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Poll: How many important "variants" are there in your (main) native language?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:15
SITE STAFF
Nov 8, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many important "variants" are there in your (main) native language?".

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Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
At a guess... Nov 8, 2012

... spoken English has several hundred distinguishable variants. Written English is a different matter.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
>3 Nov 8, 2012

I'm a native UK English speaker. Aren't all variants "important" to whoever speaks them...?

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Decipherit  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
"Important" Nov 8, 2012

Do you mean "important" as in one has more significance or value than the other or do you mean "major"? I agree with Simon, this depends tremendously on whether you refer to the spoken or written language and what precisely you mean by "variant".

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 21:15
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends who's counting... Nov 8, 2012

The Microsoft Spell checker had well over 20 options on some of its versions. Helpfully with United Kingdom and United States at the bottom, so that we did not give ourselves airs, and the people from down under got to the top.

I can currently choose between eighteen (18) varieties.

There is also an extensive discussion and study of where the variants of English end and the pidgins and creoles become separate languages in their own rights. The main point of agreement is that they do!

Of course, some of these 'variants' are more important than others in terms of numbers, but each one of them is of great importance to its speakers.

Looking back, there never has been a single variant, as long as anything recognisable as English existed.


[Edited at 2012-11-08 09:43 GMT]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 22:15
Turkish to English
+ ...
2 Nov 8, 2012

I am a native speaker of British English. It is open to debate, but I would argue that there are two main standard forms of English - UK and US. One could also argue that each country in which English has an official status has its own standard variant, in which case the number will be far greater.

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Allison Wright  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:15
German to English
+ ...
Well, that would be a matter of opinion Nov 8, 2012

Simon is on track and answers for all English speaking people on the planet. We do need to define the term "variant" first though. Must the variant have a dictionary which is different from the "primary variant"? Must it have a radio station, publications, a certain number of native speakers?

Microsoft have for years insisted in their spellchecker that there is such a thing as "Zimbabwean English". Really?

South African English, I can accept. I know exactly where the Dictionary of South African English was initially housed, had the honour of knowing the woman who started the project, and was classmates with one of the lexicographers who helped see the project to publication. SA English would be considered a variant of British English (SBS).

As to "Zimbabwean English", no scholarship documenting variations from its parent, also British English, has occurred.

I think this is too complex a question for this poll, but am interested to hear what speakers of languages other than English (of whatever variant) have to say.

[Edited at 2012-11-08 11:11 GMT]


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patriciacharnet  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
English to French
+ ...
> 3 Nov 8, 2012

French quite a few

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 20:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
2 Nov 8, 2012

I am a native speaker of European Portuguese. Portuguese has two main variants: European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, but Angolan Portuguese and Mozambican Portuguese are emerging as new varieties of the spoken and written language (quite noticeable when reading their authors' books)…

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Susana González Tuya
Spain
Local time: 21:15
Member (2010)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who knows.... Nov 8, 2012

It seems Spanish has 1 variant per country and within each country a few others. However when it comes to written Spanish, in the press there are not that many differences in the language used by most of the main newspapers of each country.

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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Hebrew to English
2 - Spot On! Nov 8, 2012

Tim Drayton wrote:

I am a native speaker of British English. It is open to debate, but I would argue that there are two main standard forms of English - UK and US. One could also argue that each country in which English has an official status has its own standard variant, in which case the number will be far greater.


Taking the word "important" into the equation (and also the fact that presumably this relates to translation/interpreting).

For English, the main players ("variants" if you insist on using such a vague term) are UK and US.

Now, this may dent the national pride of those from other countries who use English (India mostly, the Australians, Canadians and New Zealanders never seem to care too much) but it remains a reality nonetheless.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I have never seen a translation job advertisement (or whatever you want to call it) asking for anything other than US or UK English.

In addition, in all my time as an EFL teacher, I had many students who were curious about how something was said in England, or the USA or occasionally in Australia, but never did I have a student say to me "that's great Ty, but how do they say that in India?".

However, "important" in terms of what? Linguistic influence and prestige? (Mostly where my argument above is going), Sheer numbers? Economic influence? ...


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KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 21:15
Russian to German
+ ...
am i the only one finding this poll completely ridiculous? Nov 8, 2012

what is a "variant", what is "important" and why is "one" "(standard)"? read up on pluricentric languages; hopefully this will answer the underlying question(s) and there will be no more such weird polls in future.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pluricentric_language


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perry  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:15
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I am with Teresa Nov 8, 2012

I am a native speaker of Brazilian Portuguese. I don't know much about the African variants, but European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese are quite different, both in written and spoken languages.

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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 21:15
German to English
assumed question was about marketing Nov 8, 2012

Edit: "pole">"poll", I suppose incorrect English is probably also a significant variant

In my case, there are two significant variants of English. I am a specialist translator that only targets German clients with my marketing and none of them ever want anything but US or UK. For translators going after source-language clients, I would definitely say that there are two significant variants of English and that is how I voted in the poll.

However, there are obviously an enormous amount of German > English jobs out there where another variant would be more appropriate. If you were specifically targeting German > English clients in Ireland, Australia, India, etc. or if you kept your eyes open for situations where German clients are likely to be specifically interested in one of these variants (for example, lists of exhibitors to trade shows in the target-variant country), you could create a significant advantage out of something that probably usually presents a disadvantage.

[Edited at 2012-11-08 12:47 GMT]


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:15
Hebrew to English
The "variants" data... Nov 8, 2012

Looking at the stats so far.....

There are 3 Japanese speakers whose variant is "English" (what part of Japan is that? Next to Osaka?)

There are 2 English speakers whose variant is "french" (lower case to boot).

There are 2 English speakers whose variant is "Arabic" and 2 Arabic speakers whose variant is "English".

There is 1 English speaker whose variant is "Chinese".

...not to mention the English speaker whose variant is "Englisch".

Either a lot of people are taking the p*ss or someone has lost the keys to the asylum.

(Also posted on the forum).


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