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Poor Non-Native Speaker Answers to Terminology Questions
Thread poster: Danielle Deremo Cosimo

Danielle Deremo Cosimo  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:09
Member (2015)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Apr 25, 2016

More of a rant / rhetorical question here, but why do non-native speakers with seemingly limited understanding of their second language even attempt to post answers to terminology questions? I mean, some of the answers I read in the Portuguese-English forums are ridiculous. Do the "translators" posting these answers honestly believe that the translations are correct? I have a theory that they know something about the Kudoz system that I don't. I believe that there is some kind of scam going on, at least in the Portuguese-English translation community on here, in which people post random answers and their friends "agree" with the answers so that they can get Kudoz points and move each other higher up on the lists. (In many cases, these people list themselves as native English speakers when they clearly aren't. Doesn't Proz have any way to check that, aside from the certified Proz network system?) I'd like to know if other translators think these people are scamming the system. I don't want to believe that so many translators are really that bad. Does this issue come up with other language pairs? If so, what can ProZ do to prevent this from happening and to make the order of translators be a more accurate representation of translators' popularity and abilities?

 

Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:09
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Because... Apr 25, 2016

Danielle Deremo Cosimo wrote:

why do non-native speakers with seemingly limited understanding of their second language even attempt to post answers to terminology questions?


It is precisely because of their limited understanding. They don't know how wrong they are.


 

Ilan Rubin (X)  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:09
Russian to English
Same in Russian to English Apr 25, 2016

Most of the attempted answers are frankly rubbish. Lots of non-natives thinking they know English when they don't.

What is just as bad is that half the selected answers are rubbish too!

But I have no idea what to do about it.


 

Saibal Ray
India
Local time: 15:39
Member (2011)
English to Bengali
+ ...
I also have seen same practises Apr 25, 2016

"people post random answers and their friends "agree" with the answers so that they can get Kudoz points and move each other higher up on the lists"


Thanks for sharing this issue. I raised a ticket to Proz mentioning this issue. Let's see what they have to say.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ok, but... Apr 25, 2016

They're usually good for a laughicon_smile.gif

 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:09
German to English
If it's a scam ... Apr 25, 2016

then it goes like this: Correct KudoZ answers are rewarded with points that are important for the order in which translators are listed in the directory. Incorrect answers are not punished.

By investing one minute per usually idiotic answer with a 1% chance of being selected, this behavior may actually present an abuse of the system that is at least superficially rational. (I say "superficially," because their improved ranking will actually only help provide them with projects that they are unable to carry out effectively.)

So maybe it is a scam sometimes, but I think that the psychological explanation is probably the driving factor in most cases.

And there is a Zolution: Ignore KudoZ or enjoy it primarily for entertainment purpoZes.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:09
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
The competent are riven by anxiety while the incompetent preen Apr 25, 2016

Katalin Horváth McClure wrote:
It is precisely because of their limited understanding. They don't know how wrong they are.

Agreed. The Dunning-Kruger hypothesis.
"...a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately"

And a bit of what Michael says about attempted gaming of the system.

Dan


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:09
English to Russian
+ ...
Non-native answers are only part of the problem Apr 25, 2016

Yes indeed, answers are sometimes outright silly, but this silliness is not limited to non-native answerers. It could be even worse when a native speaker with a degree in linguistics tries to answer questions in the field of aerospace, or physics, or medicine...

A similar problem exists with the KudoZ questions themselves: many questions are posed by non-native translators or those ignorant in the subject fields. Sometimes it's obvious from the question itself that the asker is totally clueless - this is especially frequent in the Russian-English pair. I used to answer such questions, but I don't do it anymore - I don't want to gratify the "translators" actively damaging the reputation of the entire translation industry.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's an old problem, of course Apr 25, 2016

I imagine it happens from time to time in all language pairs. I remember one man (I think he was a Greek native speaker, but not too sure), who thought he was qualified to answer just about any question in juat about any language pair. He was a real nuisance for a time but he disappeared in the end. Maybe he got a job - he certainly didn't have time for one before - but I doubt that it would have been in translation. Maybe writing multilingual paid reviews for things he hadn't bought or doneicon_smile.gif?

Several of us have asked for disagrees to be taken into account too when ordering the translators' directory. Those of us who only contribute when we have something (hopefully) useful to say don't have many so the aggregate score is very little lower, but some answerers must have more disagrees than agrees. ProZ.com already keeps the statistics but, so far at least, they haven't responded to claims to change the system.

I particularly dislike those who are active in monolingual KudoZ situations; who post themselves as native speakers when they can barely construct a meaningful sentence and certainly have no idea of the finer points of the language. This may only happen in English. There, it becomes a real problem from time to time. Confidence level 5 is more common and askers have no reason to doubt answerers. There was a Russian woman a while back who was very active in English (her second native language, apparently). Laughable for us, but askers were sometimes really badly misled. Hopefully, she's now concentrating on translating into Russian - something she may well be qualified to do.


