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Winter musings
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
Flemish to English
+ ...
Dec 1, 2005

Native language is a term which bothers me. It reminds me of the languages of the American Indians or the Aboriginals.
The AIIC-classification of A, A+ (near mother-tongue linguistic level), B,C-language is better and more detailed.
Moreover if the educational level of the person you copied the language from i.e. your mother was basic education and her "native" language is a dialect, what is your native language?
The vernacular language or the official language of the country?
What if that country has not one official language, but three?

At German Arbeitsamt where I was registered in 1993:
Question “Sprechen Sie Belgisch?". Aber nein, Frau Eulenbacher, ich spreche Niederländisch, Französisch, Englisch und Spanisch
"Wieso? Gibt es denn kein Belgisch".

In English: Question of the lady at the Arbeitsamt: Do you speak Belgian??? No, mrs.Eulenbacher, I speak Dutch, French, English and Spanish. What do you mean? Isn't Belgian a language?

What if you have grown up with two of these languages and due to English being the non-official third language next door, you have mastered it upto a certain level (A+,B)? In Brussels, there are a lot of American companies where English is the language of the professionals, middle and higher management.
It is also one of the lingua franca at the international institutions or do you think that a Polish Eurocrat (unless a translator/interpreter) speaks Greek with his Greek colleague???
With the Eurostar, British English is an hour and a half away....
Translate into your mother-tongue only?

If you dared to “sin” and translate into a language that is not your native language and have being doing so for 20 years, then I guess you have acquired a certain degree of perfection in that target-language, even if it is not your native language.
----
"Quote from a previous posting" :
"I suggest that knowledge base articles be reread and edited prior to posting regardless of the language in which they are written.
I have been looking at some articles and find the English mistakes distressing. I think a site dedicated to professional translators should post "features" of this kind i.e. ones that feature the writer using grammatical language. Otherwise is detracts from the site and from the writer. If people are non-native speakers of the language they are writing in, the articles should be edited. Otherwise, it will drag down the overall seriousness and quality of the entire forum."
---
I do not claim to be infallible, but when I read words like :"interpretator" and "transtator", I wonder if that are new denominations for new professions?
"Test Translations—To Do or Not to Do?": Do you "do" test translations or do you "make" them? Both posters translate into English.
**
Nobody is perfect: Hence a question to the Proz-community : how do you reach perfection in your A+ language (near native level spoken languages). How do you reach the BBC-quality in your languages?
If you stick to the "native" language principle then you will never attain that degree of perfection.
****
With regard to Kudoz: language is more than just terminology. You may have thousands of points. That means that you have a mastered a certain linguistic register, but to what extend are you a master of syntax?
Language is made up of semantics and syntax, not of semantics alone.


[Edited at 2005-12-01 17:08]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:33
German to English
+ ...
Winter musings Dec 1, 2005

Williamson wrote:

Native language is a term which bothers me.


I agree. Let's use the term "standard of an educated native speaker".

Marc


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:33
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
T&I: Sometimes not so much a "sin" as a result of the "survival" factor Dec 2, 2005

Williamson, what do you do when one of your combinations is such that a native speaker in the inverse may be unavailable at a given time or is a true rara avis?

Granted, we do have real bilinguals, but in order for them to be functional, one of the two languages in question is bound to be recessive (or might even rate a B).

The global economy being what it is (and the direction of its communication being rather lopsided, or even unilateral), bilinguals with a dominant majority language are the ones that tend to survive on the market over the long term. The ones with a dominant minority language can't be expected to hang around waiting for the very occasional windfall - sometimes so occasional that it doesn't even merit purchasing the means of production (like a PC). The logical upshot is a group of target-language-recessive individuals doing what experts might consider inverse, since this is far from being the ideal world that the "experts" would want.

Look over our language lists and you'll find a huge number of languages that would fall into such a category. So, no need for depressions, as I see it. It's just a reality we have to come to terms with, in all due humility.

[Edited at 2005-12-02 11:11]


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
Who's tracking you down and how? Dec 3, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:

I agree. Let's use the term "standard of an educated native speaker".

Marc


Certainly not an invalid point, as substantiated by The Oxford Companion to English Language.

" - Native Language -

'[Since at least the 16c]. A general term often used synonymously with mother tongue. It dates from the Middle Ages, when it was widely believed that language is physically inherited, one's birth determining both language and nationality. Because of this association with birth and birthright and the confusion associated with the word native, some linguists consider that the term should, like native speaker, be avoided or used with caution in scholarly work.'"

However, as long as e.g. my German customers continue to ask for "Muttersprachler" (which almost every dictionary lists as "native speaker") then I am happy to live with that. As long as clients from elsewhere look for "native speakers", I am happy to live with it.

Remember, it's the customer who usually calls the shots, and it's certainly the customer who applies his/her search criteria...

You say "let's". So who are "we"? If you mean that you think it appropriate to change 'Native Speaker' on our Proz profile pages, then why not proffer an alternative ("Country of birth", "Nationality", maybe) and suggest a poll?

