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Asking questions in the source language
Thread poster: philgoddard

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Aug 15, 2011

If you ask KudoZ questions in the source language, isn't the implication that you're translating out of your mother tongue and are not sufficiently confident in your target language to ask questions in it? Or could there be other reasons? What do you think?

 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:18
Chinese to English
Yup. Watcha gonna do about it? Aug 15, 2011

There might be a variety of reasons, but I have to agree that some Kudoz users ask questions in languages other than the target language because they're not native, or even very good, in the target language.
The only issue remaining is how we choose to respond. You could cut them off and refuse to answer; or you could provide good answers to their questions, because this is a community, and we help the weakest, even when they're wrong; or you could use some other intermediate strategy.
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There might be a variety of reasons, but I have to agree that some Kudoz users ask questions in languages other than the target language because they're not native, or even very good, in the target language.
The only issue remaining is how we choose to respond. You could cut them off and refuse to answer; or you could provide good answers to their questions, because this is a community, and we help the weakest, even when they're wrong; or you could use some other intermediate strategy.
Why worry about what other people do on Kudoz? Just answer what you want, ask what you want, and scratch where it itches.
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Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 19:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Various reasons Aug 15, 2011

Hi Phil, I think there can be various reasons, for example,
1. indeed, the asker doesn't feel confident in the target language,
2. the asker wants only people who are fluent in the source language to answer (I have done this myself a few times),
3. since we need the actual problem word or phrase in the source language anyway, the asker finds it convenient to put the whole question in the source language. And most often the right answer can only come from people who work in the
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Hi Phil, I think there can be various reasons, for example,
1. indeed, the asker doesn't feel confident in the target language,
2. the asker wants only people who are fluent in the source language to answer (I have done this myself a few times),
3. since we need the actual problem word or phrase in the source language anyway, the asker finds it convenient to put the whole question in the source language. And most often the right answer can only come from people who work in the same language combination as the asker.

It seems to me it doesn't really matter what the reason is, does it? I agree that it is not a good sign if the asker is not confident in the target language (and it's sad to see how many there are) but it isn't really any of our business and we can choose to answer or not. I usually answer in whichever language I find easier to explain my point but if there are already several answers and a discussion going on in the source language, I may just join the majority.


[Edited at 2011-08-15 15:59 GMT]
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Sarah Swift  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:18
German to English
not something that bothers me, really Aug 15, 2011

But I can think of at least one valid reason to do this:

If an asker is particularly interested in feedback from source language speakers, say because the problem is 75% comprehension and 25% translation, then it's probably wise to ask the the question in the source language (even if the asker is a native speaker of the target language.) It signals to source-language speakers that their input is welcome and makes it easier for them to contribute.


 

Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:18
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Chronic expressive aphasia in one's native tongue is more alarming Aug 15, 2011

I refer here to those cases in which askers display a pattern of posting queries of fairly simple terms that they claim to understand, but that they "need help phrasing" in their native language.

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Beautifully put, Robert! Aug 15, 2011

Questions like this can also be tricky to answer, because you're answering as though you're helping them to understand a difficult source text, whereas they know exactly what it means and just want you to translate it for them. I often think "I shouldn't be encouraging this person", and then I can't resist answering the question.

I understand Tina's point about only wanting replies from people who are fluent - but personally I would never post a question in any of my source languag
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Questions like this can also be tricky to answer, because you're answering as though you're helping them to understand a difficult source text, whereas they know exactly what it means and just want you to translate it for them. I often think "I shouldn't be encouraging this person", and then I can't resist answering the question.

I understand Tina's point about only wanting replies from people who are fluent - but personally I would never post a question in any of my source languages.

[Edited at 2011-08-16 13:50 GMT]
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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:18
English to German
+ ...
In memoriam
New users, perhaps? Aug 15, 2011

I admit, when I was new to ProZ.com, I did the same. I thought I was supposed to do so and I asked all my KudoZ questions in English...



 

Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:18
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Never thought about that Aug 15, 2011

I've never given this any thought before. Does it really matter? I just looked it up: I've posted questions in either of my source languages and in my target language. When I post in a source language, the reason certainly is not that I'm lacking target language skills (I translate into my native language exclusively).

I'd never have thought that I might create a questionable impression simply by the fact that I post Kudoz questions in a foreign language (other than what my actual -
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I've never given this any thought before. Does it really matter? I just looked it up: I've posted questions in either of my source languages and in my target language. When I post in a source language, the reason certainly is not that I'm lacking target language skills (I translate into my native language exclusively).

