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Poll: Is it important to clients that a translator live in a country where the target language is spoken?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:57
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Mar 17

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Is it important to clients that a translator live in a country where the target language is spoken?".

This poll was originally submitted by RBailleux. View the poll results »



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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:57
Member (2012)
Czech to English
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It depends Mar 17

more on the subject than the client.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
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Member (2003)
Spanish to English
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Other Mar 17

It can go either way. A local client might be very happy to find a native speaker of the target language living in a country where the target language is *not* spoken -- already inundated with too many local wannabes who don't have full native command of the language.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
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No Mar 17

I don't think clients care.

But I know who I'd choose. The translators who lives in abroad seems to lose its feel for that which sound foreign.


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Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:57
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
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Agree with Chris Mar 17

Chris, you are right. I worked with "proofreaders" from overseas countries and they sounded somehow REALLY wrong. And I do not think clients care - they are keen on pointing out other elements that are easier to understand (double spacing etc.)
These "fluency" issue matter more yet often get ignored.

Chris S wrote:

I don't think clients care.

But I know who I'd choose. The translators who lives in abroad seems to lose its feel for that which sound foreign.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
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Other Mar 17

One cannot generalize. I lived for 30 years in a country where my native language is not spoken, but in my work (Portuguese translation division of an EU institution) I spoke and wrote Portuguese every single day, I watched Portuguese TV, I read Portuguese newspapers and I traveled to my country at least once a month. I don’t think I lost my feel at all…

[Edited at 2017-03-17 12:40 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:57
Spanish to English
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Other Mar 17

This is definitely not an issue for my clients. I live in my source language country, Spain, and my command of the language is considerable. My clients are more concerned with having a competent translator who is a native speaker of the target, English. Billing is easier because I'm located in the same country as my clients and I've been able to physically meet and engage with most of them, which wouldn't be so easy if I were based in the UK, or any other country for that matter.

However, that's just my personal case. I imagine there may be some scenarios where clients prefer their translators to live in the target language country, but not where I'm concerned.


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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:57
Spanish to English
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Foreign-based translator be like... Mar 17

Chris S wrote:

I don't think clients care.

But I know who I'd choose. The translators who lives in abroad seems to lose its feel for that which sound foreign.


Au contraire, mon frère. We fret about and discuss this type of thing a lot, taking great pains to avoid losing that feel. And anyway, sometimes things need to sound a wee bit foreign for those darn Johnny foreigners to get their heads round things. In the case of English, much of native speaker output is impenetrable gibberish when not modified by, for example, speaking more slowly or writing in a slightly different syntax.


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Annie Duncan  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:57
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
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Being a native speaker of the target is more important Mar 17

I agree. I don't think the clients care where you live, but generally demand that you be a native speaker of the target language - with good reason! I'm not saying it's impossible to go both ways, but I am always suspicious of those who say they can translate easily into their 2nd or 3rd language. No matter how fluent my French or Spanish is, they will never be my native tongue and I cannot guarantee that the final translation will be 100% correct and context - appropriate. I have worked with many non - native English speaking translators on projects into English and they created more work for the rest of us having to correct their errors.

It is true that living outside a country where your native language is spoken can lead to you to lose touch with it, but as long as you actively expose yourself to the language by reading, speaking and listening, I think it's fine. This is not something that native English speakers have to try very hard to do, as it's everywhere! This is both a blessing and a curse.

[Edited at 2017-03-17 09:37 GMT]


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 23:57
Member (2003)
Danish to English
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A lot of clients don't worry Mar 17

It probably depends on the language and a lot of other factors.

I only know of one client who dropped me because I live in my source language country, but that too has enormous advantages in my language pair.

My target language is English, and you can't escape it here in Denmark. I go back to the UK and work on it as often as possible, and this keeps a lot of clients happy.

Of course, I will never know how many drop me before they ever make contact, because they can see I don't live in an officially English-speaking country. There is also a risk, as Chris S. points out, in being surrounded by Danglish as well as the real thing... But I have more trouble with clients who ask for real English and then don't like it when they get it!


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Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:57
Partial member (2013)
English to Japanese
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Fluctuating languages Mar 17

If your subject is , say, legal & technical it won't affect anything (actually industry template works quite well for most of that kind of documents
so you do not have to speak anything on your own at all, just follow the style rule
which is both easy and frustrating at once).



I saw changes in term preference over a few years (sometimes a few months) in train ads (people spend long hours in commuting train) or internet junk-like articles and its "unwanted" ads, TV commercials, twitter, Facebook etc. Many of them are visible even if you are not in the native countries but certainly the volume and time matter.


You might like to watch native language news and documentaries when you are at work overseas but you are never likely to watch TV reality show or fun oriented programs in your native language during work...because they are just junks and won't help your job.
Probably the same goes for web fragments.


Teresa Borges wrote:

One cannot generalize. I lived for 30 years in a country where my native language is not spoken, but in my work (Portuguese translation division of an EU institution) I spoke and write Portuguese every single day, I watched Portuguese TV, I read Portuguese newspapers and I traveled to my country at least once a month. I don’t think I lost my feel at all…


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
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Clarification Mar 17

neilmac wrote:

We fret about and discuss this type of thing a lot, taking great pains to avoid losing that feel.


Oops, didn't mean to alienate half of ProZ...

I'm not saying that expats necessarily lose their feel for their native tongue, especially when just talking or writing freely like on here.

What I'm saying is that they're more likely to write awkwardly when translating. They're more prone to losing their feel for what sounds wrong because of over-exposure to the source language, more likely to unwittingly adopt idioms and words and structures from the source language.

Of course, this applies to us all. For instance, Scandinavians overuse the word "organisation". When I first started translating, this would grate like crazy. Now it doesn't, and I find it very hard sometimes to decide whether or not we would use the word in English.

This is naturally going to be harder for expats.

So, generalising, I would favour the home-country translator.


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Vuka  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 23:57
Member (2016)
English to Serbian
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Depends on the purpose of the project Mar 17

While working on the project as a translator from Serb slang to American academic, my client insisted the translators were from the source language country, and editors and proofreaders were from target language speaking country. But there were other proces-related demands (the ingredients of the magic potion will not be revealed here). Finally, the project successfully served its purpose: a life sciences Serbian graduate ended up lecturing in Harvard Business School.

Other clients (oil industry, for example) prioritize understanding of the concepts that are presented in the material to "ovarian lottery hit as stated in our passports". Translators rarely work in single-step projects and the actual job description can depend on who takes part in the rest of the steps.


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tomtom88  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:57
Member (2014)
English to French
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They should not care Mar 17

I'm a French native speaker who has been living in Germany for several years and I don't think there is any risk for me to lose my feel for French. I speak and listen to as much French as German and get upset when I come across job postings here restricted to native speakers LIVING IN the the country of the target language. Nonsense.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:57
Member (2009)
English to German
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Its depends Mar 17

It depends on the project, but also on the translator's environment.

If, for example, a German translator relocated to Canada, Ontario especially, and keeps contact with the large German community there, then it's highly unlikely that the translator would no longer have the feel for her/his native language.


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