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Could we have the polls proofread?
Thread poster: Timothy Barton

Timothy Barton
Local time: 23:59
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Sep 17, 2006

I hope I'm not taken as sounding rude here, but some of the polls are grammatically badly worded. I don't want to give any specific examples lest I embarass somebody, so I'll mention a general mistake, which is that many questions ask "Did you....?" when they mean "Have you (ever)....?".

Now I know we all understand it anyway, but I think on a site of language professionals we should make sure that what's on here is well written.

This is not to criticise in any way those who have posed a question and not quite got the grammar right. I'm sure that in most cases they are not native English speakers, and maybe even don't translate from English. But before being posted a poll could be checked by someone.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:59
Member
English to Turkish
Moved the topic Sep 17, 2006

Hi Timothy,

I have moved your topic to "Proz.com Suggestions" forum.

Regards,
Özden


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
German to English
+ ...
Could we have the polls proofread? Sep 17, 2006

Timothy Barton wrote:

... many questions ask "Did you....?" when they mean "Have you (ever)....?".


Isn't this one of the differences between AmE and BrE?

Marc


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 17:59
German to English
Perhaps, José Sep 17, 2006

MarcPrior wrote:

Isn't this one of the differences between AmE and BrE?

Marc


Hi Marc - as an American English teacher, my first reaction to your comment was "no way, José"! I had never thought there were any differences in the use of simple past and present perfect between these two varieties of English. But lo and behold, it appears you're right.

Use of the Present Perfect
In British English the present perfect is used to express an action that has occurred in the recent past that has an effect on the present moment. For example:
I've lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In American English the following is also possible:
I lost my key. Can you help me look for it?
In British English the above would be considered incorrect. However, both forms are generally accepted in standard American English. Other differences involving the use of the present perfect in British English and simple past in American English include already, just and yet.
British English:
I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film
Have you finished your homework yet?
American English:
I just had lunch OR I've just had lunch
I've already seen that film OR I already saw that film.
Have your finished your homework yet? OR Did you finish your homework yet?
http://esl.about.com/library/weekly/aa110698.htm


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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:29
German to English
I agree Sep 17, 2006

I agree with Timothy's suggestion.

The present poll, for example, asks "How many kids you have?", when it should be "do you have." Personally, I would also prefer "children" to "kids."

I also don't mean to criticise anyone, I just agree that the polls should be proofread before being posted.

[Edited at 2006-09-17 15:39]


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Jennifer Baker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:59
Member (2004)
Italian to English
I second the suggestion Sep 17, 2006

Present perfect vs. simple past issues aside, I think that Timothy was probably giving a vague example so as not to point out any one mistake in particular. I've seen some blatant mistakes in the polls, and have been too embarassed to mention them, even though they really did bug me (this is, after all, a site for language professionals).
I think proofreading is a great idea. The polls must go through some kind of approval process, so checking the language could probably just be added to that, no?

Jennifer

[Edited at 2006-09-17 15:40]


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 15:59
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Okay for spoken/informal AmE Sep 17, 2006

As an ESL teacher I used this one teacher's book that explained in detail the grammar structure we were to teach that day. When talking about the present perfect, they also introduced the "did you ... yet" or "did you ever ...", but we were encouraged not to "let the students know" about this. It could be too confusing...

I think the teaching philosophy of that book was to show us "hey, it exists and is used in spoken/informal conversations, but if you want to teach them the correct way, keep this one alternative in your pocket..." So we (the teachers) kind of had "the knowledge," but had to keep it for ourselves.

Living in California, I hear this structure a lot. It's just a matter of instinct among native speakers. I cannot bring myself to say that or anything similar, such as "I should of did that!" But I think this is the difference between linguists and the rest of the world; they (the rest of the world) speak the language in the most spontaneous and lively possible way, while we (the linguists) try to study and analyze the language phenomenon, sometimes trying to keep everything straight.

Well, getting back to the original subject ("should polls be proofread?"), I believe they should for the simple fact that this site is full of linguists and we can't help but analyze it anyway I believe this would avoid any undermining comments directed to those who are not English native speakers and would like to have their poll up to find out about a particular subject.

Well, that's my opinion, anyway.


