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Which "variant", if any, of your native language do you speak?
Thread poster: Henry Dotterer

Henry Dotterer
Local time: 08:40
SITE FOUNDER
Oct 25, 2012

We've decided to try and gather some data on language variants, to begin the process of handling them more specifically in various places (ex. contests, KudoZ, etc.) throughout ProZ.com.

To get things started, a means has been provided to specify which variant(s) of your native language you speak (or that you speak "most naturally"). I'd like to ask willing members to please take a moment to fill that in, and perhaps provide feedback. This will help us to build a framework for handling native languages more specifically.

To specify your language variant(s), go to your profile page, select the "Profile Updater" tab, then go to "Languages". You'll find the option to specify a language variant in the box for Native Language.

Of course we would appreciate any feedback or ideas you have on this topic.


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Mark Thompson  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:40
Member
Portuguese to English
Good to give people the choice. Oct 31, 2012

I like this tool and think it might be helpful for those specifically seeking British English or Canadian English translators/interpreters, for example.

In my case, I translate into British, US, Canadian and Australian variants according to target reader, and I feel that specifying my own personal variant on my profile may restrict that as I'll be filtered out of job offers that are not into British English.


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 14:40
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Agreed Oct 31, 2012

Mark Thompson wrote:

I like this tool and think it might be helpful for those specifically seeking British English or Canadian English translators/interpreters, for example.

In my case, I translate into British, US, Canadian and Australian variants according to target reader, and I feel that specifying my own personal variant on my profile may restrict that as I'll be filtered out of job offers that are not into British English.


I agree with the above - I quite like the idea that variants are offered, but I switch between British and US, even though my home language is British English, so I wonder if this might lead to some restrictions. Could we enter more than one?


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Sean McDonald  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
You may enter 2 per language Oct 31, 2012

Sarai Pahla wrote:
Could we enter more than one?


At this time you may enter in two per each native language you have specified in your profile. You can do this by clicking the [+] button to the right of the input field.

We are closely monitoring how people use this tool, and evaluating if more should be allowed. Although the thought behind this is that these two should not necessarily be what you may work in, but at the very least the two that you are most comfortable in (IE: Have been using the longest time) just like you may work in more languages than you are native in.


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:40
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Wrong approach Oct 31, 2012

Henry Dotterer wrote:
To get things started, a means has been provided to specify which variant(s) of your native language you speak (or that you speak "most naturally"). I'd like to ask willing members to please take a moment to fill that in, and perhaps provide feedback. This will help us to build a framework for handling native languages more specifically.


I stick with my statement that "Nativeness" is not this important. I am native in German for Germany, I worked several years in Switzerland (which has different spelling rules and different terminology) and from the beginning of my career as a translator I translated into German for Belgium too (in a highly regulated domain, where the language is controlled). I am neither native in German for Switzerland nor native in German for Belgium. By the way I won't touch translations into German for Austria (the spelling is the same, the terminology is different, but I believe there are cultural differences, that would influence the perception of my translations).

Your solution will now allow me what - to specify my native language variant - this is clearly German for Germany (according to my specification of native language) - nothing else.

Your solution will not allow me to express my ability to translate into German for Switzerland nor German for Belgium and it will only allow me to specify 2 language variants anyway. Therefore I consider this whole idea as being no improvement. And I still believe that if you've grown up in "X-land" for the first 20+ years it does not matter that your family was English and it does not matter that you attended international or English schools in X-Land, you still missed all the cultural influence of your "British peers" living in England and your English will differ from the English they speak. And if you left Y-land 20 years ago, there is a high risk that you lost some of your ability to express yourself the same way as those do who stayed in Y-Land.

I am still in favor of the idea of "proficiency" in contrast to "nativeness". But I assume that this threat will again be taken over by those with the loudest voice.

Ah, and before it begins again, no I am not native in English, my English is not perfect and everybody can either keep every spelling or grammatical error they find in this post or is welcome to answer me in German.


[Edited at 2012-10-31 19:47 GMT]


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Shiya Luo  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:40
English to Chinese
+ ...
Have seperate places for spoken and written variants Oct 31, 2012

Take Chinese for example, the two main spoken variants are Mandarin and Cantonese and written Chinese is either Simplified and Traditional.

In Mainland China, Mandarin is the spoken language, and Simplified Chinese is the written;
In Taiwan, Mandarin is the general spoken language, and Traditional Chinese is the written;
In Hong Kong, Cantonese is spoken more than Mandarin, and Traditional Chinese is written;
In Singapore, both Mandarin and Cantonese are spoken, and Simplified Chinese is the official language, though many places still use Traditional Chinese.

