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Differentiating between language variants
Thread poster: Mary Worby

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:22
Member
German to English
+ ...
Oct 22, 2009

Hello!

Would it be possible for us to specify which language variant we use in our profile and for this to become a search criterion?

Job offers into US English are of no interest to me, and I'm sure the same applies to Americans being offered UK English assignments.

This would save time for freelancers, as we wouldn't need to look through job offers, only to discover that US English is specified at the end and would help outsourcers target the right people for the job.

Clearly specifying a variant could be optional ...

Thanks
Mary


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Lianne Wilson
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:22
Japanese to English
+ ...
Great idea! Oct 22, 2009

I think there should be more recognition of - and support for - the differences between AE and BE.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Oct 22, 2009

Speaking from the other side of the pond, I agree. British English is not my language, and everyone needs to know that I am strictly USA.

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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
How about applying it to source and target languages? Oct 22, 2009

I like this idea. It would be even more beneficial if this option existed for source AND target languages.

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Thomas Weber  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (2005)
French to English
Hear, hear (UK) and Right on (US) Nov 6, 2009

I waste much time looking into job postings that turn out to specify UK English or to be jobs I can tell ought to be in UK English. This is not the job posters' fault. The problem is the Proz.com job posting form, which lists only English (and, of all distinctions to make, Middle English!) All that Proz. has to do is add UK and US English as choices on this menu and we'd all save a lot of time.

[Edited at 2009-11-06 14:53 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Solid idea Nov 6, 2009

The lack of distinction presents timewasting potential in job offers and also in other areas.

I'd like to see it as an optional precision everywhere in the site: job posts, KudoZ, profiles, ...

Out of interest, perhaps someone from ProZ could tell us if there has ever been a job post requiring Middle English. Should I learn it, I wonder - could I corner a nice little niche market?


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
Member (2009)
French to English
No arguments here Nov 6, 2009

I know a lot of the differences between U.S. and U.K. English, but I skip any job which expresses a preference for the U.K. variant. I have also seen a lot of KudoZ questions for which the respondents are at a loss for the correct answer without knowing the audience.

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Beg to disagree - target language only Nov 7, 2009

Sara Senft wrote:
I like this idea. It would be even more beneficial if this option existed for source AND target languages.


I think the worst case of variants happens in Portuguese. I've put together some highlights on the difference at http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/1675/ and http://www.lamensdorf.com.br/ptxbr.html . What makes it worse is that legally, by both Brazilian and Portuguese Constitutions, they are one and the same language.

I can only translate into my variant, Brazilian Portuguese, however not only I'm able, but legally certified (by the Brazilian government) to translate from any variant of Portuguese into English. After all, these Portuguese variants are deemed to be one and the same language.

Conversely, I can only translate into US English. Anything I say or write is immediately identified by Brits, Aussies, and even Yankees, as US English. Meanwhile, I'll translate from any variant of English into Brazilian Portuguese.

So IMHO every translator has a specific variant in their target language(s), but shouldn't have any in their source one(s).



[Edited at 2009-11-07 16:39 GMT]


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Christina Paiva  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:22
Portuguese to English
+ ...
José .. Nov 7, 2009

I second your comments verbatim

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Thomas Weber  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (2005)
French to English
Options, options Nov 10, 2009

But, José and Christina, would you mind the Proz forms giving the option of specifying a variant, in both the target or source items?

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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:22
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Is there a need to specify source variant? Nov 10, 2009

Thomas Weber wrote:
But, José and Christina, would you mind the Proz forms giving the option of specifying a variant, in both the target or source items?


I see no use in specifying a variant in source language, unless it's audio or video material - extremely rare on Proz. There are indeed some northeastern Brazilian accents that are inextricable to southerners like me, just as there are some British variants that puzzle US or any other other English speakers, most Brits included as well. A producer from Houston told me that all Texan movie/TV talents are "bilingual"; those who only speak Texan won't last a week in the trade.

I can read and understand any variant of written PT or EN. If it says to visualise the lorry's bonnet or to visualize the truck's hood, I'll translate both into PT-BR as visualizar o capô do caminhão. Conversely, if it says as peúgas encharcadas sobre a alcatifa or as meias molhadas no tapete, I'll translate both into EN-US as the wet socks on the carpet.

However you can see from these two samples that things would be quite different if the translation direction were reversed. So the issue is about the target variant alone.

