Please do more to discourage users from entering too many native languages in their profiles
Thread poster: Mikhail Kropotov

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:00
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Sep 22, 2015

More and more Russian-speaking ProZ.com users are misusing or abusing the 'Native language(s)' settings in their profiles. They tend to include both Russian and English as their native languages even though Russian is their only true native language (and some are just barely fluent in English).

While some may do this in an attempt to formally qualify for jobs in the Russian-English pair, it seems there are those who genuinely misunderstand what the setting is for. They treat Russian and English as their target languages instead of native languages.

Could ProZ.com please clarify the appropriate wording in user profiles and/or take other action to discourage (and ideally completely prevent) translators from misrepresenting their native languages?

[Edited at 2015-09-22 14:39 GMT]


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 18:00
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
What's too many? Sep 22, 2015

You can enter up to two, last time I checked. "Entering a language falsely" is not the same thing as "entering too many languages".

 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:00
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for correcting me Sep 22, 2015

You are right, Lincoln; my thread title is unfortunately inaccurate. It's not about the number of languages but about honestly representing one's competencies and skills.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
On the one hand Sep 22, 2015

Mikhail Kropotov wrote:
...it seems there are those who genuinely misunderstand what the setting is for. They treat Russian and English as their target languages instead of native languages.


I can see how this might happen. Unfortunately ProZ.com's definition of "native language" is "whatever you think, in all honesty, it means", so I don't see how one can solve your problem easily.

A previous suggestion was that when translators choose a native language, they should also answer the question "I consider this language to be my native language because..." (and either enter their own reason or choose from a list of reasons). This should help spot people who are genuinely mistaken.


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 13:00
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Possibly allow peers to flag mistaken users? Sep 22, 2015

Such flags could be visible only to ProZ.com staff, and staff would receive notifications of a flag raised.

I'm honestly getting tired of emailing people through their profiles to let them know of their incorrectly set native languages.


 

The Misha
Local time: 06:00
Russian to English
+ ...
You seem to be on a crusade, Mikhail Sep 22, 2015

And those tend to be hopeless, I am afraid. Me think, all those self-proclaimed "native speakers of English" are well aware of what they are doing and have no problem whatsoever determining what their true native language is, however defined. So it comes down to plain old willful misrepresentation. Unfortunately, you cannot effectively legislate or mandate that people be honest, and if someone isn't, they will always find a way around. Where there's a will, there's a way - isn't that what they say?

That part is easy. The one that isn't - and that's what I've been trying to understand over the years - is who these folks think they are kidding. Themselves? I think they know better than that. Others? But generally, this "confusion," or whatever you want to call it lifts altogether once they open their mouths, literally or figuratively, that is, in writing. In fact, they are doing themselves a great disservice this way - and for what? Beats me. I guess, it's gotta be that mysterious ame russe thingie, or whatever other "ame" it is.

One professional to another, let it go. Life is too short. If someone doesn't respect himself or herself enough to tell the truth, there's precious little we can do about it, save for developing a certain unflattering opinion about this person. Usually, this is more than enough. And anyway, "taynoye vsegda stanovitsya yavnym" (for those of you who speak no Russian, this is a famous quote that means the secret always comes out in the end).


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:00
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How long will it be? Sep 22, 2015

I'm waiting for, though not looking forward to, the day when the majority of site users will have at least two native languages recorded: their real one(s) plus English. Only the true native speakers of English will be left with 'just' one native language, along with the few who take their profession seriously enough to stick to the truth.

To all those who feel the need to lie to get more work, have you wondered how some people manage to make a good living without claiming to have multiple native languages, some of them not even having English as a source language? Could it be that they are doing only what they do supremely well, and being paid well? Excellence might be a great selling proposition - why not try it for a while?


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:00
Hebrew to English
Amen Sep 23, 2015

The Misha wrote:

And those tend to be hopeless, I am afraid. Me think, all those self-proclaimed "native speakers of English" are well aware of what they are doing and have no problem whatsoever determining what their true native language is, however defined. So it comes down to plain old willful misrepresentation. Unfortunately, you cannot effectively legislate or mandate that people be honest, and if someone isn't, they will always find a way around. Where there's a will, there's a way - isn't that what they say?

That part is easy. The one that isn't - and that's what I've been trying to understand over the years - is who these folks think they are kidding. Themselves? I think they know better than that. Others? But generally, this "confusion," or whatever you want to call it lifts altogether once they open their mouths, literally or figuratively, that is, in writing. In fact, they are doing themselves a great disservice this way - and for what? Beats me. I guess, it's gotta be that mysterious ame russe thingie, or whatever other "ame" it is.

One professional to another, let it go. Life is too short. If someone doesn't respect himself or herself enough to tell the truth, there's precious little we can do about it, save for developing a certain unflattering opinion about this person. Usually, this is more than enough. And anyway, "taynoye vsegda stanovitsya yavnym" (for those of you who speak no Russian, this is a famous quote that means the secret always comes out in the end).


It's been a looong time since I found myself agreeing with something on here quite so enthusiastically.
Spot on.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 15:30
English to Hindi
+ ...
I don't see anything wrong here Sep 23, 2015

As Samuel has explained it, proz.com leaves it to its members to define what is meant by native language. If you define it as one of your working languages, proz.com has no problems with it, irrespective of whether you have average, excellent or native-level proficiency in the language.

If including an additional language as native language gives some people some professional advantage (real or imaginary), I don't see anything wrong in it. Ultimately, this will work to their advantage or disadvantage depending on what they are able to do with the additional native language they have included. If they provide clients satisfactory service in it, it works for them, if they don't, they will eventually get caught and will be black-listed by clients, thus ruining their business. Either way it would be their leg that the shoe pinches. Why should we bother?

Having said that, English presents a very special case in that it is a language (perhaps the only one in the world) which has more non-native speakers and users than native-speakers. So I will give those who claim English as one of their native language a very long rope indeed to hang themselves with.

[Edited at 2015-09-24 04:30 GMT]


 

Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:00
Member
French to English
+ ...
Some already have two "native" languages Sep 23, 2015

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I'm waiting for, though not looking forward to, the day when the majority of site users will have at least two native languages recorded: their real one(s) plus English. Only the true native speakers of English will be left with 'just' one native language, along with the few who take their profession seriously enough to stick to the truth.


In Romanian-English, I can think of several translators who claim to be native speakers of both Romanian and English but make glaring errors in English on their profile pages or in KudoZ questions. Years ago it used to make me cross; now I'm past that stage and simply shrug my shoulders in resignation. As The Misha says, discerning clients will find out for themselves soon enough, and discerning clients are the only ones I'm really interested in.

What does surprise me a little is that when you search the directory for translators in a particular pair, "native language" isn't one of the criteria that appear immediately. To choose that, you have to click on "More options". Perhaps the search priorities could be adjusted?


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:00
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Previously discussed Oct 7, 2015

There was an extremely long discussion on more or less the same subject about 3 years ago, here:
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_suggestions/227485-should_“native_language”_claims_be_verified.html
It was finally closed by Henry after generating 183 pages (pages, not posts) of contributions.

[Edited at 2015-10-07 10:08 GMT]


 


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