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我们的中文论坛应该禁止使用英语吗?(Should English be banned from the Chinese Forum?)
Thread poster: Kevin Yang

Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Dec 25, 2006

Dear Fellow Translators,

Can I interrupt you for a moment while you are celebrating the Christmas with your families and the beloved ones?

I received an email a couple days ago from Enrique, who is the ProZ.com Site Stuff supervising my work at Chinese Forum. He is my supervisor. He informed me that a site member has complained about the use of English language in the Chinese forum as a departure from rule
http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/7#7. Such complaint might sound familiar to you, because similar question was raised some years ago. I responded it in the past. Now I am asking Enrique to hold a discussion among the Modz about this rule as well as redefining the meaning of “Post any topic, in Chinese”

I have to admit that I am one of the members who have been promoting bilingual communication in the Chinese Forum. This might be the reason that the complainer skipped me and other Modz in the Chinese sector, and went directly to Enrique. This is not important. What I care the most is how to get meanings crossed in our discussions. I have been encouraging everyone feel comfortable to express themselves without considering too much the language barriers, under the special circumstances that we have about 70% of the members who are English to Chinese translators (among whom 80% are from the Mainland China, and 20% from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of the world) and 30% of us are Chinese to English translators and other people who are interested in reading the Chinese discussions, let alone the political and usage differences of Traditional Chinese characters and Simplified Chinese characters and our translators are scattered in all over the world with different comfort level of using written Chinese. At this point, I am not very clear if this complaint is directing toward me as a Moderator, or all those who have been using English here in Chinese Forum. I think it is a good thing that it is brought up for a discussion and give us an opportunity to talk about it and make sure what the best thing is for the interests of the members and the Management.

I am preparing my response to this complaint. But, before I submit it to Enrique and post it in the Modz Forum, I would like to check with you and learn your thoughts about it, and determine if we are violating the rule or suggestion, and if you agree that English should be banned from the Chinese Forum.

Please make sure to write your message here in English, because I will invite the Management staff to read your posts. This is a good opportunity that you can voice your opinions, and it also gives me a chance to hear from you, in case I missed something important due to my ignorance.

Kind regards,

Kevin Yang


[修改时间: 2006-12-30 19:05]


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xxxchance
French to Chinese
+ ...
If there are sb who cannot read English ? Dec 25, 2006

then we should write in Chinese as they do in French forum. If it is not the case, just go on like now as long as we can understand each other.

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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:51
Chinese to English
+ ...
My personal opinion Dec 26, 2006

TongliUSA wrote:

I have been encouraging everyone feel comfortable to express themselves without considering too much the language barriers, under the special circumstances that we have about 70% of the members who are English to Chinese translators (among whom 80% are from the Mainland China, and 20% from Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of the world) and 30% of us are Chinese to English translators and other people who are interested in reading the Chinese discussions, let alone the political and usage differences of Traditional Chinese characters and Simplified Chinese characters and our translators are scattered in all over the world with different comfort level of using written Chinese.



Kevin,

I think the statistics speak for themselves.

If it is site management's desire to exclude the 30% of people who currently participate in the forum discussions(or a good portion of that 30%), then the Chinese only policy should be strictly enforced. I actually just became aware of this policy, and frankly don't really understand the rationale behind it.

IMO people should have the choice of using whatever language they feel most comfortable with in expressing their views on a particular topic. It's a decision that should be left entirely up to the individual.


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Jianjun Zhang  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:51
English to Chinese
+ ...
My personal opinion Dec 26, 2006

Hi Kevin,

First of all, I think it is not necessary for a member of this forum to submit a support ticket regarding this issue directly to the Proz.com management. This forum has been running well for many years without anybody seriously complaining about the language problems. I believe all frequent forum users can read English posts well.

Secondly, I'd like to quote the rule of Proz.com:

A forum's designated language should be used.

According to my understanding, the word "should" gives reasonable exceptions where English can be used by members to express themselves when they do not feel comfortable using Chinese.

This rule itself does not exclude the use of English but limits the use of English in a Chinese language forum.

Jianjun


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chica nueva
Local time: 09:51
Chinese to English
Is it a Chinese language forum or a forum for Chinese-language translators Dec 26, 2006

I agree with Chance. I thought it was a forum for all peers translating into or out of Chinese, for Chinese-language translators, regardless of their language pair. I didn't understand it to be a Chinese language-only forum, because that is not the way it has been run up to now in my experience.

I don't know about the use of English. Perhaps peers could communicate in Japanese or Spanish or German or French if they wanted to, especially because there are many Chinese translators in those pairs. But would that work?

Since English is the official site language, and the site was set up by Henry, I thought the bilingual idea was quite good. Perhaps the founder of the site should be recognised, and those founding traditions. The Chinese community shouldn't really 'cut loose' and 'secede'.

