When does language knowledge suffice to become a "working language".
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:44
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jun 19, 2008

Romance languages are very apparented. I grew up with one of them (French), studied Spanish and in my youth, I was to be found every summer in Salamanca, the craddle of Spanish. I have on old piece of paper, called degree which say that I have a masters in Spanish.
Moreover, I made a lot of assignments for one of my former class-mates, who studied Italian. The result was that after two years, I was and am still able to read a quality newspaper like the "Corriere della Sera" and understand its contents (with the help of a dictionary).
Whenever I watch the RAI, I understand what is being said.
The same goes for Portuguese television. No difficulties understanding what is being said or reading a newspaper.
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Translation is the written transpostion for a text into a target-text with the help of tools (dicos). If I ask myself "Am I able to read, understand and translate an Italian text into Dutch or English", then the answer is "yes", if I use a dictionary. Unfortunately, I am not able to speak Italian? I'll answer a speaker of Italian in Spanish.

Hence my question: when does a language you know becomes a source language?

[Edited at 2008-06-19 08:17]


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:44
Member
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Field by field Jun 19, 2008

Williamson wrote:

Romance languages are very apparented. I grew up with one of them (French), studied Spanish and in my youth, I was to be found every summer in Salamanca, the craddle of Spanish. I have on old piece of paper, called degree which say that I have a masters in Spanish.
Moreover, I made a lot of assignments for one of my former class-mates, who studied Italian. The result was that after two years, I was and am still able to read a quality newspaper like the "Corriere della Sera" and understand its contents (with the help of a dictionary).
Whenever I watch the RAI, I understand what is being said.
The same goes for Portuguese television. No difficulties understanding what is being said or reading a newspaper.
*-*-*-*-
Translation is the written transpostion for a text into a target-text with the help of tools (dicos). If I ask myself "Am I able to read, understand and translate an Italian text into Dutch or English", then the answer is "yes", if I use a dictionary. Unfortunately, I am not able to speak Italian? I'll answer a speaker of Italian in Spanish.

Hence my question: when does a language you know becomes a source language?

[Edited at 2008-06-19 08:17]


I would rather speak about language pair+field combinations. I consider a field my working field with a particular source language if I am certain that using the resources that are available, I can produce a high quality translation - that is, I will perfectly understand what is written in the source document and render it appropriately in my target language. And I consider a field my specialty field if I also understand why something is written the way it is - in other words, where I am confident to propose improvements to the source text if necessary.
Obviously, when you have studied the subject matter in depth, a field becomes your specialty field quite easily even in a language that you do not master perfectly. A researcher with a good command of the written source language will produce a much better work than a bilingual person who has never studied that particular field.
Attila


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:44
English to Arabic
+ ...
If you can understand the finest nuances Jun 19, 2008

I know what you mean - you see an Italian text, and you're sure you'll be able to translate it with the help of a dictionary, even though you don't "speak" the language. I feel the same way about some of my "not-working" languages.
But I can assure you that once you're presented with a slightly complex text with finer nuances, you'll start making mistakes that no translator with proper knowledge of the language would make.
I can't tell you how many translators I've seen who are so confident of their knowledge of English, then post Kudoz questions (or worse, suggest Kudoz answers!) which betray a terrible lack of understanding of the language's finer nuances.


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:44
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Related languages - my example Jun 19, 2008

I am a native speaker of Danish and I translate from Swedish and Norwegian even though I can't speak either of these languages. They are so near to my mother tongue, almost like a dialect, that Danish, Swedish and Norwegian people can speak to each other using the their respective mother tongues.

My Master was in Scandinavian and English. But I only had on course in Swedish and one in Norwegian (bot very broad, covering literature and language of both contries, more like an introdoctury course). Yet what I do is perfectly acceptable and the norm for most Danish translators.


