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Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
Poll: What percentage of the translations you do per year are into a language that is not your native?
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 19:25
SITE STAFF
Nov 24, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of the translations you do per year are into a language that is not your native?".

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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 04:25
Russian to English
+ ...
Don't do that, PLEASE! Nov 24, 2011

I consider translating into a language that is not one's native or quasi-native to be a sign of unprofessional attitude. It may be OK if you do it for your own needs, for your friends, but if you do it for money, a trouble is waiting to happen.

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writeaway  Identity Verified

Partial member
French to English
+ ...
Agree, but there's a way to get around that on translator sites Nov 24, 2011


Anton Konashenok wrote:

I consider translating into a language that is not one's native or quasi-native to be a sign of unprofessional attitude. It may be OK if you do it for your own needs, for your friends, but if you do it for money, a trouble is waiting to happen.


I also agree it's fairly ludicrous to translate into a foreign language professionally, but on Proz and other online translator sites, (far too) many people avoid that issue by simply officially listing a native language that isn't their real native language. They either tack it on next to their actual native language or simply omit altogether the language they were born into, grew up and were educated in.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 08:58 GMT]


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Antonio Fajardo  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:25
Member (2011)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Why is there an "other" option if all the percentages are covered? Nov 24, 2011

And why has somebody chosen it?

[Edited at 2011-11-24 09:28 GMT]


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 04:25
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Took the words right out... Nov 24, 2011


Anton Konashenok wrote:

I consider translating into a language that is not one's native or quasi-native to be a sign of unprofessional attitude. It may be OK if you do it for your own needs, for your friends, but if you do it for money, a trouble is waiting to happen.


I quite agree. It is totally unprofessional and an insult to real translators. Technology and desperation make untrustworthy bedfellows.


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:25
Hebrew to English
Perhaps..... Nov 24, 2011


Antonio Fajardo wrote:

And why has somebody chosen it?

[Edited at 2011-11-24 09:28 GMT]


A translator who was raised bilingual, and who can't differentiate which language they are stronger in....(presuming there is a disproportional relationship between their two languages).

It might be that they consider one of their languages as "native" and the other as not quite so, this would make categorizing "translating into a non-native language" tricky and might create an "other" type situation.

In general though, I'm going to echo the other posters' sentiments, I don't agree with translating into a language you aren't native in for professional purposes.

I know that some non-native speakers (of whatever language) do translate this way but employ a native-speaking proofreader. This is the one (and only) loophole that I would consider making it somewhere in the realms of acceptable, but I would not like to see it become a trend, for obvious reasons.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 10:01 GMT]


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Manuela Junghans  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:25
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
I think... Nov 24, 2011

...the margin between 1% and 33% is a very large one. It´s the one I chose, and therefore I have to confess my "unprofessionalism" in the eyes of some of the previous respondents.

However, the reason I chose it is that I very very occasionally translate a few sentences into English (which is not my mother tongue) for a long-standing client.
I completely agree with you that you should not normally do this, but I think to translate a few lines of some e-mails, like "thanks for your e-mail", "we´ve received your letter yesterday" etc. cannot do much harm.

I think if I wouldn´t master that much into my main source language I should not really translate from it either.

So to sum it up, my translations into my non-native language amount to about 1% of my work, which is of course nowhere near 33%. I think that the margin for this poll was simply chosen to widely.


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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:25
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
It's a practice driven by the market and encouraged by universities Nov 24, 2011

If the demand outweighs the supply in a particular language pair, the situation might arise where the choice is between using a non-native or not translating the text at all. In such cases perhaps we should excuse the practice.

In other cases, my opinion is that it is inexcusable, and since clients do not always know the problems that it almost inevitably creates, it is our responsibility to advise them.

In my language pair at least, Kudoz is full of askers translating into their second language, but I suspect this has a lot to do with the educational systems in Spanish-speaking countries, where universities provide degrees that qualify you (how they pass I do not know) to translate into one's L2 or L3. In Spain I suspect that nearly all "sworn translations" in English, supposedly the ones that require the most accuracy and diligence, are done by non-natives, because no such qualification exists in the UK.