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Bonita Mc Donald
Local time: 16:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Agree Sep 17, 2006

Timothy Barton wrote:

This is not to criticise in any way those who have posed a question and not quite got the grammar right. I'm sure that in most cases they are not native English speakers, and maybe even don't translate from English. But before being posted a poll could be checked by someone.


Absolutely. The polls appear on ProZ's home page, so as a professional workplace specializing in providing services for a translators' community, which has defined it's default language for the entire site as being English, it's very important that the poll questions be grammatically correct. Actually, it would be kind of fun to be able to proofread the poll questions. I'd sign up for that myself!


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:59
Italian to English
Undermining and understanding Sep 17, 2006

Rafa Lombardino wrote:

Well, getting back to the original subject ("should polls be proofread?"), I believe they should for the simple fact that this site is full of linguists and we can't help but analyze it anyway I believe this would avoid any undermining comments directed to those who are not English native speakers and would like to have their poll up to find out about a particular subject.

Well, that's my opinion, anyway.


Perhaps the point is not so much proofreading as clearing up possible misunderstandings. In the past, some very interesting polls have been misinterpreted by answerers because the original question was ambiguous. IIRC, in one or two cases the polls have been rephrased and repeated.

I don't think it would be undermining for anyone if one or more native English speakers glanced over proposed polls and got in touch with the proposer privately if they thought there was any possibility of misinterpretation.

After all, formulating a concise question in English is difficult enough for those of us who are native speakers

FWIW

Giles




[Edited at 2006-09-17 19:26]


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 18:59
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree too--but notify poster first! Sep 17, 2006

I know that we are warned that our polls might be edited, but having others change what we wrote is a very sensitive topic in certain circles. It would be a nice courtesy if the proofreader(s) could send short notes to the people who propose the polls notifying them of the intent to change the wording and giving them the option of removing their names from the quick poll.

But yes, I think the quick polls should be expressed in good English (US, UK, Australian, Indian, Caribbean, I don't care, but formal, standard English). And non-native English speakers should not feel inhibited about proposing a poll. Personally, I'm much more comfortable writing in English, but I'll write in Spanish if I know that a competent person will be checking it for me. The same might hold true for non-native English-speaking ProZers.

Jane


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TonyTK
German to English
+ ...
So as not to confuse Kim and Marc ..., Sep 17, 2006

... maybe we could use Ebonics for polls. It would certainly encourage us more youthful members to take part. And it looks cooler. Take the Ebonic Lord's Prayer frinstance:

Yo, Bid Daddy upstairs,
You be chillin
So be yo hood
You be sayin` it, I be doin` it
In this here hood and yo`s
Gimme some eats
And cut me some slack, Blood
Sos I be doin` it to dem dat diss me
don`t be pushing me into no jive
and keep dem Crips away
'Cause you always be da Man

Almost makes me want to join da church.


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
Old hags like this too and don't diss the messenger Sep 18, 2006

TonyTK wrote:


Almost makes me want to join da church.


Although not a spring chicken, I felt the same way. Thanks for making my day start with a laugh, Tony!


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 23:59
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Apologies... Sep 18, 2006

I was unaware that the structure I mentioned was correct American English. Apologies. Now I'm starting to think I used to correct a former German flatmate on this, who spoke American English.

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Mandy Williams  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
German to English
Totally agree, Timothy Sep 18, 2006

So I'm not the only one who has sent a support request to get a question corrected? Oops.
Anyway, in my review of the support ticket I suggested that I might be able to check the questions but (freelance work being what it is) I'm not always around. Having said that, I don't understand why proof-reading is not already part of the pre-publication process.
Regards from rainy Cologne,
MW


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Marie-Céline GEORG  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:59
English to French
+ ...
Proofreading polls is a good idea Sep 18, 2006

Hi,
As a non-native English speaker, I wouldn't mind receiving a message telling me that a poll suggestion is not correctly written / is not clearly expressed. But to make things clear, I'd prefer to be told about it before my poll is published and I'd like to have my saying in the final wording.
It's natural to make mistakes sometimes, even in one's mother tongue, so I don't consider it offending to be corrected - it's a good way of learning!
Maybe this suggestion would fit in the "If I were Henry..." topic?

Marie-Céline


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