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Poll: Do you consider yourself bilingual?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:38
SITE STAFF
Apr 20, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you consider yourself bilingual?".

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Susanna Martoni  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
Member (2009)
Spanish to Italian
+ ...
No Apr 20, 2011

Not at all.
I'd like, but I'm not.


 

Michael Tovbin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:38
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
Define bilingual first Apr 20, 2011

I was not raised speaking two languages but have been a student of English for 40 years out of my 46.

I have also been living in the English-speaking world for 17 years. Usually, the locals are not able to identify me as foreign-born when I speak or write English.

I have been told by customers that my translations into English sound natural.

So, hell yeah! I consider myself bilingual although many people would disagree looking at my resume.

Th
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I was not raised speaking two languages but have been a student of English for 40 years out of my 46.

I have also been living in the English-speaking world for 17 years. Usually, the locals are not able to identify me as foreign-born when I speak or write English.

I have been told by customers that my translations into English sound natural.

So, hell yeah! I consider myself bilingual although many people would disagree looking at my resume.

This is a bit of a sore point with me, as you might have guessed!
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Patricia Charnet
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
English to French
Yes Apr 20, 2011

I managed to blend in which is nice, and I'm enjoying now being able to fluently converse in both languages, and enjoy both cultures and both are part of me now

 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
Spanish to English
Ah... the old bilingualism debate Apr 20, 2011

I'm sure this question will unleash much heated debate as it has in the past. My view of bilingualism is that it's always on a sliding scale. It is virtually impossible to be completely bilingual, unless the person spends an equal amount of time and effort acquiring and developing two languages with an equal amount and quality of exposure accross a wide range of circumstances (work, education, family life, reading etc) throughout life.

In other words, there are always disparities i
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I'm sure this question will unleash much heated debate as it has in the past. My view of bilingualism is that it's always on a sliding scale. It is virtually impossible to be completely bilingual, unless the person spends an equal amount of time and effort acquiring and developing two languages with an equal amount and quality of exposure accross a wide range of circumstances (work, education, family life, reading etc) throughout life.

In other words, there are always disparities in competence between a bilingual person's two languages because the opportunities one has to develop this competence can never be identical.
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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 15:38
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I said no, but it depends on what you mean by bilingual... Apr 20, 2011

I speak French fluently, but my written French will never be as good as that of a native French speaker!

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:38
Spanish to English
+ ...
Debate schmebate Apr 20, 2011

I am frequently told by others that I am bilingual, and who am I to argue?

After 20 years living and working with the language I do consider myself "functionally bilingual". My immediate responses to some situations come out in Spanish, and among my friends we tend to speak a sort of bespoke Spanglish.

I often "beat" the contestants on game shows like Saber y Ganar ("el Reto" me encanta) or "Palabra por Palabra" on TVE2. I also seem to have no problem with the common m
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I am frequently told by others that I am bilingual, and who am I to argue?

After 20 years living and working with the language I do consider myself "functionally bilingual". My immediate responses to some situations come out in Spanish, and among my friends we tend to speak a sort of bespoke Spanglish.

I often "beat" the contestants on game shows like Saber y Ganar ("el Reto" me encanta) or "Palabra por Palabra" on TVE2. I also seem to have no problem with the common mistakes made by Spanish natives, such as homophones with/out an intial "h" or the "b" vs. "v" distinction...

I have also yet to unearth a Spanish speaker who can me give a clear explanation of why at least 50% of the population (newspapers included) invariably stick a comma in after the subject of a sentence when none is required, either in Castilian or English. ¿What is that about?

Apart from that I like Spanish punctuation, with its upside down exclamation marks, which I find somehow endearing

Vive la difference
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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
Spanish to English
Hypercorrection Apr 20, 2011

neilmac wrote:

I have also yet to unearth a Spanish speaker who can me give a clear explanation of why at least 50% of the population (newspapers included) invariably stick a comma in after the subject of a sentence when none is required, either in Castilian or English. ¿What is that about?



The Spanish learn grammar rules at school and often apply them over-rigorously.


 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
Flemish to English
+ ...
Education. Apr 20, 2011

Teresa Borges wrote:

I speak French fluently, but my written French will never be as good as that of a native French speaker!


Written French depends on your education, not on your nativeness.
I know quite some natives of French, who do not master the rather difficult French "orthographe",but speak their native language fluently.





[Edited at 2011-04-20 09:49 GMT]


 

Chiara Righele  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:38
English to Italian
+ ...
Does dialect count? Apr 20, 2011

Just kidding. Even though my generation still raised in a "dialect-speaking" environment in my area, with dialect spoken in most social environments (family, friends, shops, public offices, etc.), along with Italian, used mainly at school and formal situations... Now I'd say Italian is gradually prevailing over dialect.

