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Poll: Do you regularly review/ study the grammar and vocabulary of your working languages?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:53
SITE STAFF
Mar 31, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you regularly review/ study the grammar and vocabulary of your working languages?".

This poll was originally submitted by Domenica Grangiotti

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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bookwormkt
Local time: 11:53
French to English
+ ...
I often think something sounds right, but like to check and learn more. Mar 31, 2009

I am not often wrong about words and phrases that I think sound right, but checking doesn't hurt.

I use French language grammar books, (i.e. those written for French people), read in French and email French friends if I'm stuck or want clarification.

Spending time in France is also a great help, needless to say. My French friends don't hold back on correcting my grammar! It keeps me humble.

I have often told pupils that learning a language takes a mixture of daring (to speak the language, especially), humility to accept correction and learn from it and general perseverance. A bit like life, really!!


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 04:53
English to Dutch
+ ...
mother tongue Mar 31, 2009

I do for Dutch in case of doubt, as that is my mother tongue and my only "active" language. I rarely check grammar rules for my other languages as I know them well (to understand the nuances) and never have to use them actively. I'm strongly opposed to translating into a foreign language (even though it's a very good exercise when learning a new language). Bilingualism is an extremely rare gift and sadly enough too many people think they have it while they really don't. But that would be the subject of another poll.

[Edited at 2009-03-31 15:24 GMT]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:53
English to French
+ ...
In my reading time Mar 31, 2009

I don't have much time to read - I usually take a book with me to bed if I'm not too tired. I read all kinds of books, but sometimes, I instead take my Little, Brown Compact Handbook and/or my Le Ramat de la typographie along. I always read only one page or two (grammar and typography don't make for reading as interesting as, say, a Dan Brown or a Ken Follett book), but I am always amazed at how much these brief, 10-minute readings can improve my work.

A professional translator should already be familiar with all basic and most advanced grammar knowledge and know them off the top of their heads. However, I must admit that, alhough I do have extensive knowledge of how one should write properly, I often don't know why that is the correct way to write something. I know the grammar rules, but I can't really explain them. Reading up on such topics time after time helps to gain a more complete understanding, and that understanding helps to prevent mistakes from happening. There is always spell check, but by getting things right the first time around, you can ensure that spell check finds less mistakes than it otherwise would. Overall, this increases both speed and accuracy. Not to mention that it can sometimes be fun to learn about these things as well.

[Edited at 2009-03-31 16:00 GMT]


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Alice Bootman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:53
Member (2008)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes, on my own. Mar 31, 2009

If I ever have a doubt about something in English, I look it up either online, or in one of my handy books. As far as Spanish goes, I am not currently translating into Spanish, but that doesn't mean that I haven't stopped learning. I live in a Spanish speaking country and learn more about the language every day, whether it's by active studying, asking questions, or simply listening.

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Melzie
Local time: 12:53
French to English
+ ...
the more I learn the less I know Mar 31, 2009

Bedside friends include:
"How to Write Correctly" dating from the 30s I think
"Advance Grammar in Use"
"Eats, shoots and leaves"
Swan etc.

As Viktoria says, "However, I must admit that, alhough I do have extensive knowledge of how one should write properly, I often don't know why that is the correct way to write something. I know the grammar rules, but I can't really explain them. Reading up on such topics time after time helps to gain a more complete understanding, and that understanding helps to prevent mistakes from happening."

I admit that French grammar interests me less than that of my mother tongue. Perhaps it will be a subject for study at a later date.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 12:53
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Updating vocabulary Mar 31, 2009

I have full confidence in my command of English grammar and only very occasionally have minor doubts in Spanish - of the leísmo type, or over the structure of conditional sentences, since current colloquial is ever more distant from correct usage! But I'm translating out of Spanish, so this is not really an issue, since my comprehension is not going to be affected. I can't imagine translating into a language unless I had that full confidence about the grammar.

What may floor me is a turn of phrase which has been coined since I moved away from living in an English speaking environment, and to try to stop this happening I read constantly (the press, web pages, leaflets, anything I can get my hands on, and, when the opportunity arises, watch TV in English).Actually I would do all that anyway, I don't need any excuses! I also listen very attentively to my English speaking friends. (Caught my mother saying "good" in answer to "how are you?" the other day - the irreversible tide of US phrasing has even reached her - English born and brought up - and she's not exactly a spring chicken, even she will admit).


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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:53
Member (2008)
English to Italian
I am lucky I teach English! Mar 31, 2009

Well, long time ago I was very lucky. I found a job as an English teacher, and I have been working as a teacher for about 10 years, so, I have to keep my grammar up-to-date, and I have the chance to improve becasue I speak only English with my colleagues. I do not think I am bilingual, I wish I was, but I still can improve, but I do it once for two jobs!

