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Is the translator a man or a woman?
Thread poster: xxxwonita
xxxwonita
China
Local time: 21:33
Dec 20, 2007

I have just browsed around the Chinese translations of the 5. translation contest. After reading only a few sentences, I could tell whether the translator is a man or a woman with great certainty, though we don't have different grammars for different genders in Chinese. Despite of the fact that I have been reading equally much in English and German in the past decade, the text in those two languages does not give away the sex of the author (translator). I just wonder if any of you can tell the gender of the author in a foreign language and how.

Have a nice Christmas holiday!

Bin


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:33
French to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting. Dec 20, 2007

Is the translator a woman or a man?
Never, never thought about that!
Well, when I see Henry Hinds's picture, I KNOW he's a man, but otherwise, no idea.

"After reading only a few sentences, I could tell whether the translator is a man or a woman with great certainty, though we don't have different grammars for different genders in Chinese."

How's that?
Please explain.
Very interesting indeed.


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Evi Wollinger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
I have been noticing the same thing Dec 20, 2007

...especially in this advent season, because I get daily reflective thoughts for meditations by email. It is usually around one page and I can usually tell after two sentences if the author is a man or a woman, sometimes just the title is enough to make me take the correct guess. I actually have made a game out of it and was pleasantly surprised to read your posting, good, I am not alone - was beginning to think that I was weird!
I couldn't really put the differences I notice in words - usually I just find that women tend to have a "softer" style, men seem to choose different words, more down to earth and ....hard to explain.
I would be curious to hear if somebody else has noticed this, too, and what ideas people have for explanations?
Evi


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Evi Wollinger  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:33
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
correction Dec 20, 2007

I just read your posting again. I am not sure what language would be more foreign to me, English or German. English I suppose.
To answer your question, I could not guess the sex of the author of an English text. Weird, really.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 21:33
TOPIC STARTER
In Japanese women and men talk differently Dec 20, 2007

Juan Jacob wrote:

Is the translator a woman or a man?
Never, never thought about that!
Well, when I see Henry Hinds's picture, I KNOW he's a man, but otherwise, no idea.

"After reading only a few sentences, I could tell whether the translator is a man or a woman with great certainty, though we don't have different grammars for different genders in Chinese."

How's that?
Please explain.
Very interesting indeed.


If I say in Spanish: soy traductora, you will know immediately from the ending "ra" that I am a woman. In Japanese, men and women use different words/grammar. In many cases you can tell whether the speaker is a man or a woman from his/her wording.

Don't ask me for details. I can't talk Japanese. But a German gentleman who learned Japanese from a Japanese woman was laughed at by the Japanese natives because he talked the woman language.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks, Juan Dec 20, 2007

Of course there are some people who are deceptive, but yes, that really is me!

As far as being able to tell from writing, I have never thought of it that way. But aside from personal references to the writer in the text, I do not think that in texts of a general or non-personal nature it would be possible to tell the writer's sex in either English or Spanish.

On the other hand, certain choices of subject or ways of expression can be identified as typically masculine or feminine, but these might come up in writings that are of a more personal nature and where one is likely to know who wrote it anyway.

Interestingly enough I have heard that there is a Chinese language that is exclusive to women, but it is only spoken by an extremely small number now and will soon disappear.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 21:33
TOPIC STARTER
Even no idea for literary work in German Dec 20, 2007

Evi Wollinger wrote:

I just read your posting again. I am not sure what language would be more foreign to me, English or German. English I suppose.
To answer your question, I could not guess the sex of the author of an English text. Weird, really.


It is easiest for me to tell the gender of the author for literary works in Chinese. Men and women have different styles, different organizational structure, tend to apply different words. Lately I translated a short story from German into Chinese. I have enjoyed reading it, yet no clue if it was written by a man or a woman, which would never happen in my mother tongue for literary works.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:33
French to Spanish
+ ...
Same here. Dec 20, 2007

I think/thought translation was "non-sexual".
Bin, please, explain your point.
That's interesting.


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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 01:33
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
But don't you think there is something wrong with the translation then? Dec 20, 2007

Interesting observation, but to me it seems that something is wrong. It's ok to "sense" or "read" the author's gender, and indeed in some languages it is more apparent then in others, but if several translators translated the same text (like in the contest) and the translation shows *their* genders, then I'd say these are bad translations, no? Especially if the text was written by a man and the translation reads "feminine" or vice versa?

Magda


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:33
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Would it be sexist to ask for a male Chinese translator? Dec 20, 2007

Hi Bin,

I follow this subject with great interest. Is the gender of the translator so obvious in other languages than mine? Would it be sexist if Gillette asked for a male Chinese translator to translate the copy for their latest razor for men?

I translate into Dutch and about 80% of my colleagues must be female. After reading a few sentences I can normally tell whether she/he was born in Belgium or in the Netherlands, but I'd have a hard time to tell any colleague's gender.

Regards,
Gerard


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rchan
Local time: 00:33
Chinese to English
+ ...
more to do with the reader? Dec 20, 2007

I know what you mean about reading Chinese and sensing the gender of the writer.

I wonder if sometimes it more the case of Chinese readers WANTING to sense the gender of the writer.

I personally know a writer who everyone is sure is male, yet she isn't!


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:33
French to Spanish
+ ...
Well... Dec 20, 2007

...if I read traductora or traductrice, we all know she's a woman.
If I read translator, nobody knows the gender.
Is that it?


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Textklick  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:33
German to English
+ ...
Let the computer do the work Dec 20, 2007

Obviously there are weightings in different cultures.

Try this: http://www.hackerfactor.com/GenderGuesser.html#Analyze

I didn't have time to check it much.

Regards
Chris


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:33
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Interesting Dec 21, 2007

So is there no neutral language in Chinese? If you translate, are you able to choose which language to use, according to the target audience?

Very often when a woman wrights about men, using maskuline heroes in a novel, you can tell without looking at the name of the author. And men are probably incapable of describing the actions of women so, that it would sound right to women. Of course this only applies to fiction.
Women read literature written by women and men, but men read literature mostly written by men, that is a fact.


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:33
Sexolects - the question of language and gender Dec 21, 2007

Very interesting post!

Some languages have sexolects, i.e. gender specific speech patterns.
This applies to e.g. several North American languages, in which you can tell the difference between men's speech and women's speech. The difference is not just a tendency to use certain words or expressions (as I guess is common in many languages), but is seen both at the phonetical and/or lexical level.

I once read that in Lakota, both boys and girls use the women's variant until about the age 5. Then the boys are/were instructed to use the men's variant. In some North American languages, the language not only varies according to who is speaking, but also who is spoken to.

Searching the net, I was surprised to find very little on this subject, but did find an article, which includes some funny examples of gender-specific lexical differences (e.g. peach vs. sorta pink - guess which is the men's and which is the women's): http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~sngynan/slx13.html

Jørgen


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