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Why I don\'t translate out of my native language...
Thread poster: Emma Ashfield

Emma Ashfield  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member (2004)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Oct 9, 2002

I have recently started using Proz - and find it a really supportive resource for glossaries etc.



However, I really think that despite having lived in Portugal and Brazil for years and speaking Portuguese very well, I would be conning the world if I started to offer translations from English into Portuguese (or any other language that I have studied for a year or more )...



Why not? Well... the hysterical version of a menu \"translated\" into English I recently spied in Copacabana offering \"Sqwid in shrimps spit\" (espetada de lulas c/camarao) says it all... This might be a fairly trivial example, but imagine if you are responsible for translating a manual for the use of critical life-saving equipment in such a way...



I think that particularly enthusiastic language graduates should be made aware of the fact that if you are not a native speaker or are bilingual, having lived somewhere for a considerable amount of time, you cannot even try to translate into a language which is not your own...



A native speaker of a language is valuable enough...



Not a rant, just a word of advice!



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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member
German to English
+ ...
With you all the way, Emma! Oct 10, 2002

I agree 100 %. While there are a few rare specimens who are talented enough to translate both ways, I myself would never attempt it.



My reasons are the same as yours with one major one on top. I simply think in English. I can write English without having to think about the grammer, the idioms, the style. To try and translate into a language that was not natural to me would take so much time and effort (and produce an imperfect result) that it would simply not be worth taking money for it!



FWIW



Mary


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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Absolutely Oct 10, 2002

When I look at the language pairs offered by various prozies and compare it with the language quality (grammar, spelling, punctuation) of their comments when asking or answering questions, it sometimes makes me shudder. However, on the other hand, there are some who really can claim to be bilingual, I just wish I could count myself in that category.



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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:01
English to Polish
+ ...
reading, writing Oct 10, 2002

There is one slight catch.

Mary Richards writes: \"To try and translate into a language that was not natural to me would take so much time and effort (and produce an imperfect result) that it would simply not be worth taking money for it!\"



This shows a healthy dose of self-skepticism that you generally acquire (or not) with age and experience. If you\'re young and have truckloads of confidence in yourself, you tend not to notice your faults and shortcomings and sqwid with shrimps spit sounds like an excellent meal to order on a warm Friday night. I would just make sure the shrimp brushed their teeth beforehand.



Cheers,



Pawel Skalinski


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Hi Mary... Oct 10, 2002

\"I can write English without having to think about the grammer, the idioms, the style\".



Maybe you should...



Regards,



Giovanni


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member
German to English
+ ...
Touché! Oct 10, 2002

But I think you know what I meant



See, I can do smilies too



Mary


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xxxPaulaMac
French to English
+ ...
Check out these "translations" Oct 10, 2002

I agree. For eloquent evidence, see the suggestions for a request in the French-English section for eyeglass/eyewear slogans - some people simply should NOT be allowed to post outside their language combinations. The \"suggestions\" are particularly crude given this website\'s repeated claims of professionalism. I am appalled. Anyone else out there?

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jbc
Local time: 12:01
French to English
A little correction.. Oct 10, 2002

Isn\'t the plural form \'smileys\', Mary -that\'s what I\'ve seen used most often, anyway.

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mckinnc  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:01
French to English
+ ...
What is this? Oct 10, 2002

What is this - open day on Mary\'s powers of expression? Anyway, she didn\'t claim to have mastered spelling in what she said!



Surely answering Kudoz questions is one thing and translating for a living in that pair is another. You can still be helpful with suggestions for the odd phrase while not actually taking on full translations for money. After all, a very good understanding of the source language is an absolute prerequisite for good translation. As a native speaker you can often provide an insight into the sense of the origibnal that a non-native would fail to pick up on.



However, I must admit to being surprised as to how many people on ProZ appear to be prepared to translate into languages other than their mother tongues. When asking questions based on translations they are presumably being paid for, many people are incapable of writing an idiomatic sentence in English. And that\'s just a couple of lines. What on earth must the finished article look like? Not exactly what you would call professional!


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Claudia Iglesias  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 07:01
Member (2002)
Spanish to French
+ ...
Not always true Oct 10, 2002

I think the best tool to know if you\'re able to translate to another language than your native is autocriticism and lucidity.



Of course, it\'s a very subjective way to know it, but I consider I can translate into Spanish (my parents\' language, the matter I studied at the University, the language I use to communicate with my children) and into French (the language of my studies since I was 12 until the University, and that I use at home with my husband).



I do understand what you are saying, and agree, but I deeply dislike to have to tell my life to demonstrate that I can do it.



Quote:


However those who translate into target languages other than their native languages, do it because of necessity not because of preference.





Not at all in my case.



Quote:


Hours of proofreading may be a good measure to judge on such persons, and if they are costly, explicitly seen in their increased proofeading hours comparing with natives, agencies will certainly not prefer them.





