Reporting native languages
Thread poster: Ambrose Li

Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:25
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
May 30, 2011

I’m wondering how we are supposed to report the following:

- Your mother tongue is language X
- Language X is not supposed to be written down; instead, you write in a standard written form Y, which is actually the written form of a closely related language Z
- For this reason, you have to learn Y in school because there are differences between languages X and Z in terms of grammar, vocabulary, etc.

Do we say

A. I am native in Y (the written fo
... See more
I’m wondering how we are supposed to report the following:

- Your mother tongue is language X
- Language X is not supposed to be written down; instead, you write in a standard written form Y, which is actually the written form of a closely related language Z
- For this reason, you have to learn Y in school because there are differences between languages X and Z in terms of grammar, vocabulary, etc.

Do we say

A. I am native in Y (the written form, even though it is in reality school taught)
B. I am native in languages X and Y (spoken and written)
C. I am native in language X and proficient in Y
D. something else?

What is the correct way to do this? What do people usually do? (This should be a common scenario.) Thanks for any pointers.

[Edited at 2011-05-30 17:38 GMT]
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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Are you talking about dialects? May 30, 2011

Are you talking about varieties of the same language (e.g. the various dialects and varieties of Chinese)?
Katalin


 

Michal Boleslav Měchura (X)
Ireland
Local time: 14:25
Czech to English
+ ...
Diglossia May 30, 2011

That description would fit a lot of linguistic communities with diglossia where the L variety (the "low-prestige" variety) is acquired as a mother tongue and the H variety ( the "high-prestige" variety) is learned in school: Swiss German and Standard German, Haitian Creole and Standard French, Colloquial Czech and Standard Czech, and so on. See here for more information on diglossia: http://en.wikipedi... See more
That description would fit a lot of linguistic communities with diglossia where the L variety (the "low-prestige" variety) is acquired as a mother tongue and the H variety ( the "high-prestige" variety) is learned in school: Swiss German and Standard German, Haitian Creole and Standard French, Colloquial Czech and Standard Czech, and so on. See here for more information on diglossia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diglossia

In my case, I am a mother-tongue speaker of Colloquial Czech and then I studied Standard Czech in school, as practically all Czechs do. I declare myself a native speaker of Czech, without qualification, and don't think twice about it.

I guess your own decision how to label yourself will depend on whether you consider X and Y as separate languages, or as varieties (dialects, registers, ...) of the same language.
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Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:25
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes May 30, 2011

Yes, what I have in mind is

X = Cantonese
Y = standard written Chinese
Z = Mandarin

I have always been bothered by this. And of course some people hold the position that X and Z are separate languages (and not merely dialects).


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Well, on ProZ there is only Chinese, I think May 30, 2011

If you are asking about what to mark here, on ProZ, I don't think there is an option for Cantonese or Mandarin, only Chinese.
At least I did not see them when I checked just now - I checked in the KudoZ area, in the pull-down menu.
I am not sure if the same list is used for reporting native languages, but I would assume so.


 

Ambrose Li  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:25
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What about on the CV? May 30, 2011

What about on the CV? Is it useful to make the distinction (between not only the two dialects, but also the simplified and traditional scripts)?

Or is this why some people list their place of birth on their CV’s?


 

keshab  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:55
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
If X is my mother tongue then I am native in X only irrespective of script Y May 30, 2011

Script and language are not always identical i.e. we can not say that one knows very well a language because one is efficient to write the script of that language. Roman script is used to write many European languages but nobody can claim that he knows all those languages. There are many languages of the world which have no independent script (at least not known to the rest of the world). For example, we can take the name of Bahasa language of Indonesia. Do a literate of Bahasa language can clai... See more
Script and language are not always identical i.e. we can not say that one knows very well a language because one is efficient to write the script of that language. Roman script is used to write many European languages but nobody can claim that he knows all those languages. There are many languages of the world which have no independent script (at least not known to the rest of the world). For example, we can take the name of Bahasa language of Indonesia. Do a literate of Bahasa language can claim that he is native in English language also because the script consists of English letters? In India, we have many Eastern Indian languages like Manipuri, Tripuri, Assamese etc. which are used to write in Bengali script. But in no way a native in Bengali can demand that he is also native in Manipuri, Tripuri, Assamese because they are written in Bengali script.All the mentioned names are of different languages, not dialects.Collapse


 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The practical side of the question? May 30, 2011

The way I see it, you want to write your CV/resume that it contains information that is useful for your potential clients. If you are a translator, then you are working with written information, correct? If a language does not have a written form (or not supposed to be written down), then how is it relevant to translation?

