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Ask an expert (similar to KudoZ)
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aug 16, 2007

Problem:

Sometimes, when I'm translating a document in a certain field, I may have a query about the text -- not a language query, but certainly one that will influence how I translated it. I could ask a KudoZ question, but I would be limited to a certain language combination which may not necessarily be read by the expert I need.

For example, say I translate a text about cars. Something in the text I don't quite understand, but if I did understand it, I would probably be able to translate it. I'm sure there are many KudoZ answerers who know more about cars than I do, and some of them may even be experts in cars. But few of these experts read KudoZ questions in my language combination.

Solution:

What would be great is an "Ask an expert" type of KudoZ system whereby notifications are not sent to ProZians based on language combination, but based on their specified subject fields. Alternatively ProZians who want to receive Ask-an-expert notifications can specify their expertise from a list.

When an expert answers a question, he should also write in a little box what his expertise with reference to the query is, eg "I have worked at a car factory for 10 years" or similar.

Apart from this additional little box, the system can be almost exactly the same as KudoZ, and points can also be awarded for the best answers.

I'm not sure how one should deal with languages -- perhaps experts should indicate which languages they understand, so that they receive only questions in those languages... A translator might not have indicated English on his profile even though he is perfectly capable of reading and writing it, so there has to be a way of indicating which languages he can answer queries in.

Please note that although you might find linguistic queries in the Ask an Expert system, the idea is mostly non-linguistic queries which have bearing on the to be translated.


[Edited at 2007-08-16 19:22]


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 03:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
What an excellent idea Aug 16, 2007

!

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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 21:57
SITE FOUNDER
Nice one! Aug 16, 2007

Good idea, indeed.

(To be fair, this was suggested at least once in the early years - was it Yolanda? Gianfranco? I had forgotten about doing it...)


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sokolniki  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:57
English to Russian
+ ...
Great idea! As for the points.. Aug 16, 2007

.. I would suggest significantly more than those we have at KudoZ now, maybe 10 or 12? Extra points for special or rare fields would be good, too.

These should be translation variants from real experts in the field. An introductory explanation/request to Prozians should probably be given to provide translation variants ONLY on condition you have been specializing in the area for at least X years.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That was my idea, initially... Aug 16, 2007

sokolniki wrote:
These should be translation variants from real experts in the field. An introductory explanation/request to Prozians should probably be given to provide translation variants ONLY on condition you have been specializing in the area for at least X years.


That was my idea initially, but I suspect that people can often answer questions about a topic even though they're not experts in it. Now my feeling is... nothing should prevent any ProZian from getting notification about *all* such queries -- the value of their answers can be judged by the asker (and by other people agreeing or disagreeing), and by the added field "Explain your expertise in this field".

There could also be examples underneath the text box, like, "I have worked in this field for X years" or "My wife does this for a hobby" or "My next-door neighbour once told me" or "I had previously translated a text like this". The point is that the answerer must say how he is an expert, qualified to answer the question (even if "expert" may be a very loose term).

I'm not an expert in cars, but I know quite a few things about cars that other people may not know.

As with KudoZ, people should indicate how confident they are of their answers. Unlike KudoZ, perhaps the level of confidence should not influence the number of points received for being chosen as the best answer (and people agreeing with the answer should also not have an influence on the points). This would ensure that people who guess, say so with confidence (so to speak).


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
A good idea, but it's already available (Platinum only) Aug 16, 2007

I understood perfectly your idea, Samuel, but I can't envision how it would be specifically implemented. The reason I empathize with that dates back from my early attempts to navigate in Proz. I recall having earned maybe half a dozen Kudoz from helping people in my specialty area, but who were translating from English into languages in which I wouldn't know how to say Good morning!.

So let's take me as a prospective "expert" in this system, and see how someone in need would find me.

My features:
- I am an expert in human resources management, training, organizational development. Let's constrain my expertise to this area.
- I translate both ways between EN and PT-BR.
- I speak IT-FR-ES with acceptable fluency. While I'm wholly illiterate in Spanish, two recent recipients of messages I wrote in French said "it's good, but funny". My Italian should be just about as good (or bad!). I have a "house policy" of not translating FROM any language I'm unable to translate INTO.

Now let's take a generic user who is translating EN>FR something about matrix management, and is somewhat lost at the meaning of "solid-line" and "dotted-line" reporting. I can certainly explain that and give the proper translations in PT, but I'd have no idea how to say it in my three half-languages.

In PT-BR they could be subordinação direta (solid) and subordinação funcional (dotted). MAYBE in French it's rapport direct and rapport fonctionel, maybe not, but it's just a wild guess of mine, and it might be totally misleading. So let the person who needs it guess or search.

The Kudoz system has the any-language to any-language search, exclusively for Platinum members, which is quite fair. This could lead to previously archived solutions in farfetched languages (i.e. out of the experts' linguistic reach) that might ring a bell.

So my guess is that this feature is already there. It's just a matter of turning Platinum and daring to use it with lots of common sense.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 03:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
or Aug 16, 2007

perhaps have been working in the field outside of translation. I translate mostly medical stuff. I am a qualified doctor. But sometimes the source documents contain physics or engineering terms that I might be unsure about. I have received a lot of help from technical translators in my language pair - some of them with engineering background.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:57
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
That works only for old questions Aug 16, 2007

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
So let the person who needs it guess or search.

