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Poll: Has your name ever affected your credibility as a translator?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 13:20
SITE STAFF
Sep 5, 2017

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Has your name ever affected your credibility as a translator?".

This poll was originally submitted by Muriel Vasconcellos. View the poll results »



 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 21:20
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No Sep 5, 2017

My name and surnames are Portuguese and I translate exclusively into Portuguese.

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:20
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Sep 5, 2017

I use the surname of my husband, who was Brazilian. I am constantly being asked to provide proof that I am a native speaker of English.

Furthermore, here on KudoZ, many times my answers have been rejected because the Askers declared that they wanted an answer from a native speaker of English--even though it says right there in black and white that I am.

When I worked in-house, all the Spanish translators and editors had English names like "Clark" and "Shelton," while all the English translators and editors had Spanish or Portuguese names. So I was surprised to encounter this prejudice when I started out on my freelance career.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Probably Sep 5, 2017

My entire name's been a PITA all my life, regularly leading to confusion about my nationality, my gender, even my species.

John/Jane Smith, you are sooo lucky.


 

Mirja Maletzki  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:20
Korean to German
+ ...
Not sure Sep 5, 2017

Living in Korea, I run into situations every now and again where people tell me to my face that I must not be German, due to my last name. I even saw people on message boards (I do a little TV in Korea on the side) saying that the reason I dye my hair blond must be "to look more German".

So I'm guessing that there might have been situations where agencies saw my name and decided they'd rather not work with me.


 

Vanda Nissen  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 07:20
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes Sep 5, 2017

I have the same problem as Muriel. My husband is Danish, and he is also a Danish translator. I can't even remember how many times I've been explaining that my native language is Russian and I translate predominantly into Russian as well. It is funny sometimes that people tend to look at your surname disregarding your place of birth, completed primary, secondary education and even PhD in Russian studies!

 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 22:20
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I voted no... Sep 5, 2017

Not often at any rate.

But I have in fact been told occasionally that 'No native speaker would write that...'
When the answer was well, sorry, but this one has just done so, and I could name a few others who might!

I like my husband's surname - it is so delightfully uncomplicated, but everybody knows it is Danish if they notice the spelling. Not everyone does, and it doesn't worry me except for things like bank security.


 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:20
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Mistaken for author Sep 5, 2017

Maybe this is not strictly relevant, but some years ago I translated a novel from Russian, which the author had written in the style of P.G. Wodehouse, an author both he and I greatly admire. The author used the pen-name Brusiloff, which was taken from a P.G. Wodehouse novel. I was given a credit as the translator.
Someone posting in a forum on the publisher's site flatly refused to believe that the book had ever been written in Russian, and insisted that I must be the author.


 

Otha Nash
United States
Local time: 16:20
Member (2017)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Interesting question Sep 5, 2017

Even before I share my name, I regularly run into people who ask me what country I'm from. Haitians who ask me if I'm Haitian. People of all nationalities who wonder if I'm from someplace in Africa (or simply assume that I am). I don't take offense, but I find it. . .curious. Once, as I was leaving Costco, a woman called out from across the parking lot: "Pardon Monsieur! Parlez vous Français?" Startled, I answered "Oui," and quickly began to mentally review my household goods vocabulary. After a bit of introductory conversation, we both realized that the other spoke English. Turns out she thought that I resembled a friend of hers from Cameroon, and she wanted to invite me to a French language JW service. Assumptions about my nationality have sometimes helped me to better navigate foreign countries, but I'm not sure what impact, if any, it's had on my credibility as a translator.

 

Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:20
Member (2009)
Spanish to English


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


Not sure Sep 5, 2017

But due to my surname I do sometimes get asked to translate from Italian. I don't work from Italian and only speak it clumsily and with a Spanish accent - Italians often think I'm Spanish, when I'm actually a British-Italian dual national.

 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:20
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Sep 5, 2017

I don't think it's affected my work credibility, but I have been told by other English speakers that I have an old-fashioned, reliable sounding name. That's fine with me.

 

Judith Anne Smith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:20
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


No Sep 5, 2017

At least I have that advantage of having such a boring, common name! (I receive emails from time to time intended for other Judith Anne Smiths.)

Interestingly, I found out some years ago that my great-great-grandfather who immigrated to the US from Austria changed his name from Schmidt to Smith.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:20
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Perhaps in the opposite direction Sep 5, 2017

As long as first names match the location, it's OK. I know many people who have "localized" their first names for non-official purposes, just to avoid unnecessary trouble.

A few examples in Brazil:
- IT - Andrea uses André, not to be taken for a woman
- PL - Mieczysław uses Maurício for obvious reasons
- RU - Feodor uses Teodoro, as "fedor" in PT means "stench"
- JP - Shoji uses Jorge to avoid spelling it out every time
- HE - Shoshana uses Suzana for the same reason
- HU - Szuszanna uses Suzana, ditto
- HR - Mijo uses Michel, as "mijo" in PT means "piss"
The list is endless.

My problem is in the surname. Though my ancestors lived in Southern Poland since the 1700s, it sounds German. So some prospects write or phone me in German right away. I can't speak any of it. A couple of fellow EN PT translators here in Sao Paulo having German surnames (and theirs are actually from Deutschland) have the same problem.

Now and then a prospect writes me in Polish, which I don't speak either.


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:20
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
I don't think so Sep 5, 2017

Forbes (my late husband's name) is a fine old Scottish one and not uncommon, presumably indicating that my native tongue is English, which it is. I therefore don't think my surname adversely affects my credibility as a translator.
On the phone, however, many who hear me say "Forbes" insist on assuming I've said "Ford", so I usually have to spell it out letter by letter. Even then some end the conversation with "Thank you, Mrs Ford".
Heigh ho.


 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 06:20
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
No Sep 5, 2017

If anything, most people here assume I am descended from that famous detective. When I tell them that I am, the reaction is interesting. It gets a positive reaction. icon_biggrin.gif

The name I gave my office and still use is ASTERIX (such a fun, feisty little character), because I often felt I was running around the Romans. This has led to misunderstandings over the phone such as "hysterics" and ASICSs.

Otherwise, to all my translator friends and colleagues who have been on the wrong receiving end because of their name, I offer my commiserations. After all, what's in a name? icon_frown.gif


 
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