Hours of proofreading are a good measure to judge of any translator, even native speaker. I dislike this innate superiority that consists to think that any native (and we are all natives of at least one language) is able to do it better than a non-native. There are lots of natives with weak knowledge of linguistic rules who won\'t make the same mistakes than a non-native, but will do.

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John Kinory
Local time: 12:01
English to Hebrew
+ ...
Not only but also Oct 10, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-10-10 10:28, PaulaMac wrote:

I agree. For eloquent evidence, see the suggestions for a request in the French-English section for eyeglass/eyewear slogans - some people simply should NOT be allowed to post outside their language combinations. The \"suggestions\" are particularly crude given this website\'s repeated claims of professionalism. I am appalled. Anyone else out there?





Quite. But in addition, some people simply should NOT be allowed to claim the language combinations they do so claim on their page. Whenever I see someone \'working\' into 3 (or 4) languages, my b**s** antennae start twitching like billy-o. Or people who grew up and went to school in country x AND still live there, claiming active fluency in the language of country y halfway across the world. Although a quick read through their postings, or indeed their posted CV, often disabuses the reader if not the poster of this delusion. Very frequently, \'the language of country y\' is English: for some strange reason, many translators believe they can translate into English without the slightest cause for this belief, and are quite blind to this shortcoming even after it\'s pointed out to them.
[addsig]

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Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 06:01
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who can be considered a native speaker? Oct 10, 2002

Hi,



I once knew a student who spoke French with her Mom, German with her Dad, and English with everyone else. She was born in the States. In general, who would be considered a native speaker? I was 2 years old when I first lived in the States, is that close enough? Is it the language spoken at home, or if you learn 2 languages at the same time at home? I also know people who have lived in the States since they were 12 years old, and they make many mistakes in simple sentences.



Thanks,



Patricia


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Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:01
Member
German to English
+ ...
Not quite what I said! Oct 10, 2002

Quote:


I dislike this innate superiority that consists to think that any native (and we are all natives of at least one language) is able to do it better than a non-native. There are lots of natives with weak knowledge of linguistic rules who won\'t make the same mistakes than a non-native, but will do.





I don\'t think any of us has suggested that all native speakers are by nature superior to all non-native speakers. That would be like suggesting that anyone who know a foreign language could translate, which we all know is not the case



It\'s a debate that could rage and rage. Essentially, I believe that to be capable of translating into a language, the language itself must never be an issue. If I were to attempt to translate into German, I would need the dictionary for the target language, and could therefore not guarantee that my document were written with the same nuances as a native speaker would imbue into it. There are people that can do it, I admire them, but do not claim to be one of them!



Peace



Mary



Oh, and PS: Thanks for your support, Colin

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-10 15:29 ]

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suesimons  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:01
Portuguese to English
A case of ethics! Oct 10, 2002

I agree with you completely, Emma. I don\'t know an agency that would offer translation work to anyone but a native speaker anyway, however, good their knowledge of both languages. I live partially in Portugal and also speak fluently but, as you say, wouldnt even contemplate doing English>Portuguese as a professional job.

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bochkor
Local time: 07:01
English to German
+ ...
Grammar and spelling crimes committed by natives Oct 10, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-10-10 10:06, Verbum Ltd. wrote:

\"I can write English without having to think about the grammer, the idioms, the style\".

Maybe you should...

Regards,

Giovanni





Quote:


On 2002-10-10 10:26, MaryR wrote:

But I think you know what I meant.

Mary





Quote:


On 2002-10-10 12:38, mckinnc wrote:

What is this - open day on Mary\'s powers of expression? Anyway, she didn\'t claim to have mastered spelling in what she said!



..., many people are incapable of writing an idiomatic sentence in English. Not exactly what you would call professional!





All too often English native speakers excuse themselves to cover up their mistakes in grammar by downplaying them as spelling mistakes, which shouldn\'t be a big deal, right? On the other hand, they make quite a few shameful real spelling mistakes, too. The attitude towards admitting this is shown in the quotes.



So sorry, but Giovanni was right and whenever you write even 1 word, you should check what you\'re writing OR slow down, which native English speakers really hate to do and be reminded of. And no, not just the subject you\'re writing about matters, but at the same time your style, too. Both do! It speaks volumes about your education, attitude, accuracy and professionalism. Real professionals are watching!



So although by and large I agree with the advantage of the majority of native speakers, I have been very often disappointed by their English, as well. Sometimes it sounds even, as if they were foreigners and this in America! What a shame, so let\'s not downplay or forget about it! And spelling is just as important, so if you can\'t do it, leave it and take spelling lessons before writing down another word, even if you\'re a native English speaker or God himself! I don\'t respect any of them just for being who they are, they both have to prove it!



My 2 cents, now attacks may roll in...

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-10 15:57 ]

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