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Poll: Do you think restricting quotes on jobs to translators from a certain country helps ensure quality?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:55
SITE STAFF
Nov 20, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think restricting quotes on jobs to translators from a certain country helps ensure quality?".

This poll was originally submitted by humbird

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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Sandra Petch
Local time: 15:55
French to English
+ ...
Sometimes, perhaps... Nov 20, 2008

I was about to vote "no" (it doesn't help ensure quality) then I thought about the short paragraph I'd just translated about the Christmas windows in the department stores on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris. If you've never pressed your nose against the glass and seen these displays, I think you'd be hard-pressed to really capture what they are all about and what a thrill they are. So in this instance, that the job should be done by someone in Paris would be a bonus. Of course, you can argue that anyone who has seen the windows, maybe while on vacation, could do the job just as well, but some things are so much a part of a country's life and lifestyle I feel the job may be done best if the translator has actual first-hand experience of them.

So I would say "generally no but sometimes perhaps" (i.e. "other")!


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Najwa Al-Nabulsi
Syria
Local time: 16:55
English to Arabic
+ ...
No Nov 20, 2008

No for sure. It helps paying the value makes it easier for a resident to pay for same country resident. but it will not help the quality

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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:55
French to English
Sometimes, perhaps... II Nov 20, 2008

Sandra's example is excellent - there are cases where you really do need to have "been there, done that" to get a proper grasp of what a text is about.

Equally, and opposite, it is undeniable that there people whose native tongue becomes polluted from living too long away from "home". I stress I am in no way referring to Sandra here. One does notice it from time to time on proz. But these are probably the very same people whose understanding of a source text is second to none. Swings and roundabouts and all that.


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Paul Kachur
Germany
Local time: 15:55
German to English
+ ...
Swings or roundabouts Nov 20, 2008

Depends on what you want out of the translation: if you want one to sound vibrant and and with a certain amount of style, then you are best off with a native speaker in a native country.

If you want one that closely conveys the meaning of the original text, then you might prefer a native speaker who lives and works where the source language is spoken.


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Roland_Lelaj  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:55
Member (2008)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Sometimes, but is not the rule Nov 20, 2008

I voted "No".

Only if you give a look to the thousands of right KudoZ answers, you will see that many people that answered correctly are not from the country of the original language of the question neither mother tongue.

Sometimes, being form a certain country helps but this can not be the general rule.


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Nigel Greenwood  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:55
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, but then again NO Nov 20, 2008

I would not say 'from' another country, but rather professionals who translate into their native language. For example, I sayI am native in Spanish and English, meaning, I have lived 33 years in Spain, but I was born and bred in England. All my education was done in the UK, but my learning of Spanish has come from living, working, raising kids and so forth in Spain. Of course, my linguistic use of English is higher that than of Spanish.

So, in answer to your question, Yes, if you mean being native in your mother tongue.

Have a great day all of you.

Nigel:)


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Stephen Gobin
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:55
German to English
+ ...
What I think the questioner is possibly asking ... Nov 20, 2008

I take it that the question is actually asking whether it is possibly better if the translator is a native speaker of the particular language that is spoken in the country where the TL text is going to appear. In which case I am tempted to say yes and on top of that if the translator is actually living in the TL country too.

As everyone here knows, it's not just the words we have to translate, it's the overall "atmosphere" so the TL readership will respond accordingly and this obviously means knowing the TL culture, as well as changes/fashions in TL language use. It is the translator's task to speak first and foremost to the TL readership and in so doing help the client achieve his/her goals, which usually means expanding and publicizing his/her business to a wider audience.


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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:55
Italian to English
+ ...
No Nov 20, 2008

Even in Sandra's example, someone who had been to Paris, and had seen the display, but had always lived abroad might do a better job than someone who'd lived all their life in San Tropez and never actually been to Paris at all... it's got everything to do with personal knowledge of the subject matter, nothing to do with where you live.

Essentially, I see no point in restricting jobs in this way. Whatever country we live in, as professional translators it's in our own interests to make sure we keep both our source and our target languages up to speed.


