019 9:39 AM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    Conference organizer and editor extraordinaire Gael Spivak was in touch recently with SEA directors Helen Eby and Romina Marazzato Sparano with a fabulous announcement!

    As you know, Editors Canada has supported SEA from the beginning by sharing their experience with us while in the process of forming our association. Now that we are official, Editors Canada continues their support in the form of a member discount for their second international conference!

    The conference will take place from June 19 to 21, 2020, at Le Centre Sheraton hotel in Montreal, Quebec. The Editors Canada member discount for SEA members means a significant savings on conference registration fees. Find out more about the conference here:

    We hope to see you there!

  • 6 Sep 2019 9:22 AM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    SEA President Helen Eby attended the Editorial Freelancers Association conference in Chicago this year (2019) and networked with conference sponsors to obtain benefits for SEA members. 

    The Chicago Manual of Style publishers now offers SEA members a significant discount on the print version of the Chicago Deusto Manual of Style for Spanish. 

    The University of Deusto has created a full adaptation, not just a translation, based on the sixteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style. This new work retains much of the structure and underlying style of the English edition of the Manual, but offers tailored advice to those who work with words in Spanish-speaking countries. Drawing on the expertise of the world-renowned University of Deusto, this adaptation places a special emphasis on publishing in the scientific and technical fields—an area that has shown dramatic growth globally in recent years. The Manual de estilo Chicago Deusto includes the most up-to-date digital writing standards, as well as current International Organization for Standardization norms, with attention paid to the latest linguistic suggestions from the Real Academia Española.

    Professional SEA members can now access their discount code by logging in and visiting the Discount Codes page under Member Benefits (only visible to Professional Members when logged in). 

    Visit the page for The University of Chicago Press Books here

    Members can use their discount at checkout here:

  • 11 Jul 2019 8:03 AM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    SEA representatives have been meeting with stakeholders to advocate for the profession since our founding in late 2018.

    We connect with those who use and need our members’ services to let them know what SEA members can offer. At the same time, we learn what users need and can use this information to better serve our members.

    In October of 2018, Helen Eby, SEA President, visited Washington DC., where she met with representatives of the Federal Government. What was their reaction to SEA?

    • ·       They welcomed the association.
    • ·       Some informed her that they are advocating for regulations requiring that both translating and editing be done by professionals "certified at the highest possible level."
    • ·       Helen explained that a Spanish editor reviews a document after the translation is finished and may add missing information, omit irrelevant material, clarify complicated text, include visual aids such as charts and tables, and generally make sure the text is appropriate for the target audience.  
    • ·       They wished these services were available in other languages.
    • ·       They seemed willing to facilitate that staff in charge of writing documents in Spanish join our association, so they could have a forum to discuss issues related to Spanish writing in the United States. (SEA welcomes Spanish editors working in a wide variety of settings.)
    • ·       They were interested to hear that the support of a Spanish editor could be available for those who work on websites in Spanish to avoid wrong link references, inconsistent capitalization styles, and other issues that drive traffic away. Helen recommended that those tasked with working on the Spanish version of websites have some basic Spanish editing skills enabling them to recognize these issues. She added that working editors interested in improving their skills would find a warm welcome at SEA.

    In March of 2019, SEA was present at the 2019 Health Literacy Conference in Portland, Oregon, organized by Legacy Health. Those present made the following comments:

    • ·       “Finally we have the resources we need to launch our Spanish project! We were hesitant to launch the Spanish version of a training because it is important to get it right.”
    • ·       “I am seeing translations that are downright dangerous for patients at my hospital. I’m glad to see an association of Spanish editors that can help with this!”
    • ·       “Let me check that directory. I need someone with these qualifications. Yep! Found them! You have two of them! Good.”
    • ·       “You have guidelines for editing? That is fantastic! And a style guide? Wonderful! This is truly a professional association!”

    What stakeholders should SEA visit next? Wtite to us with your ideas!

  • 8 May 2019 11:56 AM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    SEA was introduced to the national community of editors in the Winter issue of Tracking Changes, the flagship publication of ACES, The Editing Society. In an almost entirely devoted to Spanish Editing, Tracking Changes shares with its readers how and why the Spanish Editors Association was formed and discusses issues pertaining to Spanish texts in the United States. The issue also features several Spanish Editors.

    ACES has graciously given us permission to share this issue with our members! Learn more about SEA and the work of Spanish Editors here: Tracking-Changes-Winter-2019.pdf.

