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Whose sense?
Thread poster: Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.

Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
Chinese to English
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Nov 27, 2002

From a recent KudoZ item:



[Answerer entered \"internal fever\" suggesting it was a better term than \"internal heat\" for the Chinese medical term]



disagree Terry L. Thatcher, Ph.D.: This is too far from the way we express the concepts of Chinese medicine in English. There is a set way of expressing this in English, and we really should not make up terms. BTW, 700+ hits for \"internal heat\", only 23 and 7 sources for \"internal fever\"

[answerer\'s reply:] > Sense is better than statistics, Doctor Thatcher -





This is all very well and good, and everyone certainly has the right to play with KudoZ if they wish, but I believe that we have to admit there is a limit to the \"sense\" of the language that a non-native speaker can have. When a native Chinese speaker tells me that a certain term in Chinese that I might believe to be \"just right\" is actually NOT just right, I **believe** him or her (provided of course s/he is an educated native speaker of Chinese). Although I\'m fairly fluent in Chinese, I am NOT a native speaker and never will be.



When I post KudoZ answers for English>Chinese, I tell people up front that I\'m not a native Chinese speaker, so that they can take the sense of my answer and then put it into better, more idiomatic Chinese. I know there are not so many native English speakers posting for the Chinese>English questions, but guys, please, ADMIT that you are not native speakers when you are not! There is nothing shameful in not being a native speaker of any particular language. I posted the statistics to support my answer to soften my statement that the answer provided was not ideal in English, rather than just being overbearing as a \"native speaker\" who \"knows better\"; however, a response like that to me really shows little respect for professionalism in translation.



I hope we can all cooperate to come up with the best, most accurate KudoZ answers, rather than just trying to outdo each other to get points in any way possible without regard to accuracy and acceptability in the target language, whatever that target language might be.



Regards

Terry


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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
Chinese to English
+ ...
Calling for a sense of natives! Nov 27, 2002

There are natives with sense, there are natives without sense; there are non-natives with a fine sense, and there are non-natives with no sense at all. Therefore being native doesn\'t secure a good sense and that sense of being native may spoil your sense if you are not clever enough.



Here is more or less a complete picture of my answers and responses to the Kudoz question asked by jinshi:



Internal Fever



This is fun, I have to join in. Internal heat should be all right, but which might be misinterpreted as a sexual drive in English. One of my colleagues asked about medicine for internal heat in the US, and the doctor said you don\'t need medicine for internal heat at all. So internal fever might solve the problem, the sentence can be translated as follows:



I would suffer from a toothache as soon as an internal fever strikes.



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Note added at 2002-11-26 12:31:24 (GMT)

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Sense is better than statistics,Doctor Thatcher. And besides language will be dead without terms made up. In fact I didn\'t expect there would be sources for internal fever, so thank you for the number, 24/7, right?



--------------------------------------------------

Note added at 2002-11-26 12:49:24 (GMT)

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Heat plus internal--the most probable meaning would be Estrus. The definition:



Estrus n.



The periodic state of sexual excitement in the female of most mammals, excluding human beings, that immediately precedes ovulation and during which the female is most receptive to mating; heat.



--------------------------------------------------

Note added at 2002-11-27 07:50:03 (GMT)

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No sense wrestling with the sense of sense with those with no sense, however native they might be, especially when they have \"too much heat\" in them. Don\'t you agree, guys?



Internal fire is also possible, but no heat please.



I\'ll come to the forum later I guess when I\'m in a better mood.



Bill









--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Other pros opinions of this response:



disagree Terry L. Thatcher, Ph.D.: This is too far from the way we express the concepts of Chinese medicine in English. There is a set way of expressing this in English, and we really should not make up terms. BTW, 700+ hits for \"internal heat\", only 23 and 7 sources for \"internal fever\"

> Sense is better than statistics,Doctor Thatcher -

agree Zhoudan

> Thanks for a fine sense. -

agree BBW,M.A.,C.Tran

> Thanks. -





BTW, I don\'t have a PHD as yet, but I do have a PHD camera--PHD--Push Here Dummy.



Bill


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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
Chinese to English
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I didn't mean to upset you, that's why I left your name out! Nov 27, 2002

You can be as flip as you like, and attack me as much as you want to try to ridicule me for having a doctorate (which I use primarily for the marketing punch, nothing more), but it doesn\'t detract from my primary message.



Regardless of your plays on words, there is a certain \"something\" that a native speaker has that gives that person a fairly reliable idea about what is \"acceptable\" in a language. When you talk about bilingual questions, then there\'s an additional layer added: the native speaker of the target language has to have a clear idea of what the meaning of the source language expression is all about in order to be able to select the most appropriate TL equivalent.