In places where Chinese is not the official language, the spoken/written language varies. San Francisco has a large Cantonese population; San Jose, just 50 miles away from San Francisco, has a predominant Mandarin speaking population.

See how this makes things complicated?

[Edited at 2012-10-31 18:22 GMT]


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psicutrinius  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:40
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Spain's Spanish, Catalan Oct 31, 2012

The former is the one in which I was educated; the second the one in which I was raised

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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:40
Swedish to English
+ ...
OT? Oct 31, 2012

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

And I still believe that if you've grown up in Brazil for the first 26 years it does not matter that your family was English and it does not matter that you attended international or English schools in Brazil, you still missed all the cultural influence of your "British peers" living in England and your English will differ from the English they speak. And if you left Germany 20 years ago, there is a high risk that you lost some of your ability to express yourself the same way as Germans do who stayed in Germany.



For those of us who followed the looooong thread about native language, it's quite clear which two colleagues you're referring to. When discussing colleagues on a public forum, and giving details of how you view their competence based on what you know of their backgrounds, would it not be fairer to refer to them by name?


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Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:40
Hebrew to English
I stick with my statement that.... Oct 31, 2012

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:
I stick with my statement that "Nativeness" is not this important.


Nativeness is important....HOWEVER, I must say that I'm not sure this is a step in the right direction (or any direction if I'm honest).


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:40
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
I am not questioning anybody's competence as a translator Oct 31, 2012

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
...of how you view their competence based on what you know of their backgrounds...


This is exactly the point, I am not questioning their competence at all. What I am saying is, nativeness is a beast,
- it is difficult to define,
- it does not mean that your proficiency will last forever under any conditions
- it does not provide enough information about the abilities of a translator

What I am questioning is the idea that many believe "nativeness" equals "competence"

In my own equation "nativeness" is just one factor and not even a very important one to judge competence.



[Edited at 2012-10-31 19:26 GMT]


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:40
Swedish to English
+ ...
No that is not the point Oct 31, 2012

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
...of how you view their competence based on what you know of their backgrounds...


This is exactly the point, I am not questioning their competence at all. What I am saying is, nativeness is a beast,
- it is difficult to define,
- it does not mean that your proficiency will last forever under any conditions
- it does not provide enough information about the abilities of a translator

What I am questioning is the idea that many believe "nativeness" equals "competence"

In my own equation "nativeness" is just one factor and not even a very important one to judge competence.



Did I say that you were questioning anything? The bit you quoted was a sub clause; the actual question I posed was:

When discussing colleagues on a public forum sub clause removed would it not be fairer to refer to them by name?


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
wha....? Oct 31, 2012

Now and again I dip into the never-ending thread about "native" and "non-native" languages, and marvel at the dissent, confusion, and anger this distinction is causing. Many individuals have made rational suggestions as to how this could be better handled, but if any of them have been recently implemented, it is news to me.
Instead, what I am seeing is a whole new hornets' nest being stirred up by this new field for our profiles. Surely it makes no sense to require more precision on a topic that is obviously very fluid. Many, many, translators spent their childhoods in multi-language (and multi-variant) situations, that cannot be defined in one (or even two) simple categories.
The narrative sections of the translator profile (and the tag-lines, if we so choose) give us ample opportunity to explain the nuances of our linguistic upbringing and education. I personally have no plans to specify my language variants in a little box.


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:40
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Sorry, it was not my intention to refer to specific persons Oct 31, 2012

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo wrote:
When discussing colleagues on a public forum sub clause removed would it not be fairer to refer to them by name?


You might have a point here. It was actually not my intention to refer to specific persons. I just wanted to give 2 general examples. I am editing my original post to make it less specific.

[Edited at 2012-10-31 19:48 GMT]


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nunchaku101
Local time: 13:40
Spanish to English
Sigh Oct 31, 2012

Siegfried Armbruster wrote:

What I am questioning is the idea that many believe "nativeness" equals "competence"



[Edited at 2012-10-31 19:26 GMT]

"Nativeness" , i.e. being a native speaker, in a translator is more likely to provide a competent translation than "non-nativeness". End of, as they say.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 08:40
SITE FOUNDER
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the postings Oct 31, 2012

Shiya, great point about distinguishing between spoken and written variants.

Thanks for the other reactions, too. Seeing where things are going, though, I must ask: If this is a topic you feel passionate about, with respect, please accept the challenge of trying to express your opinions in just one or two posts in this thread -- not more. This thread is intended to be limited in scope to native language variants, which exist and have bearing in our field. It is not a continuation of the prior thread on verifying native language, and it most certainly is not about whether or not being a native speaker in a given language makes one a qualified translator in that language.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation and self-control.


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