Poll: What percentage of your customers are not fluent in the target language?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:49
Feb 1, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What percentage of your customers are not fluent in the target language?".

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A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:49
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hard to tell Feb 2, 2006

We may deal with one person in an organization and may or may not even know if the person is fluent in the target language. More importantly, we may or may not know if there are other persons in the organization who are. We can also do some translations into the same language in which we deal with them and so we know, and others in the opposite direction where we do not know.

Therefore, it is a rather difficult question to answer with any degree of precision.

In English and Spanish I take it as a given that all my clients would have someone around who is at least reasonably fluent in both.


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:49
English to German
+ ...
Only one. Feb 2, 2006

I am specializing in Eng>Ger. For whatever reason, none of my clients are located in any German speaking country. Great Britain is the closest. One exception: the German owner of a translation firm in Canada. Nice change. Bizarre.


Nic_Malagutti  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:49
English to Italian
+ ...
The results seem clear... Feb 2, 2006

So... it seems like most translations are requested by people who are not fluent in the target language.

I can't say I am surprised. Considering the amount of money that any business seems to be willing to invest in quality translations (I don't know what your experiences have been, but I am very often offered jobs at ridiculously low rates... so low that they don't encourage any sort of professional commitment!), it's no wonder that they would call for help only when they really can't do otherwise.

For agencies things could be a bit different and I agree with what was said above... it depends... and you probably will never know.

I don't know what the underlying aim of this poll was... I can say that, though they are not surprising, the results are a bit worrisome: a lack of knowledge of the target language on the other side may "encourage" some translators (for various reasons, they may be unexperienced, unprofessionally lazy or not as competent ...) to deliver low-quality translations.


Subhamay Ray (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
English to Bengali
+ ...
Oh! Not even one! Feb 2, 2006

And that's true!

[Edited at 2006-02-02 08:02]


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It depends on the target language... Feb 2, 2006

The answer depends on so many factors - population that speaks the language, level of education...

"Everybody speaks English" - so I wondered whether to vote for 0%. A few end-clients are not what I call fluent in English, so I voted for 0-10%.

Translating the other way would give very different results, depending on business area and lots of other factors.

Product descriptions and marketing for companies wishing to trade in small countries will often be translated for clients who do not understand the target language, while other work will be done for native speakers of that language who are more or less fluent in the source language.

Levels of education make an enormous difference too. The number of people who are really fluent in a widely-spoken language (mine is English, but the same goes for many others) will be higher in the richer countries. There is always a percentage who have picked up a little from TV and other media, but education levels, general literacy, and whether the source and target languages use the same alphabet will all affect the result.

I hope this poll is followed up by 'What percentage of your clients are not fluent in the **source** language?'

-- and also 'What percentage of your clients understand both the target and the source language reasonably well'?

I'll be watching this space!



Dusica Cook
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:49
English to Bosnian
+ ...
Most of them Feb 2, 2006

most of my clients speak the target language(s), but it is usually the policy of the company they represent that asks for documents to be translated and they are the ones doing different things and thus give those for translation. i am quite happy with it because i can always contact the client and ask if there is something i do not understand and the clients see if the translation is OK or not without a third person (proofreader).


Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
English to Turkish
+ ...
All and none Feb 2, 2006

I have two types of clients: 1) publishers and editors in Turkey, who not only speak the target language, but are professionals in that language, as well. 2) agencies elsewhere, none of which have the sligtest idea about Turkish, my target language. Dealing with the first group is more rewarding, because I have my fights with them in my native languageicon_biggrin.gif


Nicolette Ri (X)
Local time: 02:49
French to Dutch
+ ...
100% Feb 4, 2006

Why should they?


Mrudula Tambe  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
English to Marathi
+ ...
I think Feb 4, 2006

this poll was based on my recent article on this forum. Glad to have so much response. I'm suffering with this problem and feel disturbed when client unnecessorily comment on the translation despite taking so much pain to be perfect and refering `n' no. of dictionaries and seeking help from various people for accuration and preciseness.


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:49
English to German
+ ...
Sometimes we have to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Feb 4, 2006

And there is no chance of direct feed back whatsoever.

I specialize in advertising/copywriting and getting a nice nod or whatever appreciation out of a client would be nice. Since they don't speak the target language - not a chance. Oh, well..


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Poll: What percentage of your customers are not fluent in the target language?

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