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Why do they often want native speakers?
Thread poster: Ruxi

Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Apr 5, 2004

I am knew here,on this site, but looking on different sites on Internet offering translation jobs, I have noticed in many cases they look for native speakers of a language, usually the one to translate in.
Why? What makes the difference?
I mean, important ist to know well the languages (both origin and destination) and the specific field.
Native speakers do not automatically do the job better.
When I had (many years ago) my the exames in order to be authorised as a translator I have noticed seeing the results, that people who where native speaker have not passed the exam for the specific field,while somebody who was not native speaker had received good notes.
Why cann't everybody have the same chance in getting a job? Why authomatically excluded for not being native speaker?
Please help me understand!

Thank you,
Ruxi


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Andrei Albu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 21:46
English to Romanian
+ ...
Your text shows why Apr 5, 2004

Please do not take me wrong, but your text shows itself why they prefer native speakers... Allow me a friendly advice: if you are assigned a job from your mother tongue into another language, ALWAYS have it proofread by a native speaker of that language. Preferrably, a native linguist and/or expert in the field of the subject matter...

Good luck!


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Paul Lambert
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
French to English
+ ...
I agree Apr 5, 2004

I consider myself fluent in both French and Spanish - and have the documentation to prove it! However, that does not mean I can translate into either of these languages. Personally, I don't believe my style of writing in English can be equalled in French or Spanish and, given that I never submit a less-than-perfect job, I am more than happy to leave the French and Spanish composition to people who have been brought up with it! Non-native speakers lack some of the subtle nuances and 'natural' constructions in languages which are not their native tongue, so why would an agency want second best? Hope this answers your question!

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giogi
Local time: 19:46
Hello, Apr 5, 2004

Paul Lambert wrote:

Non-native speakers lack some of the subtle nuances and 'natural' constructions in languages which are not their native tongue,

I've been leaving in Uk for more than five years and, even though I teach in a Uk University and therefore I'm supposed to write papers in English almost everyday I never ever would translate into English...why?!? Just because I'm not a native and, despite all one's possible skills and knowledge I definitely agree with Paul....Think it over!
Giovanna


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Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not convinced... Apr 5, 2004

First of all thank you for the anwers.
Then I must admit I did not check my text before sending it, I have already found my errors (I just typed wrong,it was my first topic on this site).
The answers did not convince me,even if you are right somehow.
It must be another reason, otherwise there should be a general rule "only native speakers" and not only for some cases.
What happens for instance in a situation like this:
You live in a foreign country and you work with other foreign languages too(in your job).Is your work not correct?Should you not be allowed to work there, or with other languages because you are not a native speaker of any of the languages?
It must be another reason.
One remark: nobody can afford to have proof-readers for every piece of work,most of the people trust a translator and the best solution would be a sample test.
It is the only way to make sure one is suitable for your work.

Thank you,
Ruxi


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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't even consider it!! Apr 5, 2004

I lived in Holland for 16 years. I spoke Dutch to such a high standard that I was often mistaken for a Dutch national. That said, I wouldn't even consider translating from English into Dutch. It is often quite brain tangling to translate into a language that you are totally comfortable with - let alone a foreign language. My advice - save yourself a lot of stress, complaints, blows to your self-confidence, broken marriage, missed deadlines, suicide attempts, - forget it!

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Dave Greatrix  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:46
Dutch to English
+ ...
That's the whole point - they do! Apr 5, 2004

Ruxi wrote:

Native speakers do not automatically do the job better.


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:46
English to Russian
+ ...
Ruxi, do not get discouraged Apr 5, 2004

Professionalism is the only criterion, period.

How about:

1. Most beautiful and proper target language one can encounter used to describe or to cover total misconseption/misunderstanding/ incomprehension of the source language? Surprise! - it has nuances too, and such a situation is much more common than many brilliant native language writers would love to admit.

2. Have you ever met a person who only speaks one language and still can not put two words together in that language in writing? He/she might be very well educated otherwise, be an excelent engineer, for example. I have. Writing skills are what they are - skills, and they can be trained, (preferrably spiced with some talent).

3. The only point I would agree with is that without living in a second language environment it might be hard to expect full range of nuances when translating into a non-native language. True. How many of such nuances do you foresee in the operating manual for a hairdryer? Not like a hairdryer manual can be done "with your left leg" (a Russian saying meaning sloppy, poorly, with negligence etc.) This is also a part of professionalism - to be honest and evaluate your own abilities before accepting the job. However, there is no need to extrapolate a negative outcome of such self-assessment to the entire translation world. I can name both Russian and American translators fully capable of doing the job into the respective opposite languages better than quite a few natives I have met in my life, including translators who call themselves professionals and advertise their "nativeness" as a big plus.

Resume - there are good and bad translators, natives or non-natives, nothing more and nothing less.

I hope this discussion will not turn personal. I do not even want to specify whether I do or do not accept translations into English - I find it irrelevant.

As far as proofreading is concerned - in my opinion this is a must requirement regardless of the language - every job requires a second pair of eyes. Nobody is perfect. This is my firm belief. This is a professional way. I work for agencies only and they take care of it for me.




