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Poll: What do you do when you receive a message in a language you don't know?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:18
SITE STAFF
Mar 9

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What do you do when you receive a message in a language you don't know?".

This poll was originally submitted by Natalia Pedrosa. View the poll results »



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xxxGitte Hoveds
Denmark
Local time: 01:18
Danish to English
+ ...
Delete it Mar 9

It is obviously not intended for me.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 00:18
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I reply in one of my other languages Mar 9

That’s one of the very few cases I use Google Translate to figure out what the email is about and if it deserves an answer. If so, I’ll reply in one of my other languages (English or French) explaining that I don’t master that language.

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Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:18
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Depends on the sender Mar 9

If I know the sender, I will usually reply in English. Unless I can guess no answer is required, such as the emails I receive from a Finnish client's Finnish accountant. I pull them through an automatic translation programme and if it looks like something resembling "your invoice has been paid", I may reply with "thank you" or I may not reply at all.

If I don't know the sender, I don't reply.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:18
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
has only happened with KudoZ questions Mar 9

In which case I go to the question and edit the language pair.

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:18
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
In English Mar 9

provided I understand what it is about and it's worth answering. I don't bother with Google Translate - and never needed it by now, nobody tried to write to me in Chinese for example. It has been either German or Spanish where I can get the gist.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:18
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Other - take care! Mar 9

I am very cautious about mails in languages I don't know. If the mail uses the English alphabet, I can sometimes work out what it is about from the languages I do know a little. I look at the sender's address and details like that. Then I take it from there.

I once received an unexpected mail from Japan which was in fact a very nice thank you, in English when I found the message ... I had done a translation for a Danish client, about an art exhibition to be held in Japan, and now my translation had reached the museum. It made my day, and I replied in English.

Just today I have received an unpleasant spam mail in a variety of bad English, which I can understand all too easily as a threat to blackmail me! The spam filter did not pick it up, so I checked to see if it was a possible client. I hope all the threats of tracking me are just b***s**t, but they probably are.
I reported it to the mail provider and deleted it as fast as possible.

Mails like that should be ignored.


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Daniela Slankamenac  Identity Verified
Serbia
Local time: 01:18
Member (2011)
English to Serbian
I reply in English Mar 9

It's happened to me a couple of times. I received emails in French which I don't speak. I replied in English saying I don't speak French and the correspondence went on in English. Not a big deal.

[Edited at 2018-03-09 09:15 GMT]


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ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:18
Member
German to English
+ ...
Nederlands Mar 9

I received an email from a Dutch agency in Dutch once. I can understand a little from German and English but it serves me right for signing off emails with a closing phrase in Dutch. Needless to say, I wrote back in English.

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Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 01:18
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Other Mar 9

it depends who is the sender. If it is a client I know I'll take it from there.

If I don't know the sender I most likely delete it.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:18
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I use machine translation and English, or my passive languages Mar 9

Of course, I can spot tłumaczenia in PL and übersetzung in DE, though I speak neither, so I won't waste time doing it on Nigerian scams or other spam.

Some people see my surname - which is actually from Southern Poland since the 1700s, as I ascertained - and feel immediately compelled to write me in German. I use Google Translate to check what's it all about.

Others may have read about a supposedly famous ancestor of mine (is there any???), and write me in Polish. Then I use Poltran.com... which once told me about a prospect who had 1,800 towels (sic!) for me to translate.

While I only translate between EN-PT, I speak IT/FR/ES, so I try to check if they can communicate with me in any of these five languages.

If the message is in any other language, I won't know whether it's business or spam, so I'll delete it. Now and them I receive e-mails using Oriental ideograms, which I can't identify, so I delete these immediately.

I had one case where a PM from Warsaw needed my EN-PT skills, a large job. However she could only communicate in PL and FR. We began in PL, and I was using Poltran. Then we switched to FR - which some friends say that I speak fairly well, but I think they are just trying to be nice - until she found an EN-PT translator in Poland, and I stepped out.

In any case, when I use machine translation for PL/DE, I tell them I'm doing so, always try to get confirmation of what I understood, and also make it a point to include the text in EN, so they may check with someone else, if in doubt.


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Carla Catolino
Italy
Local time: 01:18
Member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
I have a French client who.... Mar 9

Daniela Slankamenac wrote:

It's happened to me a couple of times. I received emails in French which I don't speak. I replied in English saying I don't speak French and the correspondence went on in English. Not a big deal.

[Edited at 2018-03-09 09:15 GMT]


writes me in French (her native language and one of my source languages) but I respond in English (my native and target language), and we are very happy!


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Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:18
Member (2006)
German to English
Same here Mar 9

Daniela Slankamenac wrote:

It's happened to me a couple of times. I received emails in French which I don't speak. I replied in English saying I don't speak French and the correspondence went on in English. Not a big deal.

[Edited at 2018-03-09 09:15 GMT]


But funny this only happens in French☺


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Diarmuid Kennan
Ireland
Local time: 00:18
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
Merde! Mar 9

I recently had a PM at a client write to me in French, which I don't speak.
I machine translated the e-mail (a request for a quote), and then machine translated my reply, providing a price/deadline.
The PM responded (in French), wishing to make sure that there was no misunderstanding: the translation should be to English, not French.
I responded, again in machine translation, that naturally I only translate to my native language, English.
The PM responded (in French) that that was fine, but they felt it necessary to confirm the language combination because my French was so good.
When I told them (once again in machine translation) that I have no French and was relying on Google Translate, I received a one word reply (in French), which this time I did actually understand: merde!


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:18
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Other Mar 9

I don't reply simply because I wouldn't know what I might be replying to if I don't know the language at all. And then it goes straight to "File 13".

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