I might decide that **I** personally feel that the term \"virtual reality\" should be translated into Chinese as (BIG-5 code, I think) 昇恀娐嫬 (bi1zhen1 huan2jing4) or 嵎晄懡恀揑 (cha1bu4duo1 zhen1de5), but that doesn\'t make it so. I doubt that these terms would be acceptable to a person paying good money for an accurate translation of an English document into Chinese. If I translate an English document into Chinese and use one of these terms, the customer would be well within his or her rights to throw it back in my face. Back in the days when we could only rely on dictionaries and the friendships we managed to cultivate with people at the local Chinese restaurants, it might have been more excusable, because people not living in a place where there was a large population of Chinese speakers did not have access to the opinions and gut feelings and judgements of a native to help make these choices. Today, happily, with the Internet, we can easily take advantage of the talents of others, even those living far away, to make up for the things we lack, and offer them our talents to make up for their lacks.



It\'s fun to play word games, and we can learn a lot about both languages doing so, too. But when it comes to selecting a term for use in a professional translation, I feel that we have a serious responsibility toward our clients. That responsibility sometimes includes realizing that we DON\'T KNOW or are not equipped to make a judgement on certain items.



If there\'s a market for people to translate into their second (third, fourth) language, so be it. But since anyone can declare himself a translator, without even the requirement for ruby slippers or an incantation, it really gets to be \"buyer beware\" in such cases. There are doubtless many people who translate quite competently into their second (third, fourth) languages, but most of them are wise enough to realize that if they do not possess educated, truly balanced bilingual capacity they are indeed lacking that \"little something extra\".


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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
Chinese to English
+ ...
Nice manners, but where is the sense? Nov 27, 2002

Sorry, I don\'t have much time for this. But as you said, a native does have something extra that non-natives can never dream to acquire; and I happen to be a Chinese native and am proud of being one, so listen to me once:



I didn\'t say internal heat is wrong, I only said it might be ambiguous and funny. I don\'t think an ambiguous or inappropriately funny translation of a term shouldn\'t be discussed or altered just because it is a set expression or has the most sources on the web. And I really don\'t understand a translation with apparent unwanted associations should be the best to the sense of a native. What sort of a native is that? Are you telling me you can better understand Milton or Shakespeare just because you have been surviving in Britain for more years than I have? Do you think a native Chinese moron has better sense of the Chinese language than you highly respected non-natives? No way!



Professionalism involves a pursuit of excellence, and excellence transcends the barriers of nationalities especially in this time of globalization.



If language is not fun, there\'s no fun thing in the world. And if you don\'t enjoy the fun, what\'s the point of being a native?



And I would become sick even before I would cast a glance upon snobbishness.



Bill


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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
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I don't quite follow you... Nov 28, 2002

No one is saying we should take terms from the \"mentally challenged\" (re your reference to morons).



However, you yourself say that:

>But as you said, a native does have something extra that non-natives can never dream to acquire; and I happen to be a Chinese native and am proud of being one, so listen to me once:



So if a native has \"something extra\" that non-natives can never dream of acquiring, and we agree that this \"something extra\" is the ability to feel, to \"know\", what is acceptable and what is not in the native language, then I am having trouble seeing where your following argument, well, follows.



You further say (sorry, I haven\'t got the whole \"quote\" thing down yet!):



>I don\'t think an ambiguous or inappropriately funny translation of a term shouldn\'t be discussed or altered just because it is a set expression or has the most sources on the web. And I really don\'t understand a translation with apparent unwanted associations should be the best to the sense of a native.



This is the point. To a native speaker, there IS no strong \"apparent unwanted association\". In a medical context, no native English speaker would misinterpret that statement unless he were deliberately looking to \"take the piss out of it\". In a serious report about personnel evaluation, if you say somebody is \"neng2gan4\" probably no one would think that person was a sexual dynamo, would they?



I am not saying that all the translations anyone wants to discuss should not be discussed (after all, we don\'t pay for the bandwidth here!) but rather that, when a native speaker (NS) tries to suggest, and rather gently at that, that a variant which has been suggested by a non-native speaker(NNS) is not correct, the NNS might better gracefully accept the idea rather than fighting back and ridiculing the evidence that the NS has provided (with the intention of not insulting the NNS, too).



If you read my post carefully, you will see that I am NOT talking about understanding of the native language; however, I think it goes without saying that a NS will have a more complete and more reliable understading of his native language than a NNS, assuming that both are qualified language professionals (which should be true for the purpose of this forum, right?)



And, by the way, a native Chinese moron probably has a better intuitive grasp of the use of the various particles \"le5\" in Mandarin than I do. That\'s what being a NS means. A native Chinese moron probably wouldn\'t use \"guan1xin1\" when he means \"dan1xin1\", but I might make such a mistake.