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Theo Bernards  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 15:55
English to Dutch
+ ...
No is the most correct answer Nov 20, 2008

I would have to agree with Nigel, limiting your projects to translators from certain countries is not a very decisive vetting criterium. I work in the laguage couple English and Dutch, but I live in France and for all intents and purposes therefore I am from France. Does that mean I am not suited to translated into Dutch or English? Agreed, in some situations it is impossible to translate properly if you haven't been there, haven't done it or haven't worn that T-shirt, but in my opinion that comes down to thoroughly formulating of the criteria which must apply to your desired translator, not to dismissing bids from another country.

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:55
English to German
+ ...
Exactly, Marie-Hélène Nov 20, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

it's got everything to do with personal knowledge of the subject matter, nothing to do with where you live.




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Anita du Plessis  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 16:55
Member (2008)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Own place is best Nov 20, 2008

I do think it is important to stay in the country where your languages are spoken. language is a living thing, and you have to keep up with the current trends and changes. This can only happen if you listen, read and speak your languages like your countrymen do. With the internet you can keep up to date, but nothing equals hearing your own language spoken by fellow native speakers.

Furhermore, if your subject matter is specifically meant for your country, who better to understand it than the people who experience it first hand? How will a person not from Africa ever understand the undulating sand planes of the Namib desert or the beauty of a Protea (flower) opening in Spring? Who can describe the thrill of a cheetah in flight better than the game ranger who even knows to which clan the cheetah belongs?


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Sandra Petch
Local time: 15:55
French to English
+ ...
FROM a country vs IN a country... Nov 20, 2008

Marie-Hélène Hayles wrote:

Even in Sandra's example, someone who had been to Paris, and had seen the display, but had always lived abroad might do a better job than someone who'd lived all their life in San Tropez and never actually been to Paris at all... it's got everything to do with personal knowledge of the subject matter, nothing to do with where you live.




Looking again at the question, the wording is perhaps ambiguous. Are we talking about "from" (= originating from) a certain country as I am from the UK or "in" (= living in) a certain country, as I am in France?

If you have a text about Paris, the ins and outs of the city, it's atmosphere, the exhibition everyone is talking about right now... then I think you DO need a translator who is in that country and, taking it further in this example, that city. So I stick to my guns and say that sometimes, yes, a translator IN a certain country can be better suited to the job .


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Sandra Petch
Local time: 15:55
French to English
+ ...
No and yes! Nov 20, 2008

anitadp wrote:

I do think it is important to stay in the country where your languages are spoken. language is a living thing, and you have to keep up with the current trends and changes. This can only happen if you listen, read and speak your languages like your countrymen do. With the internet you can keep up to date, but nothing equals hearing your own language spoken by fellow native speakers.

Furhermore, if your subject matter is specifically meant for your country, who better to understand it than the people who experience it first hand? How will a person not from Africa ever understand the undulating sand planes of the Namib desert or the beauty of a Protea (flower) opening in Spring? Who can describe the thrill of a cheetah in flight better than the game ranger who even knows to which clan the cheetah belongs?


Responding to the first point, in Paris (I'll talk about where I live), there are plenty of native English speakers and I get to converse with them on a regular basis just as I get to use French on a regular (daily) basis. It's also tempting to argue the reverse of your point, that someone who isn't living in the country of their target language can't keep up with the changes in that. As Charlie said, swings and roundabouts!

For your second point, this is similar to my "Christmas windows" example. You need real first-hand experience to truly grasp what is being said.


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:55
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
It really depends Nov 20, 2008

I don't think that the physical presence of the translator in that country would be what is important, most of the time not anyway.

It would be important to:
1. Have a translator who is a native speaker of that specific dialect of the target language spoken in that country,
and
2. Have a translator who is either a native from that country, or who has spent at least a year or two in that country.

But the 2 above things, could be handled by someone who lives in a different country. Example:
A translation for Australia: If the translator was a native Australian who had lived in Australia most of his/her life and just now happens to be living in Russia, the 2 above things would be satisfied, without the translator having to be physically in the country.

But, in the Paris example given above, yes in that case, it would be important for someone to be in Paris or close enough to Paris to have seen/be able to go see the exhibits.


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