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Distinguishing between speakers of American and British English
Thread poster: Armorel Young

Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:37
Member (2004)
German to English
Jan 24, 2008

I would like to search the freelancer directory for someone prepared to "translate" a text from British into American English.

In connection with the same project, I would also be interested in searching for translators who are resident in the UK but who give their native language as US English (in effect, US nationals living in the UK).

As far as I can see, the search options give me no means whatsoever of doing either of these things, because the "specify language" option doesn't allow me to differentiate between AE and BE - or have I missed something?


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:37
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Translation may not be necessary Jan 24, 2008

There are some differences in word use, in the use of certain expressions, and in spelling but these are no so great that actual translation is necessary. In most cases some editing should be sufficient. I think your best bet would be to ask an American translator (do they have to be located in the UK?) to edit the text.

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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:37
Member (2004)
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear Jan 24, 2008

Finding an American translator to edit the text is precisely what I want to do. My point is that I can't find a way to search the directory for American rather than British translators. I would be interested to know if this can be done.

It certainly isn't necessary for the American translator to live in the UK, but if they do the payment process will be easier (and cheaper!).


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Proz won't handle it Jan 24, 2008

I have a much worse problem with Portuguese, namely Brazilian vs. European. Both countries' constitutions refer to them as one an the same language, simply Portuguese. Good translators from both sides of the Atlantic can translate from either variant, but only into either one. For a native of either variant, living in the other one's environment will make one seep into the other, leading to substandard mixed work. However I've seen translators who lived for decades outside Portuguese speaking environments being able to preserve both variants as two separate languages.

All this is just to prove my case that while US/UK variants of English are fairly acceptable in each other's environment, BR/PT Portuguese are definitely not. See more information at http://www.necco.ca/faq_what_clients_need_to_know.htm .

The bottom line is that it means real trouble for me when a job at Proz simply requests a translation "from English into Portuguese" without specifying the variant. Few clients are careful enough to state it clearly. Being honest as a Brazilian translator, I cannot offer service to European (aka Continental or Iberian) Portuguese. So I have to waste both mine and the client's time, send my bid, explain such limitation, and tell them to disregard my offer if they need the "other" Portuguese.

This kept me as a Proz (non-paying) user for 6 years before I decided to make half an investment on it. So I challenged them, provided the link above as evidence, and made my case for the need of requiring specification of the variant.

Last word I had from Proz management was that they understood my problem, but were afraid of the consequences, as many other languages have larger numbers of variants. Though these are somewhat more acceptable in lieu of each other, Proz feared having to deal with specific requests for Spanish as it is spoken in Spain, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, and a loooong list that might include Miami, FL and San Diego, CA. So Proz chose not to have it.

Therefore, you won't find this kind of information at Proz. I have no database-format field to say I translate into Brazilian Portuguese. By the same token, nobody living in the UK may get their profile as translating into US English otherwise than including this information in their profile as text.


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 00:37
SITE STAFF
Portuguese Jan 24, 2008

The main reason to keep Portuguese as a unique language in ProZ.com is that we follow the ISO 639.2 standard, where Portuguese is listed as a single language.

Of course the same applies to British and American English.

Regional variances entered in additional fields could be considered.

Regards,
Enrique


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:37
Swedish to English
+ ...
How about combining 639-2 with 3166? Jan 24, 2008

http://www.i18nguy.com/unicode/language-identifiers.html

Web programmers usually use 639-1 with 3166 to specify both language and region.

With this approach you could even distinguish between sv_SE (Swedish spoken in Sweden) and sv_FI (Swedish spoken by a minority in Finland).

However, I can see the problem of using 639-1 with 3166 on a site for language professionals.

Many languages with a 639-2 code don't have a corresponding 639-1 code (but then again, most of these languages are either ancient or not, generally, in great demand in the translation industry).

[Edited at 2008-01-24 23:19]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:37
Italian to English
Skill is a key factor Jan 24, 2008

Hi Amorel,

I have quite a lot of experience of working with US and UK IT>EN translators whose competence, at least in my judgement, ranges from professional to excellent. I find that while there are significant differences of approach among merely professional translators, there are relatively few when it comes to excellent ones, perhaps because they have a greater awareness of the full range of translation options for any given crux.

Obviously, the default typographical conventions (such as -our/or nouns or how you handle inverted commas) are different but a style sheet or manual should get around that problem. Sadly, unprofessional translators don't bother applying style sheets even when you provide them but at the end of the day, the pond really isn't that wide.

FWIW

Giles


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:37
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
The only way Jan 24, 2008

Armorel Young wrote:

Finding an American translator to edit the text is precisely what I want to do. My point is that I can't find a way to search the directory for American rather than British translators. I would be interested to know if this can be done.

