Debutant ... cont'd
Thread poster: Balasubramaniam L.

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
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Jun 24, 2013

Unfortunately the site chose to disallow an interesting discussion on this topic in another thread. This left many legitimate issues hanging that begged a response from me. As I cannot answer to these issues there, I am doing so here.

Those of you who haven’t been to the original thread will find this thread baffling. You will find your bearings by reading the original thread here:

http://www.proz.com/forum/getting_established/251440-debutant.html


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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No hang up this side of the divide Jun 24, 2013

Hannah D wrote:

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Hannah D wrote:

As to the general vibe of English not being the sole preserve of native anglophones...for the time being, there is still quite a lot of importance placed on having your English translations done by a native speaker. Obviously this is because English is not the pick and mix, off-the-cuff language many would like it to be. Maybe that will change. At the moment, that's how it is. For the time being, you can't use 'debutant' to replace the word 'beginner'. Sorry.


But that has all changed long ago. You are behind time on this.

I have no concrete statistics, but I think there are now more non-native speakers of English than native speakers. And I don't mean people who have studied English for a few years at college and who can understand most of what is written in it and speak a smattering of the language sufficient to communicate what they want to say. But I mean those whose competency over English is equal to that of the best native speakers of English and better than that of the average native English speaker.

Naturally what they (the non-native speakers) do with English will affect and shape the language as a whole, by sheer statistical pressure. However galling this may be to the original natives of English, that unfortunately is the reality. The sooner this is faced, the sooner you can come out a false sense of security.

Having said that, I see no reason why native speakers of English should feel threatened by non native professionals of English. They should welcome the competition and join hands with their non native linguistic compatriots to shape English to make it the most vibrant and expressive language in the world.


''But I mean those whose competency over English is equal to that of the best native speakers of English and better than that of the average native English speaker.''

I think a lot of people with nearly perfect English as a second language have this hang-up of being ''equal to'' or ''better'' than the native masses. People often bring this point up. And they're nearly always referring to people who speak a variety of English that has been influenced by where they grew up.

The thing is (to me at least!), a variety of English like that will always be more acceptable to my ear than a close to flawless variety of English that is a second language. In other words, ''it was me what done it'' is ''better English'' to me than ''In actual fact, one would have to consider the context within which one was to begin life as a debutant translator.''





You are not at your coherent best here, but I will try to respond to what I have understood you are saying.

The hang-up is actually with the native-speakers. It is they who feel threatened by non-native English professionals. Had they been confident about their professional abilities with English, they would have reacted in a different way.

In every case their reaction has been, these bloody non-natives will take away my livelihood, damn them.

But the reality is, English in the globalised world has become a profession, just like any other profession like engineering, medicine, legal services, financial services, pilot, scientist, and so on. Many people pursue English with the same determination and intelligence as others pursue these other careers, and excel in English just like others excel in the other careers. They are supremely confident about their excellence with English and are not going to be swayed by natives doubting their competence to use English. In fact they are not even mildly agitated by such doubting, for they have gained their excellence over English by factoring in such opposition from native speakers.

Which is why I say that it is the native speakers who have the hang up with non-native speakers of English using English excellently, not the other way round.

At a narrow professional competition level, it is possible to understand why there is such inveterate distaste of competition, but don’t couch these things in terms of non-native users not using English competently. There is little truth in that.

The current English industry in this globalised world is too large to be manned only by native English speakers, and we are going to see more and more non-native English speakers taking key positions in the English industry.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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Who are the English people? Jun 24, 2013

Texte Style wrote:
Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Jack Doughty wrote:

The use of "debutant" in the male form is virtually unknown to English native speakers.


It does not follow, from this, that, so people should not use debutant.



Excuse me, the fact that English people wouldn't understand a word is not a reason for avoiding it? Don't you think that the main point of writing is to put a message across and for the readers to understand it?

A question to ask here is who are these English people?

You probably mean native speakers of English, but you will agree that native is a nebulous term that is hard to define. To me native is a geographical term implying the people of the place where English originated – the few islands of UK. To all others living outside these islands, English is a non-native language.

But most people won’t agree to this definition, so let us expand it to all those who can in some genealogical way trace their origins to the islands of UK (Ty’s definition).

Even if we take this broader definition, does it cover all those who use English in this globalized world?

I had said in an earlier post in the other thread, that today we have more non-native users of English than native speakers of English. So it would be logical to argue that any words that we use should be comprehensible to this larger group as well in addition to the native speaker group.

This can throw up various interesting sub questions. In a case like debutant, where the native speakers say one thing, and the rest say another, whom do we consider as correct? I would side with the numerically larger group, as maximum communication is achieved by taking this position.