Clients usually interested in knowing one's mother tongue as a proof of one's ability to translate into that language. (I am not going into whether this makes se
... See more
The way I see it, you want to write your CV/resume that it contains information that is useful for your potential clients. If you are a translator, then you are working with written information, correct? If a language does not have a written form (or not supposed to be written down), then how is it relevant to translation?

Clients usually interested in knowing one's mother tongue as a proof of one's ability to translate into that language. (I am not going into whether this makes sense, I am just saying this is what they often do.) Again, if your mother tongue is not supposed to be written down, then how would you translate into it? And if you learned language Y in school and used all your life, presumably the same way as anybody who's mother tongue is Y, then do you feel you cannot translate into it as well as somebody who's mother tongue is Y?

I think the best way is to make it simple, to declare yourself as a native Chinese translator, and if you want, you can add the variations you can handle, (as additional info, for those interested in and may need that service).

Am I making any sense?
Katalin

[Edited at 2011-05-31 08:46 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:25
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
1. necessary info; 2. interesting info May 30, 2011

Ambrose Li wrote:
is this why some people list their place of birth on their CV’s?


I'm sure there are many, many members of ProZ.com who would confirm that place of birth and mother tongue are not necessarily dependent on each other. People list their place of birth (I would imagine) to show a cultural link with that country, unless they left very early in life.

For the CV, I agree with Katalin: be clear about what your clients need to know, plus add further information that may be of interest to some.

P.S. to address Keshab's point, I think the answer was there in your posting: "Roman script is used to write many European languages but nobody can claim that he knows all those languages." Knowing how to form the characters does not create understanding of the written word.


 

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:25
French to English
+ ...
Similarity May 30, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:
P.S. to address Keshab's point, I think the answer was there in your posting: "Roman script is used to write many European languages but nobody can claim that he knows all those languages." Knowing how to form the characters does not create understanding of the written word.


I'm not the world's Chinese expert, but as I understand from my linguistics reading, the similarity is more like this: Imagine that for the Romance languages we invented a convention where in writing, all of the words were "normalised" to (say) Spanish spelling. So, a French speaker would continue saying "ils connaissent", but when they came to writing, they'd "normalise" the spelling of this to "ellos conocen". An Italian speaker would continue to say "conoscono", but when it came to writing, they'd "normalise" the spelling to "conocen". When a French speaker reads back "ellos conocen", they'd get used to automatically 'translating' it in their head to "ils connaissent"; an Italian speaker would automatically 'translate' it into "loro conoscono".

Now, in this very simplified view, we can see how a few discrepancies will emerge. Italian is pro-drop, but French isn't. So a French speaker will have more of a tendency to want to normalise "ils" into 'something' ("ellos" if we adopt the Spanish spelling), whereas an Italian speaker will probably not think to insert it because there's not usually a corresponding word in Italian. When the Italian speaker translates the French speaker's "ellos conocen" back into "loro conoscono", they end up with a sentence that sounds a bit odd to them because they wouldn't usually insert the "loro" except in specific circumstances. Simiarly, if the Italian speaker simply writes "conocen", then the French person reads this as "connaissent", which sounds a bit odd because to them, the "ils" is necessary. But by and large, the different speakers nontheless understand one another and see themselves as reading and writing "versions of the same thing".


 

Garry Guan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:25
English to Hmong
+ ...
It matters for interpreting! Jun 10, 2011

It seems most of the comments and responses here missing the point. The issue is between a translator and/or an interpreter. We all know that one is refer to written translations, and the other is in person verbally interpreting between languages. It is for the same reason, why it matters between spoken language and the written form. For interpreting, often times, even dialects matters. In the spoken form, the gap between Mandarin and Cantonese is much greater than that of Spanish and Itali... See more
It seems most of the comments and responses here missing the point. The issue is between a translator and/or an interpreter. We all know that one is refer to written translations, and the other is in person verbally interpreting between languages. It is for the same reason, why it matters between spoken language and the written form. For interpreting, often times, even dialects matters. In the spoken form, the gap between Mandarin and Cantonese is much greater than that of Spanish and Italian and Portuguese. It is totally unintelligible! Just like one of the commentator made the good case on Bengali scripts.

The problem is Proz.com, and even ATA, were not paying much attention for interpreters, and the site and service directory does not make a very good distinction and provide adequate choice for the two different needs for the labeling.

Ideally, one should have the choice for filling in native language as a translator, in that case for you: Chinese (could further indicated by simplified and traditional), and then as an interpreter, your native language would be Cantonese, Shanghainese, Mandarin, Fukienese, etc. As a language services agency (I do not use the term "translation agency"), we do often received specific request for Cantonese, or Fukianese dialects. Most court will have this clear distinction. I myself is a Chinese translator, but have never been refereed as a Chinese interpreter by any one who knows what he or she is talking about. I always been refereed as a Mandarin interpreter.
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