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Distinction between feminine and masculine gender forms in translators' profile
Thread poster: Serena Hiller

Serena Hiller  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:35
English to German
+ ...
Feb 2, 2008

Dear ProZ.com team members,

I have read today with much interest the first ProZ.com newsletter of this year and the announcement regarding new, additional features and improvements for the translators’ community which will be implemented in the course of this year.

I appreciate the hard work and efforts undertaken by all of you and the contributions made by the volunteering translator colleagues who committed themselves to the localization of the profiles which can now be viewed in numerous languages.

My suggestion regarding an additional distinction between feminine and masculine gender forms used for ProZ.com members’ profiles refers to the headline but also to the profile itself where the term “translator” can be viewed only in the masculine form of the respective language (e.g. traducteur, utilisateur, traduttore, traductor etc.). This is not meant as pedantic criticism, but I think that also all the other ladies here in the translators’ community would appreciate it as well if the feminine form like traductrice, traduttrice, traductora etc. was used in our profiles. I am aware that in English it is not that complicated as there are many professions without a gender-specific use but these differences exist in other languages and should be taken into account.

Thank you very much in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Serena Hiller



[Edited at 2008-02-02 01:05]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
good point Feb 2, 2008

...and especially as it's a profession that possibly has a high proportion of women.


Maybe someone could do a simple poll: Are you a male translator or a female translator?


I'm not sure I can, as I'm a user not a member.



[Edited at 2008-02-02 01:34]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:35
English to French
+ ...
Us girls Feb 2, 2008

I somehow think most contributors here will be women...

I agree with the suggestion.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Gender Feb 2, 2008

I can vaguely recall a poll some time ago where the gender ratio in our profession came out to about 75% female. While that fact in itself is quite interesting, it is also true that a large number of people hide behind pseudonyms that give no clue as to gender.

Therefore, maybe what is mentioned here is an important issue, or maybe not.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:35
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Complicate cultural issue Feb 2, 2008

This feature would satisfy some and probably infuriate others. I believe the term translator in English is quite neutral, otherwise in English speaking countries it is common to inquire if the person wants to be addressed as Mr. or Ms.
When you translate such forms into Finnish, you remove this part. Finns do not address other people with Herra or Rouva, but only with name and surname.
Again if you have to translate a Finnish form into German, you have to add not only a field for selecting Herr/Frau/Fräulein, but also a second field for the Title (Dr./Dipl.Ing./...). It makes me always smile when I have to use such a form. It seems as antiquitated as the form on US websites where you had to fill in not only the country of residence but also the state. And the system would not let you through without filling in something. )-:

In Finnish translator is kääntäjä. Still 50 years ago their was the habit of distinguishing between the sexes. A female translator would have been kääntäjätär. But I strongly believe my female Finnish colleagues would be offended if one would address them today as kääntäjätär. It should be completely unimportant if a person is a man or a woman, we think, in regard of professional life. It would not be polite but an insault to a modern person.

In the German culture instead it is thought appropriate to make a distinction between men and women in regard of their profession. If you write to a group of German translators one would probably use "Liebe ÜbersetzerInnen". That is what probably most female German translators would prefer.

But I do not believe that there is a method that would fit all cultures.

Cheers
Heinrich


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I agree, but there are two issues here Feb 2, 2008

Serena Hiller wrote:
My suggestion regarding an additional distinction between feminine and masculine gender forms used for ProZ.com members’ profiles refers to the headline but also to the profile itself where the term “translator” can be viewed only in the masculine form of the respective language (e.g. traducteur, utilisateur, traduttore, traductor etc.).


I agree that this would be useful. I suggest to split the suggestion into two parts, though:

1. Let a translator be able to specify his gender and the fact that he/she wants the ProZ.com web site to address them according to that gender. In this case, the gender is not explicitly shown to the public (although members of the public may be able to deduce the gender by looking at certain phrases on the profile).

2. Let there be an option for a translator to show his/her gender on their profile, if they prefer. If they don't want to show their gender, then the gender item should simply be omitted from the profile so that members of the public can't see that the translator had specifically not mention his/her gender.

I realise that there are countries and cultures were gender is regarded as so absolutely irrelevant to business relations that mentioning it is considered taboo, but let's leave that decision up to the translator him/herself, shall we?


[Edited at 2008-02-02 05:48]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Regarding forms of address in general... Feb 2, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
Again if you have to translate a Finnish form into German, you have to add not only a field for selecting Herr/Frau/Fräulein, but also a second field for the Title (Dr./Dipl.Ing./...).


I'm glad you mention this because I thought about it even before I read your post. And the fact is that simply having fields for these may not be sufficient, unless you have different fields for different cultures.