This is again why I said in the other thread that English is no longer the private property of the native speakers of English. I realize that this was not the most diplomatic way of putting it, but it nevertheless is the reality of English in today’s world. English is valuable in today’s world only because it is comprehensible to a larger group of people than the native speakers of English. We would negate this advantage of English if we harp on making English confirm to the quaint ideas that native speakers in UK have of their language. The other users of English in other parts of the world are least interested in these quirks of English, they are more interested in its communicative aspects. That leads up to what I had said in my post in the other thread about English coming loaded with a lot of cultural and historical baggage for which there would be few takers among the non-native users of English. Again, I could have put this in a more sugar-coated fashion, but that nevertheless is the truth.

English in fact presents a very interesting case of the trials and tribulations of a language that has gone international. It presents an unseemly power struggle between those who claim it is their preserve (the native speakers) and those who have newly acquired it and are starting to use it creatively.

There is a little book available with amazon that discusses this issue at length and those of you who are interested should take a look at this book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Otherness-English-Syndrome-Development/dp/0803994567

No language has reached such international levels of use and in this sense English is a unique case. It is a language over which its native-speakers are fast losing control. The native-speakers of course would like to paint this as an unmitigated disaster, but that is not how others view it.

This stands many traditional notions about correctness of a language on the head and can be very unsettling to people with set notions, for it is uncharted territory for any language, for no other language in the history of mankind has reached this level of spread across humanity.

Lot of interesting ideas here and I would love to hear what you think about them.

[2013-06-25 06:03 GMT पर संपादन हुआ]


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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Native language again Jun 24, 2013

Ty Kendall wrote:

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:
... the only people who are technically competent to call themselves native speakers of English are those who belong to that geographical area where English originated - the few islands of UK, excluding perhaps Ireland, Scotland and Welsh which speak other languages.


No! ... It means that only people who actually ARE native speakers are technically competent to call themselves native speakers [i.e. people from America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, not to mention those raised by native-English speaking parents in non-English speaking countries].


This is an old debate and it is not going to be settled in a hurry, but that does not mean further discussion should be avoided.

As I understand it, native language is an idealized concept which is never actually fulfilled in the real world.

Native language is the language picked up by a child from its parents and its immediate surroundings consisting of educated adults speaking the language in its purest form. Thatis, unadulterated by rustic speech, or by other languages.

Nowhere in the world are the conditions mentioned above fulfilled completely. The nearest situation is reached in those geographical areas where the language actually originated, and that too not on the periphery of such areas which are likely to be bilingual as on one side would be one language and on the other another language.

In such geographical areas of origin of a language there would be more likelihood of finding a community in which the language in concern is predominantly spoken without contamination from other languages. In the case of English, the islands of UK fulfil this condition to a large extent.

Most other areas where English is said to be spoken at native-level, ie, the former colonies of Britain (US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.), English is largely influenced by the presence of other major languages in existence in those areas. Also, all these colonies are populated by immigrant populations which all had languages different from English to begin with. This too interferes with the English spoken in these places and precludes the English spoken in these colonies from being considered truly native-level English. To all people living in these places, English is not the native language in the same sense as English is native to an inhabitant of UK. The first language of the people of these colonies may not be as strong as the first languages of the people of places like India, but one cannot deny that there is a first language other than English to a large number of people in the colonies of Britain which claim to speak English at native level. These first languages could be as diverse as Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Italian, French, Spanish and a host of other languages.

So in a technical sense, people of the US, Australia, New Zealand etc. cannot claim English as their native language in the ideal sense I have outlined above.

Nor can large number of people in places like London in UK which is largely populated by immigrants now, but that is another story.

Which is why nativeness in the context of an international language like English is entirely meaningless and we should be talking about proficiency in the English language.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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Respect begets respect Jun 24, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:
... If people like to claim that their grasp of English is "equal to that of the best native speakers of English and better than that of the average native English speaker" (to quote Bala), shouldn't they at least show some respect for the language, even if they don't respect its true native speakers?


Unfortunatley I have no patience for people who wear their nativeness of English on their sleeves and have no other qualities worth the name with regard to their knowledge or competency of English. I respect people who wield English with felicity whether they be native-speakers of English or otherwise. And this deference is not limited to English alone. Any person who uses any language with dexterity has my unstinting respect.


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Texte Style
Local time: 03:19
French to English
Please don't interpret what I say Jun 25, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Texte Style wrote:

Excuse me, the fact that English people wouldn't understand a word is not a reason for avoiding it? Don't you think that the main point of writing is to put a message across and for the readers to understand it?

