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Off topic: Admitting one's mistakes
Thread poster: liz askew

liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
May 19, 2009

Hi

It seems that we are all reluctant to admit to our mistakes. Sadly, it is a fact of life.

Definition of mistake in Collins Concise English Dictionary, so everybody knows where I am coming from.

1. An error or blunder in action, opinion, or judgment
2. a misconception or misunderstanding

I am saying this because of the way translators react to any criticism of their entries [sure, it doesn't apply to every single translator on Proz]. BTW, I am not excluding myself in this problem.

So, why don't people admit to their mistakes or humbly accept they have made a blunder? Is there more to this than merely admitting a linguistic error, does nationality, personality come into this too? Oh yes, and dare I say it, what about honesty and integrity?

Regards
Liz Askew





[Edited at 2009-05-19 09:04 GMT]


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
English to Arabic
+ ...
...or even admitting that we're fallible May 19, 2009

This is an attitude I've been observing here on Proz for years. It seems so many of us are obsessed with the idea that clients may be reading our postings here on the forums, all you read is of translators who are simply incapable of committing errors, of missing a deadline, of taking on a job and then realising it's beyond their capacity, of submitting a job that's slightly less than fantastic, of of of...
and who are abhorred if anyone admits to having done anything as disgraceful as that ever...


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foghorn
English to Turkish
+ ...
Rosetta stone May 19, 2009

if i can blunder a little bit, i’d like to point out that translation is a very shaky ground. Without referring to facts, it is not always easy to say whether a certain translation is a “mistake” or not. The idea that translation of a linguistic unity can induce a synonymy relation between the language pair seems at best, wishful.

Well, just to dig the theoretical side of the fable…

& i can imagine many cases where a translator is not mistaken at the actual time of the translation but it just turns out that it is ‘mistaken’


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:32
English to Croatian
+ ...
Order and Chaos May 19, 2009

liz askew wrote:



So, why don't people admit to their mistakes or humbly accept they have made a blunder? Is there more to this than merely admitting a linguistic error, does nationality, personality come into this too? Oh yes, and dare I say it, what about honesty and integrity?




Hi Liz,

In this case, I think there should be an ultimate authority ( we already discussed this on another topic), who could comment on entries without ever being criticized back by the author of the entry.

Example:
Say there is a class full of students and one lecturer ( a regular class, with the lecturer being a legal authority) . That's a class with some order and coordination. Now imagine a class in which everyone is tutor to everyone. Chaotic? Think so. So, don't expect roses blooming there, in terms of order and coordination.


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Valery Kaminski  Identity Verified
Belarus
Local time: 03:32
Member (2006)
English to Russian
+ ...
Such is life May 19, 2009

Admitting your own mistakes is not something you derive positive emotions from so it's only natural that people shun doing this. The emotions involved, though, vary a great deal.

Some people just get confused a little ("Well, nobody’s perfect", "Errare humanum est" etc) – Group A

Others never ever start thinking (don’t know how?) there is the slightest possibility THEY could have made a mistake. - Group Z

And all the variety of emotions and attitudes in between. - B----Y

Consequently, Group A representatives are more likely to agree they were unlucky to make a blunder, both to themselves and publicly.

Others might just step aside, hide away (hide answers) or start a fight, regardless.

As for Kudoz, I often see situations when people forget they are there not only for those points but are also supposed to help the asker. They go on defending their dubious and, sometimes, absolutely misleading answers hoping that the asker (and some ‘agreers’) might get impressed and present them with those points (feed their vanity).

But, again, such is life…


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
Member (2013)
Italian to English
+ ...
It's a feature of online forums May 19, 2009

Hi Liz

If you're referring to kudoz and people getting defensive about disagrees and neutrals (for example) refusing to admit you're wrong is a natural reaction to seeing a big red disagree (often from a complete stranger) next to your well-intentioned trying-to-be-helpful answer. The rejected answerer doesn't see "disagree", they see something like "you are an ignorant peasant who clearly knows nothing so please give up and go away".

It's been dealt with before in the forums, but the kudoz system is still essentially a competition so this kind of defensiveness will continue to be a feature. It's human nature, I don't believe nationality has anything to do with it.

