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Double standard for English speakers translating out of their native language
Thread poster: Deborah Hoffman
Deborah Hoffman  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:22
Russian to English
+ ...
Mar 18, 2009

I'm not sure if this is the "place" for this under what appears to be a new organization, but I have to get this off my chest and find out if it bothers anyone else.

Has anyone else encountered this phenomenon of watching the translation board into English with all kinds of answers provided by non-native speakers that are...interesting to say the least. Even when those answers are clearly wrong they are mostly just avoided or gently redirected rather than being told straight out "You are wrong, and moreover can't spell and I can't figure out how you even have the nerve to post this garbage." Maybe there should be corrections made, I don't know, but this is just what I've observed.

Yet when someone stupid enough (say myself) to venture onto a board an offer a suggestion into my second language that at least has currency even if it may not be the most appropriate one in tone or collocation (which after all is better left to native speakers), others have NO PROBLEM coming out of the woodwork to tell you how wrong you are, and why nobody would say it that way, and so on, no matter how you try to specify that this is just a suggestion not offered with full pretensions toward 100% accuracy.

Am I the only one having this experience, or just the only one stupid enough to venture into translating into second-language territory?

[Редактировалось 2009-03-18 18:15 GMT]

[Редактировалось 2009-03-18 18:17 GMT]


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:22
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Moving topic... Mar 18, 2009

to the KudoZ forum, and marking it as "On topic". I suppose you mean KudoZ by "translation board"; if not, please specify, and a fellow moderator or I will find a better place for this thread.
Kind regards,
Attila


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Deborah Hoffman  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:22
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
sounds good Mar 18, 2009

Thanks for your help!

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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:22
German to English
Who needs the natives? Mar 18, 2009

No, you're not alone, Deborah. Ian Winick raised the same issue a few years ago.

http://www.proz.com/forum/kudoz/21666-english:_who_needs_the_natives.html


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 15:22
German to English
+ ...
Here we go again. Mar 18, 2009

Kim Metzger wrote:

Ian Winick raised the same issue a few years ago.



Mind you, not that anything has been done by the site in the meantime to rectify this. (Their interests lie elsewhere.) Not much hope of anything happening on that front.

And as you can see in Kim's link, it bugs lots of natives.

Accept it as a fact of ProZ-life.

I share your frustration, though.
Cilian


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Przemysław Szkodziński  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 15:22
English to Polish
+ ...
The ProZ staff did try, it'd seem Mar 18, 2009

Cilian O'Tuama wrote:

Kim Metzger wrote:

Ian Winick raised the same issue a few years ago.



Mind you, not that anything has been done by the site in the meantime to rectify this. (Their interests lie elsewhere.) Not much hope of anything happening on that front.

And as you can see in Kim's link, it bugs lots of natives.

Accept it as a fact of ProZ-life.

I share your frustration, though.
Cilian


Well, paying members can now use restrictions akin to those that can be applied when posting jobs, so you can choose to have only native speakers of a given language answer your question. Since I'm a non-paying member, I can't really comment on this option's efficiency.


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chica nueva
Local time: 03:22
Chinese to English
You are not the only 'English native' to do this ... Mar 18, 2009

Deborah Hoffman wrote:
Am I the only one having this experience, or just the only one stupid enough to venture into translating into second-language territory?

[Редактировалось 2009-03-18 18:15 GMT]

[Редактировалось 2009-03-18 18:17 GMT]


Hi Deborah

No, you are not the only 'English native' to answer KudoZ questions out of your native language and into your second language. ...

Wow, you have been on the site about as long as I have ...

1 I have enjoyed participating in the KudoZ game, both ways, and gained a lot from it. I get my points by using references: Google and my dictionaries.

Some more thoughts about this, and the Communities:

2 If there is something that concerns you, I suggest take it up with one of the Moderators. They may advise you, even on how to approach certain peers and personalities. This was my experience when I first started out.

3 Sociolinguistics, etc. Do you follow the Russian Forum? If you do you, may recognise some of the personalities in the KudoZ, and have a better idea of the interpersonal dynamics (and take it from there ...).

