Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Indexing in Spanish

© Francine Cronshaw All rights reserved

 

Q.† Letís say a publisher has already published the English edition of a certain title. Do you translate the index for the Spanish-language edition?

R.† No, Iíve never done that and let me tell you why. To translate the index would mean that all the text in English (the source language) is exactly the same as the text in the Spanish version (the target language). That doesnít happen. Also, letís take into account the 15% expansion factor when a document is translated from English to Spanish. So itís already longer, which messes up the pagination. Reading the Spanish book is already necessary. Secondly, translations never match the original source manuscript exactly. Not many translators would claim their profession is a science; it has too much of art. Many cultural nuances canít just be translated; they need some kind of explanation or contextual cues. Therefore the text is changing, as well as the page numbers. Occasionally concepts canít be translated; if they are minor features of the overall argument of the book, they may just be deleted. Those omissions will also change the character of the index. The index in the second language will not be identical.

 

Now, since the indexer already has to read the whole book in Spanish in the quest for accuracy (and quality control), why not just create a whole new index to clearly reflect the Spanish edition rather than the original work in English?

 

Q.† Does it take any longer to create an index in Spanish than an English one?

R.† No, itís about the same amount of time (Iím bilingual). The rule of thumb is a two-week minimum, in order to get to know the book well. That goes for either language. Longer books will naturally require more attention.

 

Q.† How do you manage quality control?

R.† The same as with books in English: using a spell-check and a checklist of format and editing particular to every book. In addition, we use a Spanish name authority to check personal names treated inconsistently in the text.

 

Q.† An editor foresees a series where companion volumes are published in Spanish and English. Do you recommend the same indexer for both languages?

R.† We provide precisely that service to publishers on a regular basis. Editors seem to like the overall consistency between the indexes in each language.

 

Q.† Which language is easier to index?

R.† Thatís a tough one to answer in a concise way, but generally English is a more precise and technical language and lends itself more easily to indexes. Managing to find elegant solutions to rather lengthy terms and ideas in Spanish is a highly enjoyable challenge, however.

 

Q.† How do you conserve diacriticals when transmitting completed indexes online?

R.† We save the final version in Word, using rich text format. It does a terrific job of keeping Spanish diacriticals where they should be.

 

Contact: cronshaw@nmia.com

 

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