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Native Speaker Credential - suggestions for verification methods
Thread poster: accuratewords

accuratewords  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Italian to English
+ ...
Apr 28, 2010

Hi, my suggestion is that ProZ allow more than two native languages to be entered, in order to maximize simultaneous bilinguals' ability to quote on jobs.

There are very many simultaneous bilinguals (a misnomer, "multilinguals" is perhaps more appropriate in this context) in this world. I only have three native languages, with equal ability from social to academic discourses, not to mention various industry/field specialization jargons, but I know people with more than three.

I understand that it is difficult at this time to certify the various members, however, I believe that ProZ could continue to issue their caveats in terms of certification (a "buyer beware" message of sorts) and allow each ProZ user/member to come to you for certification. Perhaps there could be a certification period (in December, during the usual lull in the translation world, or in July) during which some of your site staff, with the appropriate native language of the translator seeking certification, could be availabe on Skype. ProZ users/members who would like the certification of all or one of their native languages could make an appointment via a calendar app. In this way your site staff would not be too taxed.

Certification itself could be a tiered process. The conversation could start by checking a translator's social register/discourse (or BICS) and then escalate to a more academic (CALPS), yet probably still general (along the lines of what in Italian is called "cultura generale"), topic. The conversation would not really need to be long, approximately half an hour or so should show a person's handling of grammar/syntax and semantics in a language.

Or, perhaps translators could leave a recorded sample of speech/conversation, which is unrehearsed but follows a prompt targeting BICS and CALPS capabilities of the speaker.

I am eager to "hear" (virtually!) the thoughts of the ProZ community on this topic.
Thank you!


 

Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
Great ideas! Apr 29, 2010

Hello accuratewords,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have added your ideas for verification methods to our list of proposals for native language verification to be evaluated when a strategy to accomplish this is developed.

For the time being, a member who reports having only one native language is assumed to be a native speaker of that language, and is not required to demonstrate it. However, members who report multiple native languages will in the future be asked to demonstrate their native speech in each language before other native speakers of those languages, just as you suggest. Until this has been accomplished, a black and gray icon will be associated with the unconfirmed native languages.

Thanks again for taking the time to post!

Kind regards,

Lucia


 

accuratewords  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I would love to help Proz in their strategy Apr 29, 2010

Hi Lucia!

Language assessment is my specialty; I would love to help ProZ develop a strategy. Meanwhile, how can I declare a third native language (that's all I've got!) for that black and gray icon and so that I can quote jobs into that language as well as from?

Thanks a million!


 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Check everyone Apr 29, 2010

Lucia wrote:

Hello accuratewords,

Thanks for the suggestions. I have added your ideas for verification methods to our list of proposals for native language verification to be evaluated when a strategy to accomplish this is developed.

For the time being, a member who reports having only one native language is assumed to be a native speaker of that language, and is not required to demonstrate it. However, members who report multiple native languages will in the future be asked to demonstrate their native speech in each language before other native speakers of those languages, just as you suggest. Until this has been accomplished, a black and gray icon will be associated with the unconfirmed native languages.

Thanks again for taking the time to post!

Kind regards,

Lucia


There are many (too) people on Proz making false native language claims. They claim to be natives of a target language, whilst in reality, they are natives of a source language. It seems that people are free to 'readjust' their language on their profile whenever they feel like it. So they may start out as dual natives or as natives of a given language but can easily reinvent themselves by changing to a different 'native' language. Some sort of verification needs to be made, but by people who can really hear the difference between a native speaker and someone who happens to be bilingual etc.
A native language is the one a person is born into, not one that is adopted later in life as an adult. Being a native speaker is not the same thing as being multilingual. Unfortunately this is a distinction that many people don't seem to make.


 

Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
Only two native languages are allowed to be reported in profiles Apr 29, 2010

accuratewords wrote:

Language assessment is my specialty; I would love to help ProZ develop a strategy. Meanwhile, how can I declare a third native language (that's all I've got!) for that black and gray icon and so that I can quote jobs into that language as well as from?


Thanks for your interest in the Native Speaker Credential program. You will certainly be contacted when the time comes to develop a verification strategy.

As for the option to report a third native language, I am afraid that this is not yet possible precisely because no strategy is yet in place to verify multiple languages. For the time being, a maximum of 2 native languages can be reported in profiles.

You will find more information about the Native Speaker Credential program here.

Hope this clarifies.

Regards,

Lucia


 

Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF
Site users cannot reset their own native language(s) Apr 29, 2010

writeaway wrote:

It seems that people are free to 'readjust' their language on their profile whenever they feel like it. So they may start out as dual natives or as natives of a given language but can easily reinvent themselves by changing to a different 'native' language.


Hello writeaway. Note that site users cannot change their profile native language(s) as the field can only be reset by site staff, and this is done when site users has made a mistake when entering their native language (selecting the wrong language by mistake when creating their profile, for example). Whenever a site user requests to have a native language changed, site staff evaluates the request thoroughly and resets the field (removes the native language reported) only if it is evident a mistake was made.

