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Context
Thread poster: Henry Hinds

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mar 9, 2005

When looking at questions to answer this unfortunately seems to be the most common word that comes to mind, CONTEXT, which I usually write in "all caps".

It appears that the need for CONTEXT is something that constantly must be impressed on askers. We need to know where something is from, what it is about, what kind of grammar and content surrounds it, where it is going, who said it, when, who will read it and so on.

Some askers will provide what they have, some have little or no context (also welcome information), while yet others will stubbornly refuse to provide context even after it has been requested.

I think one of the basic rules of translation is that "no word lives alone", nor does any word by itself have any true meaning except within the context of its relationship with other words and the setting in which it is being used and understood.

I think it would be good to have some discussion on this subject with the idea of providing clear guidelines to askers on how to provide the kind of context we need. Since there is so much variability in the items that could be needed depending on the nature of the consultation, I am sure many good minds will also be required to come up with some solutions, which could perhaps be related to some kind of classification system.

It will be interesting to hear what the rest of you have to say.


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swisstell
Italy
Local time: 06:14
German to English
+ ...
I could not agree more Mar 9, 2005

as most any time I need to make a comment in the "ask the asker" field, it concerns context or rather the lack of it.

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xxxMamie  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:14
French to Spanish
+ ...
Complètement d'accord! Mar 9, 2005

Très souvent il est difficile de traduire un mot sans son contexte, au moins une phrase ou le sujet dont on parle.

Il est vrai aussi que le même mot sur un ton different ou un registre different(litteraire, coloquial, argotique, ancien, regional) peut se traduire differement.

Peut-être serait-il bon de recommander non pas de copier tout un paragraphe, mais au moins une petite localisation.

Merci.

Christine.


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:14
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
comment on context Mar 9, 2005

Henry,

I very much agree that context is a key point. Yet one of the things that is a hindrance to that is confidentiality of the document that it comes from.

I agree that it would be good to have a type of guideline for how to pose questions and give context. It should have several examples, and one example could demonstrate how to deal with altering the sentence in a way that makes the information anonymous while providing enough context for others to help answer it.

Jeff
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/localization.htm


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:14
English to Polish
+ ...
The quality of the question determines the quality of the answer Mar 9, 2005

If the asker does not provide context, we have two simple choices:

1. ignore the question,
2. answer as best as we are able to guess at the meaning of the term, indicating our doubt by selecting the appropriate confidence level (which is also a reply to another thread somewhere nearby).

That's all there is to it, apart from trying to educate a ProZ newbie. Some will learn and some will not.

Cheers,
Pawel Skalinski

p.s. just read Jeff's comment on confidentiality: you don't need to use any names. In most cases even the field will give us a hint on how to answer.

[Edited at 2005-03-09 21:14]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 23:14
German to English
Garbage in, garbage out Mar 9, 2005

I'm not referring to questions posed when there really isn't much if any context but questions asked by translators who haven't taken the trouble to read the whole document (or do some basic research) before asking a question. Asking a KudoZ question properly is hard work - and a lot of askers don't want to take the trouble.

[Edited at 2005-03-09 23:48]


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Javier Herrera
Spanish
Why bother? Mar 9, 2005

Some people don't bother to read the FAQ or reply to ask-the-asker comments, or take us seriously if we try to explain why it's important to provide with context. I understand if you're new to the site there are many features you don't know. But, come on, questions like "I'd like to know what zanahoria means exactly in English" aren't posted by professionals.
Zanahoria doesn't actually mean anything in English because it's not an English word.

[Edited at 2005-03-09 23:29]


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Marcus Malabad  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:14
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
choice: be ornery or ignore Mar 10, 2005

Henry Hinds wrote:
It will be interesting to hear what the rest of you have to say.


Henry,

Some people learn. I sometimes seem like a pest (or make a pest of myself) by persistently singing that context refrain in the "ask the asker" box.

Many others, however, like you describe, blithely believe that everyone else has magical insight into their text and would instantly comprehend what their predicament is.

I initially thought that the Kudoz rule on this issue is suggestive and not prescriptive but it dawned on me that there's that prickly verb "must":


1.4 - Sufficient context must be provided with each term question. When there is no context, indicate the subject area and type of document.


Aha! So I've just recently started entering warnings through profile pages when a recalcitrant asker just won't listen. I hope my fellow modZ would realize this as well.

We need to remember that a half-assed answer recklessly thrown at a half-baked question is there for eternity (in the glossary), having the potential of spawning further inanities when others consult the glossary.

