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Why would you study another language?
Thread poster: Pablo Fiumara
Pablo Fiumara
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
Mar 6, 2007

Hi!

I was wondering why a translator would study another language, apart from the pair they translate.

Suppose you were English and you translate from German to English. Why would you study another language (for instance, French) if you have got your degree and you are able to translate that pair? The major reason for which I wouldn't study another language is that it is not "professional" to translate languages you haven't got a degree.

I hope you understand this dilemma

Greetings


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would Mar 6, 2007

Life is funny this way and you don't have to be too square-headed about degrees.

For instance, very few people have degrees dealing with their native language and yet it is their native language (shall we call that accident?)

I didn't study Spanish, but couldn't help having Spanish-speaking family members in my mostly English-speaking family. And what I studied and worked with first of all was French.

My having learned German was also a childhood accident. And I keep studying it and reading in it because I can't stand the thought of losing a language, just because I work mainly in other pairs.

Cache wrote:

Suppose you were English and you translate from German to English. Why would you study another language (for instance, French) if you have got your degree and you are able to translate that pair? The major reason for which I wouldn't study another language is that it is not "professional" to translate languages you haven't got a degree.


Sometimes you study simply for the love of it. What the hell the degree -- I got a PhD simply because I loved the subject. I don't even put letters after my name.

Then -- admit it -- some people who live in the countries whose languages they don't have a degree in speak and understand it better than others who studied it.

Maybe we should think more flexibly about this.


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:31
English to French
+ ...
just to learn... the difference Mar 6, 2007

Learning a language does not mean that you intend to translate from this language someday, even if you are already a translator... It requires a lot of experience, and even a college degre may be... neither necessary nor sufficient.
My pair is made of two European languages, and I really appreciate to learn Chinese, as it teaches me that a language may be very different. Learning a language teaches you about people, culture... and makes it much more interesting when you visit this country.


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Pablo Fiumara
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
I am flexible and like languages Mar 6, 2007

I like languages very much but I wondered why a translator would learn another language, rather than becoming a better translator in their pair. The question is: Why some people study three or four languages instead of becoming a better translator and specializing?

I do not intend to be rude or harsh. If so, sorry.

I just wanted to know your opinion

I hope more people will participate in the discussion


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:31
Flemish to English
+ ...
From a European perspective. Mar 6, 2007

You look at it from an Argentinean perspective. However, in a European Union with 23 official languages, don't you lag a bit behind if you know only two languages?
If I am not mistaken, it is the official objective of the E.U. that every citizen should know at least two foreign languages and his/her native language?
With regard to degrees: Anyone with an M.A. in Translation had to choose at least two foreign languages. A degree is just a beginning, not the end.
What if you grew up/ lived in an officially bilingual/trilingual country? Wouldn't you like to address your fellow citizens in their own (other) language?

[Edited at 2007-03-06 17:42]


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Herminia Herrándiz Espuny  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
I study French and German Mar 6, 2007

Simply for the pleasure of learning new languages, I love the fact of being able to understand people who speak in a language different than mine(s)... in fact, this is one of the reasons that made me become a translator and interpreter

I also plan to work with these languages in the near future (specially French since I have a high knowledge almost compared to Italian by now), I don't think you need a degree for every specific language pair at all

I just notice you translate both directions, did you get a certificate or a degree for both combinations? When I studied my degree we had some subjects that we called "traducción inversa", that is, from your language A into your language B, but our degree only states and is intended for the pairs into the A language, never into the B one. I do only translate into my mother tongues, that is Spanish and Catalan, since I am well aware that I don't have the same command of my B languages as I have of my A one

[Editado a las 2007-03-06 17:45]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Actually... Mar 6, 2007

Herminia Herrandiz Espuny wrote:

When I studied my degree we had some subjects that we called "traducción inversa", that is, from your language A into your language B, but our degree only states and is intended for the pairs into the A language, never into the B one. I do only translate into my mother tongues, that is Spanish and Catalan, since I am well aware that I don't have the same command of my B languages as I have of my A one


Multiple sources are one way of maximising target language performance. Europe mainly does direct translation, so it has to be versatile at source.

[Edited at 2007-03-06 19:27]


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
Member
English to French
Skip Mar 6, 2007

Sorry, I removed my post I hadn't understood the question. The language barrier...

Regards,
Philippe

[Modifié le 2007-03-06 17:57]


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 02:31
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
"Suppose you were English and you translate from German to English" Mar 6, 2007

Why would you study another language (for instance, French)


Years ago some (unknown) reporter asked:"Sir Hillary, why - for the love of Jesus jumping Christ (text and italics in the reporter's mind) - have you climbed the Mount Everest?"

The answer is eternal and right on target here as well: "Because it's there."

Whoever had the joy of reading Proust in original (talking about French) will understand why I want to learn Portuguese: because of Camoens - he's there somewhere and so is the Girl from Ipanema and Gilberto Jil etc. ..

PS: NO, I do absolutely NOT want to read Cuelho in original. I actually do not want to read him in any language.

[Edited at 2007-03-06 19:46]


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Jackie Bowman

Local time: 20:31
Spanish to English
+ ...
Because it's good for you, like eating apples and running five miles a day Mar 6, 2007

Cache wrote:


I was wondering why a translator would study another language, apart from the pair they translate.

Suppose you were English and you translate from German to English. Why would you study another language (for instance, French) if you have got your degree and you are able to translate that pair?


And Williamson opined:


In a European Union with 23 official languages, don't you lag a bit behind if you know only two languages? ... it is the official objective of the E.U. that every citizen should know at least two foreign languages and his/her native language ...


… and a corresponding question: If you had fantastic muscles in your arms, and you earned money by lifting things, why would you exercise your legs?

