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Poll: Is Kofi Annan a native speaker of English?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 21:34
SITE STAFF
Oct 5, 2005

This poll is a variation on a poll posted earlier today: "Is Arnold Schwarzenegger a native speaker of English?" Please comment in the thread initiated for that poll: http://www.proz.com/topic/37548

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Niraja Nanjundan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:04
German to English
People don't like polls on broader issues Oct 5, 2005

It seems to me that people prefer polls like "How many children do you have?" to ones that could lead to a discussion on broader issues - so in future maybe everyone should stick to the more mundane aspects of life!

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xxxLagey
Local time: 06:34
French to Dutch
+ ...
First Name Tells All Oct 5, 2005

Sure, Kofi Annan was born in a rich and outward looking chieftain family of Kumani high society, if one could compare that to Western standards.

Sure, his education in former British Crown Colony Ghana was in English and his education at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota tells us his language skills were perfect.

The fact that his wife is from Sweden, however, assures that though they converse in English, his personal environment is anything but native English.

Tell tale is his given name however, which means 'Born on a Friday'.

However perfect and natural his English may be, I think we could not consider him a native English speaker.

Or am I too harsh here?

PS: I for one do prefer 'broader' questions to banal topics such as how many children do you have or is your desk chair comfy...

Nils Geylen at Lagey & Co.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:34
Member
English to Turkish
What does it have to do with name? Oct 5, 2005

Sorry, but I find this "first name tells it all" approach dangerous. I know many native speakers of French and English with Arabic first names, many native speakers of Dutch and German with Turkish first names, as well as many native speakers of Turkish with Kurdish, Greek, Armenian names. It's not one's ethnicity or ancestors and traditions that make up his native language, it's the environment one has grown up in, and the language of formal education, especially for the purposes of our profession. As for Kofi Annan, I don't know what language he acquired first at home, but he's from a country where English is the only official language and he received his formal education in English, too. But maybe you know about his biography better, and may want to tell us what his native language is, then.

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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:34
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
YES Oct 5, 2005

Kofi Annan was born in the British Empire, educated in English speaking schools and finally received a Master of Science at the MIT school of management.

I would consider him native in 2 languages, English and Fante.

Siegfried


[Edited at 2005-10-05 17:26]


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:34
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Regarding first names Oct 5, 2005

I tend to agree with Xola here. My son, almost seven years old, has an Albanian name. He was born in the USA and speaks English fluently and English is his native language. However, his mother tongue is Albanian, since my family and I speak Albanian only to him. His Albanian is not perfect however, and I would not consider Albanian his native language, even though he speaks it well.

Monika


Xola wrote:

Sorry, but I find this "first name tells it all" approach dangerous. I know many native speakers of French and English with Arabic first names, many native speakers of Dutch and German with Turkish first names, as well as many native speakers of Turkish with Kurdish, Greek, Armenian names. It's not one's ethnicity or ancestors and traditions that make up his native language, it's the environment one has grown up in, and the language of formal education, especially for the purposes of our profession. As for Kofi Annan, I don't know what language he acquired first at home, but he's from a country where English is the only official language and he received his formal education in English, too. But maybe you know about his biography better, and may want to tell us what his native language is, then.


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xxxBrandis
Local time: 06:34
English to German
+ ...
Arnold Schwarznegger Oct 5, 2005

is an austrian born, probably went to elementary, secondary school there and settled in the US after his Mr. Universe prize which was his adult life. Today he is probably also an american politician, but what are we trying to get at. He may have had to adopt to various styles and habits fitting his environment and contributes to his society in all good trust. Isn´t that enough !! Brandis

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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 22:34
French to English
+ ...
who cares? Oct 5, 2005

and what does that have to do with proz or translation?

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 05:34
agree with Rita Oct 5, 2005

Rita Heller wrote:

and what does that have to do with proz or translation?


Are we going to start asking about celebrities' language skills now in Proz polls? Who's next? Britney Spears? Mr. T?

I really do think this question is pointless.

Mes 2 cents

Orla


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:34
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
This is a very important question for translators. Oct 6, 2005

This question goes to the heart of our profession. Many translators fail to understand the meaning of "native" and claim native speaker status in more than one language when in fact they have no native language by professional standards.

Our profession judges this term very stringently. It is the "A" language that interpreters must pass muster on through a rigorous process before they can advertise that they are "native" in a language. For professionals, it should be tantamount to the mother tongue.

I doubt that Kofi Annan's mother tongue was English, though he may have spoken it at an early age, so in the more general dictionary sense of the term he may qualify.


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 01:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Who cares at all? Oct 7, 2005

Rita took the word out of my mouth. WHO CARES ABOUT THIS? WHO CARES AT ALL? What is the relevance of this question and this poll related to translators?
Maybe I am getting blind, but I can`t see it, folks.
And I beleive we do have more important issues to talk, debate and poll about.

Walter Landesman


[Edited at 2005-10-07 02:13]


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:34
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
I have a better question: Oct 12, 2005

Who cares?

(agree with Rita 100%)


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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 01:34
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank you! Oct 12, 2005

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Who cares?

(agree with Rita 100%)


Because agreeing with Rita, you agree with me too.
Who cares about Kofi or about Arnold, anyway?

Walter


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Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 14:34
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Names are but another shirt on our backs Oct 28, 2005

Xola wrote:

Sorry, but I find this "first name tells it all" approach dangerous. I know many native speakers of French and English with Arabic first names, many native speakers of Dutch and German with Turkish first names, as well as many native speakers of Turkish with Kurdish, Greek, Armenian names. It's not one's ethnicity or ancestors and traditions that make up his native language, it's the environment one has grown up in, and the language of formal education, especially for the purposes of our profession.


Hmmm... what about people who do not have a "native language" because they were born from a parent from country X and another from country Y, have four grandparents from four different countries and at home spoke English and five other languages so that everyone could understand what was for dinner? What about people who were born in country X from parents who were both not native to that country, who went to school in country Y but was taught in private schools in English since kindy - by teachers who were not, as it happens, native English language speakers?

The world in the 20th century is a much more complicated, inter-married, mixed, displaced and globalized place to permit such archaic questions as "Are you a native language speaker of...?" As for me, I am a native language speaker of three, none of which is my native - if that makes a sense to anyone here.

I find even asking such a question worrysome.

[Edited at 2005-10-28 05:59]


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Sam Berner  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 14:34
Member (2003)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Agree... unless we intend to interpret for them ;-) Oct 28, 2005

Orla Ryan wrote:

and what does that have to do with proz or translation?


Are we going to start asking about celebrities' language skills now in Proz polls? Who's next? Britney Spears? Mr. T? [/quote]

Try someone like Bashevi Singer LOL


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