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From English into X - how much does English knowledge matter?
Thread poster: Sorana_M.

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 19:45
English to Romanian
+ ...
Dec 26, 2015

When you translate FROM English into your mother tongue, how good must your level of English be?

I am a grammar Nazi in my mother tongue, I admit it. But I have never ever managed to figure out why some people who seem to master the more complex English language and grammar twists make such beginner errors as mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).

Could someone explain this?


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
I blame Dec 27, 2015

I blame phonics.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonics

Teaching children English using Phonics has resulted in a generation of illiterates who don't even know the basics, and who believe it doesn't matter whether you get things right or not.

Quite possibly these are the same kind of people who think "decent" is a downward movement, or that "I'll be back momentarily" means "I'll be back soon".

[Edited at 2015-12-27 12:04 GMT]


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Why is this a problem? Dec 27, 2015

I translate French into English. I'm not very good at writing French, but that's not what I'm being paid to do.

 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:45
Member (2014)
English to German
Not sure how useful phonics are? Dec 27, 2015

But my daughter wrote a lovely letter telling her teacher that "she is the neicest teecher that she could ever have" - using her knowledge of English and German sounds!

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 18:45
German to Serbian
+ ...
Hum, and the question is? Dec 27, 2015

The questions is asked in very general terms so I am not sure what to reply.

In a fairly informal conversation, it's no biggie if "there" is used instead of "their", as the context will tell you what the correct term is. It's totally different in a professional copy for publication (but you were referring to forum posts, right?).

The spelling errors listed are classified as "common spelling errors", not "beginner errors", and are also often made by native speakers. In a dictation, the focus will be on spelling errors. In an essay, the focus will be on syntax, expression and style.


 

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 19:45
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Written English Dec 27, 2015

I'm not talking about spoken English, but about written English.

I started learning English when I was 11. All of my teachers taught me to aim for perfection. None of my high-school and college teachers accepted these "common spelling errors". When going for college, they would have made the difference between you getting in and you being flunked.

It's not my intention to offend anyone, I was just surprised to see this phenomenon.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
These are neithher spelling errors nor beginner errors Dec 27, 2015

Sorana_M. wrote:
such beginner errors as mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).


They are just typo errors.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:45
Member (2008)
Italian to English
See what I mean? Dec 27, 2015

jyuan_us wrote:

Sorana_M. wrote:
such beginner errors as mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).


They are just typo errors.


See what I mean? For some people, such mistakes in written documents just aren't important, and re-identifying them not as mistakes but as "typo errors" (i.e. mistakes) is intended to reduce them to a level at which they are (supposed to be) innocuous.

The inference is "go ahead and make all the mistakes you like. It really doesn't matter. Nobody cares. Because they're not mistakes. They're.....typo errors".

I think I'd better uncheck the little box and stay out of this discussion !

[Edited at 2015-12-27 20:53 GMT]


 

Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 19:45
English to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Funny feeling Dec 27, 2015

I guess you're right, Tom.

The same is happening to my own language, Romanian. The younger generations are messing it up so much, it makes my eyes hurt. The trend is going towards "as long as the message is understood, how I write doesn't matter".

jyuan_us, no, they aren't.

Then again, I have a CV and a cover letter, both written in English. I presume all proz professional service providers have such documents. They are like our business cards.

If I allowed such "typos" in my business cards while sending them over to my potential clients, wouldn't it be like shooting myself in the foot?


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Typo errors and beginner errors are different Dec 28, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

Sorana_M. wrote:
such beginner errors as mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).


They are just typo errors.


See what I mean? For some people, such mistakes in written documents just aren't important, and re-identifying them not as mistakes but as "typo errors" (i.e. mistakes) is intended to reduce them to a level at which they are (supposed to be) innocuous.

The inference is "go ahead and make all the mistakes you like. It really doesn't matter. Nobody cares. Because they're not mistakes. They're.....typo errors".

I think I'd better uncheck the little box and stay out of this discussion !

[Edited at 2015-12-27 20:53 GMT]


Typo errors are the results of negligence and beginner errors are the results of ignorance. I don't think "mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence" can be categorized as beginner errors.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Nobody has implied that typo errors don't matter Dec 28, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

jyuan_us wrote:

Sorana_M. wrote:
such beginner errors as mistaking it's and its, there and their, writing i instead of I or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).


They are just typo errors.


The inference is "go ahead and make all the mistakes you like. It really doesn't matter. Nobody cares. Because they're not mistakes. They're.....typo errors".

I think I'd better uncheck the little box and stay out of this discussion !

[Edited at 2015-12-27 20:53 GMT]


I think the inference is an "over-inference"

[Edited at 2015-12-28 02:27 GMT]


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Right. Dec 28, 2015

philgoddard wrote:

I translate French into English. I'm not very good at writing French, but that's not what I'm being paid to do.


That is the reasonable and logical way of thinking.


 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:45
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
They might have written that way on purpose Dec 28, 2015

Sorana_M. wrote:

or using the double negation in a sentence (I've just seen this on proz).




I think double negation is trendy, especially in some parts of USA.

[Edited at 2015-12-28 01:34 GMT]


 

Josephine Gardiner  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:45
Spanish to English
+ ...
A good exercise, though... Dec 28, 2015

philgoddard wrote:

I translate French into English. I'm not very good at writing French, but that's not what I'm being paid to do.


No it isn't what you're being paid for, but on the other hand I think writing in your source language from time to time is a very useful exercise, especially if you can get a native speaker to comment on it afterwards. It gives you a more intimate relationship with the language, and can highlight and clarify all sorts of structural and cultural differences.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 22:15
English to Hindi
+ ...
Native-level command over both source and target is absolutely necessay Dec 28, 2015

Sorana_M. wrote:

When you translate FROM English into your mother tongue, how good must your level of English be?


I subscribe to the view that for doing any serious translation you need native-level language skills in both source and target languages, failing which you can only achieve passable translations. That is not to say that passable translations are not useful. Indeed, they will serve most purposes, and most translators only have second language skills in their source language(s), yet they run successful translation businesses. But for grammar nazis, which you mention you are, this precondition is an absolute necessity.

Sorana_M. wrote:

... I have never ever managed to figure out why some people who seem to master the more complex English language and grammar twists make such beginner errors as mistaking ... i instead of I ?


Regarding this specific issue, you would perhaps be interested to know that the largest English language broadsheet in the world (The Times of India, which is published simultaneously from half a dozen locations in India such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Lucknow, etc.), made a conscious decision a few years ago that it would use the non-capitalized i for the first person pronoun, as it felt that this suited the overall spirit and direction of the English language, and the capitalized first person pronoun 'I' was rather presumptuous, pompous and utterly unnecessary, considering that the other pronouns (you, he, him, her, she, etc), including the other forms for the first person pronoun 'I', like 'me' and 'mine' are not capitalized.

The TOI scrupulously follows this practice in its editorial pages to this day, though on other pages, the capital I is regularly encountered.

Just to say that language is what people make of it, and how they use it, and grammar (naziist or otherwise) can only follow usage, and English has been very open-minded about this, which is perhaps the secret behind its easy acceptance around the globe.

[Edited at 2015-12-28 07:55 GMT]


 
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