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Am I wrong to suggest an answer to an English>English question?
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:54
English to Arabic
+ ...
Jun 8, 2006

Hi all -

I am asking this question NOT be backed up, but because I sincerely want to know the opinion of native English speakers here - and other native speakers in their respective language.

Please refer to an exchange that has just been taking place between me and Gareth (in his comment on my answer and - more to the point - my comment to his answer) here http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1398368 .

I may be oversensitive, but I've (implicitly) been made to feel that it's very presumptuous of me to take part in a discussion that should be reserved for native English speakers only (although the asker did not specify that!), and that basically only native speaker should be allowed to talk about the "finer points of their language".

Haven't you ever come across native speakers who "abused" their own language? Or non-native speakers who were more aware of the rules of a language than its natives speakers? (I am NOT referring to either Gareth or myself here, that's just a general question).

I'd love to hear your opinion on this, and apologies if this has been discussed before.


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writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Not wrong to suggest an answer but you are trying to explain English to native English translators Jun 8, 2006

I asked a question the other day on English monolingual and specified that I only wanted to hear from native English speakers because I didn't just want an explanation copied from a dictionary.
why? Because there's a lot about language that one can't learn from any books. For example, how much French do we learn that in actual fact is never used in real life or is said totally differently?
How would you feel if a non-native Arabic speaker went about explaining the finer points of Arabic to you. With inaccuracies, but never the less insisting their way was ok.
Personally I hardly ever even look at English monolingual. It was the first site I actually pulled out of. Arguing is not pleasant and it takes too much energy. And people rarely admit that native Anglos just might know better. The argument that 'many natives don't know their own language' is a battle cry that does ring true at times, (for all languages) but to assume this of people translating professionally into their native tongue is a bit far-fetched imho.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:54
German to English
+ ...
Each issue on its own merits Jun 8, 2006

I would not hesitate to discuss the fine points of German if I felt I had useful comments to make. In fact, in our church newsletter, people EXPECT me to correct their German where necessary. And I once had a German publisher that regularly asked me to correct German manuscripts written by German authors.

Whether your comments on specific questions are right in the individual case is a matter for discussion, as in all KudoZ forums. I had a quick look at your discussion on the English forum and couldn't make up my mind, at least not quickly, on which variants are best (I would need to take some time to invent a few example sentences before I could jump either way). Your comment "out of the question" was a bit sweeping and prescriptivist for my taste. But there is no reason why you should not pitch in on discussions like this. And if I subscribed to the English forum, I would be happy to agree or disagree with your comments on a case-by-case basis (and you could equally agree or disagree with my comments).


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 04:54
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
It's instinctive for natives. Jun 8, 2006

Hi Nesrin,
Mabe you are being a little too over-sensitive but don't worry, we all get like that sometimes.

I'm native British and in my experience people who learn English as a second language have a much better understanding of English grammar than natives do.

I learned English from growing up in the country and being bombarded with it day in and day out. I don't recall ever being taught when to use the present perfect or the past perfect or present perfect continuous etc because it was ingrained in me as a child so it was instinctive and I know what sounds right without even thinking about it.

I think most people would agree that English grammar is a total nightmare for speakers of other languages to learn so don't be too hard on yourself.

You should give yourself a pat on the back for wanting to improve yourself and for trying.

Best wishes,
Mark


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xxxIanW
Local time: 19:54
German to English
+ ...
Grammar vs. gut feeling Jun 8, 2006

Hi Nesrin,

While I have massive problems with non-natives dictating how my native language should be spoken (and refusing to be told!), I think that it is perfectly healthy for non-natives to pitch in with grammatical insights that many natives wouldn't be aware of.

Grammar is one thing, gut feeling is another - as long as non-natives don't start claiming that certain things "sound better" when a chorus of natives disagree, the more the merrier.

All the best


Ian


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:54
Remember Kudoz rules Jun 8, 2006

I agree that we might not like to see non-natives offering answers (which sometimes can be wrong) in our own language pairs. However, Kudoz rules do not explicitly forbid non-natives from answering questions in other languages than their pairs.

On the other hand, kudoz DO require that any disagree be susbstantiated by LINGUISTIC comments, and not personal ones.

Telling someone that he/she is a non-native and thus should refrain from participating, to me, is not a linguistically-substantiated comment. It might be considered an offensive remark. I think moderators should be called to look at these cases.

I had a similar situation where a disagree to one of my answers was backed by the remark that I should not answer questions in the medical field because I had no medical background. I certainly do not have formal medicine-related studies, but have been translating in the field for more than 8 years now; in any case, this is my problem, and nobody else's. I believe that disagrees (or neutrals, for that matter) should always be backed by linguistic comments, and not of any other type.

[Edited at 2006-06-08 22:10]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:54
English to Spanish
+ ...
Take it or leave it Jun 8, 2006

I think anyone should be welcome to answer anything, and askers may take it or leave it as they choose.

Before accepting any answer it is also a very good idea for the asker to double check the answers given and decide which is best for the entire context of the job being done.

Pearls of wisdom may come from any direction.


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Gillian Scheibelein  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:54
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Exactly Jun 8, 2006



Henry Hinds wrote:

Pearls of wisdom may come from any direction.



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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:54
Member
English
+ ...
Indeed, here, Kudoz rules take preference over grammar rules :-) Jun 8, 2006

Rosa Maria Duenas Rios wrote:

....Kudoz rules do not explicitly forbid non-natives from answering questions in other languages than their pairs.

On the other hand, kudoz DO require that any disagree be susbstantiated by LINGUISTIC comments, and not personal ones.


I quite agree. Let me assure you Rosa Maria that moderators are aware of this issue (indeed this very thread) and decisions are being made as I type.

