Pages in topic:   [1 2] >
Poll: Do you only translate into your native language(s)?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 23:09
Oct 2, 2008

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you only translate into your native language(s)?".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see:


Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
Generally, yes Oct 2, 2008

I usually translate into English--my native language. When I do translate into Spanish, it's mostly something short and simple.

Interestingly, I got my start translating into Spanish.


Mariana Borio  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mostly yes. Oct 2, 2008

Yes, I usually translate into Spanish (my native language). Sometimes I translate into English, but only simple jobs.


Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:09
English to Arabic
+ ...
Don't... Oct 2, 2008

Don't drag me into that discussion again, please! icon_wink.gif

( )


David Brown  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Spanish to English
native language Oct 2, 2008

[quote]Nesrin wrote:

Don't drag me into that discussion again, please! icon_wink.gif

Are we running out of topics for discussion?


wonita (X)
Local time: 03:09
Chinese only Oct 2, 2008

I translate only into Chinese, my mother tongue.

After proofreading my translation I can always say to me:"Good job, well done!". Nevertheless at the beginning of my career as a translator, when I was still at an orientation phase, I occasionally translated into German/English. The disheartening thing was, I could never ever know by myself if the translation was good or not. I had to submit them to native speakers to get an evaluation.

My simple criterion for this issue goes: only those who can assess writings in the language are qualified to translate into it.

[Edited at 2008-10-02 17:24]


Maria Michelfelder  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Member (2008)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Non native for inofficial use - on rare occasions Oct 2, 2008

I had to choose "other" although my first instict was to click "yes".
I only accept translation jobs into my native language (Swedish). For one specific customer I have however done some translations Swedish-English. But on these occasions I have been very careful to make sure that the texts that I translate will only be used as information within and not distributed outside of the client's office.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Native language only Oct 2, 2008

I only translate into English because I am simply not good enough at any other language.

Danish comes close, and I write Danish as well as many natives. But it takes me ages to proofread and check my own texts. I can't do it at an economic rate, and I have enough to do translating into English.

If I had started twenty years earlier, I would probably have made the extra effort to get my Danish up to standard. I have spent a lot of time learning it for the general purposes of living and working in Denmark. It is in fact my language of habitual usage.

It is not an inviolable principle with me. I know several Danes who write really good English, and I have learnt a lot from them. In genres where there are strong conventions, e.g. as in law or technical texts, academics read a lot of their professional literature in English, and a trained linguist can write in the same style. Without seeing the name of the author it would not strike you that their work was not written by a native speaker.

In the real world, the choice is often between a translator who can work from his/her native language to a foreign language or no translation at all. There are situations where no translation is simply not an option, and an understandable translation is fine. Getting the terminology correct is often more important than polished syntax and elegant phrasing.

I'm watching this space - I can't help it!
Happy translation - whichever way you do it!

[Edited at 2008-10-02 17:40]


Margarita Palatnik (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
No, the bulk of my work is in my second language Oct 2, 2008

Most of my translation work is into English (my second language) including a considerable amount of work from Portuguese (my fourth language).

All of my writing assignments (journalism, ghost writing for corporations, speech writing, etc.) is in English, and on occasion I am asked to translate my own articles or copy into Spanish.

I studied translation at NYU at a time when they didn´t have a Spanish program, so naturally I took all courses into English, and did quite well, despite being the sole or one of very few non-native speakers in every course I took.

For some time, while employed as a news editor in Brazil, I wrote in and translated into Portuguese. However, this was very time consuming for me, as I learned to write Portuguese in old age, so I dropped it as soon as I went back to free-lance work.

I´m no genious, so it just goes to show that with sufficient talent, knowledge and practice there is no reason not to translate into a language that is not your native one.

For starters, reading comprehension will not be an issue.

Having lived for many years in another language certainly helps, and may be the only "requirement" I would suggest, rather than being a native speaker.

[Edited at 2008-10-02 18:28]


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I must translate both ways Oct 2, 2008

To become a certified public (aka sworn) translator in Brazil the exam requires proficiency in translating and interpreting both ways between the national language (Portuguese) and the foreign language one is seeking certification for. Thank goodness they don't require simultanous interpretation, only consecutive interpretation and sight translation, otherwise I'd have flunked.

So I have no problem with translating into English, however if the text is literary, or "artistic/creative" in any other way, I suggest proofreading; not necessarily by a native speaker, but by someone qualified who has been living in an English-speaking environment for several years already.

My translating speed record had been 8,500 words EN-to-PT in one day, in my #1 specialty, management development courseware. To my absolute amazement, I broke that record with 9,065 words in one day in the opposite direction, PT-to-EN, a technical proposal about something not so familiar to me. The only explanation I can find for this is that English - if properly written - is up to 20% more concise than Portuguese, and the word count was on source text.

One of my tenets is that a good translator must be able to write his/her own ideas (even if they are obsolete) on the subject, in both source and destination languages. I see people translating from English with less knowledge than I have of Italian and French, while I don't translate from these two, simply because I'm unable to translate decently into them. Now and then I get hired to redo their work from English, that's how I became aware of it.

But every individual is entitled to their own set of rules. Some clients won't consider a translator working into their second language, others just won't bother about it.


akaishian  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:09
English to German
+ ...
No, since I do not live in my home country Oct 2, 2008

I am German but I have been living for the past 12 years in the United States. I actually feel that my English has gotten better than my German! I only do jobs from German into English. Living in the US I also have more resources available to me that are helping me to find the correct English expressions. Due to this scenario it is hard for me to find work on proZ since outsourcers in general prefer native speakers. I am glad that the agency that I do most of my work for does not feel this way.


M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:09
English to Polish
Yes Oct 3, 2008

With a few exceptions for ol' good clients, and always demanding my translations to be proofread by a native speaker later.

But a few times it was the end client that demanded to hire native translator of the source language.

But generally - yes, I translate to ma native language only.



Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:09
Portuguese to English
+ ...
em geral Oct 3, 2008

In general, I translate to US English, which is my "mother tongue", but, I will, on occasion, translate to Spanish or Portuguese.
In these cases, I always, always outsource revision to a native speaker, however.
(The Mrs. was a certified teacher in Brazil, so she gets some of this work, when she's available).
Oddly, while nearly two thirds of my work is French to English, and French is the language in which I have the most formal education, I do not translate to French. Jamais...At least not professionally. All work to French that comes to Baldwin Linguas is outsourced.
We don't get much of that though.


Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Spanish to English
+ ...
World standards Oct 3, 2008

In general I reckon that in less developed parts of the world it is OK for translators to translate both ways, but here in Europe, where I am based, I really don't think that there is any excuse for it.

Furthermore, personally, I am convinced that sending a translation performed by a non-native to a native for review doesn't cut it either.


Interlangue (X)
Local time: 08:09
English to French
+ ...
Of course Oct 3, 2008

That's what our code of conduct prescribes too.

Pages in topic:   [1 2] >

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Jared Tabor[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Poll: Do you only translate into your native language(s)?

Advanced search

SDL MultiTerm 2019
Guarantee a unified, consistent and high-quality translation with terminology software by the industry leaders.

SDL MultiTerm 2019 allows translators to create one central location to store and manage multilingual terminology, and with SDL MultiTerm Extract 2019 you can automatically create term lists from your existing documentation to save time.

More info »
Protemos translation business management system
Create your account in minutes, and start working! 3-month trial for agencies, and free for freelancers!

The system lets you keep client/vendor database, with contacts and rates, manage projects and assign jobs to vendors, issue invoices, track payments, store and manage project files, generate business reports on turnover profit per client/manager etc.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search