It has always interested me, however: I\'ve only met one NNS (\"foreigner\", \"wai4guo2ren2\" if you will) in my life who ever corrected Chinese NSs about their Chinese; however, I\'ve met literally hundreds of Chinese who felt their grasp of English grammar or usage or whatever was superior to educated NSs with years of experience in translation, editing or writing fields. Maybe it has something to do with the fluidity of Chinese usage, something that doesn\'t really spill over into English? I mean the fact that (I\'m told) you can put almost any 2 characters together to express your meaning in Chinese, and an educated NS should be able to understand what you mean, whereas in English there seem to be more sociolinguistic restrictions against this kind of thing. I think it might be the reason why Chinese seems to make better poetry, too (more layers of meaning, including the forms of the characters themselves).



Professionalism certainly involves the pursuit of excellence, but the best way to find excellence is to admit that there is always something to learn, especially in languages. I\'m doing a second MA now; if I insisted that I already knew everything, my effort would be totally wasted, wouldn\'t it?

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-11-28 00:26 ]


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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
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+ ...
I agree, but... Nov 28, 2002

Look at where we came in, suppose you are the first to translate the Chinese term “上火”as a language professional, how would you translate the term without Google resources? Whose sense would you resort to in the first place? The native Chinese or the native English? And now you have a choice between internal fever, internal heat or internal fire, which would you choose? How would you use your native sense here? Don\'t tell me there are no unwanted associations for internal heat too readily, because you have to imagine a situation where there\'s no such a set expression as \"internal heat\" yet in English.



Of course nobody should assume s/he has known something and doesn\'t need to learn. That native speakers have advantages over non native speakers is a similar proposition to \"the earth is round\". Think about this: can you prove yourself sane by repeating \"the earth is round\"? I\'m afraid not. Similarly, simply saying you are native doesn\'t actually put you in a better position in the argument. On the contrary, this idea of being native can become a dirty veil over your eyes so that you can\'t see things clearly.



I remember I was the soft-spoken in the first place, though I don\'t have much patience for stubbornness in a set and fixed and most probably silly idea that I\'m the native and you\'d better surrender and you must be wrong.



Where I was bitter, I didn\'t mean to be rude, I was just trying to remind people of what they might have overlooked.



When you stand beyond language you see more than others, though people are easily trapped in and enslaved by language.





Bill

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-12-03 10:49 ]


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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
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Sorry, but... Nov 28, 2002

I really have no idea of what point you are trying to make. I\'m definitely having problems following your ideas. Perhaps you could explain to me why using Google as a tool is wrong? And why repeating a sentence has anything vaguely to do with this topic or with sanity in general?



BTW, I have taken the opportunity, out of curiousity, to ask several native English speakers fluent in Chinese if they got a connotation of \"sexual desire\" from \"internal heat\". Sorry to say, none of them did. Perhaps the \"veil\" is not on my eyes on this one.


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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
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Perhaps I see a glimmer... Nov 28, 2002

The point with this particular question is that I was **not** the first to translate this term. There is a generally accepted term in widespread use. In such situations, I believe that the responsible thing to do is to use that term.



Sources that can confirm to us that terms are in widespread use today include dictionaries and the Internet. \"Googling\" terms is widespread even among people doing monolingual work, to determine which variant is more common. Kind of like using the \"ask the audience\" option on that \"Who wants to be a millionaire\" show or something, except you can also note how many sources are not from a particular country or language by appropriately limiting your search. In this way, Google becomes a very valuable tool to the language professional.



As for your insistence that native speakers don\'t possess a certain \"sense\" that non-natives don\'t have -- I\'m afraid we\'ll have to agree to disagree on that one. To me it\'s as obvious as gravity.


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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
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Make a little more sense of it all! Nov 28, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-11-28 11:34, ironlady wrote:

I really have no idea of what point you are trying to make. I\'m definitely having problems following your ideas. Perhaps you could explain to me why using Google as a tool is wrong? And why repeating a sentence has anything vaguely to do with this topic or with sanity in general?



BTW, I have taken the opportunity, out of curiousity, to ask several native English speakers fluent in Chinese if they got a connotation of \"sexual desire\" from \"internal heat\". Sorry to say, none of them did. Perhaps the \"veil\" is not on my eyes on this one.





1. Did I say using Google is wrong? What I wanted to say is that googling is only for reference, and that it doesn\'t judge or sense, or who need all you high-brow language \"professionals\" at all? Any native moron would be able to learn a few clicks and collect enough references for an item, I guess.



2. It\'s from a fable by the famous Danish philosopher Kierkegaard whose basic plot is this: an insane person escaped from an asylum and wanted to demonstrate his sanity, so he decided to say something absolutely correct repeatedly on the way to the market of the town. So with each step he walks he shouts \"the earth is round\". Question: can he prove his sanity by shouting something everybody knows?