Can't get fairer than that IMO.

Chris






[Edited at 2005-12-03 13:42]


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:33
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
Judge and jury? Dec 3, 2005

Williamson wrote:

If you dared to “sin” and translate into a language that is not your native language and have being doing so for 20 years, then I guess you have acquired a certain degree of perfection in that target-language, even if it is not your native language.
----


[Edited at 2005-12-01 17:08]


Mistakes can be repeated, so I don't assume that doing something for over 20 years automatically means that one is doing it well. As someone who used to proofread translations done by non-native translators going into my native language, I can assure you that the same mistakes were made throughout the doc. Incorrect prepositions, unidomatic phrasing, wrong choice of verb tenses, etc. etc. Having the correct vocabulary is one thing, putting it all together in a native-sounding writing style is something else. After all, being able to write in one's own language is one of the main skills needed for translation. It would take someone actually brought up in those languages to be able to master writing in them, imho.
And I thought that Belgium had 3 official languages: French, Dutch and German. Learning English is very 'in' and for some language groups, is a lot easier to learn than the other national languages, but I wasn't aware it had any 'official' or even 'semi-official' status.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Rara avis Dec 4, 2005

Williamson, what do you do when one of your combinations is such that a native speaker in the inverse may be unavailable at a given time or is a true rara avis?

I am not a lonesome cowboy and don't (like) to work alone. Translate the other way is possible with a little help from my friends....

Hence:
Into English: I would not hesitate to translate the text, however it would not be a text posted by an outsourcer on proz.com, because

"Job : Restricted job The outsourcer has chosen to restrict quoting on this job to members who:
... are native speakers of English (You have not reported that you are).

No, but I might have AIIC-level A+or B.

You do not meet all the necessary criteria for quoting on this job
Job : Dutch into English.
-------------
Into French : Translate it together with somebody whose native language is French.
Into German: Translate it, send it to Germany for revision.
Into Spanish : Over the years my Spanish has gotten a bit rusty and too much influenced by French. Unless I work together with an hispanohablante, I would refuse the text.

Granted, we do have real bilinguals, but in order for them to be functional, one of the two languages in question is bound to be recessive (or might even rate a B).

That is correct.

Question to you: What would you do if on the freelance interpreter market there is no demand for your language combination?
Yep, it is a global economy and the mother-tongue only ideosyncracy has prevailed.
******************
"Incorrect prepositions,
unidomatic phrasing,
wrong choice of verb tenses, etc. etc. "

Are/Were the subject of the second year at any quality-oriented school for translators and interpreters.
Of course, a lot of translators come from different backgrounds and named themselves "translator" overnight. To make it easy for themselves if they translate into their mother-tongue.
Should they attempt to translate the other way, without having received the proper linguistic training, they transpose the mindset of their mother-tongue into the target-language. That is why you get: Test translations: To do or not to do? I don't know enough Russian (yet) to be able to know if you use "to do a translation" in that language. Or is the word simply "perivod"?

Where did I learn about registers of language? Where did I learn about style?
Yes, I am aware that English is highly idiomatic...but that does not mean that it is impossible to translate into English with a text before your nose and a lot of resources to support you.
-----
And I thought that Belgium had 3 official languages: French, Dutch and German. Learning English is very 'in' and for some language groups, is a lot easier to learn than the other national languages, but I wasn't aware it had any 'official' or even 'semi-official' status.
*****************************
-Tell me: in stylish English: do you start a sentence with

"and"?
What is "unidiomatic"? I am not a native speaker, so I can learn from you...

No, English does not have semi-official status. I never said that.

On the other hand: how long does it take to go from Brussels to London?
What language is spoken at the HQs of all the major American/British corporations situated in Brussels?
What is/are the lingua (e) Franca at the E.U.? (English,French,German). All languages are equal, but for interpreting purposes some languages are pivot languages. English is one of these languages.
What are the official languages of NATO?
What language is used at SHAPE (Mons)?
Some university programmes are taught partly/entirely in English.
As you are well aware, universities in Belgium are state-subsidised.
If you meet a Chinese student at one of the two universities of Brussels, will you address him/her in Chinese?
What I mean is that English is not a rare language spoken in the middle of nowhere. Whatever status it has, in a city like Brussels you can use it every day as a means of communication.

I don’t claim to be perfect, but I aim to be good. Any advise or help to improve linguistic skills upto a higher level would be welcomed.


[Edited at 2005-12-04 18:10]


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
Confusion? Dec 4, 2005

Williamson wrote:

Native language is a term which bothers me. It reminds me of the languages of the American Indians or the Aboriginals.


I was under the impression that this was the point under discussion. However, the 20-odd question marks in your entries suggest that your musings could perforce be of an inchoate nature?

Should I have misunderstood the essence of this discussion, then do please accept my unequivocal apology.

