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Requirement for native speakers only? - Isn't that discrimination?
Thread poster: Earl Rogers

Earl Rogers
United States
Local time: 10:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nov 19, 2003

I believe that it may be. Why should I be discounted an not even considered for a job before even looking at my credentials or performance? Is it just, or even legal, that job selection be based on what language you grew up speaking? I have been told many times by native speakers that I speak spanish as well as a native. I learned spanish through immersion. I love Spanish. I love to translate. I speak spanish more often than I do English, I love Hispanic peoples and cultures, yet I am passed over for jobs because Spanish is not my native tongue! That strikes me as ridiculous. I have been translating locally for a long time. There are over 100,000 -150,000 Hispanic people in the rural area where I live and I deal with many of them on a daily basis. I effectively communicate with people from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador every week. I also ocassionaly speak with people from other Spanish speaking countries with no problem. I am new to internet translating, so maybe my fellow translators are used to this, but it angers me. Any thoughts or comments? Or is this something that we just have to put up with? (No offense intended or implied to native speakers. If you are a native Spanish speaker, do you get passed over for jobs being translated into English? If so, comment on that, please)
Thanks,
feeling frustrated in Carolina del Norte


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Unfortunately, this is the case Nov 19, 2003

I suggest taking a close look at page 31 et seq. of the ff. lengthy discussion:

http://europa.eu.int/futurum/documents/offtext/espdiscuss10_en.pdf

While being a native speaker seems an accident of fate, birth and circumstance, it persists as the yardstick of linguistic effectivity, reliability and correction in those professions closely related to language (such as translation and interpretation).

In any event, the use of competitive tests between native speakers and near-native speakers cannot, to my mind, constitute a discriminative practice if they demonstrate a bias towards native speakers, as is usually the outcome of such tests.



[Edited at 2003-11-19 03:08]


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lien
Netherlands
Local time: 16:35
English to French
+ ...
How do they know ? Nov 19, 2003

Because you told them !

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Earl Rogers
United States
Local time: 10:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Understood, parrot Nov 19, 2003

Parrot wrote:

I suggest taking a close look at page 31 et seq. of the ff. lengthy discussion:

http://europa.eu.int/futurum/documents/offtext/espdiscuss10_en.pdf

While being a native speaker seems an accident of fate, birth and circumstance, it persists as the yardstick of linguistic effectivity, reliability and correction in those professions closely related to language (such as translation and interpretation).

In any event, the use of competitive tests between native speakers and near-native speakers cannot, to my mind, constitute a discriminative practice if they demonstrate a bias towards native speakers, as is usually the outcome of such tests.


Thank you, Parrot. I would gladly participate in competitive tests with native speakers, and while I am sure they would come out ahead, it would be nice to be given the opportunity. Anyway thanks for the comments. I\'m feeling better already.

[Edited at 2003-11-19 03:08]


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Spencer Allman
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:35
Finnish to English
Native users Nov 19, 2003

I suppose the point is that speaking a language fluently and communicating effectively have little to do with the practice of translation.
If one's non-native language is on a par with one's native language in terms of replicating genre and register,having instant access to equivalent idiom including slang,knowing, for example, when to use the article (if there is one)and when not, replicating cultural allusion and attidudes, and a host of other things too, then all well and good.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:35
Flemish to English
+ ...
The linguistic border and the mother-tongue ideosyncracy Nov 19, 2003

Ever heard of Brussels? It is the Tower of Babel and an officially bilingual territory (Dutch-French). The European linguistic frontier between Germanic and Romanic languages is situated on the outskirts of Brussels. If you walk a mile one way, you are in French-speaking territory and if you walk another mile in the other direction, you are in Dutch-speaking territory.
A person, who happens to live in a village through which the linguistic frontier passes just has to go around the corner to be confronted with the other language on a daily basis.
So, in that case what is "your mother-tongue"? I have been an active user of French since 1975, because my girl-friend happened to be French-speaking and she did not know a word of Dutch. 23 years later I still use French on a daily basis, because during weekends I live in the South of Belgium (French-speaking part).
Yet, I am always "stumbling" on this "mother-tongue only" (whoever invented this?) principle. Should you ever come to Europe I'll be happy to go for a stroll with you along the linguistic border...But you are right: the mother-tongue only ideosyncracy prevails.