Having said that, monolingual Chinese only is OK. If that is what peers want. It might bring in peers from those other pairs. Perhaps they feel excluded at present. It's up to the moderators to make sure we still stay connected to the centre and maintain the integrity of the site.

Well, to conclude, I don't mind. Try it and see what happens. It can always be changed back. What I think is more important than the language of the forum, is whether or not the non-Chinese peers are welcome here, and on what and whose terms.


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Zhoudan  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:51
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I did not see the point of making such a complaint Dec 26, 2006

My understanding of the rule is that one can post in Chinese when he is not comfortable expressing himself in English. Why should we forbid the use of English in Chinese forum?

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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 04:51
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
Why do we have a rule that dampens participation? Dec 26, 2006

chance wrote:
If there are sb who cannot read English
then we should write in Chinese as they do in French forum. If it is not the case, just go on like now as long as we can understand each other.


That's the thing. I think all of us here know English. In fact, most translators here translate between English and Chinese (except Chance who does French, but I'm quite sure she is fine with English as well).

In this forum, I mostly post in English. I am just not comfortable writing in Chinese. If Proz is to enforce this rule, I guess I will have to participate less, and so do many non native Chinese colleagues. As it is right now, we have very low participation from non native Chinese colleagues. If we were to enforce this rule, the level of participation would be lower, if not zero. Is this what we want? The question is: why do we have a rule that dampens participation? It does not make sense at all.

Some people said that if we want to post in English, we should go to English-language forums. I find this nonsense. Language should not be the first consideration when you decide to participate in a forum. You participate in a forum because you want to interact with a certain group of people or that you want to contribute to a certain topic. In my case, I want to interact with the Chinese community. I want to take part in some of their discussions too, and my tool for this is English. Tough luck, I don't write well enough in Chinese for people to understand me. Does that mean I have no right to interact with this group of people or participate in their discussions?

How does this sound: China's official language is Chinese, so everybody should speak Chinese in China. No exceptions. If you want to speak English, go to England.

Ridiculous?

Let's look at this from the other side. If we make this a pure Chinese-language forum, what benefits do we get? Does anyone of you think it will become a better environment? Will there be higher participation? Less misunderstanding in communication? I really wonder what that person who sent in the support ticket was thinking. If he/she is so concerned about this, maybe he/she can share his/her thoughts here. I guess he/she must strongly believe that a pure Chinese-language forum will benefit the colleagues here, so much so he/she saw an urgency to raise a support ticket during Christmas period.

I hope more colleagues will share their thoughts here. Proz needs to listen to our voices!

Denyce

[Edited at 2006-12-26 02:58]


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redred  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:51
English to Chinese
+ ...
Pinyin typing is a barricade anyway, or Wubi? Dec 26, 2006

The priority reason is that the majority, overseas Chinese people, who are more convenient to type English than Chinese words, the latter is relatively complicated anyway. Possibly it is one of the elements, but the mind is the same, therefore, why don't they choose an accessible way?

[Edited at 2006-12-26 03:17]


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Wenjer Leuschel  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 04:51
English to Chinese
+ ...
Should it be a rule? Dec 26, 2006

Should it be a rule that we are not allowed to express ourselves in other languages other than Chinese in this forum?

I did encounter some cases in the German forum where people might start a thread written in English and was removed by the Modz to some other special foren. However, there were some threads started and sometimes answered in English but still left there.

I can see the reason why some of them were removed: the relevance. If a topic does not concern the German translator community and is posted in English, the thread gets removed to another relevant forum. If a topic does concern the German translators, it stays there for responses from the community members.

It is absolutely proper to write in Chinese in this forum. But we are transaltors translating from either English or other different languages into Chinese. It could happen that we need to discuss a certain matter in some other languages. So long as the topic interests us, it could be in any other languages. The members of the community are free to respond or not.

However, since the purpose of a Chinese forum is to interest, to benefit, to concern and to communicate with Chinese translator community, I don't see much sense posting in any other languages other than Chinese or English, since most of us, if not all, manage to read and write in both, somehow.

It is weird to know that there should be any Chinese translators who complaint about the drudgery of reading English in an English-Chinese translator dominant community.

There are some foren where special topics concerning specific translators are discussed. In such foren, it is a bit harder to decide wether the posts should or should not be in a language other than English. For instance, the following ones.

http://www.proz.com/topic/43167?start=5
http://www.proz.com/topic/61650

But, it is absurd to complain about the use of English in our forum. Chinese translators do read and write in English! Localizing webpages of ProZ.com into Chinese does not mean that we became all of a sudden non-translators. Localization of ProZ.com means to make it easier for Chinese new comers to step into the community, but the integration can only take place billingually. Monolinguists are not qualified to be translators.

