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KudoZ answers and quality of ProZ glossary
Thread poster: Oliver Lawrence

Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:14
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
Apr 16, 2009

Hello folks

For KudoZ questions for which natural phrasing and 'higher' uses of language (e.g. plays on words) come into play (i.e. I am not talking about purely terminological issues), I have noticed that where the asker is a translator NOT working into their native language(s), there is a real risk of an answer being accepted which was not the best offered. This therefore compromises the quality of the online glossary (when the answer is entered into it).

Does anyone perceive this as a problem, and if so are there any practical solutions that we can think of (e.g. only let terms be entered in the main glossary by native speakers of the target language)?

Cheers,
Ol.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 05:14
SITE FOUNDER
Measures that can be taken Apr 16, 2009

Hello Oliver.

Thanks for posting.

In discussing "quality" in translation, and KudoZ, first of all we have to recognize that what one views as "the best offered" is not necessarily what everyone will view as the best offered. We would all like to be able to identify the true "best" answer, of course, and this is a worthy challenge. On the other hand, the decision was made early in ProZ.com's history that in the case of "help-type" KudoZ question (ie. questions in which someone needs help with a translation -- that is, questions other than the new "GBK" type), determining which answer was "the best offered" would be considered a secondary challenge, the primary challenge being to provide the asker with the "help" that s/he needed. (This is why, for example, the system tells the asker to award points to the answer that s/he views as "most helpful.") This approach has many implications. Opinions on the wisdom of this approach have been divided over the years, but it is an approach that we do not intend to abandon -- at least not in the case of "help-type" questions. (The concept that "The person with the need sets the parameters", is among the site's guiding principles. To quote from that: "The feeling is that this approach, which may be the one most likely to ensure that needs are met, is appropriate for our collaborative community and service industry.")

In contrast to help-type questions, the new "GBK" question format has been designed to create authoritative entries in the glossary. In GBK questions, a dedicated person posts terms for translation (with definitions and example sentences), and the decision on which translation is "best" is made by the community. GBK was discussed here.

All of that said, quality of the glossary is after all the second highest priority in help-type questions, and there are a few measures that can be taken. Apart from including any instructions in the body of the question, the asker can "direct" his/her question to certain types of answerer (for example, native speakers of the target language.) Peer comments help to guide answerers in evaluating the quality of suggestions offered. And means exist (albeit rudimentary means) of editing glossary entries once they have been made.

A further possibility presented now by the new GBK question type would be to suggest, via a support ticket entitled "Suggested GBK term: {}", that a given term (which you feel has a "wrong" entry in the glossary) be reposted as a GBK question. In that case, at least a parallel would wind up in the glossary. It would likely be much more complete, as GBK questions require definitions and example sentences.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
"Native speaker" is a variant of racism Apr 16, 2009

I could flood this reply with examples of non-native speakers who often get the idea better than natives, as well as of natives who - for various reasons - are not as proficient in their mother language as it would be expected.

I use Kudoz answers mostly as memory prompters and search assistants, but never as an authoritative source. They help a lot if used in this way. Quite often I see the same term having been asked more than once, and each time resulting in a different answer. Sometimes they match, however I don't consider these as 'votes'.

A Kudoz question involves two things:
a) understanding what the word/expression means in the source language;
b) figuring how to say it properly in the target language.

Sometimes either one, or both, are obvious and correct. The risk is in taking that for granted, regardless of whether the individual answerer doing so is a native speaker or not.

Then the risk is multiplied by another risk factor, caused by the answerer assuming that a John Smith supposedly gives reliable answers about English, while someone named Yuri Popov should be more reliable in Russian.

I happen to be one of the three (maybe there are more, I only know two other) EN-PT translators in the Sao Paulo state (Brazil) who have a German-sounding surname and don't know squat about DE. Now and then we do get translation requests outright written in German! One of the other guys told me he received a phone call in German, and the only word he understood was übersetzen.



Of course this is a problem, just as much as blindly using any dictionary as a failproof source for anything, regardless of context. The only sensible solution I see for it is widespread common sense by all involved: asker, answerer, and all users browsing the resulting database.

I don't think any automatic solution would fall into that common sense criterion.


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:14
Spanish to English
+ ...
I like it the way it is Apr 16, 2009

It sounds like what you’re trying to do is turn the Kudoz glossary into some type of authoritative dictionary rather than accept it for what it is. I use the Kudoz glossary constantly and it’s saved my life and gotten me out of hot water more times than I can say, but I always take everything in it (including the answer chosen as being correct) with a HUGE grain of salt. I view the KG as a sort of “minutes of the meeting” on a brainstorming session dealing with a particular translation question. Everyone’s comments get written down no matter how off the wall they may be. That puts the onus on the person seeking a valid answer to take a look at everything that was brought up in the “meeting”. That’s obviously not as comfortable as opening a dictionary only written by authorities on a certain subject, but that’s what I like about the KG: it has a broader scope than any authoritative dictionary could.

To address your specific question of whether KG answers should be limited to native speakers, I’d have to say no they shouldn’t be. A personal case in point would be when I’ve answered English >Spanish questions. Spanish is my second language but the questions I answered (and were agreed with by native Spanish speakers) were because I understood the finer points of the original English and had a good enough level of Spanish to render a correct answer in that language. It was obvious in those cases that the Spanish speaking answerers (in those cases) didn’t grasp the source language well enough to give a good answer in their own native language. I’m just speaking from personal experience, but this could obviously happen in any language combination. Limiting Kudoz answers to native speakers of a language would do a great disservice to the translation community.