4 Establishing credentials, reputation etc. For me, perhaps it helps that I lived in China for 2 years. I also use my Chinese name. China is so large, and I have come to realise that some (many?) translators may never have met or got to know a foreigner personally ... If you do good work, it will probably be recognised by certain translators. It takes time to build a reputation and be taken seriously.

5 If certain peers seem 'unfriendly', there is the legacy of Western imperialism and colonialism to consider ... the way history is taught in schools may be rather different to what the Western 'allies' have grown up with. It could affect perceptions of 'foreigners' or 'Westerners' - that's real life, isn't it.

6 Social dynamics. What's more, you may find that newcomers are 'challenged' by the resident denizens, to test their mettle (and that the residents challenge each other as well).

7 It is (or was?) one of the Moderator's tasks to help newcomers. In fact, some of the Site Staff may also be able to help, especially those who have been around for a while and know the Communities, such as Enrique.

8 Englishes. There are various Englishes. Askers choose the terms that suit them and their translations, for their own reasons.

9 Dangerous translations eg in the medical field. Certainly point them out. But in the end, I don't think ProZ can be held liable (can they?) The glossaries are only as good as the peers. That's real life too.

Lesley

[Edited at 2009-03-19 21:37 GMT]


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Mohamed Mehenoun  Identity Verified
Algeria
Local time: 15:22
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
:) Mar 18, 2009

Hello,

I don't really see why you mind what others say. If others point out that you are wrong and you are you should just let it go ! After some time you won't be wrong anymore as practice makes perfect...As for why English natives don't point out mistakes, may be they are kinder ! I don't really see why you should be harsh on others because some native was harsh with you...

The only bother that I may see is that you won't really want to be wrong since it can give a strike to your professional reputation or your seriousness that is if you translate to the second language...

In my case I only translate to French, so I don't really mind being wrong I make sometimes suggestions in Spanish and I don't feel the least unsatisfied if I am wrong !

I remember when I entered this web site there was an old translator who always used to make awful remarks whenever I entered something ! I didn't really care, and I always "stroke" back when I felt right...I didn't feel any animosity and I didn't and still don't mind when one of my peers makes a pertinent remark...Pointing out a mistake is the best thing someone could offer you ...The way I see it, it's better to have someone tell you are wrong then to keep in the wrong whatever way he/she does it...

Cheers !

Moh


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 09:22
SITE FOUNDER
Thanks, Przemysław Mar 18, 2009

Przemysław Szkodziński wrote:
Well, paying members can now use restrictions akin to those that can be applied when posting jobs, so you can choose to have only native speakers of a given language answer your question. Since I'm a non-paying member, I can't really comment on this option's efficiency.

Right, Przemysław, this was one angle taken. Obviously it has not met with everyone's satisfaction, but thanks for pointing out that certain measures were taken.


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 08:22
German to English
A matter of respect Mar 18, 2009

xxxIanW wrote:

As a native English speaker, I translate only into English. At this point, let me state quite clearly that this is not an attempt to promote this approach – I am well aware of the “pros and cons” of translating into a non-native language, and do not wish to rehash the arguments here.

However, I do sometimes answer KudoZ questions in one of my source languages – chiefly French and German – and am occasionally forced to bow to superior knowledge. Or, more often than not, to native speaker knowledge. If a French native speaker – and particularly a translator, who by definition has an excellent command of his/her language – points out that my answer “doesn’t sound right”, I say “Merci beaucoup”, hide my face, hide my answer and chalk it up to experience.

What infuriates me, however, is that this same respect is rarely afforded to native speakers of English – a language, it seems, that everyone can claim to master if they learnt it in school and still have the dictionary. Granted, the vast majority of our ProZ colleagues who work with English have a good command of the language and often offer up some grammatical insight which would never have occurred to those of us who have never had to learn it as a foreign language, Sometimes, however, there are nuances which virtually only a native speaker can detect. But when an English native speaker states that “it doesn’t sound right”, this is often ignored … or disputed.