  • 5 Feb 2019 4:28 PM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    The answer is both yes and no. Machine translation (MT) has become very powerful. You can use it to get a rough draft of foreign text. However, that rough draft may need to be retranslated or to undergo human post-editing to become accurate. Remember that translations are supposed to do for target-language readers what the source-language text did for its original readers.

    More often, machine translation is used to gain some understanding when coming across unknown text. I use MT to help me track down unfamiliar terms, which I then go and validate in original sources—or discard. Lately, I also find myself “MT reading” articles in languages I do not know. But I would not publish the machine translation versions for my readers without careful postediting or a brand-new translation (and proper permission, of course)!

    Postediting is the human editing of machine-generated translations to achieve an acceptable final draft. Why do I mention brand-new translations? Because, as editing involves corrections, adaptations, and other changes aimed at producing a consistent, accurate, and complete text, it is sometimes easier to start from scratch than to fix a problematic or unnatural text.

    DeepL and the Machine Translation World

    Let’s look at a new player in the machine translation world, DeepL Translator. It’s a powerful competitor to Google Translate. In a press release in August 2018, the company stated that “[i]n blind tests pitting DeepL Translator against the competition, translators preferred DeepL’s results by a factor of 3:1.”

    DeepL stands for “deep learning.” The company’s founder and CEO, Gereon Frahling, explains that their engine arranges the artificial neurons and their network connections differently so they can now “map natural language more comprehensively than any other neural network to date.”

    He also points out that DeepL achieves record BLEU scores. BLEU is the Bilingual Evaluation Understudy, an algorithm that compares a candidate translation to one or more reference translations.

    How does DeepL do this? Although DeepL has not shared details about the algorithms used, they claim that their strength comes from access to over a billion high-quality translations from Linguee, one the of the world’s largest databases of human translations, also started by Frahling together with Leonard Fink.

    It’s true. We’ll see some examples. It does not mean they have reached a singularity point: the merging of human and artificial intelligence that would produce thinking machines.

    Testing MT in Real Life

    My students and colleagues know I love technology and embrace it even in the face of resistance. (Back in 2005, I advocated for, planned, and finally launched a Translation/Localization Management degree against a backdrop of much suspicion towards tools.) So, when I was presented with DeepL, off I went to run some tests of my own.

    I plugged in different types of text, including marketing, medical, and literary, some Spanish and some English. For reference, I also ran the texts through Google Translate. Let’s look at some examples.

    Text #1

    This is a fairly mundane example, an article about real estate talking about prohibitive prices for elders and young families. The Spanish version from both engines literally says, “We are putting a price on elders and young families.” Not quite what you would want your readers to see, right?

    Text #2

    This example is quite technical, from an installation manual, purportedly a perfect text for translation automation.

    It is, for the most part, pretty straight forward. Except that in Spanish no one would instruct you to slide something in order to remove it, and much less to slide it outside of something (that sounds off even in English). They would simply instruct you to remove it. This is because manner is not routinely expressed in Spanish as it is in English. Google gets “lift pump out of plastic catch tray” right as “remove the pump the from plastic tray” while DeepL makes the same manner mistake from the first item, rendering it as “pull up the pump in the plastic tray,” which may or may not mean to separate pump and tray.

    Text #3

    It’s an excerpt from “The Library of Babel” by Jorge Luis Borges. Before you say, “it’s unfair, because it’s literature!” Let me say that, because it’s literature, at least parts of the text are likely quoted in the corpus (collection of texts) accessed by translation engines, so it may have a better chance that novel text. Although, in principle, DeepL will not simply spit out an existing translation that may have been used to train it, but assemble a new one for you.

    After reading the results, you can tell that both engines stumbled quite a bit. The noun “gabinete,” for instance, means “cubicle” rather than “cabinet,” and the words “abyss/es” and “rises” clumsily describe the spiral staircase’s endless upward and downward twisting. As you will see in the human translations quoted at the end, the staircase more aptly “winds upward and downward” or “sinks abysmally and soars.”

    (In the human translations, adaptation, localization, and transcreation options are  used to ring true to the intended reader, rather than for the sake of change.)

    All in all, both engines got the gist of it, so maybe now you are interested in reading the whole story. That’s a huge accomplishment!

    Now for some fine combing: DeepL got a bit more in meaning and form. Compare the gallery “identical to the first and to all of them” to Google’s “identical to the first and all.”

    One nifty feature is the option to look up terms from the original text by simply clicking on them, as the example shows for “gabinete” in DeepL and “abisma” in Google. Unfortunately, it does not seem to work for every word: “abisma,” a form of the verb “abismar” yields no result in DeepL.

    One big plus for DeepL Pro (in the for-fee service starting at about $5/month) is the promise of data confidentiality. The system promises to delete the texts fed to it immediately after you receive the translation.