I recently had to send e-mails to academic people from Poland. Now on the English language page of a Polish university web site you might find "Prof UW Dr John Smith", and I guess it would be a faux pas of me to address that person as if "UW" were in fact their initials, or as if "John Smith" was a double-barrel surname. Elsewhere you'd find "Mgr Jack Rabbit", and of course I have no idea what "Mgr" means... it kinda looks like an abbreviation for "manager" to me.

Similarly if I were to send e-mail to someone from Hong Kong and their name is listed as "Mr JONATHAN, James", how would I say it? Mr James? Mr Jonathan? Would I offend if I used lowerase instead of uppercase? Or perhaps... Mr Jonathan James? Mr James Jonathan?

So my proposal would be that translators optionally also indicate on their profiles how they would like to be addressed in an e-mail, and not to rely on separate fields for these things.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
English to Dutch
+ ...
Couldn't care less Feb 2, 2008

The profession is that of a translator, that's all.

Whether I'm a man or woman does not matter to the work I do. I don't even think a client necessarily has to know this. If any change is going to be made, please let the owner of the profile decide whether or not to apply it.


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Buck
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
Dutch to English
Does it really matter? Feb 2, 2008

Does it really matter whether your gender is specified? Do you think an outsourcer will choose a translator based on their gender rather than their skills? I don't think so.

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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
English to Dutch
+ ...
Don't generalise Feb 2, 2008

Serena Hiller wrote:

I think that also all the other ladies here in the translators’ community would appreciate it as well if the feminine form like traductrice, traduttrice, traductora etc. was used in our profiles.


[Edited at 2008-02-02 01:05]


General statements like these are never a good idea. (Bold type by me.)


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:35
German to English
+ ...
Localization issue Feb 2, 2008

This is starting to sound like a gender politics issue, but I see it as a localization issue.

With the site language set to German, the header of Serena's profile begins:

Serena Hiller - Übersetzer für die Sprachrichtung Englisch > Deutsch, Übersetzungen in (...)

With it set to Italian, it begins:

Serena Hiller - Traduttore Da Inglese a Tedesco. Servizi di traduzione in (...)

You can argue - and I would be fairly sympathetic to the view - that "Übersetzer" is an acceptable generic term for translators of both sexes, but it isn't an acceptable term for a single female translator, as in this case.

It's just plain wrong, whatever your gender-political leanings, and the page hasn't been localized properly. I'm not saying that it's a major error, nor that it's necessarily a major issue, but it's clearly an error, and I think Serena is right to take it seriously.

Marc


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:35
English to German
+ ...
Translatoress? No thanks. Feb 2, 2008

I am a translator and I do not wish to be distinguished from my male / better or worse colleagues by name in any way. No matter if I am writing about lipstick or oil drilling pumps.

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Narcis Lozano Drago  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:35
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
You can do it right now, but it may not be such a good idea Feb 2, 2008

The title displayed in your profile is generated automatically, based on search engine optimization principles, but you can change it anytime. Just go to My Settings->Search Engine Settings->Title displayed in your profile.

That said… it may not be such a good idea to do so. Search engines will use the words in the title to index your page. And when people (regardless of their gender) are looking for translation professionals (again, regardless of their gender) using a search engine they write (in Spanish) “Traductor inglés-español” (masculine) rather than “Traductora inglés-español” (feminine). Therefore pages containing the generic “traductor” are more likely to be listed. Some engines (Goggle) will search for variations of the words and will also list “traductora” pages, but I’m not sure that they will rank as high as pages containing the perfect match “traductor”.

In summary,you are free to localize your profile title, but doing so you may reduce your Internet visibility.

Regards,

Narcis


[Edited at 2008-02-02 12:35]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
That is because... Feb 2, 2008

Nicole Schnell wrote:
I am a translator and I do not wish to be distinguished from my male / better or worse colleagues by name in any way.


That is because "translator" is generic in English, and "translatress" is uncommon. But in other languages it may be more common.

There are cases in English where gender indication is quite normal, and using a generic form would sound strange or would give the wrong impression. Let's think of some examples...

If a child at school is asked "How will you be getting home", his answer would be "My mother will pick me up" or "My sister will pick me up". If he had answered "My parent will pick me up" or "My sibling would pick me up" it would sound very strange indeed... in English, but not in some local languages of my own country.

Now let's suppose the web site says "The translator will indicate his availability" and it's a female translator, would that matter to you? Does the sentence necessarily imply a male translator? To some people it might, but others would say that the sexless masculine form is common enough in English. And to me (as a non-native English speaker), if the site had said "The translator will indicate the translator's availability", it would sound as if there are two translators.

I agree with Marc, that this is a localisation error. Not making provision for genders is almost as bad as not making provision for plurals.


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:35
English to Dutch
+ ...
M/F Feb 2, 2008

In Dutch, this issue is commonly solved by adding M/F (male/female) after a profession. If anything, that could be an option.
In my opinion, the word 'translator' indicates the profession/service offered, as opposed to interpreter/outsourcer, etc.


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