Hope this explains.

Regards,

Lucia


 

accuratewords  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Check everyone - agreed Apr 29, 2010

Hi Writeaway!

I agree wholeheartedly that a native language is one that one is born into, or at least acquired during the very early stages of language development. Indeed, I am native in three languages (as are, really many people in this world) precisely because of the circumstances into which I was born. My parents were Italian immigrants to Argentina, who met after having lived in there for ten years, married and had me. Our home language was Italian, and Spanish with other relatives and friends. I moved to the US (and then to other parts of the world) at age 2 and my parents, thank goodness!, had the foresight to maintain both my first-first languages, while adding social and academic English. I was very lucky that both my parents were linguists, and highly literate across all of their languages, and made it a point to use all three languages at home daily and across social and academic discourses as well as to give us many opportunities for real-world, authentic use outside of our family (we lived in Panama, where I attended school, at my appropriate age/grade level in Spanish, as well as, later, in Italian. I only translate into English (or into Italian or Spanish) from my acquired languages.

This is a developmental process known in the linguistic field as simultaneous bilingualism. I am not the sole perfectly native simultaneous bilingual in this world, if only because of political processes throughout this world's long history. Of course, I agree that there are many degrees of language dominance. I know many native, monlingual speakers of English who have no deep understanding of certain discourses. That is where education/training meets development.

I agree wholeheartedly that there should be verification, and among different registers of language; indeed, that is my specialty both during my studies and since acquiring my Masters in Applied Linguistics (not to mention my lifelong training given the circumstances I was born into). But we should not limit the possibilities for those who really have mastered their languages, in addition to their profession, especially since this is a site dedicated to the field of linguistics.

This is a fantastic site, and I love the open dialogue and thought with people who really understand what our work entails.


 

accuratewords  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Lucia Apr 29, 2010

Lucia, thanks for the further clarification - and hope for a future verification strategy, which I hope will open the door for the simultaneous bilinguals among us!

Best,
accuratewords


 

Kim Metzger  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:27
German to English
Native speaker credential Apr 29, 2010

Hi accuratewords - I agree that some sort of verification would be good for the profession. How would you respond to these thoughts from From "Getting it Right" - an ATA client education booklet available in print and online?

Professional translators work into their native language

If you want your catalog translated into German and Russian, the work will be done by a native German speaker and a native Russian speaker. Native English-speakers translate from foreign languages INTO English.

As a translation buyer, you may not be aware of this, but a translator who flouts this basic rule is likely to be ignorant of other important quality issues as well.

OK, there are exceptions. But not many. If your supplier claims to be one of them, ask to see something he or she has done. If it is factually accurate and reads well, and if the translator guarantees equivalent quality for your text – why not? Sometimes a translator with particular subject-matter expertise may agree to work into what is for him or her a foreign language. In this case, the translation must be carefully edited – and not just glanced through – by a language-sensitive native speaker before it goes to press.

Translators and bilinguals – look closer

Professional translators are first and foremost writers, capable of producing texts that read well in the target language. They are generally fluent in their source language(s) as well. Most important of all, they are effective bridges between the languages they work in; they can render the message of the original text, with appropriate style and terminology, in their native language.
Bilingualism is something else. Bilinguals speak two languages fluently, but are not necessarily good at moving information between the two, especially in writing. And experience shows that many people described as bilingual over-estimate their communication skills altogether.

In 2000, Lina's, a pricey French sandwich chain, advertised for franchisees abroad with a text concocted by a self-proclaimed bilingual employee. Slogan: "Tomorrow, we expect on your dynamism." Response: zero.

Bilingualism on its own is not a guarantee of written fluency or skill in translation.

Chris Durban, author of the Onion Skin
http://www.atanet.org/docs/Getting_it_right.pdf
http://accurapid.com/journal/03onion.htm

http://www.atanet.org/publications/getting_it_right.php


The American Translators Association
Code of Professional Conduct & Business Practices
I will endeavor to translate with utmost accuracy and fidelity, so that I convey to the readers of the translation the same meaning and spirit the original conveyed to me. I acknowledge that level of excellence requires:
1. Mastery of the target language equivalent to that of an educated native speaker;
2. Up-to-date knowledge of the source language and the subject area sufficient to understand the message;
I will be truthful about my qualifications and business and will not accept any assignment for which I am not fully qualified, without the express consent of my client.
http://www.cta-web.org/ataethics.htm


 

Ildiko Santana  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:27
Member (2002)
Hungarian to English
+ ...

MODERATOR
'native speaker' as a catch phrase Apr 29, 2010

I believe the native/non-native issue is given a little too much importance; what should really matter is whether the translator is proficient in any given language *currently*. I personally know colleagues that were born, say, in Hungary, but have lived and worked as translators in the US for over 30 years. No offence, but they should never agree to translate into Hungarian (and usually they don't) as they are far from being fluent in their (verifiably) native Hungarian language *today*.

There are many (too) people on Proz making false native language claims.