Answering your question, Thomas, I wouldn't mind, but many outsourcers/clients already have a hard time sorting out what the source language - not the variant - actually is. Supposedly, they know the target, as it's written on the order they got.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Largely agree with José Nov 10, 2009

I agree that for jobs it wouldn't often be a relevant field, but it could, after all, be labelled both 'optional' and 'if known'.

On the other hand, I've lost count of the number of times extensive KudoZ research has been necessary to ascertain that the French term was, for example, Swiss French and quite unknown to most French French speakers. Often, this is clear from context that the asker has not shared with us. Optional 'source language variant' could serve to remind askers that this is relevant context.


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solange trad
Portuguese
+ ...
source is an important factor, too. Nov 11, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If it says to visualise the lorry's bonnet or to visualize the truck's hood, I'll translate both into PT-BR as visualizar o capô do caminhão. Conversely, if it says as peúgas encharcadas sobre a alcatifa or as meias molhadas no tapete, I'll translate both into EN-US as the wet socks on the carpet.

However you can see from these two samples that things would be quite different if the translation direction were reversed. So the issue is about the target variant alone.

Answering your question, Thomas, I wouldn't mind, but many outsourcers/clients already have a hard time sorting out what the source language - not the variant - actually is. Supposedly, they know the target, as it's written on the order they got.


I think the example José chose to give above is a good example of why source is indeed an important factor.

Let's say a translator works from Portuguese into English.

The translator has learned Brazilian Portuguese, lives in Brazil and rarely comes into contact with speakers of European Portuguese or texts written in that variant.

In the above example, he may or may not immediately understand both the phrases ( as peúgas encharcadas sobre a alcatifa or as meias molhadas no tapete), but for sure he will understand one of them a lot quicker than the other, and therefore translate it more quickly.

Now imagine an entire text in which every phrase makes the translator have to stop and think about the unfamiliar grammar, word order, vocabulary and cultural references, and the result is a very slow translator and possibly not the best possible translation.

Surely, therefore, at least in the case of Portuguese, it is better for the translator to be able to specify his preferred source language variant if he has one.


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kmtext
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:22
English
+ ...
You think it's a problem with English and Portuguese? Nov 12, 2009

You should try Gaelic.

There are three different languages which are all classed as "Gaelic", and, while there's some similarity between them, they're not mutually intelligible. Most of the job posters don't even note which language they want until you submit a quote. Some don't even realise that they're different languages, not just variants or dialects.


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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
My reasoning Nov 20, 2009

Here is my reasoning:

I will use my source language as an example. There are some differences between Spanish for Spain and Latin American Spanish. In addition to some differences in words used (such as the three different words for 'car'), there are some variations in grammar structures. For example, the "vosotros" form of verbs is used far more frequently in Spain than in Latin America.

Personally, I have had exposure to both variations of Spanish but am more familiar with general Latin American Spanish.

That said, languages can vary quite a bit in the areas in which they are spoken. I believe translators would benefit from knowing the variation of the source language so that they will know ahead of time.

solange trad wrote:

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

If it says to visualise the lorry's bonnet or to visualize the truck's hood, I'll translate both into PT-BR as visualizar o capô do caminhão. Conversely, if it says as peúgas encharcadas sobre a alcatifa or as meias molhadas no tapete, I'll translate both into EN-US as the wet socks on the carpet.

However you can see from these two samples that things would be quite different if the translation direction were reversed. So the issue is about the target variant alone.

Answering your question, Thomas, I wouldn't mind, but many outsourcers/clients already have a hard time sorting out what the source language - not the variant - actually is. Supposedly, they know the target, as it's written on the order they got.


I think the example José chose to give above is a good example of why source is indeed an important factor.

Let's say a translator works from Portuguese into English.

The translator has learned Brazilian Portuguese, lives in Brazil and rarely comes into contact with speakers of European Portuguese or texts written in that variant.

In the above example, he may or may not immediately understand both the phrases ( as peúgas encharcadas sobre a alcatifa or as meias molhadas no tapete), but for sure he will understand one of them a lot quicker than the other, and therefore translate it more quickly.

Now imagine an entire text in which every phrase makes the translator have to stop and think about the unfamiliar grammar, word order, vocabulary and cultural references, and the result is a very slow translator and possibly not the best possible translation.

Surely, therefore, at least in the case of Portuguese, it is better for the translator to be able to specify his preferred source language variant if he has one.



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