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Please, do not ever be condescending
Thread poster: Mats Wiman

Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:17
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...
Apr 27, 2004

Dear all,

I just want to implore everybody NEVER to comment on anyone's KudoZ suggestion with expressions like:

"Sorry, aber das klingt weder gut noch ist es richtig."
(Sorry, but this neither sounds well nor is it correct.)


It is, I am sorry to say, often used by so-called 'native speakers' about suggestions from 'less native speakers' and destroys the friendly atmosphere uphold in so many language pairs.

You are perfectly entitled to think it (maybe generating a better answer) but not to say it.

ALL suggestions are to be welcomed!

Ugh!

Mats J C Wiman
Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe
http://www.MatsWiman.com
http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com
http://www.proz.com/pro/1749
(Proz.com moderator, deu>swe, Swedish)
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SE-872 97 Skog
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Tel:+46-612-54112 Fax:+46-612-54181 Mobile:+46-70-5769797

[Edited at 2004-04-27 09:50]


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Bob Kerns  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:17
Member (2002)
German to English
Please say please Apr 27, 2004

Hi Mats,

If you would please add "Please" at the start of the title of your thread and also remove the exclamation mark you are more likely to get a positive response. The original title "Do not ever be condescending!" sounds more like an order than a plea.

Regards from Germany
Bob Kerns

[Edited at 2004-04-27 10:08]


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Klaus Herrmann  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:17
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
What faulty about such above replie? Apr 27, 2004

I can't see any wrong in such an answer, provided that it is followed by an explanation. If I choose to reply in an language which is not my mother tongue (one of my mother tongues for the truely bi-lingual colleagues amongst us), I do not have a "gut feeling" for the language. At least, not to the same extend as a native speaker or a long-term inhabitant of the target country. Personally, I do appreciate the opportunity to learn from my mistakes.

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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 13:17
German to English
+ ...
Dear Mats, Apr 27, 2004

... NEVER to comment on anyone's suggestion with expressions like:

"Sorry, but this neither sounds well nor is it correct."


What's wrong with pointing out that a suggestion doesn't sound right or isn't proper 'target language'? I'm sure some askers appreciate such info.

Secondly, some answerers are simply begging for such peer comments. I'm sure you've noticed them too, those 100%-confidence tricksters. And frankly, I find it 'condescending' of them to assume that native speakers are too stupid to notice.

Regards,


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 13:17
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
So, what to do if... Apr 27, 2004

the answer neither sounds well nor is it correct, but still is offered, usually as a wild guess?

Magda


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 13:17
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
One learns all the time: It's the 'Sorry...' that bothers me. Apr 27, 2004

Dear Bob,

You make a pertinent observation: A friendly tone has a greater probability of generating friendly answers. On the other hand: A forum posting might be made to provoke discussion, which I think is a healthy thing because in the crossing of the swords of thought, clarity will hopefully emerge.
Still, I followed your advice.
Thanks!

Dear Klaus,

You said "I can't see any wrong in such an answer, provided that it is followed by an explanation."
As my heading shows, the thing that bothers me is the word 'Sorry', which definitely is condescending and therefore inappropriate.
In this case the 'offender' did offer a very good suggestion and explanation.
Worse is when someone is condescending and leaves the answerer in the cold.

You also said:
"Personally, I do appreciate the opportunity to learn from my mistakes."
I agree. Don't we all, all the time?

Dear Cilian,

You said: "What's wrong with pointing out that a suggestion doesn't sound right or isn't proper 'target language'? I'm sure some askers appreciate such info."
I agree. See my comment above.

You also said: "Secondly, some answerers are simply begging for such peer comments. I'm sure you've noticed them too, those 100%-confidence tricksters. And frankly, I find it 'condescending' of them to assume that native speakers are too stupid to notice."
I disagree. We should not assume too much about the intentions of askers.
Neither should we elevate ourselves to being judges.
Answerers are contributors, not tricksters, idiots or "condescending" by offering suggestions.

Of course there are stupid answers sometimes but live and let live.

Dear Magda,

You said: "So, what to do if the answer neither sounds well nor is it correct, but still is offered, usually as a wild guess?"

You know the answer don't you: Note it and go on.

Mats

[Edited at 2004-04-27 10:20]


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 13:17
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Sorry..... Apr 27, 2004

.....but I don't understand this Mats,

"As my heading shows, the thing that bothers me is the word 'Sorry', which definitely is condescending and therefore inappropriate"

I see absolutely no "condescending" attitude in saying "Sorry".

I call it "manners".

If I feel impelled to tell someone that "Tomorrow I will the book buy" is NOT standard English, it wouldn't occur to me to bluntly write "This wording is German", but rather,

"Sorry, this wording...."

It's simply a question of being polite. Can't see anything wrong with it, frankly. I do see something wrong with omitting it.

Saludos,
Andy


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 07:17
English to Russian
+ ...
Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, please Apr 27, 2004

Mats Wiman wrote:

live and let live.

[Edited at 2004-04-27 10:20]


Brilliant, straightforward and exhaustive!

