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Thread: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

 
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    Forums BodyGuard AriSanguinetti's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    Hi!

    I found an interesting article explaining the five reasons for a LSP not to rely on native speakers for professional translations:

    1. People in this role may make mistakes such as choosing the wrong descriptor or writing in their native dialect, which can be extremely localized.
    2. Even if these people speak the company's technical terminology, they may not truly know the proper translation for advanced technical terminology or will use non-standard speech.
    3. These in-house speakers or agents may also not be great spellers, leaving words with extra letters, or they may add claims that the home office is unaware of.
    4. Mistranslations-particularly with brochures, websites and other promotion-can easily happen with in-country contractors and machine (software) translation; the resulting errors are often amateurish, inconsistent, humorous and embarrassing.
    5. Translation errors on products can lead to serious consequences if the products are misused as a result. Ultimately, the company-not the in-house speaker, rep or distributor-is usually liable if a user is injured or dies using the product advertised.
    Do you agree??

    Saludos!
    Last edited by AriSanguinetti; 01-02-2012 at 10:00 AM.

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    Senior Member Cotty's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    Ari
    an LSP
    an or a? LSP= Langage Service Provider?

    I totally agree. I have had some discussions here about the limitations of native speakers regarding accuracy of certain words or expressions just because they are not trained to deal with the different elements that are involved in translation as a whole. Navive speakers can't always explain why they use one word over another and disregard subtle —albeit important—differences between words. They are prone to make generalizations and be very subjective about their use of their language.

    Speaking a language alone doesn't qualify you to be a translator.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting article. I wish we had more topics of discussion like this. Keep them coming

    Que tengas un Feliz Año!!
    Last edited by Cotty; 12-30-2011 at 11:26 PM.

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    Default Re: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    Quote Originally Posted by Cotty View Post
    an or a? LSP= Langage Service Provider?
    Fixed!

    Thanks Cotty!

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    Forums BodyGuard AriSanguinetti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    Hi Everyone!

    Here are some comments from a linkedin group regarding this article:

    Lisa McCarthy • The headline of the article sounds as if it is suggesting that NON-native speakers would do a better job than native speakers of the target language, which I totally disagree with.

    I think this article should read "Five reasons not to rely on BILINGUAL or native speakers who are not experienced in the field" as it first talks about using in-house 'bilingual' speakers of the language.
    Jose Henrique Lamensdorf • Dead right, Ariel!
    Inge Luus • Whilst I agree that native language competency on its own cannot be a predictor for how well a translation will meet its purpose, I feel that the points mentioned do not provide enough justification for their thesis, namely that native speakers cannot be relied on for professional translations. Subject knowledge and a sensitivity for both languages is required for professional translation. The points mentioned merely list the mistakes a non-professional (or a non-subject matter expert) may make when translating a given text.
    Erika Matt • I agree with Inge.
    Gillian Sloane-Seale • Inge, you make an interesting point. I am a native English language speaker who studied in France for two years. I also completely immersed myself into the language and culture of the country. I therefore consider myself completely bilingual having formally been taught in both French and English and having lived in countries where both languages are native. When I moved to Canada over twenty years ago, I lived in Montreal where I freelanced in both French and English. I then moved to Toronto. To continue working as a translator, I commenced doing English to French translations (most translation jobs in Canada back then were in English to French, especially if you lived in English-speaking Canada where all government documents and communications had to be translated into French, which is still the case). That took a lot of training and practice until I was eventually as proficient as any native French language professionally trained translator. Sadly though, due to family commitments, I stopped doing English to French translations about eight years ago and that skill has since become very rusty. I intend to revive it through a combination of formal training and extensive reimmersion into the French language. It becomes like riding a bike - a skill you always have but have to practise in order to regain your level of comfort and confidence! At any rate, the long and short of this tale is that you do not have to be a native speaker of a target language to render a faithful and professional translation. What is required to be a professional and skilled translator is formal training and complete immersion into the language and culture of any particular language. Like any other profession, translation requires formal training and then lots of hard work and continuing education to remain on top of your game. All this eventually translates into what is commonly known as experience.
    Patrycja Rogosz • I totally agree with Inge!
    Helena Chavarria • I really thinks it depends on the individual. I am British, although I have been speaking Spanish/Catalan for practically two thirds of my life. However, about 20 years ago, someone pointed out that I had started to construct sentences like a Spanish person. That did it, I shed a few tears and I immediately began to "work on" my English: reading, talking to myself, writing, doing everything I could to, firstly, recover my English and, secondly, learn what I had missed and bring myself up to date with my native language.
    I think anyone who has studied at a higher level realises that he/she knows next to nothing and takes great care to produce a high-quality translation. On the other hand, the people who haven't worried about furthering their education, who happily brand a sign that says "native", are usually the people who give rise to discussions like this one.
    Thomas Kis-Major • The issue of native language (NL) of experienced, accredited translators (EAT) has been waiting too long for a decent discussion. Too obvious that it is of great advantage if an EAT translates into/from their NL. But should its absence automatically exclude a senior practitioner, as it is many times prescribed by outsourcers? (Especially on ****.com, where the relevant point forms evidently part of the questionnaire put to outsourcers when they apply for translators.)
    I am a native Hungarian, learned English at an early age, have been translating literature, articles, documents since my teenage years. I live and translate in Australia since the 1980s. I can proudly say that I acquired 'native' fluency. Similar case with my other accredited language, Spanish, acquired in Mexico, where I lived for 26 years. At home we speak Spanish.
    On the other hand, my daughter's NL is Spanish, but she came to Australia at the age of 6 months. In theory (would she be a translator) she should be in a preferred position, which is a bit absurd (although she speaks good Spanish).
    I agree with Helena: NL as a criterion is only valid if the individual case is analysed. Happy New Year and thanks for the opportunity, I wanted to say this a long time ago.
    Richard Thomas • I will say this - I am a native speaker of English who has lived in Russia for the past 20 years working as a professional editor and translator... and while I agree to translate into Russian when there is no practical alternative, I fully understand... although my knowledge of Russian is profound (he wrote modestly) and most people I speak with here think Russian is my native tongue, I will never FEEL Russian as I do English - I know this full well, and it is a matter of personal integrity... and I must add - I speak only Russian with my wife and daughter because for us it would be most unnatural NOT to do so... and yet - I would never presume to pass myself off as... the one you should call when you need translation into Russian.
    Saludos!

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    Default Re: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    I disagree. The main problem with the five reasons at the beginning of the thread is not about being a native speaker or not, but about being trained as a translator. Indeed, once you have studied and are qualified to translate professionally, I think it is actually better if your target language is your native tongue.

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    Default Re: Five Reasons Not to Rely on Native Speakers for Professional Translation

    Some of those reasons are just plain silly. If you rely on stupid native speakers to for help I might agree. If you think a non-native speaker is more capable than an educated native speaker, in any language, then I thoroughly disagree. It depends on what is being translated and the degree of knowledge possessed by the translator versus that of the native-speaker. If the translator has to ask for help then his knowledge is obviously limited, so who is he going to rely on...another non-native? Whether he asks a native or another non-native speaker, he should seek more than one opinion, if he's smart...just as we do here in the forum.
    Last edited by vicente; 03-06-2014 at 01:51 PM.
    vicente

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