    Overall, I am liking DeepL very much. But, as you saw in this few examples of informal, technical, and creative text, the human mind grasps meaning at a level unrivalled by the machine (at least, for now).

    So, by all means, use it to get the gist of text in an unknown language or even to kick start your translation or brain storm for terms and keywords. Just know that if you want or need your text to be read, understood, used, and appreciated by human readers, relying solely on the machine version can get you in trouble.

    Questions or comments? Write to romina at language compass dot com.


    Translations of the excerpt from The Library of Babel

    One of the hexagon's free sides opens onto a narrow sort of vestibule, which in turn opens onto another gallery, identical to the first-identical in fact to all. To the left and right of the vestibule are two tiny compartments. One is for sleeping, upright; the other, for satisfying one's physical necessities. Through this space, too, there passes a spiral staircase, which winds upward and downward into the remotest distance. In the vestibule there is a mirror, which faithfully duplicates appearances.

    Jorge Luis Borges, translated by James E. Irby

    One of the free sides leads to a narrow hallway which opens onto another gallery, identical to the first and to all the rest. To the left and right of the hallway there are two very small closets. In the first, one may sleep standing up; in the other, satisfy one’s fecal necessities. Also through here passes a spiral stairway, which sinks abysmally and soars upwards to remote distances. In the hallway there is a mirror which faithfully duplicates all appearances.

    Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Anthony Kerrigan


  • 4 Nov 2018 3:21 PM | Romina Marazzato Sparano (Administrator)

    It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to colleague and friend Esther Navarro-Hall. She was an outstanding professor, conference and court interpreter. She was a pioneer in the use and dissemination of consecutive-simultaneous interpreting and on the use of new technologies for consecutive interpreting. She was a constant advocate for undeserved communities. And she was an encouraging force behind SEA, as she valued and supported professionalization in all areas of language practice. We at SEA will do our best to carry out her vision and commitment in this new endeavor. 

  • 24 Sep 2018 7:40 AM | Anonymous

    Summary of the Spanish version of Professional Principles of Spanish Text Proofreading and Editing

    by María Brau

    SEA members are qualified to provide an array of services ensuring that the form and content of Spanish language texts meet generally accepted publication standards for both print and digital media.

    Specific services include:

    1. Correct grammar and/or spelling errors;

    2. Improve style, cohesion, and organization;

    3. Verify information is both accurate and pertinent;

    4. Authenticate quotes and supporting references;

    5. Check legal and ethical issues that may impact the publication;

    6. If the text is a translation, confirm it is equivalent to the source text and, if not, proceed with the necessary revisions.

    Because SEA members are familiar with the publication process, they can also assist through the various stages of the project. In general, they will avoid recommending superfluous edits and function as members of the team.

  • 20 Aug 2018 7:18 PM | Anonymous

    SEA presents our Principles for Proofreading and Editing Spanish Texts

    In the publishing world, a large group of professionals works backstage performing a multitude of tasks with a common goal: improving the text. Among those professionals are editors and proofreaders, intent on ensuring the quality of the language and the effectiveness of a written communication.

    The new Spanish Editors Association (SEA) was founded to provide a forum for editors and proofreaders of Spanish texts in the United States, where more than 40 million Spanish speakers live. Collaboration between authors, editors and proofreaders should make a better text possible.

    In this new joint venture, one of our first steps is to define the tasks performed by editors and proofreaders. To that end, we are now publishing our Principles for Text Editing and Proofreading.

    This document, written primarily for our members, provides an overview of the knowledge, skills, and tasks essential to editing and proofreading text for publication. Basically, the work of editors and proofreaders involves the careful and methodical assessment of texts in order to make changes that will not only ensure content accuracy but also improve form and style.

    We have divided the types of editing and proofreading services into: substantive editing, copy‑editing, proofreading, and comparative editing. We include comparative editing (ensuring that a translation conveys accurately the content and meaning of the source text) in a separate section since, in the United States, Spanish texts are frequently translations from English.

    Of course, in practice, the various types of editing and proofreading tasks overlap, and their scope varies from one document to another or from one project to another. The way forward depends on factors such as the initial quality of the text, the requested quality of the finished product, the practices established within the team, the production methods and tools, and the assigned budgets.

    In today’s world, written documents of all kinds continue to proliferate. It is, therefore, essential to engage the help of editing and proofreading professionals in order to ensure the quality and effectiveness of a communication.

    We invite you to join our mission: SEA!

    And we note that, in Spanish, “SEA!” means “Let it be!”

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