Off topic: Interpreter vs Tour Guide
מפרסם התגובה: fransiskus seta prana kusuma

fransiskus seta prana kusuma  Identity Verified
אינדונזיה
Local time: 17:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לאינדונזית
Jan 10

While translation and interpretation are obvious, most of us would require a native in target audience to translate anything, it is somehow different in tour guiding. The target audience almost always foreigners and the service provider will be natives locals. This raises a question in my mind. Will it be better if the tour guide come from the same country of the traveler or is it better from the local native that speaks foreign language? I know many countries has law that demand the tour guide ... See more
While translation and interpretation are obvious, most of us would require a native in target audience to translate anything, it is somehow different in tour guiding. The target audience almost always foreigners and the service provider will be natives locals. This raises a question in my mind. Will it be better if the tour guide come from the same country of the traveler or is it better from the local native that speaks foreign language? I know many countries has law that demand the tour guide to be registered and standardized, but this practice mostly to make sure that their citizens earn more benefits from the tourism in their country. But what about the tourists? Do they really enjoy the service from locals or will they better served by people from their home country? Please share your thoughts and maybe your experiences as a tourist yourself.

[Edited at 2020-01-11 05:38 GMT]
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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
הונג קונג
Local time: 18:09
חבר
מסינית לאנגלית
+ ...
Er... Jan 10

I don't know why you would want a tour guide who doesn't know the local area well.

 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
גרמניה
Local time: 12:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
It depends on the language proficiency Jan 10

We traveled to Mexico and to Thailand several years ago and in both cases we had local tour guides who spoke excellent German. In fact, the Thai tour guide was so good, we could not believe she never set foot to Germany in her life. And of course, both were very competent in the local culture. From this perspective I would say that a local guide with good language proficiency in the target language is perfectly fine.

MollyRose
 

fransiskus seta prana kusuma  Identity Verified
אינדונזיה
Local time: 17:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לאינדונזית
TOPIC STARTER
Err... Jan 10

I'm not sure, that's why I started this topic. Like for example in some places, there are informations that could be read in local languages. An expatriate or student in those countries would be a good interpreter for tourists from their home country.

 

fransiskus seta prana kusuma  Identity Verified
אינדונזיה
Local time: 17:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לאינדונזית
TOPIC STARTER
The locals are better? Jan 10

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

We traveled to Mexico and to Thailand several years ago and in both cases we had local tour guides who spoke excellent German. In fact, the Thai tour guide was so good, we could not believe she never set foot to Germany in her life. And of course, both were very competent in the local culture. From this perspective I would say that a local guide with good language proficiency in the target language is perfectly fine.


Is that mean a local tour guide with good language proficiency is more preferable than a tour guide from home country with knowledges?


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
הונג קונג
Local time: 18:09
חבר
מסינית לאנגלית
+ ...
Tour guide from home country with knowledge? Jan 10

fransiskus seta prana kusuma wrote:

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

We traveled to Mexico and to Thailand several years ago and in both cases we had local tour guides who spoke excellent German. In fact, the Thai tour guide was so good, we could not believe she never set foot to Germany in her life. And of course, both were very competent in the local culture. From this perspective I would say that a local guide with good language proficiency in the target language is perfectly fine.


Is that mean a local tour guide with good language proficiency is more preferable than a tour guide from home country with knowledges?

First off, what even are the odds that you find somebody from your home country who knows the destination as well as the locals?
Second, are you going to pay for the tour guide's air ticket as well?

I mean fine, if you're that rich, be my guest.


 

fransiskus seta prana kusuma  Identity Verified
אינדונזיה
Local time: 17:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לאינדונזית
TOPIC STARTER
Local or Compatriots? Jan 10

Lincoln Hui wrote:

fransiskus seta prana kusuma wrote:

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

We traveled to Mexico and to Thailand several years ago and in both cases we had local tour guides who spoke excellent German. In fact, the Thai tour guide was so good, we could not believe she never set foot to Germany in her life. And of course, both were very competent in the local culture. From this perspective I would say that a local guide with good language proficiency in the target language is perfectly fine.


Is that mean a local tour guide with good language proficiency is more preferable than a tour guide from home country with knowledges?

First off, what even are the odds that you find somebody from your home country who knows the destination as well as the locals?
Second, are you going to pay for the tour guide's air ticket as well?