The Kudoz system has the any-language to any-language search, exclusively for Platinum members, which is quite fair. This could lead to previously archived solutions in farfetched languages (i.e. out of the experts' linguistic reach) that might ring a bell.


This solution is useful, but only if the question had already been asked and answered previously. It doesn't help for new queries.

I would typically use the Ask an Expert system only after I've exhausted my searches on Google, because such searches often yield results quicker than any mailing list or forum can. But sometimes I'm just so baffled by something, and I get little or no results from Googling (sometimes the source text has a spelling error... grrr).

Also, your solution may only give me possible translations, but not an explanation of the thing, which may be what I need more. There are terms in my language pair that are easily translated (just take a dictionary) but the translation doesn't explain the concept. I guess the same can be said of many languages -- even translations in several languages (especially a technical term) are of little use when you're trying to understand the term.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 03:57
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Understand Aug 16, 2007

exactly what you mean.
What you lack is not linguistics, but an understanding of the subject in question, and what you want is someone to explain it to you.
So you can translate your text with confidence.
You want to know what you are talking about. So do I.


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Saskia Steur  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:57
English to Dutch
+ ...
Excellent idea! Aug 16, 2007

I think it's a great idea, Samuel! I'm all for it.

Best regards,
Saskia


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:57
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Did I get your point now? ... or finished missing it? Aug 16, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:
Also, your solution may only give me possible translations, but not an explanation of the thing, which may be what I need more. There are terms in my language pair that are easily translated (just take a dictionary) but the translation doesn't explain the concept. I guess the same can be said of many languages -- even translations in several languages (especially a technical term) are of little use when you're trying to understand the term.


This always makes me wonder... maybe because I had the experience myself. There is a client - a video studio less than 2 miles from me - that really likes my translations for dubbing or subtitling. Okay, I did several jobs for them in marketing, management, automotive, etc. Suddenly, they got medical stuff. In the beginning, it was just about how to communicate new drug benefits do physicians. Then it got into what to communicate, and this led my translating speed down to a crawl, as well as brought about my most emphatic recommendation that expert proofreading was strongly behooved. And finally it got to videos explaining and showing in detail some rather unpleasant surgical procedures. In these, I couldn't tell apart heads from tails. So I just gave up. Got them a MD who doubles as a translator, and stepped out of it for good. I am still their first choice for other areas, but they are now assured that I won't translate medical stuff.

So I wonder if a translator needs an expert in the same language pair to find their way in a text, why not outsource the whole job to them? Now and then I get hired to "fix" translations by non-experts in my specialty area and, when it's possible, I prefer to redo them from square one.

On the other hand, once I really needed a short text translated, but it was only available in German - a language of which I know nothing, in spite of my Austrian-Polish surname. As it was clearly within my specialty area, I shot it DE>EN through Babelfish, and fixed it. From there I got the PT version. However AFAIK my 'fixed' version into English - which I sent the author to check, later - is still being used in the US, unchanged.

So it's not only a matter of a language pair, nor of having a specific CAT tool (as Trados wants the world to believe), but of knowing the subject one is translating about, in both languages.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:57
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Good idea, but let's restrict it to site users Aug 16, 2007

I know enough about food to give pointers in French to a Vietnamese into Portuguese translator who wants to check the validity of an English Internet source about e.g. prawns.

Building an expert forum for questions like that is an excellent idea, but only registered users should be able to post. Experts in biochemistry or neurochemistry would be safe within an open system. Experts in dentistry would already be more exposed - the Senegalese dentist gave me a medical certificate stating... Experts in gastronomy would be defenceless. Educated Internet users go straight to the best source.

I have "no problem" with qualifying myself as a culinary expert in my answers and with my suggestions becoming available in Google, I also welcome the possibility to help translators outside of my own language pairs, but I’m afraid of becoming an oracle that can be globally reached.

Regards,
Gerard


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 04:57
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Excellent idea Aug 16, 2007

As I understand it would be ProZ equivalent of "answers.com" or "how things work.com". These are excellent sites, but not always they can help us, so I'm fully supporting the idea.

Uldis

[Rediģēts plkst. 2007-08-16 22:33]


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
another great idea ... Aug 17, 2007

Thanks again, Samuel, for another great idea.

Was it two weeks ago that Enrique posted an admonition that we must not ask non-terminological questions in our language pairs? I tried asking my questions to the monolingual pair, but I didn't get the kind of dialogue I was hoping for.

In my case, rather than just struggling with words or even concepts that are outside my specialty fields, my issue is with the way a text is written. This can range from my feeling overwhelmed by a convoluted sentence structure to struglling with an author's weak or fuzzy writing, all the way to outright typos!

In any of those situations, I don't want to start guessing at what was meant. I'd like to have a place to go where I could ask colleagues to discuss the writing problem with me. I'd like to have them throw out their own ideas about meaning. Once we'd tossed around possibilities, I'd be in a better position to know how to translate the material.


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:57
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Great idea! Aug 17, 2007

Great idea, Samuel!

I love it and fully support it

Roberta


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