And, I’m sorry to say, the English monolingual site is often plagued by willing ‘helpers’ with a minimal grasp of the language – the blind leading the temporarily perplexed. Not that we natives are infallible, of course, but when a string of Anglophones from all corners of the English-speaking world cry out in unison that a certain word is not used in a certain way, then it takes a breath-taking level of arrogance for a non-native to continue to claim the contrary. How would they react to an English speaker with a similar command of their native language dictating to them how to speak it? I suspect they would be as livid as I am.


http://www.proz.com/forum/kudoz/21666-english:_who_needs_the_natives.html


[Edited at 2009-03-18 22:13 GMT]


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Deborah Hoffman  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:22
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks but... Mar 18, 2009

I hear you, but it's not so much the fact of being pointed out that I'm wrong as the way in which it is done.

To me this is a quality control issue too. There are times I've posed a Kudo and received an answer from a non-native speaker that may not have been the exact thing I was looking for (and there can be many "right" answers), but by understanding this person's thought process I was ultimately able to formulate my own answer. This is one reason I would not discourage non-native speakers from offering answers (not that that's ultimately possible in all likelihood). Were native English speakers to start jumping all over some of these answerers I would expect some to become reluctant to stick their neck out rather than offering what could be very valuable information.

The other quality issue is that I often see Kudoz from English into my second language that are indeed receiving answers from native speakers of that language...none of which are correct, because they don't really understand what the *source* word means! A non-native speaker participating can at least explain what the word means, and let the natives argue over the appropriate particular word in their language.


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:22
English to French
+ ...
Medical Mar 18, 2009

Genevieve von Lewetzov pointed out recently on the FR forum that in the medical field, some answers given on KudoZ could lead to a real health danger. Especially if the wrong answer was chosen by the asker eventually.

Some suggestions about that:

1) Give a right to receive answers only from those who are specialists.

2) Allow those who are specialists AND natives to come back after some time, and request a correction on the top of the page of the KudoZ result.


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michiko tsumura  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:22
Member (2006)
English to Japanese
I don't think there's anything wrong with answering in the second language Mar 18, 2009

First of all, please excuse any mistakes in my English writing and misspelling, etc.

I don't think there is anything wrong with answering a KudoZ question into your second language. Sometimes, only native speakers of the source language can understand the nuance and that's what the asker is looking for. If an answer gives the right ideas, even it's not a perfect English, the asker can often come up with the right translation. But if that's something the asker prefers, then they can simply choose an option to restrict the answerer to whatever.

Besides Przemyslaw and Henry's comments, this seems to me like a non-English speaker bashing. We native English speakers don't say anything when others are wrong, but others say we're wrong whey we're just trying to help. Hope I am wrong because I don't see that in KudoZ in my pair.


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 15:22
German to English
+ ...
Not really Mar 18, 2009

Henry D wrote:

Przemysław Szkodziński wrote:
... so you can choose to have only native speakers of a given language answer your question.


Right, Przemysław, this was one angle taken. Obviously it has not met with everyone's satisfaction, but thanks for pointing out that certain measures were taken.


(Nope. Sorry Henry, but what measures were taken to remedy this? Maybe I missed something.

You can "request", not "choose", that only native speakers answer. Not that that matters (here).)

Przemysław, you're looking at it from the asker's perspective. That's not the point.

What about the qualified and very capable native speakers (potential answerers) who are willing to share their knowledge but who, when they see the numerous substandard contributions by "others", decide not even to participate in a given discussion because they don't want to be associated in any way with such tripe?

Who benefits from that?

The problem is that anyone who registers here can claim anything, including "native language", and then then go on to meddle in areas where they've no business being.

This was once SUPPOSED to be a site for professional translators. I had high hopes when I joined.
Someone recently called it a "translation brothel" in some forum or other. (That just sprang to mind so I thought I'd add it.)

Cilian


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 15:22
German to English
+ ...
Please, let me qualify that... Mar 18, 2009

...

Reference was made to Ian's "who needs the natives?" posting, so the above posting of mine refers to the English MONOLINGUAL arena.

Just to set that right.

Cilian


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