Using English in our forum is all right for translators. I don't see any ground for complaint.


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Kevin Yang  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
Member (2003)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
There is no point to blow it out of proportion. Dec 26, 2006

Thank you all for your feedbacks and comments! I hope more people can express their opinions, before I submit my response. I hope I can hear the different views from what have been expressed in this thread so far. Please do not worry about your personal safety. If you have a different view, I will appreciate that you can share with us so we can do better in future to take care of your needs. Your effort is to help this site to be built as the workplace that all the Chinese and non-Chinese people enjoy coming and interacting with each other.

Thank you all for sharing your views. Denyce brought my attention to Singapore where the official language is English. As a Chinese herself, she has to use English in her country. This is another complex layer of this issue. I was so pleased to read Lesley’s post here. Most of Lesley’s posts are in English. I cannot imagine I have to be the person to block her messages due to the simple reason that they were written in English.

I hope everyone has a good understanding about how serious this matter is. There is no point to blow it out of proportion. I took an hour and did a research. I visited other non-English Forums and noticed English is also used in other non-English forums. It seems the Chinese Forum has more English messages than other non-English Forums. So I did a manual count of them in the top five threads as they ranked at this hour. Here are my findings:

1. “Pondering on the Christmas Day” has a total of 39 posts, among which only 3 posts are in English, that is under 3% of the total.

2. “Announcement of the 3rd POWWOW Meeting for Freelance Translators” has a total of 9 posts, and all of them are in Chinese.

3. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!” has a total of 47 posts, among which 16 posts are in English, that is under 34% of the total.

4. “POWWOW in the Bay Area” has a total of 70 posts, among which 18 posts are in English, that is about 25% of the total.

5. “It’s the Happy Hour for Jokes” has a total of 468 posts, among which 64 posts are in English and one in French by Betty, that is under 14% of the total.

The conclusion is that the total number of the English messages posted in the Chinese Forum agrees with the percentage of the special user composition in the Chinese Forum. They are not in the alarming and overwhelming amount that violates or departure from the suggested guideline of this site; therefore I think it is unnecessary to call the attention from the Management to address it as an issue.

Kevin


[修改时间: 2006-12-27 22:48]


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tang jianmei
Local time: 04:51
English to Chinese
My personal opinion Dec 26, 2006

You won't hear different view from me. Kevin. Sorry ---
I think it's unnecessary to ban English or other languages from this forum. "People should have the choice of using whatever language they feel most comfortable with in expressing their views", as Wherestip said.


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stonejohn  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 04:51
English to Chinese
+ ...
my understanding Dec 26, 2006



Zhoudan wrote:

My understanding of the rule is that one can post in Chinese when he is not comfortable expressing himself in English. Why should we forbid the use of English in Chinese forum?


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kin
Local time: 15:51
Chinese
+ ...
Diversity Dec 26, 2006

I want linguistic diversity within a forum. We should be allowed to write in Chinese, English and other languages supplemented with Chinese and English.

The forum language policy bothers me. First, I must use Cangjie input method; I type slow but I will not change. Second, I don't want "Chinese" to be Mandarin Chinese in simplified characters only. We are not the UN.

If it has to be a Chinese-only forum, I will write in Hong Kong style Chinese just for my belief: diversity.


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Wilman  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:51
Chinese to English
+ ...
My two cents worth Dec 26, 2006

On a communication level, I see translators as facilitators of ideological, cultural, and technological exchanges for people who do not speak or are not fluent enough in a language other than their own. Topics posted in this forum are not only limited to work but also thoughts that are worth sharing. Banning English from this forum is to say that people who do not speak Chinese are not welcome to participate in these exchanges or learn about issues that happen in the 'Chinese-speaking community'. As for people who cannot express their ideas in Chinese as effectively as in English, it means even though your ideas may be worth sharing, we do not want to hear about them. I find this contradictory to the original intention of the existence of translation. If we do not want to hold exchanges, then there is no point of having this forum. This is a translator forum for people who are bilingual/multilingual and not one to brush up our Chinese language skills. If one feels more comfortable with sharing his/her ideas in English and people who visit this forum can understand what the messages are about, I don't understand where the problem lies. Everyone has equal rights to express their ideas or to skip English postings if they so desire. Change should be for the better and not for worse.

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Angus Woo
Local time: 04:51
Chinese to English
+ ...
Frankly I find this issue a bit strange. Dec 27, 2006

This is a translation site. And I believe everybody would agree that translation means at least 2 languages are involved. One can't be a translator if the person knows only one language. Plain and simple.

An one language policy in a translation forum? Doesn't that sound weird?


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我们的中文论坛应该禁止使用英语吗?(Should English be banned from the Chinese Forum?)

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