It certainly isn't necessary for the American translator to live in the UK, but if they do the payment process will be easier (and cheaper!).


The only way I can think of is to look through the list for those located in the US. With PayPal or MoneyBookers, payment should not be a big problem.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 20:37
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
You're not alone, José Henrique! Jan 25, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
Being honest as a Brazilian translator, I cannot offer service to European (aka Continental or Iberian) Portuguese. So I have to waste both mine and the client's time, send my bid, explain such limitation, and tell them to disregard my offer if they need the "other" Portuguese.


I do the same thing with both Spanish and English (i.e. only into Mexican Spanish and only into American English), although I can translate from any type of Spanish and any type of English.

Getting back to the topic at hand, Armorel's suggestion makes perfect sense - maybe it's time to think about actually implementing Enrique's "Regional variances entered in additional fields could be considered?"


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:37
French to English
+ ...
Key word search Jan 25, 2008

Hello Armorel,

You might want to include "American" in your key word search, that narrows things somewhat.

And beyond typographical rules, spelling and word differences, writing style, expressions, cultural references differ as well. To notice it easily, read aloud an article, say from the Wall Street Journal and one from the Economist.

Cheers,

Patricia


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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 05:37
Partial member (2003)
French to English
+ ...
it's called localisation and of course it will be necessary Jan 25, 2008

Tina Vonhof wrote:

There are some differences in word use, in the use of certain expressions, and in spelling but these are no so great that actual translation is necessary. In most cases some editing should be sufficient. I think your best bet would be to ask an American translator (do they have to be located in the UK?) to edit the text.


There are many differences between UK and USA English, some obvious, some more subtle. So if Armorel says that localisation/localization is necessary, you can be certain that it is. You can compare it to the differences between your NL Dutch and Belgian Dutch.


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xxxmdervis
Local time: 04:37
German to English
+ ...
Americanization Jan 25, 2008

British and US English are rather different which is why British books are americanized before being published in the US. There are editors who specialise in americanization, and you might be able to find some in the directory of the Society of Freelance Editors and Proofreaders or by asking a British publisher of co-editions.

As for translators who translate into US English, the ITI directory does offer a distinction which I think is very useful. I also wish clients would always specify whether they want British or American English -- this would save everybody a lot of time!

Which subject area and languages are you looking for? Maybe I could help finding the right person.

[Edited at 2008-01-25 18:23]


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:37
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
American Pie Jan 25, 2008

This company founded by Josephine Bacon "American Pie" ( http://www.americanization.com/aboutus.html ) provides translations from UK to US English and vice-versa which they refer to as Americanization/Anglicisation.

They are located in London: http://www.americanization.com/contactus.html




[Edited at 2008-01-25 19:03]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Language variants Jan 26, 2008

Enrique wrote:
The main reason to keep Portuguese as a unique language in ProZ.com is that we follow the ISO 639.2 standard, where Portuguese is listed as a single language.
Of course the same applies to British and American English.
Regional variances entered in additional fields could be considered.
Regards,
Enrique


Yes, according to both Brazilian and Portuguese constitutions the official language in the respective countries is "Portuguese", without any additional specification. This should probably apply to all other languages spoken in more than one country.

The ISO standard probably takes a similar stance, and it should be adequate for specifying source languages for translators. Though some French translators complain about Quebecois, German counterparts complain about Schweizer Deutsch, and so on, Brazilians accept originals from Portugal and the Portuguese accept originals from Brazil, as just sometimes more difficult than average.

The whole point is that Proz is all about translation, so I'll give a personal example. I had a French-made car, which had been imported to Brazil. It came with a manual in European Portuguese, as it was probably also exported to Portugal. Now I have another model of the same brand, however manufactured in Brazil. Though the latter model was originally developed and made in France, and probably exported to Portugal as well, the manual came in Brazilian Portuguese. It would be unacceptable to have it otherwise for a local product.

So when it's about translation, the targeted market should be taken into account. I know that many outsourcers are rather careless with what they write on their ads, however a drop-down menu "Localized for:" with a list of countries might serve as a reminder, being the first and default option "Any". The result, like src-dest languages, should always be shown on the ad. This would make the outsourcer notice their choice when (and if) they have a look at the published ad.

Like I saw an EN-PT ad today asking for a native speaker of SP, or some time ago, ditto living in China, this may lead to a request for an EN-PT translation localized for the Portuguese spoken in Uzbekistan (if ever!!!), but it still won't be the worst around.



[Edited at 2008-01-26 16:17]


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