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Chinese to English Kudoz—Enough is Enough
Thread poster: beirenbo
beirenbo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:25
Oct 8, 2006

By reading other posts in this forum, I can see that this problem is not unique to the Chinese-to-English kudoz. The practice of awarding points for translations of Chinese into “Chinese-English” (we call it Chinglish) has gone on ever since I began posting and I’m sure went on long before that. Anyone who has submitted a translation to kudoz has felt that common sting when a sentence that looks like it might have been typed by a three-year-old is surprisingly chosen over your own translation into which you have put a lot of thought.

There is a very good reason I do not list “English-to-Chinese” as one of my pairs. Just as I would trust a native Chinese speaker’s opinion of an English to Chinese translation over my own, posters MUST trust the opinions of the native English speakers. If English is not your mother tongue, don’t just choose the Chinglish translation because it looks good to you. First of all, it’s incorrect. Second of all, you will only embarrass yourself. If your client is a native English speaker, I guarantee you will not get repeat business.

While the population of native English speakers who regularly contribute is growing (I think there were 6 of us at last count), the forum is completely overtaken by native speakers of other languages and so-called “native” English speakers who do not have enough of a command of the English language to be performing thoughtful translations. I have no doubt the Chinese ability and knowledge of these people is impeccable, but that doesn’t mean they are capable of translating it into English, not without extensive experience and study. There are some non-natives who have lived abroad for several years and whose English ability is not in question. But trust me, these people are few and far between. Once in a while, a non-native will submit an answer that is acceptable, but even in these cases, there are usually spelling and grammar errors. Anyone who doesn’t believe me can visit the Chinese-to-English section of kudoz and see for yourself.

Some people will say so what. After all, kudoz points are meaningless and outside of proz.com, have no bearing whatsoever. But do you see the effect this has on professional translators? As translation agencies search for potential translators, the first place they will likely search is Proz. Can you guess how Proz ranks their translators? That’s right, by kudoz points! There is no other criteria. Check out some of the awkward English translations of people who have very, very, very high kudoz point totals and you will realize what a joke this whole thing has really become.

Kudoz itself is a wonderful idea and the person who came up with it should be applauded. However, in its current state with no checks and balances, it does not function and is a detriment to translating and translators. The Chinese-to-English forum desperately needs a moderator and more guidelines on who is allowed to post answers, as well as criteria the poster must consider before blindly awarding points. I know in previous forums, Henry has encouraged people to do their own filtering, and trust me, we are. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is possible for a hack to get listed far above a professional translator just because they have more kudoz points. I can only imagine how many translators have already stopped using kudoz due to this occurrence, and can only speculate how many more will stop using it (myself included) if it continues.

And just to clarify, there is nothing wrong with people wanting to practice and improve their English. In fact, I encourage them to do so. BUT THIS IS NOT THAT FORUM! Enough is enough.


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:25
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Use "disagrees" to help put a stop to the problem Oct 8, 2006

Hi Aaron,

I don't know Chinese, but I did check out a few of the posted Chinese-to-English queries, and I see what you mean. When it is possible for someone with absolutely no knowledge of the source language to state unequivocally that a proposed translation is wrong, it is obvious that there is a problem.

To help remedy the problem, I would suggest that you post "Disagrees" to obviously wrong answers, and that you encourage your competent colleagues who participate in the forum to do so as well. Support each "disagree" with a pertinent comment (in some cases, "no native speaker would ever say it that way" or "this looks like word salad" would suffice). I think that those offering obviously deficient answers will get the message soon enough.

It is not only a matter of maintaining the integrity of Kudoz. People who present themselves as translators into a target language ought to know how ridiculous they look when they propose answers that betray an ignorance of the most basic rules of the grammar and syntax of that language. They are thus not only misrepresenting themselves but also wasting everyone's time.

Bob

[Edited at 2006-10-08 16:20]


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:25
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Disagree is good but needs explaining Oct 8, 2006

Robert Forstag wrote:
To help remedy the problem, I would suggest that you post "Disagrees" to obviously wrong answers, and that you encourage your competent colleagues who participate in the forum to do so as well.


