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Who make better translators, women or men?
Thread poster: Balasubramaniam L.

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 14:15
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Nov 14, 2006

Recently, while reading up in connection with a forum thread I had started on the process of language acquisition in human beings, I came upon this bit of information at a couple of places that girls are better at learning languages than boys because of certain special features of their brains, or the rate at which their (girls') brains mature. Is this true?

A little while before this, there was a quick poll in this site on the gender of proz members and 52 % of the 1318 responders reported themselves as females. Does this in some way reflect the genetic advantage that women have over men with languages, and by implication, translation?

What has been your experience in this matter? Has your gender in any way facilitated or interfered with your profession as a translator?

Do translators of a certain gender have advantages with certain subject areas? For example, do male translators fare better with subjects like maths and technology, and female translators with creative subjects like literature and advertisements?


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albie
Local time: 11:45
English to Russian
Actually both! Nov 14, 2006

Needs two to tango? You know!

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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:45
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Yes and women cannot park their cars etc, Nov 14, 2006

IMO this kind of discussion is not helpful. Show me one thing that men can do better than women, or one thing that women can do better than men, and I will show you several examples of the other gender that are extraordinarily good in the same thing.

That's all I want to contribute to this discussion

Siegfried

[Edited at 2006-11-14 07:58]


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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:15
German to English
See previous quick poll Nov 14, 2006

Hi Balasubramaniam,

You may be interested in looking at a quick poll I suggested in February this year on a similar topic: www.proz.com/topic/42136. It met with mixed reactions from ProZ.com users. Many people were quite offended by it!

Best regards,
Niraja


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:45
Italian to English
I agree with Siegfried Nov 14, 2006

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

IMO this kind of discussion is not helpful.

Siegfried

[Edited at 2006-11-14 07:58]


I tend to agree with Siegfried.

It's a bit like the "native vs non-native speaker" debate, which never seems to take us anywhere interesting.

For the customer, it's the quality of the final translation that is important, not how it was achieved.

FWIW

Giles


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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 10:45
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
some thoughts Nov 14, 2006

52% is not a significant deviation from 50%, and the sample is very small. What's more, it's not logical to conclude that women are better translators than men, just because there are more female translators than male ones.

If it shows anything, it's the women's position in the labour market. Men tend to have office jobs, while women tend to be more open to alternative forms of working (and a large number of women choose this profession because they can do it at home while looking after the kids - although I cannot really imagine how they can do that if the kids are small).

A famous example from the history of economics comes to my mind, from Ricardo in the 18th century. England and Portugal both produce textiles and wine, but because of comparative advantages, England sells textiles and Portugal sells wine.
A manager in an office may be actually better in cleaning the office than the cleaning lady herself, but the manager's skills are used much more efficiently in running the business than cleaning.
I just want to show the mere fact there are more female translators does not logically allow to conclude anything about the quality or efficiency of their work.

Another example that comes to my mind: are women or men more intelligent. Research shows that in general, the distribution of IQ values of men and that of women both show a normal distribution ("Gauss curve"), with the peak value at 100 for both groups. The only difference is that the curve is a bit more flat for men at both ends. This means that there are more men than women among extremely intelligent people, but it equally means that there are more men than women among people with extremely low IQ values.


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Veronika Hansova  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:45
Member (2006)
English to Czech
+ ...
I would not give up this discussion so simply Nov 14, 2006