Proz gives us a chance to send a request for urgent help through the globe and expect such help for sure. It is mind-boggling that one can feel comfortable criticizing afterwards, regardless of the answer. I'm not teaching anyone what to do and how to do, but it is our job to find the right words to thank or explain our disagreement. Plain 'does not sound' without the right comment and connotation does not sound like a professional argument to me. I have a feeling that words like "this sounds unusual, maybe you could refer me to some sources". or "We would normally say it differently" be much nicer to use. Or just silence and a choice of a different answer with general 'thank you, everyone'. Of course we can disagree but we must not offend anyone or brush them aside publically.

I'm no saint and got carried away a couple of times. I did my best to recover the situation and apologize.

In case of obsessive-compulsive gamblers or point-hunters believing in the sanctitude of their every word - I just ignore them. These instances require different kind of professional help and we shall never be able to satisfy them all. No personal references, the latter is a very generic comment.

I regard Proz as a living room, not a squared circle.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:17
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Sorry, but I don't think "Sorry" implies condescension. Apr 27, 2004

A comment beginning "Sorry" may or may not be condescending.

"Sorry, I think the indefinite article should be used here" doesn't seem condescending to me, though I don't see a lot of point in saying "Sorry".

But "Sorry, but it's only natural that someone like you, who is obviously not a native speaker of either language, should make a mistake like that" does.

Maybe its different in German and/or Swedish.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:17
French to English
what "sorry" means Apr 27, 2004

I am often "guilty" of starting a response with "sorry". I use it as a shorthand for "This is absolutely nothing personal, but in all professional conscience I cannot let this suggestion pass without some kind of comment to what I sincerely hope is the greater benefit of all the site users".

A lot of English speakers will naturally prefix ANY sentence which risks possibly upsetting someone, no matter in how minor a way, with the word "sorry", as a way of pointing out, in ADVANCE, that no offence is meant and none should be taken.


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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:17
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
Right on, Mats! Apr 27, 2004

I have noticed that comments have become more curteous in my language pairs (French English) and I hope that it continues to be positive for all participants. There are nice ways of disagreeing. We are 'wordcrafters' and our craft can be applied to our kudoz participation as well.

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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 08:17
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Sorry, didn't mean to offend, but you need to know this, it's for your own good.... Apr 27, 2004

Charlie Bavington wrote:

I am often "guilty" of starting a response with "sorry". I use it as a shorthand for "This is absolutely nothing personal, but in all professional conscience I cannot let this suggestion pass without some kind of comment to what I sincerely hope is the greater benefit of all the site users".

A lot of English speakers will naturally prefix ANY sentence which risks possibly upsetting someone, no matter in how minor a way, with the word "sorry", as a way of pointing out, in ADVANCE, that no offence is meant and none should be taken.


It's a question of culture. Brits are the most likely of all to apologise profusely for nothing, for the very reasons you outlined above, Charlie. Unfortunately, some other cultures perceive this as being insincere, hypocritical, even pompous and arrogant (perhaps the extent of the British Empire in past century or two has something to do with that as well). Fortunately, in the same vein, these Brits are capable of laughing at themselves as well, often before anyone else does.

When a sentence starts with Sorry, you can expect a negative to comment to follow, and maybe one's back gets up too hastily. After all, this isn't a war; it's a forum, an exchange of ideas, and a learning process.

Yes, Mats, live and let live. Jumping on someone for offering a less-than-ideal answer is not the solution. Please also remember that only the asker knows what the correct term is for his / her context. It might be something you did not expect!

Keep up the good work.

Nancy


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Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:17
Spanish to English
The cultural difference Apr 27, 2004

I am Irish, and we can never say enough pleases and thank yous, and as for making an Irish person feel guilty, there can't be anything easier in the world. So yes on the unusual occasion that I disagree, I preface it with sorry, in an humillity.
I'm sure any Irish person that has prefaced a disagreement with sorry, will now be wanting to write to everyone and say "sorry".


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 08:17
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Too right!! LOL Apr 27, 2004

Lesley Clarke wrote:
I'm sure any Irish person that has prefaced a disagreement with sorry, will now be wanting to write to everyone and say "sorry".

Sorry, but I had to laugh
Nancy


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Pee Eff
Germany
Local time: 13:17
English to German
+ ...
You have expressed exactly this Apr 27, 2004

opinion in a reply to a KudoZ question where I had to mark an answer given by you with either "disagree" or "neutral" (I don't remember). I had put a "sorry" or "tut mir Leid" in front of my comment to you and I was really surprised to see that you received this "sorry" or "tut mir Leid" as a "condescending, arrogant attitute towards a foreigner" (not your exact wording but something along these lines). I chose not to reply at that moment because I didn't want to have to justify myself for something that hadn't even crossed my mind before.

Well, now that I see that other people are equally surprised by your waying of seeing this, I want to assure you, Mats, that the "sorry" or "tut mir Leid" or whatever on a disagree is not condescending in any way. I think it's simply there to soothen things a little bit because most people don't feel very comfortable sending off a blunt "disagree" without any further comment, which might be received as impolite.

Hope I could explain myself and convince you.
Kind regards,
Patrick


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