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Claudia Aguero  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 04:53
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'm an English teacher, too! Apr 1, 2009

Gianluca Marras wrote:

Well, long time ago I was very lucky. I found a job as an English teacher, and I have been working as a teacher for about 10 years, so, I have to keep my grammar up-to-date, and I have the chance to improve becasue I speak only English with my colleagues. I do not think I am bilingual, I wish I was, but I still can improve, but I do it once for two jobs!


I love grammar and enjoy reading and studying English and Spanish grammars. I am an English teacher, so I keep my grammar and vocabulary up-to-date. Fortunately, in some of the courses, students deal with affixation, which, indeed, is really amazing for me.

In short, I am usually studying grammar just for the pleasure of reading about it.


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Barbara Turchetto  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:53
Member (2008)
German to Italian
+ ...
I chose "other" Apr 1, 2009

I regularly revise the grammar of my working languages because I also work as a teacher. I teach English and German in companies and this is a great way to revise the grammar without getting bored!

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:53
Flemish to English
+ ...
Grammar is the backbone of a language. Apr 1, 2009

I may be of the old school, but I have been taught that grammar (spelling rules, syntax and semantics) is the backbone of a language. If you master spelling-rules and syntax (structure), you master the language. The rest is acquisition of more semantics (vocabulary-meaning) and knowledge about a subject. If you have reached the stage where you master semantics, syntax and spelling, you can start translating (in both directions).
I have been hearing this "native only song" for almost a decade and I am fed up with it.
If a person started translating both ways say ten years ago, wouldn't (s)he mastered the target-language by overcoming the linguistic obstacles on his/her path? Of course, if you never start, you can not learn by doing (and getting paid for it).
An example of no backbone: I lived together with a native speaker of Russian/Ukrainian, who did not know any other foreign language. Although I assimilated a lot of words and can understand basic meanings in Russian sentence and although Russian sounds familiar, I cannot speak the language, because I don't find time to master the "backbone".
Language without grammar (semantics-syntax) is like the internet without routers (google: warriorsofthe. net).

Where is the time when when a reference to the Esbozo was made and when we had to study Spanish by analysis of the texts of Francisco de Ayala, who used to write essay with sentences with an average length of 20 lines without a .
For those familiar with French, Marcel Proust is his counterpart.



[Bijgewerkt op 2009-04-01 10:26 GMT]

[Bijgewerkt op 2009-04-01 10:28 GMT]


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 04:53
English to Dutch
+ ...
more or less agree Apr 1, 2009

Williamson wrote:

If you master spelling-rules and syntax (structure), you master the language.


Grammar and to a lesser extent spelling rules are indeed the backbone of a language, but there is so much more to a language than just rules. Grammar is rules and if you say that you only need to know rules to master a language, you assume that languages are at all times logically structured. Unfortunately, that is definitely not the case.
Good mother tongue speakers just have more "feeling". People who purely rely on grammar rules, will say things that are grammatically correct, but which a native speaker would never ever say. And in translation, to me, that is what is all about. Why would a customer settle for a translation of which small details could bother a native speaker or strike him as odd, if he can have it done by a native speaker (if there are any of course; but for the most important languages, that is usually not a problem).

And as I said, there are truly bilingual people, but they are very very rare.
Many people on Proz offer translation services into English, but even in short reactions on poll questions often there are so many mistakes (I make plenty of them as well), that it's obvious that knowledge of rules simply ain't enough.


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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 12:53
English to French
+ ...
Definitely agree Apr 1, 2009

Michaël Temmerman wrote:

I'm strongly opposed to translating into a foreign language (even though it's a very good exercise when learning a new language). Bilingualism is an extremely rare gift and sadly enough too many people think they have it while they really don't. But that would be the subject of another poll.

[Edited at 2009-03-31 15:24 GMT]


... Bilingualism may exist but I do not think anyone has two “mother tongues”. Seems to me you always have a privileged relationship with one language (not necessarily the 1st one you ever spoke) and it is difficult enough to master all the subtleties of just one. More people should work more on the knowledge of what they claim is their mother tongue, don’t you think? True, that would be the subject of another poll


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 04:53
English to Dutch
+ ...
definitely Apr 1, 2009

Interlangue wrote:

Seems to me you always have a privileged relationship with one language (not necessarily the 1st one you ever spoke) and it is difficult enough to master all the subtleties of just one. More people should work more on the knowledge of what they claim is their mother tongue, don’t you think?


I couldn't agree more!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:53
English to French
+ ...
True bilingualism does exist and not everyone has a privileged language Apr 1, 2009

I just wanted to say that, just as true bilingualism exists (even though I agree that it is rare), there are also bilingual people who do not have a privileged relationship with one of their native languages, although that is even more rare. I do agree, though, that too many people sincerely believe that they are bilingual when they are not, and too many true bilinguals kid themselves into thinking they don't have a privileged language.

Let's not ruin this thread. We are straying off topic with yet another discussion on bilingualism, whereas the poll question has nothing to do with it.


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