My personal opinion - (taking off my Mod's hat) on this issue is that non-natives who are aware of the grammar rules are part of our our last bastion against the "anything goes" attitudes filtering over from "another place"

My pet hate is people responding: "I'm good!" when I ask them how they are! I always lecture them about adjectives and adverbs... sadly I am probably a bit of a pedant, I know.-)

BTW I would recommend "Eats, shoots and leaves" to anyone who thinks this issue is not important.


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craigs
Local time: 13:54
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Not at all. Jun 8, 2006

Presumptuous would be the person that considers you presumptuous.

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xxxsonja29
Spanish to English
+ ...
The errors of yesterday = Today's standard usage Jun 8, 2006

My pet hate is people responding: "I'm good!" when I ask them how they are! I always lecture them about adjectives and adverbs... sadly I am probably a bit of a pedant, I know.-)


The correction would bemuse native speakers of US English, as "I'm good" is the standard expression in the States. Not only does it mean "I am well" in response to "How are you?", but it carries more nuances as in the following example:

USPS clerk: May I interest you in some stamps today?
Customer: No, thanks. I'm good. (= I have enough stamps, I am not interested in buying any today.)

Ain't language fun?

[Edited at 2006-06-08 20:27]

[Edited at 2006-06-08 20:32]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:54
Spanish to English
+ ...
Who needs non-natives????? We do!!!! Jun 8, 2006

Ian Winick wrote:

Hi Nesrin,

While I have massive problems with non-natives dictating how my native language should be spoken (and refusing to be told!), I think that it is perfectly healthy for non-natives to pitch in with grammatical insights that many natives wouldn't be aware of.

Grammar is one thing, gut feeling is another - as long as non-natives don't start claiming that certain things "sound better" when a chorus of natives disagree, the more the merrier.

All the best


Ian


Ian - if I remember rightly - was the person who launched the "Who needs natives?" forum, which must have had a record number of responses!

Yes, sometime the solutions offered by non-natives are off the wall, and this is especially annoying when a non-native asker selects their answer...and the native knows it's wrong - I'm afraid that happens a LOT.

Yes, non-natives very often understand rules better, but with tricky little questions of usage in English, you have to refer to the gut instinct of the native. In Proz, one gets the feeling that people should respect this instinct a little more (at least in the combinations I visit).


In the exchange you referred to, as in many exchanges, it's the dogmatism of some people re the rightness and wrongness of things that's particularly annoying. The sentence you referred to would never have been taught as 'until recently we haven't ....." becuase grammatically it's incorrect - I would say for most people. It may be used, but that don't make it righter! But no decent language text book would permit that sentence.

Now that may sound like dogmatism, but taking a broad-based grammar approach...the Pres Perf is used to describe a period unfinished, a period that kinda bridges past and present and possibly the future. Until recently refers to a specific past moment (e.g. until last week), so the past must be used.

So, Nesrin, your were right in your answer. Being right in Proz is not about natives and non-natives. But don't get offended if someone contradicts you, 9 times out of 10 it's best to let these things go. In Proz there are a few things that bug a few people some of the time...

Finally, don't abandon us! Non-natives provide valuable insights...





[Edited at 2006-06-08 22:50]

[Edited at 2006-06-08 22:51]


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Derek Gill Franßen  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:54
German to English
+ ...
"Just because..." Jun 8, 2006

In German everyone (including the Germans) knows that the conjunction "weil" ("because") is a 'verb-kicker,' i.e. the verb gets 'kicked' to the end of the phrase - it is what I learned, it is easy enough and it is straight forward, i.e. there are NO exceptions to this rule (gramatically).

Sometimes, however, they actually do leave the verb behind the subject (mostly in spoken German). And mind you, they ALL do it - even the professors - all the time. I've noticed it usually happens when they haven't thought the sentence through to the end before they start speaking.

The funny thing is that they are not at all aware of it. Just try to tell a German that they are breaking a "rule of grammar" and see what kind of a reaction you get: It ranges from strange looks to being told that you obviously can't hear correctly.

The point I'm trying to make, however, is that I wonder who is right: ME (with my "rules of grammar") or ALL OF THEM (who have spoken the language - and nothing else - their entire lives)...

If they are right, it may be about unconsiously knowing precisely when to break the rule that makes their German so natural (and mine so foreign).

Either way, I think you should keep contributing whenever and wherever you like - the native speakers will get over it (in time).


[Edited at 2006-06-08 23:37]


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JaneTranslates  Identity Verified
Puerto Rico
Local time: 13:54
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Answer whenever/wherever you think you have something to contribute. Jun 9, 2006

Interesting discussion on that thread! I think your comments were meritorious, Nesrin, and you expressed them very well.

As I recently wrote elsewhere on this site, we all use and understand words differently. Therefore, we would all do well to use moderation in whatever we say to others on the site. And we would all do well to try not to take comments personally. Something I intend as a commonplace remark may be taken amiss by someone else.

There are one or two people I could name who make a practice of displaying their arrogance and (supposed) superiority, and who are often downright nasty to others. I don't think that's the case here; try not to let it bother you.

I have commented on Spanish>Spanish questions and have been received well by the native speakers. I do try to be reasonably humble in my choice of words. But if I have something to contribute, I go ahead! I suggest you do the same. If someone makes a negative comment, let it go. Others who read will be more likely to sympathize with you than to condemn.

A wise asker will carefully read and weigh all answers and comments before making a choice. A wise asker will not discard a good answer just because it comes from a non-native speaker--though s/he might take that factor into consideration.

Henry's right about the pearls.

[Edited at 2006-06-09 05:47]


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 10:54
English to French
+ ...
Thank you Nesrin! Jun 9, 2006

I think you explained that very well.

I'll be glad to discuss the intricacies of Arabic grammar with you if you'll let me.


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