I mean fine, if you're that rich, be my guest.


Well, to fly such a tour guide wouldn't be that difficult if you're traveling in groups. Also there are expats and students that already live a while in the destination country.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Laura Kingdon
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
גרמניה
Local time: 12:09
חבר (2016)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
Depends Jan 10

fransiskus seta prana kusuma wrote:
Is that mean a local tour guide with good language proficiency is more preferable than a tour guide from home country with knowledges?


"Preferable" depends. Both variants could work well. The problem is that in my language (German) you will not find so many local guides with good German proficiency, while for English speakers this might be easier.


 

Laura Kingdon  Identity Verified
קנדה
Local time: 06:09
חבר (2015)
מצרפתית לאנגלית
+ ...
It depends Jan 10

Generally speaking, a local with excellent knowledge of my language will be the best tour guide since they usually know the place better.

That said, I have had some very good tours from expats who also knew the destination extremely well. This can be especially helpful if there are significant cultural differences between me and the place I'm visiting as there are times when a person of my own culture will have a better sense of what interests North American tourists like me than a
... See more
Generally speaking, a local with excellent knowledge of my language will be the best tour guide since they usually know the place better.

That said, I have had some very good tours from expats who also knew the destination extremely well. This can be especially helpful if there are significant cultural differences between me and the place I'm visiting as there are times when a person of my own culture will have a better sense of what interests North American tourists like me than a person from the place I'm visiting. This can of course be overcome by local tour guides learning about what it is their North American tourists want and providing that, but in places where the tourist industry is less developed, they may not quite be there yet.

English is a bit of a special case here since it's a common second language worldwide and most major tourist destinations will have English-speaking guides available. From another point of view, I know many Korean tourists prefer to have a native Korean tour guide since it's rare for non-Koreans to speak Korean well enough to do the job and, even if they do, they are more difficult to understand than a native Korean tour guide. This applies primarily to middle-aged or older Koreans who may not speak that much English and are probably coming on bus tours.
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Fiona Gonçalves  Identity Verified
פורטוגל
Local time: 11:09
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מפורטוגזית לאנגלית
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There's no point in having the knowledge if you don't have the language skills to go with it Jan 10

I say that from personal experience because I was a tour guide myself in my younger days so I have absolutely zero tolerance for sub-par guiding.

Unfortunately, it's something I have come across a lot and curiously the very worst local guides it has been my misfortune to travel with have been ones who "supposedly" have English language skills.

I think the big issue with English-language tours is that there are just too many of them, and not enough of the other language
... See more
I say that from personal experience because I was a tour guide myself in my younger days so I have absolutely zero tolerance for sub-par guiding.

Unfortunately, it's something I have come across a lot and curiously the very worst local guides it has been my misfortune to travel with have been ones who "supposedly" have English language skills.

I think the big issue with English-language tours is that there are just too many of them, and not enough of the other languages. Obviously not all guides will have the same standard of language skills and the more tours there are the faster the pool of really good guides will be exhausted. Sometimes you will come across a guide whose specialist language is, say, German, but there is no German-speaking tour going that day. However, there may be half a dozen English-speaking tours, so guides will be used for whom English may be a second, third or even fourth foreign language. While these guides might do an absolutely amazing job in German, they can make a complete mess of English simply because it's not their specialised subject. And, of course, this is further exacerbated by the fact that just about everyone has some knowledge of English and it inevitably goes on CVs even when it shouldn't.

I can think of at least three separate occasions, once in the Canary Islands, once in the Balearic Islands and once in Italy when the English-speaking local guide had such a poor command of the language that even I, as a native English-speaking linguist with years of experience working with non-native speakers, was extremely hard-pushed to understand what they were saying. My daughter and I still laugh about one of those three guides who mentioned that we would have a chance to sample "gotchie". That turned out to be goat's cheese! I can tell you there was a huge line of dissatisfied guests at the hotel reception afterwards, all looking for their money back.

On the other side of the coin, I did a Spanish-language tour to Pompeii, which was guided by a Brazilian who lived locally. Despite being neither a local, nor a native Spanish speaker, he was one of the very best tour guides it has ever been my pleasure to tour with and the Spanish people on the tour were thrilled with his performance.
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Interpreter vs Tour Guide

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