Article: Target language and the need for being native
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 22:01
Sep 29, 2009

This topic is for discussion of the translation article "Target language and the need for being native".


Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:31
English to Hindi
+ ...
A very insightful comment there at the end Jun 18, 2013

The comment you make about translating into English by people from the Indian sub-continent who are native in other languages like Hindi is particularly worth noting.

I think it applies not only to English in the Indian sub-continent but also to English in other colonial locations such as Phillipines, South Africa, Kenya, etc.

And also to other colonial languages like French, Portuguese, Spanish, German and Italian, which too had colonies beyond their home territory and where their languages are widely spoken.

The case of Portuguese is a bit complicated because the European version of this language and its Latin American version are almost as different as two separate languages.

Another category of people to whom the native language requirement won't apply are the migrant populations - those people who migrated from one language community to another language community. This group is increasing day by day and them the very question of native language is irrelevant.

Together, these special groups constitute such a large percentage of humanity that the very idea of native language translators stands seriously challenged.

Most translators emerge from bilingual settings such as these special groups.

In many international languages like English, non-native speakers already outnumber the native speakers.


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:01
Russian to English
+ ...
Very good points Jan 16, 2014

Nothing in translation should be treated in a mechanical way--all languages and combinations treated the same. It all depends who is actually fluent in those languages. For example, I cannot imagine too many people who have grown up in some European countries to speak most of the Indian languages, or African languages, or perhaps even most Slavic and Baltic languages Secondly, English is really more of a de facto lingua franca, so it also cannot be treted as most the other languages. It is true that to translate into some languages like Polish, let's say, or Hindi, I imagine, the person would usually have to be someone local--who spent most of their life in those countries. It might be completely different with such languages as English, French or Spanish. So everything has to be considered on the case by case basis.

Finally--the term native language is very vague in the times of massive migrations and multicultural societies, which often borders on prejudice close to racism. It comes from the colonial times, and is associated with the word "a native" which has become a politically incorrect word--at least in the US. I think linguistics should come up with a better alternative because this term is completely outdated.

[Edited at 2014-01-16 07:06 GMT]


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