I honestly think that instead of trying to formalize the KG, it should be understood for what it is. It’s obviously NOT an authoritative dictionary. It’s a wild, hodgepodge of information but it’s like a goldmine i.e., it often takes some digging to find the gold. Placing even well-meaning limits on it would only detract from it.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
English to German
+ ...
Thank you, José and John Apr 16, 2009

There is nothing to add. Your replies should be part of the FAQ.

Greetings!

Nicole


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 05:14
German to English
+ ...
for what it is ... Apr 16, 2009

Often it's not the "best response" that's selected; rather, it's somehow a popularity contest who gets the kudos.

As mentioned, the kudoz entries help to joggle the memory or to provide alternatives. Many times, for my translations, I've picked responses that weren't selected as the best.

I keep participating in making entries because of the value I obtain from the entries of others. It's a way of giving back.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 11:14
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hear hear Apr 16, 2009

Nicole Schnell wrote:

There is nothing to add. Your replies should be part of the FAQ.

Greetings!

Nicole


Noni


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Kate Chaffer
Italy
Local time: 11:14
Italian to English
The glossary alone is of little use Apr 16, 2009

I never really look at the glossary entry on its own but always at the actual question and all the possible answers offered. In my opinion the glossary without the linked questions is not particularly useful. I've seen too many wrong entries to rely on it completely but I'm sure most other translators feel the same way and realise the need to use it along with the questions as a useful tool.

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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:14
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Native speaker" is a variant of racism Apr 16, 2009

I say, what an outrageous comment!!

Can nobody say anything these days without being accused of something?

Liz Askew


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:14
English to German
Circumstances Apr 16, 2009

There are, of course, good points for both sides. However, I like it how it is, because only the asker knows the complete text or the client or the target audience and other things which are to be taken into consideration when choosing the most suitable answer.

I trust that everyone who got the points awarded is responsible enough to consider whether or not the answer should be entered into a glossary.

Annett

[Edited at 2009-04-16 16:32 GMT]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 08:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Reply on racism Apr 16, 2009

Title: "Native speaker" is a variant of racism

liz askew wrote:
I say, what an outrageous comment!!
Can nobody say anything these days without being accused of something?
Liz Askew


Liz,

Honni soit qui mal y pense.

No need to plead guilty unless you are charged.

I meant that generally assigning attributes to "native speakers" is as wise as doing it with specific races. Each individual has their own story, which will affect their knowledge of a language.

I have numerous examples of people whose life moved them away from their native language, and who became top-flight language professionals (not necessarily translators) in other languages. In most cases they still speak their native language fluently, with flawless pronunciation, often having some slight foreign accent in their adopted working languages, but they admittedly don't write so well in their native language any more.

So the "native speaker" criterion is as misleading as making assumptions based on someone's race, which is all that racism is about. It would be even worse to use such unreliable information to set parameters whereby software would automatically evaluate someone's ability to offer proper answers lo language issues.

I hope to have made my point clear.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:14
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
No need to plead guilty unless you are charged Apr 16, 2009

No, say what you will, your comment was ill-chosen.


Innocent until proved guilty is my preference.

No need for unpleasant comments.

Liz

[Edited at 2009-04-16 16:41 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 11:14
Member (2009)
English to Croatian
+ ...
... Apr 16, 2009

It's the asker who will determine what is the *best* answer for him or her. If they make a bad choice, that's not really my problem, and I never get irritated about this, because the asker will put his signature on that translation, not mine, and it's not really my business.

I only worry about translations with my signature- only these count in my portfolio.

Also, nobody was officially named to be an ultimate arbitrary or a judge for KudoZ answers. I see KudoZ more like a place for discussion and paraphrasing, rather than for arbitration or ultimate judgment.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 07:14
Glossaries Apr 16, 2009

Kate C wrote:
I never really look at the glossary entry on its own but always at the actual question and all the possible answers offered. In my opinion the glossary without the linked questions is not particularly useful. I've seen too many wrong entries to rely on it completely but I'm sure most other translators feel the same way and realise the need to use it along with the questions as a useful tool.


That's what I do when searching translation for a term as well.

However, only through KudoZ archive can I track all the answers; personal glossary offers only the chosen translation. So I have stopped searching in personal glossaries, unless the term does not appear in KudoZ archive.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 05:14
English to French
+ ...
Racism - a bit off topic Apr 16, 2009

Liz, I think you are misreading José's comment (although he did expain it clearly in his second post).

What I have been seeing on ProZ for quite a while is that the majority believes that if you are not translating into your mother tongue, you shouldn't be translating. While I agree with this to a certain extent, I also have seen people translating into their B or even C language better than those who translate into their native language. They are a minority, but they do exist. Why should these people be excluded when they can do as good a job as others?

I think José is right in that people translating into anything other than their native language are being labeled. I will just propose a different word for what he said: instead of using the word racism, I would use the word discrimination. Besides, who are we to decide who should translate and who shouldn't? There are non-native translators out there who were certified by a certifying body. If they weren't good enough, they wouldn't have certification. If you ask me, telling them they shouldn't translate because they translate into another language than their native language does come down to discrimination on the basis of language...


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