I’m a translator. I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese. Recently, I started to learn Arabic. I think that perhaps, in 15 or 20 years, I might be able to attempt a formal translation from Arabic into English. I do not intend to do that. I know for certain that I will never, ever, be able to translate from English into Arabic.

So why do it? Because learning another language is one of the best brain exercises imaginable. My plan is to remain in full mental health until the very end of my days, and this is my approach. With similar results, some people do crosswords, and other people memorize poems. My own view is that learning a mental skill that I will never use professionally is a fantastic thing to do to my brain – like going to a gym for two hours every day.

So why Arabic? Why not, for example, Welsh? Well, with all due respect to my Welsh siblings … because with English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, I’ll have most of the world covered. And if I’m granted enough days, after Arabic I’ll learn German. And if I have even more days after that, I might perhaps consider the possibility of learning French. I’m open to anything, even if it's not particularly useful.


[Edited at 2007-03-06 20:47]


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Pablo Fiumara
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
Some sentences I do not understand Mar 6, 2007

Parrot wrote:


For instance, very few people have degrees dealing with their native language and yet it is their native language (shall we call that accident?)

Multiple sources are one way of maximising target language performance. Europe mainly does direct translation, so it has to be versatile at source.

Herminia wrote: I also plan to work with these languages in the near future (specially French since I have a high knowledge almost compared to Italian by now), I don't think you need a degree for every specific language pair at all


Would you (Herminia) translate from a language you don't have a degree to one you have one?


Sorry, I don't understand what these sentences mean. Sorry, perhaps because I am Argentinian I do not know what you're talking about....

Sorry again


[Editado a las 2007-03-06 21:16]


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Herminia Herrándiz Espuny  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
English to Spanish
+ ...
A = native language B = foreign language Mar 6, 2007

What I meant is that I would not translate into a language that is not my native one, that is, for example I would translate from English into Spanish, but not from Spanish into English and I would never think about translating from English into Italian, for example, one foreign language per translation is enough for me

By the way, are you talking about degree per language pair or degree in one language?

[Editado a las 2007-03-06 21:44]


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:31
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nothing to do with being Argentinian Mar 6, 2007

(Please don't misunderstand).

Cache wrote:

Parrot wrote:

For instance, very few people have degrees dealing with their native language and yet it is their native language (shall we call that accident?)


I mean, for instance, I'm a native English speaker, and I didn't take a course in English. I just was born to it, lived in it, studied in it (which is not taking a degree in it) and read a lot of books in it. You could almost say it was a random circumstance. But I work into it (that's not random, that's my choice). Because it's what I speak best, and the language my reflexes react in.

Multiple sources are one way of maximising target language performance. Europe mainly does direct translation, so it has to be versatile at source.


Twenty years ago when I was just starting, my bosses pointed out that I would be best translating into the languages that I spoke as a native. That meant that my working source languages became factors that created other combinations, permitting me to be available to more demand than if I only spoke two or three languages.

Independently of what this assumption implies (I know this has been much-debated), a great deal of the European market works this way. The first test to become an EU translator, for instance, is a test of being native in a desired target language. The other tests are designed to show your proficiency in understanding and interpreting a source that is not your "A" language. This means that a "B" language is important -- as your mainstay -- and that a "C" language is a definite asset that can tide you over when B>A jobs are in short supply. As Williamson pointed out, three languages are a minimum in the EU-subsidised programmes, possibly because it may not be worthwhile for the member states to invest in translator training if two languages are insufficient to guarantee professional survival.

Would you ... translate from a language you don't have a degree to one you have one?


Funny you should mention that. I took two translation courses, both constructed around the same core programme. This meant that Theory was for everybody enrolled and target-language-focused courses were the same for all native speakers of the same language. The only thing that varied when you changed combination were the practice subjects and the semantics/morphology subjects focused on the source. If you took a third course, it would've pretty predictably gone the same way.

Not to knock the system, of course, but most of what I now know in the field came from sources outside that programme. For one, no one taught you how to run a translation business or do accounting...

Jackie Bowman wrote:

So why Arabic?


They asked me that, as well and I can only say it's a mindset that fascinates me... beginning with the way old-fashioned typewriter carriages look as though they were moving in a mirror.

But seriously, Jackie, it's a bit of a problem getting practice with speakers who'd rather code-switch than have a little more patience with stuttering learners

[Edited at 2007-03-06 22:27]


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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 03:31
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
because.. Mar 6, 2007

.. (in my case) in Europe every country has its own - sometimes very different - language and not everyone there speaks lets say English (meant as a foreign langage as opposed to the official language) or even thinks its necessary to speak some other language apart from their own.

Frankly if I could Id learn at least all 23 official EU languages;) just to get a better feel of all the different cultures. Being bilingual Ive always considered this to be my big bonus. Then I learned my 3rd and then 4th language and am even more happy now. And so I would definitely learn (at least) one more language because - I love it. Its a fab feeling to be able to discover a whole new world of another culture.

Besides knowing more than 2 languages helps immensly when Im translating.

[Edited at 2007-03-06 22:28]


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Pablo Fiumara
Local time: 21:31
English to Spanish
TOPIC STARTER
degree in one language Mar 6, 2007

Herminia Herrandiz Espuny wrote:

What I meant is that I would not translate into a language that is not my native one, that is, for example I would translate from English into Spanish, but not from Spanish into English and I would never think about translating from English into Italian, for example, one foreign language per translation is enough for me

By the way, are you talking about degree per language pair or degree in one language?

[Editado a las 2007-03-06 21:44]


Suppose you have got a degree in English but you know a lot French, Would you translate from French to Spanish although you haven't got a French degree?

[Editado a las 2007-03-06 22:33]


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