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
When you can recognise errors in the source text and all nuances are perfectly clear to you Jun 19, 2008

I translate from 3 working languages into English. I am 100% fluent in all 3 and can spot errors in the source text, including when the wrong word is used for the context. Nuances in the text stand out immediately. Dictionaries are an aid/guide but I don't have to rely on them in order to do the job. All this makes me feel confident when translating.
I also speak Italian (lived there for 3 years) and Spanish, which I used to speak fluently. However neither is included as a working language because if I received a text riddled with errors, I'd be the last to know. Nuances would probably fly right past me and I'd be overly tied to a dictionary, which is usually a guarantee for very mediocre results.


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The Misha
Local time: 13:44
Russian to English
+ ...
Use your own judgement and client feedback Jun 19, 2008

It happens when, in you best professional opinion, you become capable of producing quality translations of texts in a given subject area that make your clients happy. This is not a science, and there are no clear-cut rules. Give it a try and pay particular attention to any feedback provided. Cheers!

MK


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 20:44
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
gradation Jun 19, 2008

I usually grade the language knowledge level using this system (down by the order of imporance) because that concept "I know the language very well" can be very "wide":

1) native (i.e. I know the language better than any other non-native speaker)

2) can translate from (later, after some practice, say ~ 1 year at least of some intensive translation, it becomes "the working language")

3) advanced level (a fluent level, but NOT still enough to translate)

4) intermediate level

5) pre-intermediate level

6) beginner



And, of course, one shall know and understand the area(s) well of the source subject - sometimes your language (libguistic) knowledge level can be the highest possible, but what shall one do if one does not understand what the source text is all about (technically)?

[Edited at 2008-06-19 22:02]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:44
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Con algo hay que empezar Jun 21, 2008

The first sentence I learnt in Spanish was : "Con algo hay que empezar".
You have to start with something. 4 years later I was able to translate into fluent Spanish (requirement of the course curriculum).

Native= utterly nonsense
"Native educated in that language to university level sounds better". Somebody coming from Oxbridge with a degree in say finance and French will know English better than a janitor living in the London East-End or the Bronx.
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I have been reading this "native" thing ever since the advent of translator websites and am getting quite frustrated when it pops up time and again.

Once again you have to start somewhere. I have decided for myself that I know English, French, German, Spanish and Dutch well enough to translate from and into these languages.
Not my colleagues are the judges, but the clients. After all, we are in a business of making money and if I am able to deliver (with the help of natives) who cares?
I have a list of people specialised in different subject matters some of which are bilingual, so why not take advantage of that. I know: The ego-tripping "I" translator, look how great "I" am and look how bad the others are versus look what a team can produce, prevails.
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If you don't start, you will never get slapped in the face and you will never learn from your mistakes, get better, gain experience and move on.

Am I the only one to switch satellite TV-channels from German (ADR, RTL2-Schweiz) to Bloomberg (English, German), to the BBC Worldservice/Al Jazeera English, to France 24 (simultaneously in English and French), to TVE1 and Canal 24, to Rai 1 etc... Or do (eurocratic) natives living in Brussels and those satellite channels speak a different kind of English, German, Spanish, (Dutch and French)? Can't judge about the other languages I hear in Brussels, but to me the Spanish I hear sounds the same as in Spain, although a regional influence can be detected.

As for Kudoz: most of my questions are proverbs, because proverbs are the beauty of a language and reflect how well the natives who answer these kudoz-questions know their own "native" language and the source language.
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That said, back on topic: I have already begun with something in Italian, making detailed assignments for a former fellow student whilst burning the midnight oil. Because of the similarities, I began to read "Il Corriere della Sera" (Italy's quality newspaper). Am I able to understand in detail what is written? As well as am I able to understand the Sunday mass on the RAI, spoken by a non-native- without a dictionary. After repeating a detailed Italian grammar and with the help of Colliins translation should be no problem. Indeed, you have to start somewhere and wait what feedback you get. Start, learn and get better. Anyway, thank you for your advice.


[Edited at 2008-06-21 11:49]


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