Exactly! That is the whole idea with 'Disagree': To show to the asker and answerer that you think an answer is wrong/not the best one etc.

Support each "disagree" with a pertinent comment

Not only true but compulsary in my book.

(in some cases, "no native speaker would ever say it that way" or "this looks like word salad" would suffice).

As always this is no help at all. It does not help the asker, it makes him/her only bewildered.

If one is certain that an answer is wrong, one should always be able and willing to supply a correct/better translation.

I think that those offering obviously deficient answers will get the message soon enough.

Agree

It is not only a matter of maintaining the integrity of Kudoz. People who present themselves as translators into a target language ought to know how ridiculous they look when they propose answers that betray an ignorance of the most basic rules of the grammar and syntax of that language. They are thus not only misrepresenting themselves but also wasting everyone's time.

True, only they don't.
A well founded 'Disagree' with a better suggestion is how to let that dawn on them.
That is how I withdrew from English>Spanish back in 2000.

Best

Mats


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Improve quality through dialog Oct 8, 2006

Hi Aaron,

I understand your frustration. There are really a lot of grammatical and idiomatic mistakes in the ZH-EN Kudoz answers. And I agree that something should be done in this aspect. Maybe you can take Bob's suggestion into consideration and clearly mark wrong answers as wrong (though the Chinese Kudoz community is usually very hesitant to give disagrees or even neutral peer comments, so you will need to be diplomatic here).

There are many cases where I am surprised nobody is protesting against one of those clearly wrong answers. If an answer of similar bad quality would be given in the English-German or German-English pair, the answerer would be bombarded with disagrees. But I guess in the Chinese community, you need to make sure you are not too blunt and help the answerer "save face".


On the other hand, I think I also understand why there are so many native Chinese speakers who reply Chinese-English Kudoz questions:

- There are languages that are very difficult to learn (and master!) for foreigners. I have studied Chinese myself, and I found it much more difficult to learn than Spanish or French for example. In many cases, a native speaker of English might be able to phrase the target sentence well and grammatically correct; but s/he might have actually misunderstood the source sentence or missed out some of the nuances that a native Chinese speaker would have easily understood.

- Then there are languages that simply do not have many foreigners learning them and using them as a source language in translation. I remember having read quite a few postings in "minor" language pairs where the posters (highly respected Proz colleagues) stated that they DID translate into their foreign language. For the simple reason that there are not enough native speakers of the target language to satisfy the market's needs.

I think it has simply developed over time that native Chinese speakers started answering Kudoz questions into English, just because they felt better qualified to understand the source text and because there were not enough native English speakers who offered translation services into English.


The bottom line: Instead of taking it personal that your answers are not chosen, and getting angry about bad answers, why not start a friendly and constructive dialog with your Kudoz colleagues, where everybody learns from one another. In the end, this is what Kudoz is for, isn't it?

All the best,
Stefanie

[Edited at 2006-10-08 16:58]


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Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:25
German to English
Must we supply an answer of our own when we disagree? Oct 8, 2006

Mats Wiman wrote:

If one is certain that an answer is wrong, one should always be able and willing to supply a correct/better translation.



I disagree, Mats. A good translator may know that a particular answer is way off base. We see wild answers all the time. This peer is helping the KudoZ process by disagreeing with such answers and giving linguistic reasons for doing so (which is compulsory not only in your book, but is also a firm KudoZ rule).

The peer may know an answer is definitely wrong but not have a good solution himself for various reasons. Perhaps it's a complex legal or medical term. A responsible peer will give the floor to the legal or medical experts.



[Edited at 2006-10-08 17:37]


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Rui de Carvalho  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:25
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Chinese and every language Oct 8, 2006

I totally agree with Aaron. I long ago stop contributing to Kudoz for the same reason. when I saw really anedoctal replies being choosen. In fact, this Kudoz thing is one the stupid parts of Proz and is being used by small people to give points to another anothers (Gos knows for what), not really to clarify any translation doubt.

