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Poll: A linguist translating into his/her native language does a better job if he/she:
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:44
SITE STAFF
Aug 26, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "A linguist translating into his/her native language does a better job if he/she:".

This poll was originally submitted by i Translate

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Elena Robles Sanjuan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:44
English to Spanish
I selected "other" because... Aug 26, 2008

On one hand, I believe you have to keep up with how your own language evolves with time and that can be best achieved by living in your own country.

However, I also reckon you have to keep in touch with the source language in a way that is realistic and efficient. That means if you learned to speak English whilst living in Britain for a while, and that is your source language, every now and then you should be immersed in a real English-speaking situation.


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 15:44
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
A linguist does a superior job if he/she is a superior linguist Aug 26, 2008

There are advantages and drawbacks to any "country" setup you can think of. What really matters is what the translator has upstairs and what he or she is able and willing to do to apply that knowledge and know-how to the real world.

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Cristina Golab  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Doesn't really matter Aug 26, 2008

I actually addressed this topic in my dissertation and from what I found living in the country where the mother tongue is spoken didn't really play such a major role in the quality of a translation (as I thought). There were other factors that seemed to be more important such as the linguist training and experience and above and beyond a good comprehension of the source language.

[Edited at 2008-08-26 15:00]


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Dr. Birgitte Eggeling  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:44
German to Danish
it does not matter Aug 26, 2008

Thank you for this - it is very interesting to learn, that it does not really play such a major role whether you live in the source/native country or not. Important are other factors.

[Bearbeitet am 2008-08-26 16:39]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:44
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Doesn't matter Aug 26, 2008

I think it depends on the linguist. If you imagine location as being on a map on one side of a line or another, you have to admit that, working, we mentally live on the lines.

The struggle to maintain language proficiency will always fall on one side or another (and hence, the importance of refreshers).

I remember a famous piece of apocrypha engraved somewhere in Fatepur Sikri attributed to Jesus Christ: "the world is a bridge, pass over it but do not build houses upon it". In the case of translators, they serve as bridges. So housing arrangements may have to be regarded as no more than mere arrangements (I'm taking a purely philosophical view)


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Laureana Pavon  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 16:44
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Many other factors are involved Aug 26, 2008

I think that the language spoken in the country where a translator currently lives is not the most important factor when considering what "doing a good job" involves.
In my opinion, keeping up-to-date with both source and target languages is essential. This can be achieved, of course, by living in a country where one/either of the languages are spoken, but also, as a poster mentioned above, by reading newspapers, current literature or other sources, films, radio, etc.
Personally, I live in a Spanish-speaking country, am an avid reader of all types of materials in English and Spanish, and also spend at least a month a year in an English-speaking country.
All of these elements help us become better linguists.
Cheers!
Laureana

[Edited at 2008-08-26 16:14]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Probably does not matter, but... Aug 26, 2008

It probably does not matter in many cases, but I have found it to my advantage to live in a country where both of my native languages are spoken, the Border.

And for those who are not familiar with the Border, it is a country unto itself.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:44
English to French
+ ...
Doesn't matter Aug 26, 2008

I always find it funny how some outsourcers attach a lot of importance to where a translator lives. Of course, if you don't live in the country of your target language, you are not exposed to the target language as much as you would be if you lived in your target language country. However...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as translators, the bulk of the exposure we get to a language comes from our work, not from doing our groceries and picking up our kids at the kindergarten. So, if a translator concentrates on the same target language and has steady work, it doesn't matter where they live - they spend their days reading, writing, analysing and researching that language. The fact that they don't speak that same language at the grocery store makes no difference.

Of course, if a translator translates into half a dozen languages, none of which are spoken in their country of residence, and claims to be specialized in thirty subject matters, it's a different story. But then again, if I were reticent to give work to such translators, my decision wouldn't be based on the country of residence, but simply on lack of credibility.

[Edited at 2008-08-26 17:42]


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Like many who already answered...... Aug 26, 2008

It does not matter.
Both have its own advantages and disadvantages.

But I know some agencies prefer the one who reside where the target (his/her native) language is spoken (and this is already shown in many ProZ job postings).

That could be a good yardstick to go by, as no all agencies and their personnel are familiar with target languages.

Even that, then, has its own disadvantage.
I came across atrocious translation done by someone who are living in Japan (into Japanese), but know nothing about American social custom and culture.

Again, it takes good linguist to do good job.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well, I'm sorry to disagree with most colleagues Aug 26, 2008

... but on the basis my own experience I chose "Resides in his/her source language country", and did so because I am aware that my knowledge of my source language(European Spanish) is greatly enhanced by my daily exposure to it.
Language is a fluid and evolving phenomenon with many intricacies and no matter how much you may learn in a university degree course or a couple of years in the source country, there is nothing better than an ongoing "hands-on" experience of the same. I would love to opine otherwise, mainly out of respect for me esteemed colleagues, but had to respond subjectively to this post.
I suppose I'm lucky my source language isn't Latin or ancient Greek...


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Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:44
German to Russian
+ ...
Other Aug 26, 2008

Realities of the target country should be known to him/her. I used to perform editing job after 2 native speakers (BE & AE) & 1 editor for a BE outsourcer - & she accepted my rendition. I was help in En-En pair by non-native speakers - but they were experts in the field, and one of them used to live in the UK for a long time. So, subject matter experet is the thing that matters.

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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 15:44
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Gotta quibble with Henry Hinds. Aug 26, 2008

Henry Hinds wrote:

It probably does not matter in many cases, but I have found it to my advantage to live in a country where both of my native languages are spoken, the Border.

And for those who are not familiar with the Border, it is a country unto itself.


Sorry, Henry, but I've spent considerable time on the Border (Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras and other Coahuila towns), and in my experience, those folks speak neither English nor Spanish.

Either way, you have to have a mechanism for keeping your native tongue current while constantly broadening and developing your second language. TV, movies, and extensive reading help.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Don't quibble with me, Jane Aug 26, 2008

It all depends on who you listen to. It is true that a lot of folks around here speak neither English nor Spanish. I can speak like them too. I have to so we can understand one another. It's the same just about everywhere you go if you haven't noticed.

But there are also those of us who know and practice the difference. We are not all a bunch of ignorant clods.


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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 22:44
English to Finnish
+ ...
How does one have one’s home elsewhere than home? Aug 26, 2008

Am I the only one who thinks that residing in one’s home country, or, vice versa, having one’s home in one’s country of residence, is an axiom, and that the question therefore does not fully make sense?

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