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Translating from one's native language - feedback needed
מפרסם התגובה: Kelly Efird

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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And? Aug 13, 2014

Michele Fauble wrote:

Grace Shalhoub wrote:

Simply put, I assume that if you have lived and worked in a different language, you can translate into it.


Most people who have lived and worked in a different language, if they learned it as adults, do not learn it well enough to translate into it.

Or from it.


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
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Local time: 17:42
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And Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Michele Fauble wrote:

Grace Shalhoub wrote:

Simply put, I assume that if you have lived and worked in a different language, you can translate into it.


Most people who have lived and worked in a different language, if they learned it as adults, do not learn it well enough to translate into it.

Or from it.


Or from it.

Nevertheless, it's easier to learn to understand a language well enough to translate from it than it is to learn it well enough to translate into it.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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BS Aug 14, 2014

Nevertheless, it's easier to learn to understand a language well enough to translate from it than it is to learn it well enough to translate into it.

Sure, for all the basis in fact or lack thereof this statement can claim.

[Edited at 2014-08-14 08:28 GMT]


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
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Not BS Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Nevertheless, it's easier to learn to understand a language well enough to translate from it than it is to learn it well enough to translate into it.


Sure, for all the basis in fact or lack thereof this statement can claim.



It's certainly been my experience.

Translating into a native language is "easier" because we already know or can make a shrewd guess at much of the subtext, context and connotations of the text we are producing. When we are translating into a non-native language, we get often things wrong or simply impose default values from our native language. It takes time to compile a mental map of another language's cultural values and even longer to become capable of reproducing them.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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Fantasies Aug 14, 2014



It's certainly been my experience.

Translating into a native language is "easier" because we already know or can make a shrewd guess at much of the subtext, context and connotations of the text we are producing. When we are translating into a non-native language, we get often things wrong or simply impose default values from our native language. It takes time to compile a mental map of another language's cultural values and even longer to become capable of reproducing them.


Just because you think you know what you're reading doesn't mean you actually do. I'm sure those various anonymous translators churning out trash in their second language think that they know what they're writing.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:42
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Certainly not BS Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:
Nevertheless, it's easier to learn to understand a language well enough to translate from it than it is to learn it well enough to translate into it.

Sure, for all the basis in fact or lack thereof this statement can claim.

I really don't have the time to come up with the thousands of creditable links you seem to need, but any foreign language teacher anywhere in the world will tell you that the passive skills of reading and listening are almost always well in advance of the skills in expressing yourself in a foreign language.

It's true in school situations (and I have many years' experience in EFL teaching), and I also found it to be true during the 15 years I spent in France. In fact, if anything the gap widened. I was bombarded with spoken and written French during every waking moment, so of course I improved very fast and gained a great insight into local colloquialisms and high informal language. Of course, I also spoke French a lot and became fluent, and wrote it quite often, but correction of both speech and writing was almost unheard of. Everyone used to say that they understood me, so why bother to correct my errors? Fine for them, and it was nice to know they felt that way, but it does mean that you don't get to fine-tune your expression skills. And fine tuning is most definitely required for a translation that's to be delivered to a client.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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Not at the high end Aug 14, 2014

The piano is considerably easier to learn than the organ, but it is no easier to to professionally proficient on the piano than it is on the organ. I would no more trust your EFL students to translate from English than into it.

 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
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Analogies Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

The piano is considerably easier to learn than the organ, but it is no easier to to professionally proficient on the piano than it is on the organ. I would no more trust your EFL students to translate from English than into it.


Wouldn't the difference be more like that of learning to play one of Beethoven's piano sonatas by reading the sheet music (reading comprehension) or writing an original sonata of that caliber yourself (writing skill)? The original composition is obviously the more difficult of the two, because it requires an understanding of harmony, melody, and rhythm that go far beyond that required to simply read and understand the sheet music.

If we compare two different instruments, that's like comparing two different languages. I thought we were talking about the difference between translating from a secondary language and translating into the same secondary language.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:42
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Orrin has replied very nicely for me ;) Aug 14, 2014

Orrin Cummins wrote:
If we compare two different instruments, that's like comparing two different languages. I thought we were talking about the difference between translating from a secondary language and translating into the same secondary language.


Mind you, I take umbrage at your insinuation that I'm unable to take students to a sufficiently high level in English to be able to translate from it. It's untrue and therefore unfair, to say the least.

[Edited at 2014-08-14 12:07 GMT]


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
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Local time: 01:42
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oh dear... Aug 14, 2014

not this old chestnut again... where's Bala?

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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Local time: 02:42
חבר (2018)
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I'm on the "not BS" side with Sheila Aug 14, 2014

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Of course, I also spoke French a lot and became fluent, and wrote it quite often, but correction of both speech and writing was almost unheard of. Everyone used to say that they understood me, so why bother to correct my errors? Fine for them, and it was nice to know they felt that way, but it does mean that you don't get to fine-tune your expression skills. And fine tuning is most definitely required for a translation that's to be delivered to a client.


Nobody ever corrected your French? My experience is akin to that of Eva Joly who said that the French language was their religion and every Frenchman a guardian of the temple. My children in particular will never let the slightest little error slip by. I have managed to raise a couple of "grammar nazis"!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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:-) Aug 14, 2014

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

not this old chestnut again... where's Bala?


And Ty and Lisa!


 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
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Local time: 02:42
חבר (2018)
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No personal attacks please! Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

The piano is considerably easier to learn than the organ, but it is no easier to to professionally proficient on the piano than it is on the organ. I would no more trust your EFL students to translate from English than into it.


You might want to delete the word "your", it reads too much like a personal attack on Sheila as a teacher. Of course this might not be your intention, but as a native speaker of English I'm taking the liberty of pointing it out to you.

And just in case the attack was meant to be personal, I would like to point out that Sheila does more than the rest of us put together in these (English-language) fora to kindly, clearly, patiently explain the ropes to newbies and make very pertinent suggestions for them. It is blatantly obvious to anyone who spends more than five minutes here that she has to be a darn good teacher.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
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Like many translators Aug 14, 2014

Mind you, I take umbrage at your insinuation that I'm unable to take students to a sufficiently high level in English to be able to translate from it.

I'm sure your students think they're at a sufficiently high level in English to be able to translate from it.

Wouldn't the difference be more like that of learning to play one of Beethoven's piano sonatas by reading the sheet music (reading comprehension) or writing an original sonata of that caliber yourself (writing skill)? The original composition is obviously the more difficult of the two, because it requires an understanding of harmony, melody, and rhythm that go far beyond that required to simply read and understand the sheet music.

I don't see how your analogy works any better than mine, because writing a sonata does not require technical proficiency or practice time in the same way.

[Edited at 2014-08-14 12:43 GMT]


 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
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Not fantasy Aug 14, 2014

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Just because you think you know what you're reading doesn't mean you actually do.



Language is about communication. If you have misguided perceptions about the resonance of your language production, sooner or later someone will put you right. Build on the feedback and remember that learning is a process, not a state.



I'm sure those various anonymous translators churning out trash in their second language think that they know what they're writing.



Many native speakers - let alone learners - of any given language express themselves poorly in writing. If you regard them as your competition, you are probably in the wrong market.


 
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