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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
I'd never say kudoz is stupid... Oct 8, 2006

I don't agree with Rui. Although I also realised the sometimes strange answers in the Chinese-English forum, kudoz has also turned out to be quite useful (referring also to other language pars) .As for me, I found a lot of help in kudoz questions and do not consider myself as belonging to "small people to give points to another anothers".

Aaron, I understand very well what you mean. But sometimes wrong answers also give a good hint. But of course I would also prefer the answer of a native speaker. But what if there is none? A grammatically wrong answer can still make you understand the source better and in case there is no other answer, why not award the points to the one who helped at least understand the source text? As long as you don't make it a glossary entry...

Inga

[Bearbeitet am 2006-10-08 20:16]


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beirenbo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:25
TOPIC STARTER
Worried about backlash from disagreeing. Oct 8, 2006

Thanks everyone for your overwhelming support. It is good to know that I am not alone in this. As for Stefanie's reply, you are correct for the most part. But you are wrong in thinking I am getting angry because my answers are not being chosen. I am getting angry because English is not being chosen. I believe I have already attempted a constructive dialogue with my translation explanations, only nobody seems to be listening, and that is the core of the problem.

In the past, rather than disagree, I usually tried to explain the basis for my translation and why I feel it is more appropriate than others offered, but clearly these explanations are falling on deaf ears. I have considered utilizing the "disagree" option more often, but it seems there are people who are petty enough to disagree with my own answers out of spite. What would you do in these cases?

Aaron


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beirenbo  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:25
TOPIC STARTER
You are correct, Inga Oct 8, 2006

Pirily wrote:

But sometimes wrong answers also give a good hint. But of course I would also prefer the answer of a native speaker. But what if there is none? A grammatically wrong answer can still make you understand the source better and in case there is no other answer, why not award the points to the one who helped at least understand the source text?
Inga

[Bearbeitet am 2006-10-08 19:06]


There is nothing about your statement with which I disagree. Kudoz serves a wonderful purpose in these cases. Your point is that the best answer (even a wrong one) should be chosen, and you are absolutely right. My point is that wrong answers are currently being chosen over correct ones.


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Inga Jakobi  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
Member (2006)
Chinese to German
+ ...
if there is a correct answer... Oct 8, 2006

Aaron Bray wrote:

[ My point is that wrong answers are currently being chosen over correct ones.


of course this one should be chosen. I guess the main problem is that there are just too little English native speakers and in fact, I think the most translators would rather choose to suggest their own answer than posting a disagree to another. So they propose an answer without stating clearly that another one is definitely wrong. And this of course leads to cunfusion, but many people seem to feel uncomfortable to post a gisagree... I posted some Chinese-English questions in the last two weeks (in fact, I translate to German, but there are only about two people who ever answer in this language pair) and one colleague posted some disagrees and made his own proposition. That was really helpful for me!


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Hang in there Oct 8, 2006

Hi Aaron,

Aaron Bray wrote:
As for Stefanie's reply, you are correct for the most part. But you are wrong in thinking I am getting angry because my answers are not being chosen.


Sorry for having implied that. I didn't mean to offend you.

Aaron Bray wrote:
In the past, rather than disagree, I usually tried to explain the basis for my translation and why I feel it is more appropriate than others offered, but clearly these explanations are falling on deaf ears. I have considered utilizing the "disagree" option more often, but it seems there are people who are petty enough to disagree with my own answers out of spite. What would you do in these cases?


I don't really have an answer to your question and I can understand your frustration. I guess people in any language community within Kudoz tend to trust colleagues who have been around for a while and who have earned a lot of Kudoz points (because according to the system, this would mean that they have given a lot of correct answers, and can therefore be trusted for their translation skills).