A question to ask here is who are these English people?

You probably mean native speakers of English...


I'm sorry I'm not reading any further since what you'll be saying is based on this and it's completely and utterly off the mark. When I say "English people" I mean people living in England or people of British nationality who define themselves to be English. Of course it's only a subset of people whose native language is English. Of course there are plenty of other people who speak English as a native language incorporating local idiom and there's nothing wrong with that, it's even a necessary social marker. But there do happen to be a helluva lot of "English people" on Proz so using an English term that English people (and apparently American too judging from some reactions but I'm not making any presumptions) don't understand is perhaps not the best way to put a message across.

Unless of course it was a clever ploy to lure us to yet another post about people starting out as a translator simply because we were curious as to why a discussion would have such a word as a title (which was definitely why I at least clicked on it). However if that were the case the OP would not have changed the title to "Beginner - was Debutant" (or something like that, I don't remember. I just checked and it appears to have been changed back to "Debutant". I know it was changed though because I mentioned it in a post in that discussion, not sure whether the post was approved or not because the discussion of the word "debutant" was considered off topic).

[Edited at 2013-06-25 07:39 GMT]


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Texte Style
Local time: 03:19
French to English
Respect and reading questions properly Jun 25, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:
... If people like to claim that their grasp of English is "equal to that of the best native speakers of English and better than that of the average native English speaker" (to quote Bala), shouldn't they at least show some respect for the language, even if they don't respect its true native speakers?


Unfortunatley I have no patience for people who wear their nativeness of English on their sleeves and have no other qualities worth the name with regard to their knowledge or competency of English. I respect people who wield English with felicity whether they be native-speakers of English or otherwise. And this deference is not limited to English alone. Any person who uses any language with dexterity has my unstinting respect.


That's not an answer to Sheila's question. She's pleading for respect for the language not for people


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
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An interesting aside on debutant Jun 25, 2013

Natives busy passing fatwas against debutant have missed an interesting morphological feature of this word, that it sits comfortably in the English language where it has myriad morphologically similar companions. This probably explains why debutant, even though originally a French word, sounds so natural in English.

This link lists more than a hundred words of English that have the -ant ending and debutant fits quite cosily with these words, and any creative English user can easily coax debutant into usages where words of this morphological character can fit in (think of a rhyme-crazy pop singer wanting something to rhyme with say mutant). Even though the French etymology of this word may be different, it is so easy to reengineer this word in English on the lines of -ant ending words.

http://www.morewords.com/ends-with/ant/

What this discussion has amply revealed to me is the massive lacunae about their own native language that ails so many native English speakers.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
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Reply? Jun 25, 2013

No,I don't think this merits any.

Edited to say: But of course I thank Texte Style for that accurate response on my behalf. Your contributions weren't showing when I posted, TS.

[Edited at 2013-06-25 09:33 GMT]


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
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Much ado... Jun 25, 2013

I'm not an English native speaker; when I saw the original post I thought of a sports celebrity first and, thanks to the interference of my native language, sex second (in colloquial Spanish "debutar" is akin to "pop the cherry"). I'm pretty sure the original poster didn't mean to convey either meaning (although I must admit it made for a fantastic link bait).

And that's what it all comes down to: meaning. Several native speakers posted that they wouldn't choose that term given the context, and all of the sudden the fora became a battlefield (with words like "colonialism" and "fatwas" thrown into the mix!).

I respect people who wield English with felicity whether they be native-speakers of English or otherwise.


This is the problem with unidiomatic expressions; I honestly don't know what you mean when you say "wield a language with felicity". With great happiness? With suitability? With accuracy? With a pleasing style? With effectiveness? With the ability to find appropriate expression of one's thoughts? As you can see, I checked several dictionaries and I'm still no even close to understanding the exact point you wanted to make.

I've no doubt that many times the fault is entirely on me, either by my limited knowledge of English or by the insidious interference of my native language. But that is also why we need a common ground; not to stifle the creative usage of the language but to ensure an understanding that transcends nationalities, ethnicities and cultures.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:19
Chinese to English
LOL Jun 25, 2013

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

But the reality is, law in the globalised world has become a profession, just like any other profession like engineering, medicine, English, financial services, pilot, scientist, and so on. Many people pursue the law with the same determination and intelligence as others pursue these other careers, and excel in the law just like others excel in the other careers. They are supremely confident about their excellence with the law and are not going to be swayed by lawyers doubting their competence to use the law. In fact they are not even mildly agitated by such doubting, for they have gained their excellence over the law by factoring in such opposition from native speakers.

Edited facetiously by me.


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