[Edited at 2003-11-19 18:00]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
German to English
+ ...
Requirement for native speakers only? - Isn't that discrimination? Nov 19, 2003

No - not if the requirement is for "native speaker competence" as distinct from "native speaker", i.e. makes allowance for the fully bilingual.

Marc


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Vladimir Dubisskiy  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:35
English to Russian
+ ...
you can try and show them - why not. Just be persistent. Nov 19, 2003

If you are 100% sure (even if not) - go ahead and try. Native speakers are often do more mistakes with their mother tongue than people who really learn the language. And, actually, I found it not normal. It all depends...:-)))
I am on your side!

[Edited at 2003-11-19 08:46]


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Steffen Pollex  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
English to German
+ ...
Stop, PLLLLEEEEEAAAAASE!!!!! Nov 19, 2003

Please, DON'T INITIATE ANY MORE DISCUSSIONS ON WHAT YOU CALL "DISCRIMINATION"!!!!.

We had this issue "discussed" several times in the Russian forum. A neverending story where no common position can be achieved.

Consequently, it always ended up by getting personal because some people will always try to "change the world" and to convince others that what they call "discrimination" is totally inacceptable, although it can't be avoided, anyway.

Wouldn't it be "discrimination", too, when some of our honoured colleagues try to introduce limitations on the number of questions to be posted in one day, or that platinum members have access to more features on the site than non-platinums?

You will tell me "they are paying for it", right?

Equally, in 95 % of all cases native speaker will "pay" to an employer by better command of his language than a non-native.

So what?

I say no more

Good Luck to all of you
Steffen


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 09:35
German to English
No more than.... Nov 19, 2003

saying "qualified translators only, please"!

What they are referring to is COMPETENCE, not nationality - at least I hope so! I am completely fluent in German, can fool your average German any of the week (linguists tend to catch my very slight "hint-of-something-else" accent!), and I still would not classify myself as a native speaker, simply because I have not been immersed in the language from birth/a very young age. If I believe I am the right candidate for a job, a phone call usually convinces the prospective employer of this, but I won't normally apply for something that stipulates native speakers only - for the simple reason that a linguistically-trained native speaker will have a better ear for the finer nuances of the language than i do.

If you feel you can do the job, though, go for it - there are many cases of experience beating qualifications hands-down - why shouldnt you be one of them?

Blindly refusing to consider your application because of a non-native-sounding name or a foreign place of birth though, IS discrimination - but would you really want to work for anyone ignorant enough to disqualify a candidate on those grounds alone?


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
The idea of competitive testing is to measure competence Nov 19, 2003

Hilary Davies wrote:

What they are referring to is COMPETENCE, not nationality - at least I hope so! I am completely fluent in German, can fool your average German any of the week (linguists tend to catch my very slight "hint-of-something-else" accent!), and I still would not classify myself as a native speaker, simply because I have not been immersed in the language from birth/a very young age. If I believe I am the right candidate for a job, a phone call usually convinces the prospective employer of this, but I won't normally apply for something that stipulates native speakers only - for the simple reason that a linguistically-trained native speaker will have a better ear for the finer nuances of the language than i do.

If you feel you can do the job, though, go for it - there are many cases of experience beating qualifications hands-down - why shouldnt you be one of them?

Blindly refusing to consider your application because of a non-native-sounding name or a foreign place of birth though, IS discrimination - but would you really want to work for anyone ignorant enough to disqualify a candidate on those grounds alone?



Nationality, place of birth, ancestry and the normal "other circumstances" may not by themselves suffice for this purpose. I am a Spanish national with a Spanish name, born abroad and received part of my education in Spain; I normally write in Spanish, but I am still a native English speaker (I had to hire a native Castillian editor for my thesis). I know there are many others like myself in the US, perhaps born to first-generation immigrant Americans. As far as my experience shows, they would be anglophones by acculturation, despite the fact that they may have learned Spanish at home under "non-controlled" circumstances. I would never dream of excluding them from a "native English" requirement, though if the post were language-sensitive, I would test BOTH languages, if only to determine which predominates.

