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Living where your target language is spoken
Thread poster: SBlack
SBlack
French to English
+ ...
Jul 7, 2011

I know one company whose USP is the fact that all its translators live where their mother tongue is spoken.

It's well known that translators need an extended stay in a foreign country to master their source language. But this company's stance is that if you stay too long, you start to lose your grasp of your own language.

Is this a common idea in the industry? What is your opinion? Thanks.


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cecilea7
United States
Local time: 13:45
Member (2010)
Portuguese to French
+ ...
One size feets all... Jul 7, 2011

That is a widespread idea among companies although it is not necessarily true for everyone, especially with today's means of communication. Also, it is part of our business to stay abreath with what's current whether it be politically, economically or technically.

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Caroline Lakey  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:45
French to English
It works both ways Jul 7, 2011

I live in the country where my source language is spoken, and am very aware of the danger of failing to stay up to date with changes in my mother tongue.
Surely though, if you live in your target language country, you are more likely to lose competence in your source language and miss subtle nuances and inferences, not to mention cultural references, in source texts?
This is just my opinion, and I'm sure other people will have different ideas!


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SBlack
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
And getting paid for it Jul 7, 2011

Cécile Andrade wrote:

It is part of our business to stay abreath with what's current whether it be politically, economically or technically.


One translator told me she negotiated having "daily newspaper reading" added to her list of duties in her employee contract. I think she said 15 minutes (personally I read more like an hour every day to maintain my English).


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B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:45
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Wrong Jul 7, 2011

In the past, it would have been correct to be concerned that one would lose touch with one's mother tongue and not keep up with linguistic developments in it. This might still be the case with minority languages. Generally, however, increased rates of travel between countries, film, TV, radio and the internet have changed that.

When I first moved to France, I intended to spend two or three months a year in England to protect against this perceived problem. However, that really seems completely unnecessary (at least with regard to English), so long as one continues speaking to people in the mother-tongue country (making full use of Skype etc.), reading widely, watching films, listening to radio etc.

It would, I think, make a difference if one left one's mother-tongue country at an early age.

[Edited at 2011-07-07 13:34 GMT]


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SBlack
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Interesting point Jul 7, 2011

Caroline Lakey wrote:
Surely though, if you live in your target language country, you are more likely to lose competence in your source language and miss subtle nuances and inferences, not to mention cultural references, in source texts?

Yes, it is six of one, half a dozen of the other. Particularly the cultural references, I think.


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SBlack
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reassuring Jul 7, 2011

that you keep your language top notch this way.
B D Finch wrote: increased rates of travel between countries, film, TV, radio and the internet have changed that


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:45
Chinese to English
Problem for interpreters, not translators Jul 7, 2011

My English is really slipping, I have to admit. I live in my B language country, and I have to make constant efforts to maintain up-to-date professional English. Of course, this cost is far outweighed by the benefit to my B language, but it is a real issue.

But for translation I don't see the problem at all. Particularly with the internet now, you can keep up with all your native language news, get documentation instantly. I maintain writing skills in English by doing an MA as well, or you could blog.

If an agency thinks they can gain something from the advertising slogan, then go for it. It's far from the stupidest marketing claim out there. But it's still stupid.


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
I don't agree with this agency Jul 7, 2011

I know a lot of colleagues which have been living in countries different from their native ones for years and still have an excellent command of their native languages. It might be true for other categories of people which are linguistically less skilled and generally less educated, but it does not hold true for professionals which work with languages everyday. It is impossible to generalize, anyway.

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Mark Hamlen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:45
Member (2010)
French to English
+ ...
I don't agree either Jul 7, 2011

I have not lived in an English speaking country for 20 years now. First ten years in the first source language and now ten years in the second source language. Residence is essential, I think, to have a complete "feel" for the other languages.

I might make some strange phrases in English when talking informally with friends who also live in country (like "I have hungry"), but certainly never when writing or speaking formally. As for keeping up, I listen to the BBC all the time, watch undubbed TV and read all the time. My English is fine, though I am sometimes puzzled by "passing fad" words. The latest is "Bucket List" for "Wish List". Now where did that come from?


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Signe Golly  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:45
Danish to English
+ ...
perhaps true to some extent Jul 7, 2011

Even with today's technology, I think it is possible to become a bit out of touch with certain language developments (assuming that your target language is not English which of course dominates many specialized areas).
Having lived in the US for the past 10 years, I have had some difficulties in translating certain general texts regarding electronics and computers/websites because I feel unsure at times whether certain words or phrases should in fact be "translated."
There are so many English terms being "adopted" directly into Danish so I worry about over-translating things that would in fact sound more natural if left in English. I have to resort to language-specific Google searches to verify whether the English terms are in fact commonly used.
Translating DA-EN doesn't pose the same problem because the vocabulary is already there and pretty much stays the same.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Both are Spoken Jul 7, 2011

Because I live on the US-Mexico border where both my languages are spoken, written and all media are available in both of them, including any subject imaginable, I can keep completely up to date in both. I speak both languages on a daily basis, sometimes in the same sentence.

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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 01:45
Chinese to English
Keeping up to date with English Jul 8, 2011

Urban Dictionary tells you all you need to know and a lot more:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bucket%20list

Be warned, this entry is relatively family-friendly, but most of Urban Dictionary is not.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:45
English to German
+ ...
As colleagues already mentioned Jul 8, 2011

SBlack wrote:

I know one company whose USP is the fact that all its translators live where their mother tongue is spoken.

It's well known that translators need an extended stay in a foreign country to master their source language. But this company's stance is that if you stay too long, you start to lose your grasp of your own language.

Is this a common idea in the industry? What is your opinion? Thanks.



This idea is entirely outdated.

In my case I consider living "abroad" a priceless advantage and my clients happily take advantage of that. Why? In European schools the kids are taught British English, hardly ever American English.


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Alexandra Lindqvist
Local time: 20:45
English to Swedish
+ ...
Living in a "third" country Jul 8, 2011

I don’t really see the problem here either. I live in a country where neither my target nor my source languages are the native languages. I find that for translating it is working fine at least so far. However I do have to google prepositions of expressions sometimes but then again I think that’s rather common even when living in the “target country”.
I normal speech when you don’t have time to think as much as when you write I tend to use whatever language comes first in my mind that the person I am speaking to knows.
For using languages other than my target language I find that my English is getting worse and worse as I have to adapt my own English to a lower level due to the level of the person I’m speaking to and because I often work with rather bad bridges written by native speakers of the “real” source language rather than native English speakers. My French is however advancing as the French texts I translate are well written and also because I speak French with one of my best friends who has a higher level of French than I do.


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