[Edited at 2004-04-05 15:26]

[Edited at 2004-04-05 15:29]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 21:46
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Ideal und Wirklichkeit Apr 5, 2004

Am besten wärs, sowohl der Autor des Quelltextes als der Übersetzer wären Spezialisten auf dem Fachgebiet und gleichzeitig Linguisten. Wenn also eine Agentur eine Gebrauchsanweisung vom Deutschen ins Rumänische übersetzen will, müsste sie Kontakt zu einer Person haben, die erstens Rumänisch als Muttersprache hat, zweitens hervorragend Deutsch spricht, drittens ein Experte auf dem Spezialgebiet ist und dazu auch noch Zeit und Lust hat, als Übersetzer tätig zu sein.
In vielen Fällen muss die Agentur also Abstriche machen und einen Kompromiss eingehen, oder sonst gibt es keine Übersetzung des betreffenden Textes.
Und in vielen Fällen ist es besser, der Übersetzer versteht die Ausgangssprache perfekt und hat die Fähigkeit, die nötige Terminologiearbeit zu leisten, als dass er/sie einen sprachlich richtigen Zieltext abliefert, der aber sachliche Fehler aufweist. Syntax und Rechtschreibung kann jeder Abiturient in seiner Muttersprache korrigieren, Hauptsache, die Sache ist richtig dargestellt.
Viele technische Dokumente werden heute auf Englisch von Leuten verfasst, die alles andere als Muttersprachler sind. Der größte Teil der technischen Geräte wird in Ländern produziert, in denen nicht Englisch gesprochen wird, Kontinentaleuropa, Ostasien. Da heißt es dann "delivery conveyer weighing device", wo auf Deutsch "Bandwaage" steht.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Communication is more than mere words, it has a function Apr 5, 2004

Ruxi wrote:

You live in a foreign country and you work with other foreign languages too(in your job).Is your work not correct?Should you not be allowed to work there, or with other languages because you are not a native speaker of any of the languages?
It must be another reason.



One thing is to rapidly translate an email for someone, whether verbally or in writing. That is a functional level of acting as a go-between between languages. I do it when my family visits, in informal situations at work. Lots of people do it at work, but this is not the profession of translation or interpretation. It's communication at its basic level, it's work that involves languages, but it's NOT professional translation/interpretation.

Translation, among other things, involves producing important documents that have a specific purpose in regard to the target audience, to persuade, to inform, to impress, etc. Just a few examples:

To sell something: you won't convince anybody if the language has misspellings and errors, it transmits a poor image, even a ridiculous one. The wrong choice of word, even a wrong spelling of even just one letter in a word could be critical.

To impress someone: a company report about all the fabulous things a company has done in the last year won't impress investors, if the language is incorrect. Again it gives a poor impression.

It's about the same as if you go to an interview inappropriately dressed. You give a bad impression.

People employ professional translators becuase they are concerned about aspects of communication that GO BEYOND mere words and sentences.



[Edited at 2004-04-05 16:41]


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:46
German to English
+ ...
I beg to differ, David Apr 5, 2004

David Greatrix wrote:
That's the whole point - they do!

Ruxi wrote:
Native speakers do not automatically do the job better.


Native speakers do NOT necessarily do a better job!


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 13:46
English to Russian
+ ...
And? Apr 5, 2004

Ailish Maher wrote:

if the language is incorrect. Again it gives a poor impression.


Ailish, an honest question - does this mean for you that "incorrect language" is a built-in feature of somebody who has been born around different language?

During my interpretation assignments there were instances when an American speaker would turn to me in search of a right word.

Come on, guys, how many times have you been complaining (to put it mildly) about the quality of the originals written by a 6-th generation native????????????


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xxxIanW
Local time: 20:46
German to English
+ ...
Read a non-native piece written in your own language Apr 5, 2004

Dear Ruxi,

Try and get hold of a text translated into Romanian by someone who is not a native speaker and you will see what David and the others are talking about.

I agree with Trudy that natives do not necessarily do a better job - particularly in the case of very technical material - but I personally wouldn't dream of outsourcing work to a non-native, or of translating into any other language other than my own.

All the best


Ian


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xxxIanW
Local time: 20:46
German to English
+ ...
Re IreneN's comments Apr 5, 2004

Two points, Irene:

Firstly, interpretation is not translation - the former is primarily about communication, not perfection. Interpreting is not the issue here.

Secondly, not every native has a good written command of his/her language. To be a translator, you need to have an excellent command of the source language - not near-native, not native, but native-with-excellent-writing-skills.


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trad500
Local time: 19:46
English to French
Couldn't agree more Apr 5, 2004

To be a translator, you need to have an excellent command of the source language - not near-native, not native, but native-with-excellent-writing-skills.
[/quote]

The subject discussed here is not about native people with bad writing style, but about the job of a translator. Translation is a bit more than replacing a word by another, otherwise, who would really eed us? Cultural nuances and subtleties of a language cannot be acquired that easily. You need a feel for what sounds right, whether a term can be seen as offensive or prejorative etc.
I've been living in English speaking countries for 12 years now, but I would never take an assignment into English.


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