Suggested solution:
1) Pig-headed asker fails to provide context
2) Ask for some through the 'ask the asker' box or notify moderator
3) If asker fails to heed repeated requests, mod can enter a formal warning
4) (optional) Simply ignore all future questions from said asker
5) (last resort) Asker may be blocked if continues to be obstinate

Step 4 works just fine for me. Step 5 I've done only once.

Marcus


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:14
German to English
Sometimes no meaningful context Mar 10, 2005

I frequently get texts with lists or bullet points, and the only context is, for example, engine components, or desired characteristics of a manager. There's nothing to indicate the specific way a term might be used or intended. In my queries, I try to make this plain.

That said, I've found that I don't bother to respond to Kudoz queries in which there must be some larger context (even a sentence fragment would help). New translators need to learn *how* to ask for help; just yelling "Help!" isn't enough.


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Luisa Ramos, CT  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:14
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
No context / No search Mar 10, 2005

I already noticed you have indeed started entering warnings; I hope the askers learn their lesson. I agree with your suggestions to deal with this attitude from some askers.
Nevertheless, I have another pet peeve. It is people that do not bother to search the glossaries, the forums, the Kudoz, who seem to believe everyone else is at their service; they rather have someone else go to the trouble, or lack common sense (alas, the least common of the senses). Hundreds of questions we see posted daily could be answered by doing a simple search through the many resources Proz offers. Makes you wonder about the quality of the end product.


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Nikki Graham  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:14
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
Provide similar context Mar 10, 2005

Jeff Allen wrote:

I very much agree that context is a key point. Yet one of the things that is a hindrance to that is confidentiality of the document that it comes from.


In these cases, I search for something similar in Google and provide that as my context when asking the question. After all, if I don't understand a term, one of the logical first steps is to find out how it is used in other documents, which often helps to arrive at the translation long before asking a question is necessary.


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:14
What I would love to see in Kudoz... Mar 10, 2005

Luisabel wrote:

I already noticed you have indeed started entering warnings; I hope the askers learn their lesson. I agree with your suggestions to deal with this attitude from some askers.
Nevertheless, I have another pet peeve. It is people that do not bother to search the glossaries, the forums, the Kudoz, who seem to believe everyone else is at their service; they rather have someone else go to the trouble, or lack common sense (alas, the least common of the senses). Hundreds of questions we see posted daily could be answered by doing a simple search through the many resources Proz offers. Makes you wonder about the quality of the end product.


...may be some day... after all, dreaming keeps us alive, and hope dies last...

1. A "compulsory" field for context. If there is none, at least the asker would have to state so.
2. A "compulsory" previous search of the glossaries; OR some sort of notice like "the term you are entering is already in Kudoz glossaries", if such were the case...

Until then, our patience and tolerance will have to make up for the imperfections of Proz, which I still consider wonderful!

Ah, and what I would love to know about the Forums:
Why some of the topics appear with a violet background, instead of the traditional yellow one????

[Edited at 2005-03-10 14:37]


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another element to consider Mar 10, 2005

Some askers not only fail to provide enough context, but will close a question in less than five minutes! How in the world do they expect to get a good selection of answers so fast? Sometimes, the asker selects the first and only answer, and it happens to be wrong! (to the detriment of our glossary). I just found an instance of this very same problem this morning.
Obviously, these people haven't read the guidelines. And that's when we get questions without context, questions that have been asked a bizillion times before, and questions closed in 2 minutes.
It's true that we can choose to ignore these type of questions, but it seems that there is always someone who's willing to help. Not too long ago, someone who wasn't even registered asked a question, and below Mr. No Name wrote "translate". It sounded like an order. Whatever happened to "thanks in advance", "I appreciate any suggestions"? Oh well, I digress.
Yes Henry, I think we all agree that we wish there was a way to have new participants learn how to ask a question properly. I feel your pain amigo!


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Martine Etienne  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 06:14
Member (2003)
English to French
+ ...
And when you have no context... Mar 10, 2005

When i have much context, well, i search and search as long as i find something that could be good in that context.

But sometimes you have to translate some words having no context at all and then I really need help, trying to find what there is in others' minds...

So yes context is important but, be aware that sometimes the asker has no context to provide.

[Edited at 2005-03-10 15:46]


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teju  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
In this case... Mar 10, 2005

Martine Etienne wrote:

So yes context is important but, be aware that sometimes the asker has no context to provide.

[Edited at 2005-03-10 15:46]


In this case, the ideal thing to do, is to say so. "I have no more context." That's it! That way we know that it's anybody's guess. We just want to know IF there is more context.

Like a colleague said, "garbage in, garbage out". That's all we can do. Help us so we can help you.


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