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How to prove that you are a native speaker
Thread poster: Carolyn Oliveira

Carolyn Oliveira  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
Portuguese to English
Feb 5, 2016

Apologies if this has already been discussed, but I'm new to the forums.

One of the agencies I freelance for is participating in a public bid for a university. They stated a preference for native English speakers but failed to specify how to prove that you are one.

The best I could think of was to provide an authenticated copy of my passport and birth certificate, but I'm not sure how this proves that I'm a native speaker (especially since I have dual citizenship and was not born in the US).

Any advice?


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:14
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Use your language combination as proof Feb 5, 2016

Oh boy, you are going to regret the can of worms you just opened! *Cue the parade of translators debating nature speakership and its relevance"

ANYWAY, I think you can just say you're a native speaker and point to the fact that you literally only work into one direction, into English. (Most non-native speakers tend to work in multiple directions) Offer to speak with them on the phone if they will feel more comfortable.

But don't offer copies of passports and birth certificates -- that stuff is private and it's kind of insulting to feel you have to present that to prove your competency in your field (*waves at Obama*)


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Angela Rimmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:14
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Addition... Feb 5, 2016

In reference to the specific university bid, I imagine you can just make a statement to the effect that you are a native speaker and that will be fine. If they need proof they will ask.

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Carolyn Oliveira  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
(I'm familiar with this can of worms! :)) Feb 5, 2016

Yes, most agencies seem satisfied after I pass their tests and confirm that English is my first language and that I don't translate to my second language. But in this case, it's a public bid, so I imagine they'll require some sort of proof to accept it...

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Onur Inal  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:14
Member (2015)
English to Turkish
+ ...
It should be their job Feb 5, 2016

It should be their job to prove if an applicant is a native speaker or not, not the applicant's. They may hire a proofreader, language expert etc. to check with the applicant's status

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Texte Style
Local time: 08:14
French to English
CV Feb 5, 2016

If I were asked I would say that I grew up in England with English parents, which is why I'm a native speaker IMO. This is plain from my "CV" (document listing my education, previous experience etc).

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Adrien Esparron
Local time: 08:14
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Just wait Feb 5, 2016

Carolyn Oliveira a écrit :

They stated a preference for native English speakers but failed to specify how to prove that you are one.



So, by default you just have to say you are...

In a second post you wrote :



...so I imagine they'll require some sort of proof to accept it...



Let them say which kind of proof they need. Don't answer questions that do not exist for the moment.

As you see, I'm not an English native speaker...

Good luck!


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:14
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No to passport or birth certificate Feb 5, 2016

Keep these confidential except when they are required by government or other official agencies for specific purposes.

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Carolyn Oliveira  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:14
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all! Feb 5, 2016

These answers were very helpful

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not enough Feb 5, 2016

Texte Style wrote:

If I were asked I would say that I grew up in England with English parents, which is why I'm a native speaker IMO. This is plain from my "CV" (document listing my education, previous experience etc).


What if your parents emigrated when you were eight? I don't think your "native speaking" would go much beyond "Mummy me want ice cream".


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:14
English to Portuguese
+ ...
You can only prove that you are NOT a native speaker Feb 5, 2016

Native speakerness has been proven to be a fickle feature, not even a quality. Furthermore, your passport is no evidence of that.

I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where I have been living all my life, except for occasional travel. All right, umpteen trips of such "occasional" travel have led me to accrue about two years in the USA alone, however I'm already old enough to prevent that from being so overwhelmingly relevant.

All purists advocating for native speakerness in translation would unanimously agree that I am a native speaker of Portuguese.

On another front, I studied Italian for 4 years in high school. Possibly a whim of fate led me to learn to speak it well, rather effortlessly. Some ten years later, I landed at Fiumicino airport, and discovered that I could communicate with everybody using it. Of course, I didn't go one single inch south of Rome. Though my "professoressa" in school was from Firenze, they said my accent was typical from Genova (like every Brazilian who learns it in school, and not at home).

For the record, I never translate from/into Italian. However my command of this language is much, much reliable than my attempts to deal with the European variant of (my supposedly native) Portuguese.

I have checked, and experts have said that I am fully entitled to get a Polish passport. My parents were from Krakow, and so were their ancestors at least as far as the early 1700s. Nevertheless, my command of very basic Polish is sooo disparagingly lame, that it's useless.

Meanwhile Brits, Aussies, and Yankees alike take me for a native from Los Angeles. Yes, several times in the US I had to show not only my (Brazilian, of course!) passport, but also the entry stamp, to evidence that I had been there just for a few days or weeks, not decades. This is how I prove that I am NOT a native speaker.

