What is the difference between the users of the language and the learners of the language?
Thread poster: Mohammed Shakir

Mohammed Shakir  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:00
English to Arabic
+ ...
Aug 26, 2013

Being bilingual ( user of or speaking two languages) does not mean you can translate from one of them to the other or vice versa, we have here in my country Iraq many people speak Arabic as well as Kurdish as their mother languages, however when they are asked to translate a short text from Arabic into Kurdish for example, they would would excuse you not to be able to do so.
we all have two hands but not all of us a professional boxer!
what do you think?


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:00
Russian to English
+ ...
Hi, Mohammed Aug 26, 2013

If they speak two languages naturally, they definitely cannot be characterized as learners. It is true that many people may have a few so called "native languages", yet they may not be able to even write in all of them, not to mention discuss complex matters using them.

A learner is someone who studies a language -- like a student, in high school, or at any type of language course, be it a physical or a virtual course. A learner cannot act as a professional translator -- this is for sure. They can translate perhaps just for their own pleasure.

In a sense, of course, we keep learning things throughout the lifetime.



[Edited at 2013-08-26 11:49 GMT]


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 23:00
English to Polish
+ ...
Users and learners aren't mutually exclusive Aug 26, 2013

Mohammed, 'learner' is sometimes used to denote a non-native speaker. Such use of 'learner' means a person who had to learn the language rather than acquiring it naturally since birth. (Although it fails to account for acquisition at later stages in life.) That is different from a 'student', who is somebody currently in the process of learning the language, presumably from a language teacher. Pretty much by definition, students are less than fully proficient, unless in the last stages of instruction prior to some last exams.

On the other hand, a 'user' is anybody who uses a language in situations other than learning (e.g. at work, with friends, in official matters). Nothing more is there to it.


 

LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:00
Russian to English
+ ...
No, learner is not synonymous with non-native speaker Aug 26, 2013

This is a total misconception, and this is why some less aware people think that the people who did not speak X language from day one do not have "language competence' (I am not sure where they got this idea from) and that they make mistakes all their life, and other people do not (Tell me that!). No -- it is is not true. A learner is someone who is not proficient in the language the person is trying to learn -- this is the standard understanding of this term. As I said before, we are all learners, in a sense -- no one knows the whole contents of the Oxford Dictionary, or another complex linguistic source in another language.

I think the question was more about whether someone who has more than one "native language" due to the linguistic make up of the region where they live should be translating into one of the 'native languages" they are not fully proficient in. I think it will not produce the best results. Some people cannot even write in some of their "native languages". They may only learn how to write in one language, in school -- sometimes the official language of the country.



[Edited at 2013-08-26 13:25 GMT]



[Edited at 2013-08-26 13:29 GMT]


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 20:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
IMHO... Aug 26, 2013

Mohammed Shakir wrote:

Being bilingual ( user of or speaking two languages) does not mean you can translate from one of them to the other or vice versa, we have here in my country Iraq many people speak Arabic as well as Kurdish as their mother languages, however when they are asked to translate a short text from Arabic into Kurdish for example, they would would excuse you not to be able to do so.
we all have two hands but not all of us a professional boxer!
what do you think?


A bilingual person is someone able to express THEIR OWN ideas in two different languages. Translating involves expressing SOMEONE ELSE'S ideas, faithfully and correctly, in a language different from the one in which they were originally issued.


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:00
English to German
+ ...
some of them will make excellent translators Aug 26, 2013

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:

Mohammed Shakir wrote:

Being bilingual ( user of or speaking two languages) does not mean you can translate from one of them to the other or vice versa, we have here in my country Iraq many people speak Arabic as well as Kurdish as their mother languages, however when they are asked to translate a short text from Arabic into Kurdish for example, they would would excuse you not to be able to do so.
we all have two hands but not all of us a professional boxer!
what do you think?


A bilingual person is someone able to express THEIR OWN ideas in two different languages. Translating involves expressing SOMEONE ELSE'S ideas, faithfully and correctly, in a language different from the one in which they were originally issued.


Agree with you, José, translating is a different kind of animal. Not everyone speaking two native languages will be a translator.

But if you have the choice for an Arabic>Kurdish translation between a native speaker of Kurdish and Arabic and a native speaker of Arabic who is a non-native speaker of Kurdish in the same field of experience, and, and, and he/she is indeed a professional translator, the native speaker will most often be more qualified because his command of the language is indeed superior.

If that example doesn't seem to make much sense if there's lot of Arabic/Kurdish double native speakers, just insert two other languages not so closely related, geographically.

[Edited at 2013-08-26 22:34 GMT]


 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:00
English to German
+ ...
learners and masters of the trade versus users of a native language Aug 26, 2013

Mohammed Shakir wrote:

What is the difference between the users of the language and the learners of the language?

Being bilingual ( user of or speaking two languages) does not mean you can translate from one of them to the other or vice versa, we have here in my country Iraq many people speak Arabic as well as Kurdish as their mother languages, however when they are asked to translate a short text from Arabic into Kurdish for example, they would would excuse you not to be able to do so.
we all have two hands but not all of us a professional boxer!
what do you think?


I believe the way you understood "learner of a language" (and please correct me if I am wrong) is the person who "learns" the language professionally, so to speak, as in "becoming a translator" or becoming a "writer", he/she who learns and eventually masters the trade, the craft, the art.
And the question is for the difference between them and the users who speak these languages (as a native language in your example) but do not qualify as memebers of such trades, crafts and/or art.

IMO, here's the difference: as a candidate for the job as a translator, not only do you have to be very good in your languages and should at least have one "native language" that you spoke from childhood and continued to speak and developed to a level where you outperform the most sophisticated, experienced, and skilled non-native speakers, but most often, an innate linguistic talent is required.

A good translator (master of the trade) is one who combines native language and non-native skills with talent, motivation, education, and experience, in other words, has "learned/mastered a craft that is part of the "language arts".

So I suggest it takes a lot to be a motivated learner of the trade of translating and become a real master in it.

B


 


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