Why I would do this at all? Simple, to determine the natural flow of expression that does not "go against the grain", so to speak, which may critically influence the tendencies of linguistic interference if I were to use that person as a translator or interpreter.

In this, I am not barring the person's right to use one language or another as he pleases (in speaking, writing, publication, social relationships, etc.), but if I am a sensitive employer, I will NOT put that person in a hot spot in which a critical competence may tend to "degenerate".

[Edited at 2003-11-19 12:27]


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:35
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Translating or interpreting? Nov 19, 2003

earlrog,

In your post you talk about "speaking" Spanish like a native speaker and about being passed up for "translation" jobs, i.e. written jobs. Speaking and writing the language are two different skills. You can be a fluent speaker without being able to "pass" when you write.


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sylvie malich
Germany
Local time: 16:35
German to English
Daina, Nov 19, 2003

Daina Jauntirans wrote:

...Speaking and writing the language are two different skills. You can be a fluent speaker without being able to "pass" when you write.


You've said a mouthful, Daina. My written German outs me instantly... sigh


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 10:35
SITE FOUNDER
native-ness not equated with quality; starts with client Nov 19, 2003

Some companies require "native" translation of material that will be read by "natives". (Sometimes based on experiences... the overseas office has been critical in the past, etc.)

Some agencies, understanding this, offer "native" services. This requires that they hire "native" translators.

In these cases, "native-ness" is not necessarily equated with quality; no relationship is drawn. Consider "nativeness" a requirement made *in additional to* quality (rather than in order to achieve it).

Therefore, no one should claim to be "native" if (s)he is not. Simply lying will get you nowhere. You'll have angry customers, projects for which you don't get paid--not to mention that if it is clear that you misrepresent yourself, in violation of the user's agreement of this site--you'll lose your ProZ.com membership.

On the other hand, if native speakers regard you as a native speaker, personally, I think you are one. If you are one of these (rare) people, you know who you are.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:05
English to Tamil
+ ...
More often than not it is a case of blind application of specifications Nov 19, 2003

As I am typing these words, I cannot escape the feeling of déjà vu. The question of native speaker has come up time and again and more often than not I have given my input. One more posting from me should not hurt.
The question of native speaker is relevant only in the case of literary translations or other translations where the language style plays a big part. Here, there can be no two opinions. Only a native speaker will do the trick.
But the problem gets to become ridiculous in case of purely engineering or other technical texts, where the end users are technical people, who are more worried about the contents and not the style of language. For that matter, the writers of such technical texts may themselves not be in the top league in their languages. One posting by a Proz member living in Japan (Alain Cote, I think) mentioned about his struggling with an English text written by a Japanese fellow, who was convinced that he (the Japanese) was a good English writer. The translator was desperately trying to view the screen from different angles, whereupon his wife happening to pass by casually diagnosed his problem as described above. By the way that posting was about woman's intuition. Now when such a text, say an English text written by an Indian and influenced by his mother tongue, say Tamil, is to be translated into French, do you think that a French native speaker will be better in translating it? I think not. Here the idea of a native translator is made to stand on its head. A Tamil translator knowing good French will be best suited for this job.
As I have already mentioned time and again, it is good that I did not know all these restrictions at the time of starting my career 25 years ago. By the time I was aware of this problem, I had already done it and am not worse off. With India entering into the international markets, we are asked to do more and more reverse translations away from English. And that is good for us. A typical Indian client will not like to take the trouble of approaching a non-English native speaker for translating away from English for 3 very good reasons. One is the rate. Foreigner costs more. Second is foreign currency. Foreigners will not care to be paid in rupees. Third is the standard of the original English text written by a local writer. It will be Indian English and not the Queen's English. Correct but will be alien to a Britisher or an American and almost incomprehensible for a German or a Frenchman.
In view of the above, I feel that the insistence on native speaker in all cases is just ridiculous.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


[Edited at 2003-11-20 01:33]

[Edited at 2003-11-22 15:58]


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