Bill

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-12-03 10:51 ]

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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
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Gravity is the reason! Nov 28, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-11-28 11:37, ironlady wrote:

The point with this particular question is that I was **not** the first to translate this term. There is a generally accepted term in widespread use. In such situations, I believe that the responsible thing to do is to use that term.



Sources that can confirm to us that terms are in widespread use today include dictionaries and the Internet. \"Googling\" terms is widespread even among people doing monolingual work, to determine which variant is more common. Kind of like using the \"ask the audience\" option on that \"Who wants to be a millionaire\" show or something, except you can also note how many sources are not from a particular country or language by appropriately limiting your search. In this way, Google becomes a very valuable tool to the language professional.



As for your insistence that native speakers don\'t possess a certain \"sense\" that non-natives don\'t have -- I\'m afraid we\'ll have to agree to disagree on that one. To me it\'s as obvious as gravity.





Again, did I ever say native speakers don\'t possess a sense that non-natives don\'t have? The generalization here is something beyond the argument, i.e, as I said, it\'s similar to the proposition \"the earth is round\", which is too true to be doubted. But, as a sensible \"professional\", do you need to conjure up generalizations like that to defend your judgement on a specific question? It\'s certainly true the earth IS round, but does it mean it is as round as a crystal ball? Certainly native speakers have more sense of their own language than non native speakers, does it mean you definitely have more sense on a particular word than all non native speakers?



Perhaps it\'s not as obvious as gravity, perhaps your sense is as heavy and inertial as gravity so it never has the experience of soaring into the space of intellectual liberty.



Bill





[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-12-03 11:01 ]

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Linda Su
English to Japanese
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I agree... Nov 29, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-11-28 01:52, Y_Bill wrote:

Look at where we came in, suppose you are the first to translate the Chinese term “上火”as a language professional, how would you translate the term without Google resources? Whose sense would you resort to in the first place? The native Chinese or the native English? And now you have a choice between internal fever, internal heat or internal fire, which would you choose? How would you use you native sense here? Don\'t tell me there are no unwanted associations for internal heat too readily, because you have to imagine a situation where there\'s no such a set expression as \"internal heat\" yet in English.







Good point, Bill.



Linda



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Terry Thatcher Waltz, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
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Ever heard of the expression "don't re-invent the wheel"? Nov 30, 2002

There\'s no reason to even think about \"what if we didn\'t have... becasue we DO have these resources. It makes about as much sense to me as saying \"What if we didn\'t have novocaine and all had to have our teeth pulled without anesthetic?\" No one would opt to do that because it\'s not the most efficient and, well, painless way to do so.



If there exists a well-established, set translation for a technical term, I see NO reason not to use it, and every reason not to get poetic and make up new terms.


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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
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What if you have to make a wheel? Dec 1, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-11-30 07:58, ironlady wrote:

There\'s no reason to even think about \"what if we didn\'t have... becasue we DO have these resources. It makes about as much sense to me as saying \"What if we didn\'t have novocaine and all had to have our teeth pulled without anesthetic?\" No one would opt to do that because it\'s not the most efficient and, well, painless way to do so.



If there exists a well-established, set translation for a technical term, I see NO reason not to use it, and every reason not to get poetic and make up new terms.

As a language professional, you must be able to re-invent the wheel though you may not need to make it. \"知其然而不知其所以然\" (Only know what things are and don\'t know why or how they are) should only valid to lay persons, but not to \"professionals\".



I asked a native speaker of English (from Nebraska, and with earrings, 100 percent native) about \"internal heat\". He told me two things come to mind upon hearing the term: one, about central heating, the other, sexual desire. He said \"internal flame\" might be better for the meaning implied here.



Bill



[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-12-03 10:52 ]

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Y_Bill
Local time: 18:29
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Thanks for the support, Linda. And, any other good points there? :-) Dec 1, 2002

[/quote]



Good point, Bill.



Linda



[/quote]


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Linda Su
English to Japanese
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知其然而不知其所以然 Dec 1, 2002

Quote:


On 2002-12-01 04:36, Y_Bill wrote:

As a language professional, you must be able to re-invent the wheel though you not need to make it. \"知其然而不知其所以然\" (Only know what things are and don\'t know why or how they are) should only valid to lay persons, but not to \"professionals\".



Dear Bill,



你这句话说的真妙! 的确,我觉得对于一位专业的翻译人员来说,『知其然而不知其所以然』是一件很可悲的事,同时也让人感觉很肤浅。我很感谢你提出的正确解释,让我大开眼界。



很期待你的下回分解!!!



Linda



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