Article: Mother Tongue ---How crucial is it for translation?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 07:41
Jul 19, 2005

This topic is for discussion of the translation article "Mother Tongue ---How crucial is it for translation?".


Roy Williams  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
Member (2011)
German to English
Not entirely true Mar 12, 2008

I disagree with the claims made by the author of this article. Just like when an interpreter speaks more naturally and accurately into his/her native language, the same applies to writing. where I work, I can always tell when a document has been written or translated by non-english speaker. On the same note, when I write anything in german, I never release a document until it has been checked by a native speaker of german. I find that one has to have a very high command of a secondary language to write it well if they're not native.

I don't mean to critisize but some of the word choices in this article serve to contradict the statements of the author


whither has fle
Local time: 16:41
French to English
native speakers Jan 25, 2009

An interesting article but I do not agree. I am very fluent in French, my native language being English. I have no doubt whatever that I am at an advantage when translating into English. Technical words or expressions apart, style will out! As the previous person who commented mentioned, it is possible to tell at a glance if the text you are reading has been translated by a non-native speaker. Also speed is important in professional translation. I am sure that it takes me a little longer to translate from English into French.


David Eunice  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:41
Japanese to English
Target language ability often matters a lot Jan 20, 2010

While I appreciate the writers energy in raising a topic for discussion, I found the article somewhat superficial.

There is not one type of translation or a single set of circumstances for interpretation. SL and TL users both have different strengths and weaknesses. And not all language users are good writers. For example, in the article, the writer says that translators and interpreters 'create' language. Most clients would prefer them to accurately transcode language. Yes, it's an impossibility, but equivalence is the holy grail, especially in legal interpreting. Anyway, in this context, my Anglophone eyes trip over the word 'create'.

SL users are good at recognizing contextual meanings and nuances in their own language, but may not know how to express these in the TL. The TL user may recognize the linguistic meaning, but not the effect of the SL usage. What the skilled TL user can do consistently, however, is produce text that better matches the expectations of the TL reader. This means producing 'transparent' text that is easy, or easier, to read.

If the kind of marketing materials I translate, were translated by SL speakers, the text would soon lose the attention of most readers and sales would be lost. Companies are not willing to pay expert translations to translate for captive readers -- consumers who have to read poorly translated manuals, and in-house engineers who have to deal with materials generated in say, Japan, China, or India, that are just a couple of steps up from machine translation. They are usually the victims of SL or even nonSL/nonTL translators.

When clients want value added or high QA, 99.9% of the time they will prefer a TL translator. The rest of the time, translation tends to be regarded as an expense to be squeezed along with the cost of ink and paper. How do they squeeze costs? By outsourcing to Asian countries where the translators have none of the strengths of SL or TL speakers, and where, if the translators have TL skill, they are influenced by SL idiosyncracies.


Steve Melling  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
French to English
+ ...
It's quite simple-Mother Tongue Only Nov 1, 2011

Too many people think they are good enough to translate away from their Mother Tongue. I've read scores of examples and it's just not viable.


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