I'd never have thought that I might create a questionable impression simply by the fact that I post Kudoz questions in a foreign language (other than what my actual - certainly suboptimal - proficiency in that foreign language can be held responsible for).

Now there's something for me to think about. And: Does anybody want me to re-post this in German?
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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:18
German to English
Asking questions in the source language Aug 16, 2011

If I need help with a translation from German to English, it seems only natural to ask the question and provide background information in English. There will be German speakers who can throw light on the German source text, point out something English speakers might have overlooked in the grammar or other aspects of the source text, and there will be German speakers who might offer the best translation.

But I'll pose my question in English, not just because it's my native language
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If I need help with a translation from German to English, it seems only natural to ask the question and provide background information in English. There will be German speakers who can throw light on the German source text, point out something English speakers might have overlooked in the grammar or other aspects of the source text, and there will be German speakers who might offer the best translation.

But I'll pose my question in English, not just because it's my native language and the target language for the question, but primarily because most translators who translate into English are native speakers of that language.

I wonder how our German colleagues would feel about an American translating Huckleberry Finn into German and asking his English to German KudoZ questions in English: Hi guys! It's me again. This phrase comes up in chapter 15, and I'm at my wits' end. OMG! I simply can't get the German grammar right. Should it be the dative or accusative?



[Edited at 2011-08-16 00:23 GMT]
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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:18
English to German
+ ...
In memoriam
Slightly off topic Aug 16, 2011

At times I wish some askers were required to post their question in its source language. I am talking about the candidates who cannot recognize a noun that can be found in any dictionary simply because it is a plural or otherwise declined for grammatical case and number.





[Edited at 2011-08-16 01:17 GMT]


 

Marina Steinbach  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:18
Member
English to German
Answering KudoZ Questions Aug 16, 2011

I always thought that you have to ask and answer questions in English.

Teufel aber auch...



 
Two typical cases Aug 16, 2011

I have only asked 3 questions at KudoZ so far, which are both in the monolingual pair (English) which were all questions I could translate them into my native language with ease once the ambiguity of what the source really was cleared.

And I often see people both in my native tongue and those who are not, who post KudoZ questions in the monolingual pair. But I don't see anything wrong with it, since I see English (source) which is obviously a poor work of translation from another l
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I have only asked 3 questions at KudoZ so far, which are both in the monolingual pair (English) which were all questions I could translate them into my native language with ease once the ambiguity of what the source really was cleared.

And I often see people both in my native tongue and those who are not, who post KudoZ questions in the monolingual pair. But I don't see anything wrong with it, since I see English (source) which is obviously a poor work of translation from another language and the translator is having a hard time understanding the source and native speakers agreeing that the source could have not been written or translated by a native English speaker.
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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:18
Dutch to English
+ ...
Or... Aug 16, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

At times I wish some askers were required to post their question in its source language. I am talking about the candidates who cannot recognize a noun that can be found in any dictionary simply because it is a plural or otherwise declined for grammatical case and number.





[Edited at 2011-08-16 01:17 GMT]


... they can't recognise parts of separable verbs in German at the end of the sentence... :rolleyes:. I always wonder about that...

I usually post in target language, if I ask any (that is with an experience of 2 questions so far), although maybe I would consider posting in source if I did not have any clue whatsoever what it was in itself, a situation that occurs very seldom indeed.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:18
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I always use the source language Aug 16, 2011

philgoddard wrote:
If you ask KudoZ questions in the source language, isn't the implication that you're translating out of your mother tongue...?


I nearly always ask questions in my source language (which is not my native language) -- I've never really thought about it, but that's how it is, now that I think about it.

It makes most sense to me that a person would ask his question in the source language. When I translate from English to Afrikaans, my instinct is to ask questions about terms in English, and when I translate from Afrikaans into English, it feels more natural for me to ask the question in Afrikaans.

I can't think of a good reason why it would more sense that a person would ask a question in his target language... what was your reason?


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:18
Member
English to French
Rusty switching Aug 18, 2011

philgoddard wrote:
...Or could there be other reasons? What do you think?

I certainly wouldn't conclude that people asking questions in their source language don't translate into their monther tongue.

As a matter of fact, after writing or copying a sentence in an email for whatever reason in my source language, I tend to carry on writing (and thinking) in the same language before realising the e-mail is intended to a French audience.
I don't know if it is the brain viscosity disease or the rusty switching syndrom, but it probably gets worse with age and/or tiredness.
The same kind of neuronal autopilot laziness may happen to some Kudoz askers.

The question asked gives far more clues about the type of asker involved.

Philippe


 
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