I guess you will not be able to change the minds of those askers who have no idea what answer they are looking for. If someone doesn't know English well enough, they wouldn't know which English answer is the correct one. But I believe you can change the minds of those colleagues who participate on Kudoz frequently. They will eventually learn that you give your answers a lot of thought and that your answers deserve to be chosen.

Hang in there and keep on answering and commenting. It will be useful to the community and to the overall quality standard of our profession.

Stefanie


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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:25
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Disagreeing Oct 8, 2006

Pirily wrote:
I posted some Chinese-English questions in the last two weeks (...) and one colleague posted some disagrees and made his own proposition. That was really helpful for me!


Hi Aaron,

Me again

I agree with Inga here. Disagreeing with a proposed answer should not backfire at you, as long as the reason for disagreeing is explained and reasonable. I just had a look at some of Inga's recent questions and I saw the disagrees. I think they are valid, and as far as I could see, nobody backfired at that colleague.

Stefanie


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:25
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
'Disagree' is the highest form of help - provided you supply a better suggestion Oct 8, 2006

Aaron Bray wrote:Worried about backlash from disagreeing.

If you are a professional you should not be afraid - ay, you have an obligation not to be afraid or even you must say 'Disagree' when a suggestion in your view is wrong - AND you should offer a better suggestion


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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:25
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
When you are sure, you should say something, otherwise shut up Oct 8, 2006

Kim Metzger wrote:

Mats Wiman wrote:

If one is certain that an answer is wrong, one should always be able and willing to supply a correct/better translation.



The peer may know an answer is definitely wrong but not have a good solution himself for various reasons. Perhaps it's a complex legal or medical term. A responsible peer will give the floor to the legal or medical experts.


Providing a 'Disagree' with a better suggestion is help. Without it it's only a nuisance.


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 20:25
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
My experience Oct 8, 2006

Hi Aaron,

I'm a frequent user of Chinese-English Kudoz, so I would like to share my experience as well. Here are a few thoughts:

1. I can understand your frustration, but I think you should observe a little while more. There are many good native Chinese translators here who are great help when it comes to answering Chinese-English questions. For instance, we have Yueyin Sun who, in my opinion, is the no. 1 person for chemical-related questions, as well as Xiaoping Fu who is a very knowledgeable man. Although sometimes the answers provided by non-native English translators in our community (I am not referring to anyone in particular) sound a bit awkward, they lead you a step closer to the answer.

2. When we close a question, we have to click on a link that says "Select this answer as most helpful". Sometimes, the most helpful answer is not the one that is grammatically correct or sounds most native. Personally, I appreciate answers that come with useful links or explanations. Allow me to give you a recent example: http://www.proz.com/kudoz/1577814. You gave an answer with the explanation "Granules is a better term to use than glass beads." However, you did not elaborate on this nor provide more support. Wherestip's answer received two comments from two other Chinese translators, and it is apparently more helpful to Stefanie. I am just using this question as an example. Please don't take this personally.

3. Stefanie mentioned that the Chinese community is hesitant in giving disagrees and neutral peer comments. I have to agree with her. I think it is a cultural thing. You do not say "no" right in the other person's face. You either post your own answer or, at most, give a neutral comment followed by a smiling face at the end of your sentence. You studied with Chinese students before, so I am sure you know what I am talking about. I do not think it is the best way of doing things around here, but it is the Chinese way, and you are working with the Chinese language...

4. Be patient. Don't give up on the community now. I know there are a few translators who give not-so-useful answers all the time. You have to learn to "filter" them out. I welcome answers from everyone, whether native or not. I know there is always something I can learn from every one of them. Kudoz is a learning environment. You can learn from the good translators as well as the not-so-good ones.

5. Don't worry about backlash. The others will know who's right and who's wrong.

It is definitely a good thing that more native English translators are getting active in Kudoz. I hope you and the other quality-conscious native English translators can add value to this community.

Denyce

[Edited at 2006-10-08 21:31]

[Edited at 2006-10-08 21:39]


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Chinese to English Kudoz—Enough is Enough

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