Hi,
before I start I must declare I am neither a feminist nor a mouse at home.
Generally I agree with Siegfried though I have some comments to it. Once I read a medical/psychological study regarding the topic of maturing of boys and girls (in psychological terms, not physically). It was far generalistic but I sensed some true points in it. Girls usually mature sooner than the boys. In certain age they are on a completely different psychological level than boys (I am talking about the age of 7 to 12, approximately) They acquire realistic view, they are a bit more ambitious, thoughtful and calmer. This difference however slowly diminishes as they both get older and in the age of about 19-22 it gradually disappears.
Then the study continued: based on some surveys, grown women are, again VERY GENERALLY, a bit more practical (something to do with family instincts) and again realistic, while grown men tend to visit the theoretical levels (I am not saying that women don't, but maybe not as much/often as men). According to the study, women are more responsible (which might be the answer for the poll - maybe women can persuade thermselves to get up in the morning though there is no check clock on their desk), while men are more ambitious (as compared to their childhood).
I must admit that the study fitted on me, personally. IMO, I am realistic (very careful about the amount of jobs I take, looking before I leap), practical ... but far less a theoretician (drowning in the translation theory). Also, when I studied at the university, only a few students specialized in translation theory, majority of them were men.
But please, take it as a comment and personal example, not a rule that fits to every translator.

P.S. this is a tricky topic, Balasubramaniam


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 10:45
German to English
Bravo Nov 14, 2006

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

IMO this kind of discussion is not helpful. Show me one thing that men can do better than women, or one thing that women can do better than men, and I will show you several examples of the other gender that are extraordinarily good in the same thing.

That's all I want to contribute to this discussion

Siegfried



Bravo. A dated discussion that would have been interesting in say 1975, but not now.

sylvie


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:45
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Tell me who is better, men or women, and I’ll tell you who translates better Nov 14, 2006

Tell me who is better, men or women, and I’ll tell you who translates better.

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transparx  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:45
English to Italian
+ ...
not at all! Nov 14, 2006

Giles Watson wrote:
It's a bit like the "native vs non-native speaker" debate, ...
Giles


The native vs non-native speaker debate is an interesting and, possibly, productive discussion --it all depends on how it is carried out. The one just proposed here, in my opinion, is not only 'not helpful' but also a waste of time.


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Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:45
Member (2004)
Italian to English
... Nov 14, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:

For example, do male translators fare better with subjects like maths and technology, and female translators with creative subjects like literature and advertisements?


I think that this phrase speaks for itself as the ultimate cliché, and I'm sadly disappointed to see it here on Proz.

Personally, I find this to be an inane discussion, so I'll leave my comment at that.

Jennifer


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Harry Bornemann  Identity Verified
Mexico
English to German
+ ...
Interesting question Nov 14, 2006

Balasubramaniam wrote:
Who make better translators, women or men?

I would answer with a quote from Borat interviewing some feminists:
"Don't you think it is a problem that women have smaller brains?"


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:45
Italian to English
Let me clarify a little Nov 14, 2006

transparx wrote:

Giles Watson wrote:
It's a bit like the "native vs non-native speaker" debate, ...
Giles


The native vs non-native speaker debate is an interesting and, possibly, productive discussion --it all depends on how it is carried out. The one just proposed here, in my opinion, is not only 'not helpful' but also a waste of time.


Hi transparx,

What I meant was that whether you are male, female, same sex-oriented, transgender, or prefer to identify with some other sexual category, is as irrelevant to the customer as whether you are a native speaker or not, however you may care to define that term, provided the final translation is of satisfactory quality.

I agree that the debate about what constitutes a native or non-native speaker is interesting: nurture is much more important than nature in the professional profile of most good translators.

Cheers,

Giles


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:45
English to German
+ ...
Women, of course. Nov 14, 2006

Well, you asked.

That's the right answer.

Or is it the left answer? You know, women tend to confuse right and left.

Aaah, the stereotypes.

)))

Best,

Nicole

[Edited at 2006-11-14 10:02]


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erika rubinstein  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:45
Member (2011)
English to Russian
+ ...
Women are better interpreters, while men are better translators!? Nov 14, 2006

[quote]Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

[Show me one thing that men can do better than women, or one thing that women can do better than men, and I will show you several examples of the other gender that are extraordinarily good in the same thing.]



Maybe in getting children? Now I am really wondering if you can show me several examples of the other gender that are extraordinarily good in the same thing.))


I read about some testing, that showed the thing I wrote in the title. Women are better orally, because there two different brain semisphere, responsible for writing and speaking.


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