Native language only equals Berufsverbot.
Thread poster: Williamson

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
Jul 20, 2007

It has been rehashed time and again, but whenever I see
This quote
xxx wrote:
This is one of the valid reasons for sticking to translating into one's native language.

I ask myself:

What would you do if one of the conditions to become a well-paid in-house translator at a government institution (which after a career of 15 years pays a very nice pension) of a trilingual country is that you have to be able to translate both ways?
---
What would you do if you wanted to evolve into the direction of interpreting and you notice that for your native language there is no freelance market and a very limited number of vacancies once every five to ten years at an international institution situated in Brussels.
I tend to agree with native language only when it comes down to interpreting, however, there is no market.
So be sure not to try to improve one of your other languages up to such a level (C1 or C2-level on the Council of Europe's linguistic ability scale) that you are able to translate both ways/interpret.
Learn by doing: Practise makes perfect.
Or do we have to stick to the "Berufsverbot"-tenet number one of the freelance translation market : native language only - the second tenet being: "have Trados, will translate" (but am I able to?)


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 07:43
English to Norwegian
+ ...
I did not mean that it can't be done Jul 20, 2007

Since I am guilty of posting that sentence...
It was posted in another thread as a response to someone else's post, and as a comment on the problems of English.
The problems of USEnglish and GBEnglish seem to be hard enough on the natives - for the rest of us, it is even worse.
It can be done, I am sure - but not by me.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
CEF-Reference levels. Jul 21, 2007

Every two or three years the Belgian parliament organizes competitions for translators. Being able to translate from Dutch into French and vice-versa is a conditio sine qua non to stand a chance to succeed in such a competition.
According to the first tenet of translation, the translators working at the parliament should only translate into Dutch or French depending whether they come from the North or the South of Belgium. I wonder how pleased their boss will be if they refuse into both directions?
---
Instead of "native language only" I am more an advocate of the CEF-Reference Levels (the Cambridge ESOL-exams are linked to those levels):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages

What would you prefer: I am native at B1, Londoner, trained as a teacher and can translate or I am a non-native at C2, user of international English with a PhD with 5 years experience in the subject matter and I can translate?

My point of view is: know at what level you are and try to improve by learning = read quality newspapers and specialist literature whenever you have some time to spare, watch the BBC (in my case also the French, German, Spanish channels), be attentive to expressions you don't know, write them down (comparatively and integrate them into your knowledge of the language) and earning (if you translate into the target-language, you will improve your knowledge of that language. If you never did the effort to do so, you will stay at your current level of proficiency of that language.
-----
If I use the term "Berufsverbot": Some adepts of native language only doctrine are so staunchly clinging to that tenet, that they will not allow you to participate in their pre-admission tests to be admitted to the admission tests of an interpreter program. Those pre-admission tests can be prepared. Suppose there is no demand for interpreting into Norwegian, but there is a demand for interpreting into Swedish and you have mastered that language well enough, how would you feel if you send in your application and get it returned due to the "native language only dogma".
----
When I was attending a translator training, we had a course about the differences between B.E. and A.E.
B.t.w: You forget International English : http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/linguistic/Source/SeidlhoferEN.pdf



[Edited at 2007-07-21 07:26]


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juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:43
English to Hungarian
+ ...
A baffled interpreter Jul 22, 2007

Williamson wrote:
I tend to agree with native language only when it comes down to interpreting...


Do you mean, that I should only interpret the words of one person in a dialogue, and drag somebody along to do the same for the other party?


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A+ Jul 23, 2007

No, I meant from foreign>foreign (with a surrogate A-language), which is more difficult to interpret than from foreign>native and vice-versa. But by enhancing the register (number of words and expressions one's head) of that surrogate by a lot of practise and assimilation, it can be done.



[Edited at 2007-07-23 04:25]


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ICL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Change the strategy, not the system Jul 23, 2007

Williamson wrote:

It has been rehashed time and again, but whenever I see
This quote
xxx wrote:
This is one of the valid reasons for sticking to translating into one's native language.

I ask myself:

What would you do if one of the conditions to become a well-paid in-house translator at a government institution (which after a career of 15 years pays a very nice pension) of a trilingual country is that you have to be able to translate both ways?
---
What would you do if you wanted to evolve into the direction of interpreting and you notice that for your native language there is no freelance market and a very limited number of vacancies once every five to ten years at an international institution situated in Brussels.