Chris


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 02:33
German to English
Calling a spade an A+ language Dec 5, 2005

Williamson wrote:

Native language is a term which bothers me. It reminds me of the languages of the American Indians or the Aboriginals.


Maybe on Proz we could specify our " A+ language"? Changing the terminology used by the rest of the world, however (for it IS but a terminology change, whichever way you look at it), may take a little longer....


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
French to English
+ ...
Clarification Dec 6, 2005

Should they attempt to translate the other way, without having received the proper linguistic training, they transpose the mindset of their mother-tongue into the target-language. That is why you get: Test translations: To do or not to do? I don't know enough Russian (yet) to be able to know if you use "to do a translation" in that language. Or is the word simply "perivod"?


I'm not sure what you're implying here - do you not agree with the choice of verb here? What, in your view, is wrong with 'To do or not to do?' and how would you change it?


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Webster Dec 6, 2005

Angela Dickson wrote:

Should they attempt to translate the other way, without having received the proper linguistic training, they transpose the mindset of their mother-tongue into the target-language. That is why you get: Test translations: To do or not to do? I don't know enough Russian (yet) to be able to know if you use "to do a translation" in that language. Or is the word simply "perivod"?


I'm not sure what you're implying here - do you not agree with the choice of verb here? What, in your view, is wrong with 'To do or not to do?' and how would you change it?


I am implying that I do not agree with the choice of verb. Either Webster is wrong or the Russian person who wrote "to do a translation or not to do a translation" is wrong.

However, I am more inclined to believe Webster.
If you look up "to translate" in Websters, you use in the intransitive sense "to make a translation".
You do not "do a translation". To what extend "to do a translation" is a transposition of Russian, I should ask my Russian acquaintance. The person, who wrote the article is Russian. I would use either "to translate" or "to make a translation".

If you are not taught that translation is not simply the transposition of words, but also the adapting the syntax of one language into another, of one mindset into another, you transpose the mindset of your mother-tongue into the other language. For a example, my Chinese friend when he speaks English sometimes utters phrases I do not understand, because the pattern behind his English is Chinese...




[Edited at 2005-12-06 12:28]


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 02:33
German to English
Ahh, but you DO ;-) Dec 7, 2005

Williamson wrote:

You do not "do a translation". To what extend "to do a translation" is a transposition of Russian, I should ask my Russian acquaintance. The person, who wrote the article is Russian. I would use either "to translate" or "to make a translation".



Ahh, but you DO "do a translation", at least in idiomatic English. I'm afraid that your non-native roots are showing


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
French to English
+ ...
Agree with Hilary Dec 7, 2005

However, I am more inclined to believe Webster.


'Making a translation' - well, I guess this could be used in the mathematical sense. I see the definition to which you refer at http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/translate - the relevant section does not mention which kind of translation we are talking about here.

I am hesitant to say that Webster's is 'wrong' but I shall just agree with Hilary that *in this particular context* i.e. talking about doing or not doing test translations, 'do' is exactly the right verb to use. I think it very unlikely indeed that you will find a native speaker of English who disagrees with us. The person who wrote the article with this title is right.

The point is, dictionaries are all very well but they will never replace a native speaker's instinct about what one does or does not say.


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:33
German to English
+ ...
Idiomatic Dec 7, 2005

Hilary Davies wrote:

Ahh, but you DO "do a translation", at least in idiomatic English. I'm afraid that your non-native roots are showing


Concur.

Bloomsbury Good Word Guide

"Do is used as an informal replacement for various different verbs, for example `prepare': Shall I do you a sandwich?, `clean': I'm just going to do my teeth, `visit': We're doing the British Museum tomorrow, `perform': The local rep are doing The Cherry Orchard, `study': She's doing maths at Cambridge, `provide': Do they do breakfasts?
*There are also the slang meanings of `cheat': You've been done!, `arrest': He was done for burglary, `rob': They did the bank last night, `attack': I'll do you, `have sexual intercourse with': Glober did me on the table (Anthony Powell, Temporary Kings). Do is also used informally as a noun to mean `a party or social event': I'm going to the firm's Christmas do.
The addition of do in constructions when a previously mentioned verb is omitted: They behaved just as I wanted them to do is best reserved for informal use.
Do is also used as an auxiliary verb in questions: Do you like it?, in negative sentences: They don't want to go, and for emphasis: I do wish he'd phone!"

I'm not quite sure where this thread is leading, so I think I'm DONE with following it


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:33
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You do and make Dec 8, 2005

http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/T-16/C.R.C.-c.1561/183082.html

Except in cases of particular urgency, the Bureau shall "make" translations in the English or French language in accordance with the following order of priority.


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 02:33
German to English
Not idiomatic UK usage Dec 12, 2005

Sorry, Williamson, you're not exactly backing a winning horse here. Your example is from a Canadian/French bilingual site. We are (or, at least, I am) saying that "make" does not sound natural to a native speaker of UK English, whereas "do" does.

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