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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 04:25
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Define "do" Nov 24, 2011

The only way my output contains any translation into languages other than my own is when it is a team effort . - i.e. a native speaker does the translation, or at the very least revises and corrects any rough drafts I might have had my grubby paws on.

I translate Spa-Eng, and don't really "outsource" work into English to other translators, but if unable to take it on myself will simply pass it on to any colleagues interested. If asked for translation from other languages, the process is usually the same, although I might have a bash at it myslef and get someone else to polish my effort.

Other times I may simply manage/negotiate the transaction/formats/deadline etc and occasionally bill for the job and pay the translator cash up front, as I have some friends who only translate part time (busy parents or people who have or other jobs) or do not make enough to be able to pay taxes or social security themselves.

I still don't see this as running or owning a business.


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:25
Member (2006)
German to English
0% Nov 24, 2011

and even if I wanted to, I do not have the time.

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Ivana Didirkova
France
Local time: 04:25
French to Slovak
+ ...
Rare languages Nov 24, 2011

Well, I will be considered as unprofessional... However, let's think about the rare languages. My mother tongue is Slovak. I translate from French and from Russian. Whereas you are rarely asked to translate into Russian, there aren't many French speaking (and translating into) Slovak. So, what can we do ? Agencies do ask us to translate into French (in which case I consult with a native speaker as I live in France) 'cause there just isn't any other way to do it.

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neilmac
Spain
Local time: 04:25
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I prefer to nag Nov 24, 2011


Simon Bruni wrote:

... since clients do not always know the problems that it almost inevitably creates, it is our responsibility to advise them.


"Advise" is not a strong enough term for me! I find I have to moan, whinge, bitch, scream, rant, splutter and nag about it before clients start to take any notice, although once they think about it they usually come round...


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:25
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other: Less than 1%? Nov 24, 2011

In terms of volume, anyway. I have Tagalog among my combinations and have to do an inverse into a European language other than English from time to time for want of other translators. I make sure it's checked and warn the client up and down. Generally, they're assignments that have to be done for some official or other reason.

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Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:25
Member (2007)
French to German
+ ...
About 50 % Nov 24, 2011

But I consider that I have 2 native languages: German and French.

Born and raised in Germany, I have lived almost as long in France as in Germany. I have obtained higher education diplomas both in Germany (Diplom-Übersetzerin) and in France (agrégation d'allemand). Apart from student jobs, I have always worked in France. My family is French (husband and two kids). People who I do not tell that I am not French wouldn't know it (as per my written and spoken French). So I do not see any reason why I shouldn't translate into both languages.

By the way, for truly bilingual people this is a fantastic way to keep up to date in both languages!


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:25
Flemish to English
+ ...
That native-only fundamentalist belief. Nov 24, 2011

Sigh, the native English fundamentalists versus the European pragmatists again. Most of those who answered this poll and who are absolutely against translating into English by a non-native are natives of English.

Basically, they are saying : "Stick to your knitting".
I had a colleague who dared to translate into several languages and had done so for 35 years. If he hadn't started at some point in time, he would not become very good at what he was doing. So good that the native translators asked for his advice.
According to these fundamentalists, I am allowed to translate from English, French, German and Spanish into Dutch/Flemish, but because I am not a native, I should not translate the other way around. For some of these combinations, I don't. Too long ago. But for some, I do.
Or even worse, translate from say German into English. I don't care about those fundamentalists' point of view. What counts is language competency and knowledge of the subject-matter.

As long as the customer's employee -a native Briton at a medium-sized consulting company, who revised my unprofessional translation is happy, I am happy. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

In certain multilingual countries, you can't become an in-house professional translator at government institutions without translating both ways. If you stick to the native-only first commandment of the translation fanatics, you would get 0 as a score on your exam to get the job. Either you translate both ways or you don't get the job.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 16:42 GMT]


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