Hi Williamson,

Let me start by saying that I hope you take my comments as constructive arguments and not as mere criticism. Furthermore, we met last year in Düsseldorf and had a nice chat with the rest of the Prozians who attended this pow-wow, so I am speaking to you as a supportive colleague.

I have noticed in previous Proz.com threads about the subject of "native vs. non-native" that you usually participate and even start your own threads about this subject, like this one. So this gives me the impression that this is a subject that you find particularly interesting.

But I have also noticed that you are usually "against" the idea of "native only" and, as you just mentioned in one of your posts above, you feel that there is a certain "dogma" about the use of this term/requisite/reference (standard?).

I honestly don't understand your reluctance about this (native-only) "standard", because, as anyone who has ever worked daily as a translator (or interpreter) knows, assuming an equal level of linguistic preparation, someone who has grown up and lived most of her/his life as a "native" of a given language will have by far higher chances of being a better translator/interpreter of her/his native language than someone who has merely "mastered" that language well enough to have "native" proficiency. Notice I am talking about "chances" (that is, statistical probabilities), not of competence per se.

But your point this time is that apparently you consider that your potential source-target market for interpretation, which apparently is what really interests you (not translation), is too "crowded" so you have decided to try your hand at other source-target combinations. Furthermore, you want to get a job in a specific government institution.

So far so good, but then I get the impression that you have decided to "blame the system" for not allowing you to compete in your preferred category, because they use the "native only" standard which I mentioned at the beginning of my post.

So my question to you is: is it really sensible to try to change *AND* blame the system for using the "native only" standard, based on proficiency references such as the "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages"? Frankly, this can hardly be used as a standard for native language competence. One thing is one's "foreign language learning" proficiency level and another thing is one's "native language" proficiency level.

I completely understand that the government or an agency relies on the "native only" standard, because we need some minimum standards/assumptions to hold on to in order to establish some general rules of selection in things such as translation or interpreter candidates.

Of course, as we know that things are not black and white, there are a million nuances/shades that may prove the use of this "native only" standard inexact. For example, a "native" who is not linguistically prepared, a "native" who only spent a few years of her/his life in a "native environment", a "non-native" who is a voracious reader of her/his source language, etc. etc.

Obviously there are many non-native learners of a given language who have mastered a level that is impressive enough and that could be taken for that of a native (many famous writers, for example), but that is just the "exception that proves the rule".

Thus, you cannot really base a general rule for competence on the statistically fewer exceptions, but rather on general ("common sense"?) assumptions (again, in this case, the "common sense" assumption is that a linguistically trained native speaker of a given language will have a *higher chance* of being a better translator/interpreter of that language).

I also wanted to share with you the following anecdote. I did try my hand once at competing for a United Nations translator job. As you know, this is a really competitive international event, because they only advertise the openings every so few years, plus there are only a few specific places in the world where the exam meetings take place (Madrid is one of them). Of course I didn't make it, but the experience was enough for me to realize that this was not what I wanted, so I never tried again.

So I think it is not worth spending time to "go against the system" to reach your goal. Instead, if I were in your situation, I would try to really "perfect" my source-target direction to the point that I can compete with the top candidates. But remember that there are many factors that will get on your way. Age, experience, general academic background, etc.

Obviously the obstacles we may find when trying to reach a certain goal are a good measuring reference of our true interest in reaching that goal. So maybe, if you are totally convinced about this goal, you should first try to prepare yourself really well to have the "stamina" to "get rid" of each obstacle the system will put along your way, instead of spending time trying to change (fool?) the system.

My very best to you,

Ivette

[Edited at 2007-07-23 13:54]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:43
Flemish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Learning by doing. Jul 24, 2007

Thanks for your point of view. Insightful. I realise that in some places going against native language only principle is like preaching in the desert.

However, refraining from translating both ways means that you don't practise your language skills and practice makes perfect.
It’s a free world. If I feel like translating both ways and can make a living with it, why shouldn't I?
As long as the translation meets their expectations, end customers don't care who made it.

BTW, that government institution wants a translator/interpreter who can translate/interpret both ways!!! Why engage two translators/interpreters and pay a double salary for such a silly "standard"?


[Edited at 2007-07-24 09:26]


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Shaunna  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:43
English to Chinese
+ ...
Technology/science field an exception? Jul 31, 2007

sorry, meant to post to another thread:

http://www.proz.com/post/632095#632095

[Edited at 2007-07-31 21:16]


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