Discussion groups are the way forward.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:32
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not a nationality thing May 19, 2009

Madame Cholet wrote:
It's been dealt with before in the forums, but the kudoz system is still essentially a competition so this kind of defensiveness will continue to be a feature. It's human nature, I don't believe nationality has anything to do with it.


I agree. Not country-related at all.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:32
German to English
I've made every possible mistake May 19, 2009

Fortunately, however, I haven't repeated many of them.

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TonyTK
German to English
+ ...
Then why not restyle the comment options? May 19, 2009

Madame Cholet wrote:

... they see something like "you are an ignorant peasant who clearly knows nothing so please give up and go away".



It would certainly make this place more entertaining.

Right. So instead of "Disagree" we have your excellent "You are an ignorant peasant who clearly knows nothing so please give up and go away".

"Neutral" could be "Hardly worth getting out of bed for. Excuse me while I pick my nose. Whatever."

"Agree" - "I would gladly crawl ten miles through broken glass on my hands and knees to lick the wheels of the laundry van that collects your dirty washing."


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:32
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Not profession related either May 19, 2009

Have you ever heard a politician admitting a mistake or blunder? Or a hairdresser?

And even if we admit a mistake (all translations have mistakes) it does not make the client happy, or does it? The client wants you to avoid mistakes in the first place.

If I had to correct all mistakes I managed to make in my translations I would not come around to take new work for a long time.

Not to mention the mistakes I make in my postings!

Regards
Heinrich


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Claire Titchmarsh  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
Member (2013)
Italian to English
+ ...
I wouldn't go that far Tony May 19, 2009

I'll go along with your Neutral suggestion (although I myself am squeaky-clean and utterly bereft of such disgusting habits), however ten miles for an Agree is a bit extreme. Two perhaps. And perhaps we could add a little postscript to reflect that tiny twinge of (un)professional jealousy (come on, admit it, we've all been there):

"Agree" - "I would gladly crawl ten miles through broken glass on my hands and knees to lick the wheels of the laundry van that collects your dirty washing AND WHY THE **** DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT FIRST.

Let's ask Henry to change it immediately.

Have a nice day.


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
French to English
+ ...
Two problems May 19, 2009

I think there are two issues here:

1) the tendency that we probably all have to want to give the best possible impression of ourselves on these online venues, which in some cases extends to the kind of defensiveness you describe. I don't think it's a helpful phenomenon, but I can understand why it happens.

2) the fact that it bothers you (and I doubt you're the only one). The solution to this, I find, is to attend as many in-person translators' events as possible, such as the ITI Conference this past weekend and the Medical Network event in a couple of weeks' time. Having real conversations with real people who are in the same business, for me, is a way of seeing that we all make mistakes and silly choices and do interesting things and yet somehow we still survive and thrive. It also helps me put online discussions and terminology help into their proper perspective as a mere adjunct to actual human relationships.

Have you ever heard a politician admitting a mistake or blunder?

This is very very apposite in the UK at present, Heinrich!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:32
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Shit stinks even if you hide it under a basket May 19, 2009

So you might as well expose it to the air, dewater it and use it to fertilize your garden.

Valery Kaminski wrote:
Admitting your own mistakes is not something you derive positive emotions from so it's only natural that people shun doing this.


I'm not much of an expert on the opiate of the people, but I thought that confession was supposed to have its positive side as long as it doesn't result in a long prison sentence or a firing squad. I personally find it much easier to admit mistakes when they occur rather than argue the point or lie about it. However, my opinion as to what constitutes a mistake may differ from someone else's. My posts here are loaded with mistakes of punctuation, grammar, logic and often enough courtesy and good taste. I'd be a fool to deny it, and as I'm a fool anyway, I won't

Really, all I can expect of anyone is best effort and a sense of responsibility. If I am working with good people who have those, then I cannot be disappointed, even if everything gets swept away to Hell when Murphy's dam breaks.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
You said it "It's human nature". May 19, 2009

Yes, sure, we're all human.

Liz


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:32
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes Kevin "I thought that confession was supposed to have its positive side" May 19, 2009

Hello Kevin

I liked your posting very much, especially the quote about "shit stinking".....that's a new one on me:-)

I suppose it is best not to take ourselves too seriously and become too anally retentive; so admitting to one's mistakes has to be a part of that. I suppose the technique is to take it gracefully, and I don't know anybody who is good at that, including me:-).....am learning...


Liz


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