Back to the point, (unfortunately) I'm not bilingual.

Chiara


 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:38
Spanish to English
A definition Apr 20, 2011

According to the Oxford English, bilingual simply means:

speaking two languages fluently.

Under this definition I would say all translators are (at least) bilingual, otherwise they should probably consider a career change! And as Neilmac points out, in certain areas we are often more competent with our second language than many native speakers.


 

Allison Wright (X)  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 15:38
There is an old joke... Apr 20, 2011

In apartheid South Africa, the two official languages were English and Afrikaans. One had to pass both subjects to get your school leaving certificate. Public service jobs required that you were bilingual, as did many others. There was also a requirement at one stage for immigrants to be bilingual (in English and Afrikaans) to acquire resident status. Proof of bilingualism had to be provided after a certain period of time in the country.

The joke:
An Englishman arrives in Sou
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In apartheid South Africa, the two official languages were English and Afrikaans. One had to pass both subjects to get your school leaving certificate. Public service jobs required that you were bilingual, as did many others. There was also a requirement at one stage for immigrants to be bilingual (in English and Afrikaans) to acquire resident status. Proof of bilingualism had to be provided after a certain period of time in the country.

The joke:
An Englishman arrives in South Africa with the intention of settling permanently. At the airport, he has to pass through Customs. The Customs official interviews the man, and takes down his details laboriously.
He then asks him, "Are you bilingual?"
The Englishman says, "Well, actually, I am fluent in French, German, Italian, and have a smattering of Swahili."
The Customs official returns his attention to the form, and as he is writing, mutters, "Not bilingual".



[Edited at 2011-04-20 11:23 GMT]
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Klára Kalamár  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 17:38
Member (2010)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Yes, Hungarian and Romanian Apr 20, 2011

My parents are Hungarian and approximately 80% of the people in my hometown (where I have been living, except the 5 university-years spent in Bucharest) are also Hungarian. But this town is in Romania so I have learnt Romanian since my childhood.

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 16:38
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I call myself functionally bilingual Apr 20, 2011

Michael Tovbin wrote:

I was not raised speaking two languages but have been a student of English for 40 years out of my 46.

I have also been living in the English-speaking world for 17 years. Usually, the locals are not able to identify me as foreign-born when I speak or write English.

I have been told by customers that my translations into English sound natural.

So, hell yeah! I consider myself bilingual although many people would disagree looking at my resume.

This is a bit of a sore point with me, as you might have guessed!


Much the same here. I did not come to Denmark until I was 27, and in Danish I could really only smile and say Tak! (= thanks) when I arrived. So the purists would probably say no.

Over thirty years later, after language school and a translation diploma for Danes, Danish is my language of habitual usage. I can often mix with Danes for a long time before they discover I am a foreigner. Even then, it may simply be because I tell them! I know, however, that there are expressions I dislike, and cannot get myself to use. I'm almost too fluent - I regularly have to shut up and let others get a word in too...

I maintain I can write Danish as well as most natives, especially if I have time to check in a dictionary or grammar. But I am not up to professional translator standard. On the other hand, I am irritatingly good at finding other people's mistakes.

Meanwhile I have to make a conscious effort to keep up with my native language! I console myself with the idea that so does anyone my age, and make the best of it.

I still have my Concise Oxford Dictionary from 1966, but I only use it occasionally because there is more etymology than the new versions. And I like my mother´s dedication...
Words are the wise man's counters and the fool's money.



[Edited at 2011-04-20 10:47 GMT]


 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:38
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Surprising result Apr 20, 2011

I find the fact that roughly a third of respondents describe themselves as bilingual very surprising. I think that it probably represents a considerable overestimation by ProZ members of their abilities and a considerable underestimation of what is meant by bilingualism. Personally, I'd be surprised if more than 3% of translators are truly bilingual.

I also completely disagree with the statement by Simon Bruni that translators must be bilingual. A translator must be a fluent read
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I find the fact that roughly a third of respondents describe themselves as bilingual very surprising. I think that it probably represents a considerable overestimation by ProZ members of their abilities and a considerable underestimation of what is meant by bilingualism. Personally, I'd be surprised if more than 3% of translators are truly bilingual.

I also completely disagree with the statement by Simon Bruni that translators must be bilingual. A translator must be a fluent reader of their source language and be able to exercise good judgement about what they need to research. Most importantly, they have to be highly literate in their target language and a good writer with an ability to write in a variety of registers and styles.

BDF

[Edited at 2011-04-20 11:24 GMT]
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