From my experience, the "must-be-native" demand is a way to shift BLAME. Now and then I see a translation agency's web site having pages slovenly translated into what I call "English written with Portuguese words" or simply bad Portuguese. While I don't offer such "mending" services, I send them a friendly warning about its being potentially detrimental to their image. They react with suspicion, But we had it translated by a native of (name of some city in Brazil), who is still living there!"

Of course, if they paid peanuts, and hired any sequilingual John Doe self-claiming to be a translator, they got what they were looking for. I think that a professional translator should master both source and target languages, as well as have all the translating skills needed for an adequate job.

Native speaker of what? I knew a man, a friend's uncle, who spoke some 14 languages to perfection, better and in a more erudite way than most natives of each. Languages were his lifetime hobby, though he was a lawyer, not a linguist. Born in Russia, he moved to Brazil as a teenager. He probably had a very light accent in some languages, however he knew grammar rules - as well as their reasonable origins - more and better than any native speaker of them.

IMHO demanding a native speaker for translation is literally pointless.


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Kristina Cosumano  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:14
Member (2015)
German to English
I see this request all the time Feb 5, 2016

I head them off at the pass by saying right from the outset that my native language is (US) English. It's one of the first phrases in my application e-mails, it's near the top of my CV, it's in my job submissions here at ProZ. No one has ever asked for proof, or has even brought it up.

I suppose if they really want to know, they can skype me.

But as others have said, this is not something that one can prove. One can only disprove it.

Now, whether to apply for/accept jobs for UK-variant English is another story that I'd like to more more about.


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Texte Style
Local time: 08:14
French to English
Eight-year-olds speak better than that! Feb 6, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Texte Style wrote:

If I were asked I would say that I grew up in England with English parents, which is why I'm a native speaker IMO. This is plain from my "CV" (document listing my education, previous experience etc).


What if your parents emigrated when you were eight? I don't think your "native speaking" would go much beyond "Mummy me want ice cream".


That's how my son spoke at the age of three, by eight he had mastered pronouns.

As it happens I do still specify that I got my A levels from a prestigious top ten grammar school in the south of England (FWIW of course no potential client would know how prestigious it is unless I tell them, which I don't)

But I have a colleague, who left England for France aged 7 when her French mother left her British father, and who then took English lessons at the British Council and otherwise went back to England for school holidays, and whose English is good enough to translate into.
But then, of course, she is an exceptionally talented translator, mustn't ever forget that talent tops nativeness, even though this is not the subject in hand.


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Texte Style
Local time: 08:14
French to English
no Feb 6, 2016

Kristina Cosumano wrote:

I head them off at the pass by saying right from the outset that my native language is (US) English. It's one of the first phrases in my application e-mails, it's near the top of my CV, it's in my job submissions here at ProZ. No one has ever asked for proof, or has even brought it up.

I suppose if they really want to know, they can skype me.

But as others have said, this is not something that one can prove. One can only disprove it.

Now, whether to apply for/accept jobs for UK-variant English is another story that I'd like to more more about.


I consider myself to be reasonably well-exposed to US English via films and TV series, but I would never try to pass off a translation as being US English.
I mean, I could have mentioned movies not films and sounded more American as a result, but Americans use "already" and "even" and other adverbs in a strange way, that I understand but don't use myself, and I would feel uncomfortable trying to fit them into a sentence because the syntax is different. For example an American might say something like "Did you do that already?" where I would have naturally come out with "Have you done that yet?"


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:14
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Eight-year olds can be quite sophisticated Feb 6, 2016

Texte Style wrote:
That's how my son spoke at the age of three, by eight he had mastered pronouns.

Indeed. I think Tom is perhaps not very experienced with children.

The other day I was watching as my 6-year old son objected strenuously to the rather uncomplimentary description his eight-year old brother had just attached to him. "Oh calm down," said the eight-year old dismissively, "it was just a figure of speech."
But then, of course, she is an exceptionally talented translator, mustn't ever forget that talent tops nativeness, even though this is not the subject in hand.

Talent tops just about everything, the more so because it's so much rarer than most people think.
I would never try to pass off a translation as being US English

My view is that it depends on the subject area. I wouldn't attempt to translate a novel or even a well-written magazine article into English - I'd be rumbled straight away. However, for technical or financial text, in which clarity is the overriding factor, the key issues are spelling, punctuation and avoiding obvious Briticisms.

Regards
Dan


[Edited at 2016-02-06 09:08 GMT]


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