 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:09
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
... Apr 25, 2016

I have seen this, but they hardly ever get awarded the points.

The problem here is how ProZ system is built. You can answer 10,000 questions and get 500 right: ProZ will give you 2,000 points and rank you accordingly, for example, above someone who has answered 600 questions getting 499 of them right.

Non-native issue: a) often exaggerated by English natives b) for many language pairs there aren't English natives willing to translate into their mother tongue language (such translators do not exist); so, Polish natives, Russian natives, Ukrainian natives, etc. have to take on the assignments.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:09
English to Russian
+ ...
Native translators DO exist, but they are more expensive Apr 25, 2016

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

for many language pairs there aren't English natives willing to translate into their mother tongue language (such translators do not exist); so, Polish natives, Russian natives, Ukrainian natives, etc. have to take on the assignments.


Sorry, that's not true. There are plenty of English natives willing and qualified to translate from Russian, Ukrainian or Polish - it's the clients who aren't willing to pay the world market prices when non-natives charge them only ½ or even ¼ of that. You may not believe it, but most clients aren't even aware they can get a translation that would look totally native and won't require an extensive rework on the client side - if they pay the right price, that is.

[Edited at 2016-04-25 09:10 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:09
German to English
non-native and Kudoz Apr 25, 2016

This aspect didn't occur to me before, but I would also agree that the native language of the answerer is rarely very relevant for Kudoz questions.

A total lack of knowledge of the specific field or conventions of the given text type always seemed to be the leading cause of ridiculous answers. This was followed closely by an inadequate understanding of the source language.

I don't think that I ever noticed anyone precisely grasping the meaning of the source term within the given context, being familiar with the language of the subject matter in both languages, and then giving a wrong answer because of a general lack of active competency in the target language.

Still, I may have just repressed a lot of unpleasant memories: It's been a long time. Sheila's example of monolingual forums would have been particularly annoying, but I was never active there, so I never noticed that.

And there were cliques and infighting in my pair, but I certainly don't think it was about the points, and I also considered it a fully acceptable side effect of how much time and energy many participants were putting into very solid and well-documented answers.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:09
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Report them! Apr 25, 2016

Danielle Deremo Cosimo wrote:
Why do non-native speakers with seemingly limited understanding of their second language even attempt to post answers to terminology questions?


Unfortunately it is not against ProZ.com's rules to post answers to questions that you're not qualified to post answers to. It is assumed that the community will catch out wrong answers through the voting process.

In many cases, these people list themselves as native English speakers when they clearly aren't.


This is something you can do something about. You can report them.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
bilateraly multifaceted Apr 25, 2016

When I was younger I eagerly and promptly tried to help my colleagues forgetting my lack of exp in their fields occasionally could do more harm than good. Fortunately there (almost) always seem to be more knowledgeable people offering better answers. Perhaps I'm a bit more sensible now, yet I feel more reluctant about KudoZ-romping too: sometimes I feel uncomfortable posting 'agree' and later seeing a better answer)

Anyway, our forum users and members still take relatively active part in possibly useful social activities like KudoZ, whereas it's very asker who decides, so it's pretty ok.

On the other hand I rather often meet native speakers who are not specialists and conf-use specific terms from different fields insisting they are ABSOLUTELY right--no problem either.


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:09
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Non-native issue Apr 25, 2016

Alvaro Espantaleon wrote:

Non-native issue: a) often exaggerated by English natives b) for many language pairs there aren't English natives willing to translate into their mother tongue language (such translators do not exist); so, Polish natives, Russian natives, Ukrainian natives, etc. have to take on the assignments.


a) you know, a lot of us native English speakers translating into our native language for a living happen to love our language and hate to see it mauled and dragged through the hedge backwards. No other language gets mistreated so much! I make HUGE efforts to understand non-natives as they mangle my language in attempts to communicate with me. I appreciate that it's hard to speak a language that you didn't grow up with and often bite my tongue hard before it starts on a grammar nazi rant.

But then on a website devoted to translation, I think I should be able to apply my own standards. Nothing but the best of English, please, especially in Kudoz where you're supposed to be helping others. No we don't exaggerate, we want to preserve our language. It's our heritage and we're entitled to that at least. puedo espanol but you don't see me butting in on Spanish Kudoz questions, I leave that to those who are better qualified than me.

so no I don't think we exaggerate. You just don't get so many foreigners maligning your language.


b) If there aren't enough native English speakers to handle all translations from Polish into English, that doesn't make the native Polish speakers translating into English any better qualified to answer Kudoz questions. That's just a reason for native Polish speakers translating into English, it doesn't necessarily follow that they are good at their job.


 
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