Outsourcers do it, too. I guess this catch phrase is popular because it can potentially attract more clients (who cannot tell the difference between a native speaker and a good translator). I recently saw this on an agency's home page:
"Our translators are all native speakers of their target language" followed by a list of languages offered: English, German, Italian, Latin, Russian.....
I wonder where (or rather when) one would have to be born/raised to become a native speaker of Latin. ; )


 

accuratewords  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:27
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Native vs. Bilingual and Native/non-native as a catch phrase Apr 29, 2010

Hi Kim!

I agree with you wholeheartedly about bilingualism in general. It takes active building of different registers in **each** language, using those registers in the appropriate contexts and with the appropriate interlocutors (who can then help add to the linguistic database in a bilingual's brain), and lots and lots of training in general to build (in the early years when a person is closest to Universal Grammar), grow and maintain native-fluency. By fluency I do not mean only speaking; complete linguistic fluency would really be across all 4 domains (listening, speaking, reading, writing).

That's why I mentioned the degrees of bilingualism, even in the case of simultaneous bilinguals. There are many who, having built their language schema orally/aurally, do not have even basic literacy skills in one of their languages.

The reasons you so eloquently point out are exactly why a vetting process needs to be in place. Nonetheless, there really are a few of us (judging from the reactions of native speakers in all of my native languages) in the world who are what we claim to be, and are willing to prove it on interpreting exams, translation exams, other linguistic assessment tools, as well as in the actual field.

@idilko (& Kim): I, too, am always skeptical about the same claims I'm making; I've seen too many "bilinguals" set up a shingle as interpreters or translators, when they really do not have either the full linguistic set (including semantic -> cultural and literacy levels across academic discourses/registers). Unfortunately, this is true in many professions (just because someone says s/he is a good doctor, does not make it so! that's why I always get referrals from many sources!), and ours is certainly not immune to charlatanism (it's, as you both point out, probably more prone to it!)icon_smile.gif

I can't repeat enough how I enjoy being able to discuss these issues with true professionals! Thanks a million! Please be aware that, though I do respond immediately off the top of my head, I also read carefully enough that your arguments/thoughts sift into my consciousness and help me refine my thoughts. So, again, thanks!icon_smile.gif


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:27
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
More room for odd claims Apr 29, 2010

accuratewords wrote:
I understand that it is difficult at this time to certify the various members, however, I believe that ProZ could continue to issue their caveats in terms of certification (a "buyer beware" message of sorts) and allow each ProZ user/member to come to you for certification. Perhaps there could be a certification period (in December, during the usual lull in the translation world, or in July) during which some of your site staff, with the appropriate native language of the translator seeking certification, could be availabe on Skype. ProZ users/members who would like the certification of all or one of their native languages could make an appointment via a calendar app. In this way your site staff would not be too taxed.

Maybe you are seeing this from your own perspective and experience, and probably assume that your experience could be applicable to a high number of people out there, when the situation is not that simple.

I don't think a conversation over Skype is enough a proof of a native level in a language. I see myself quite able to hold an academic conversation over the phone, and spend several hours a day writing and reading in languages other than my native Spanish, but I would never claim that I am trilingual, not even being the son of a bilingual couple and having lived for several years abroad.

Opening the door to more native languages in proz.com via an "over-the-phone certification" sounds plain naïve to me, or perhaps risky. It gives more air to people who already write rather flamboyant, misleading CVs and portal profiles today...


 

John Farebrother  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
French to English
+ ...
More than one native language should be treated as very exceptional May 18, 2010

writeaway wrote:


There are many (too) people on Proz making false native language claims.



If you check the sample translations of some colleagues who claim to be native in English as well as another language, you will see that in many cases they are obvious MT. Claims to be native in more than one language should only be allowed if convincing evidence of this exceptional circumstance is offered. The onus for providing convincing evidence should be on the person making the claim.

[Edited at 2010-05-18 20:06 GMT]


 
Post removed: This post was hidden by a moderator or staff member for the following reason: User's request.

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 16:27
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Remember, non-translators also have a native language :-) May 31, 2010

Remember, non-translators also have a native language. People who could not finish high-school also have a native language.

I suspect that for many people the term "native language" simply means the language that they're most comfortable in, and not necessarily the language in which they have attained a certain level of proficiency (because not all people are proficient in language, even their own).

Informal tests for language nativeness often assume that the speaker has a certain level of education or a certain level of worldly knowledge or a certain level of exposure to his society's middle-class values and culture, because these tests compare the speaker's ability against that of "ideal" or "normal" speakers of his language.

One should measure native languages against native languages. A speaker has more than one native language if he is as proficient in the second and third language as much as he is proficient in the first language. This may mean that one would first test the person's proficiency in his first language in various contexts before measuring it against the second or third languages. In other words, a person's language's nativeness should not be compared with that of other speakers, but with the other languages of the same person.

So, a native speaker is not a person with a certain minimum level of proficiency in those languages, but whose so-called native languages are all equally good, in similar general contexts (but not in specialised contexts such as academic or technical discourse).



[Edited at 2010-05-31 10:51 GMT]


 
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