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competence

English translation: competence is not expertise

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:competence
English translation:competence is not expertise
Entered by: NancyLynn
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15:52 Jan 14, 2004
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
English term or phrase: competence
A question for all native English speakers out there – is it just me or is there a world of difference between “competence” and “expertise”, two words which seem to be used interchangeably.

It’s a word which I come across every day in German – Kompetenz – and which I have always translated as “expertise”. This is because – in my warped mind, at least – the word “competent” is little more than “adequate”. Compare “he’s a competent translator” with “he’s an expert translator” or even “he’s an excellent translator”. In my Merriam-Websters, “competent” is defined as “having requisite or adequate ability or qualities”.

I would be very interested to hear other views on this. Is it just me or is my distaste for the word justified?

Thanks


Ian
xxxIanW
Local time: 19:52
I agree with you
Explanation:
competent is a passing grade; a reliable agent, but not superior. The word competent to my mind does not encompass expertise.
Here is my own personal classification of these types of adjectives:
expert
professional
competent
adequate
mediocre
unqualified
the pits
:-)

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Note added at 5 mins (2004-01-14 15:57:44 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I meant to put quotation marks around the first word, above.
Selected response from:

NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 13:52
Grading comment
Thanks for all the compet ... sorry, excellent feedback! I will carry on avoiding the word "competence" like the plague, with the knowledge that I am in good company.
As in these questions-cum-discussions I like to ask occasionally, it's hard to pick a winner, but I particularly liked Nancy's personal classification ...
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +6I agree with you
NancyLynn
4 +5There is a differenceMaria Nicholas
4 +2compentencies
jerrie
4 +1major pet peeve
Michele Johnson
4 +1= abilityDavid Moore
3 +1the ability to perform adequetlya_linguist
3competent - adequate / higly comeptent ~ expertnyamuk
3competence/general; expertise/specific?
chica nueva


  

Answers


4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +6
I agree with you


Explanation:
competent is a passing grade; a reliable agent, but not superior. The word competent to my mind does not encompass expertise.
Here is my own personal classification of these types of adjectives:
expert
professional
competent
adequate
mediocre
unqualified
the pits
:-)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 5 mins (2004-01-14 15:57:44 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I meant to put quotation marks around the first word, above.

NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 13:52
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 473
Grading comment
Thanks for all the compet ... sorry, excellent feedback! I will carry on avoiding the word "competence" like the plague, with the knowledge that I am in good company.
As in these questions-cum-discussions I like to ask occasionally, it's hard to pick a winner, but I particularly liked Nancy's personal classification ...

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  hira
3 hrs
  -> thanks !

agree  Leah Aharoni
4 hrs
  -> thanks!

agree  Iolanta Vlaykova Paneva
5 hrs
  -> Thanks!

agree  chopra_2002
10 hrs
  -> thanks !

agree  Chris Rowson: Absolutely. I also frequently translate "Kompetenz" as "expertise", for exactly the reasons given by you and Ian. "Competent" is in some contexts almost an insult, e.g. "What do you think of the new guy?" "He´s competent." -> Not that great, then ...
16 hrs
  -> yeah, it's kind of a left-handed compliment, isn't it?:-)

agree  Tony M: 'competence' is even worse, since it can refer to 'ability / suitability for doing the job', often used with a negative connotation, e.g. "...raises questions about her competence..."
4793 days
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8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +1
the ability to perform adequetly


Explanation:
the word competent means possessing the abilities required to perform a task

a_linguist
Local time: 19:52
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic
Grading comment
Thank you, but I am well aware of what the word means. I was asking whether other native speakers shared my distaste for the word as a synonym for "expertise".

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Tony M
4793 days
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The asker has declined this answer
Comment: Thank you, but I am well aware of what the word means. I was asking whether other native speakers shared my distaste for the word as a synonym for "expertise".

9 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
compentencies


Explanation:
As in key/core skills, areas of expertise can also be used, depending on context. This is far better than just being competent.
This is how I sometimes deal with Kompetenz.

But you are right in using expertise, competent just doesn't cut it!

jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:52
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  chopra_2002
9 hrs

agree  chica nueva: Sometimes a synonym for skills eg language skills, what you are competent or proficient in.
14 hrs
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10 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +5
There is a difference


Explanation:
Hi Ian,

In my mind, competence has much more to do with having a minimum core ability to do something, whereas expertise has more to do with a specific skill that is usually beyond a minimum level.

I agree with you that the two terms shouldn't be used interchangeably, even though saying "he's a competent translator" is often times interpreted as "he's a good translator" rather than "he's an adequate translator".

Hope this helps somewhat!

Maria Nicholas
Local time: 13:52
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GreekGreek
PRO pts in pair: 17

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  mportal: I think 'competent' can be used as a kind of understatement, to mean well-trained/qualified. 'Expert' sounds more specialised, and perhaps with special competence
19 mins
  -> Thanks, agreed as well!

agree  Leah Aharoni
4 hrs
  -> Thank you Leah

agree  Sally van der Graaff: Well said. I also think too few people really understand this concept.
4 hrs
  -> Thank you Sally

agree  Iolanta Vlaykova Paneva
5 hrs
  -> Thank you Yolanta

agree  Tony M
4793 days
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
= ability


Explanation:
and as such should be qualified by the "level" of competence. Extremely, highly, pretty, (unqualified), fairly, not too, in-.
Otherwise, "competence" very often means "area of responsibility", so it's really a word of which to be rather wary, I think....

David Moore
Local time: 19:52
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 864

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  chica nueva: competence/proficiency can be tested and measured. It's more objective than expertise...(?)
14 hrs
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37 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +1
competence vs. expertise
major pet peeve


Explanation:
Ian, I'm with you. This drives me batty. I occasionally have to translate some things for http://www.kompetenznetze.de/, the English page of which offers "information on outstanding Networks of Competence in Germany." Well if that doesn't inspire confidence!

There *is* a world of difference between competence and expertise, at least in my universe :)





Michele Johnson
Germany
Local time: 19:52
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 32

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Chris Rowson
15 hrs
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14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
competence/general; expertise/specific?


Explanation:
As an armchair translator, I don't have a problem with either term, but I think I would use them differently.

If you are talking about general language/translating skills,to me, expertise sounds like 'marketing talk', whereas competence sounds more empirical and reliable (measured by proficiency tests,entrance tests to professional associations,diplomas etc)

However, I think 'expertise' could be used if it could be demonstrated that the translator has expertise (eg experience or qualifications) in various specialised fields, such as law, medicine etc.

For example:

Competant to Naati Senior Translator level, with expertise in commercial law

chica nueva
Local time: 06:52
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 83
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1 day14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
competent - adequate / higly comeptent ~ expert


Explanation:

I agree with you I don't see these two as interchangeable. On the other hand I often come across the term highly competent which I am comfortable equating with expert.

However, for me at least, the notion of competence is tightly bound to 'assesment' so I wouldn't go so far as to say highly competent and expert are the same.

nyamuk
United States
Local time: 11:52
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 58
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Changes made by editors
Feb 27 - Changes made by NancyLynn:
Created KOG entryKudoZ term » KOG term


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