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Discrimination based on national origin and native language in ProZ ads
Thread poster: lumierre

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Sword law & Assertiveness: A different version of the events Mar 28

 Luminita, according to the sword law--the strong (with power, money, info, and slyness) feeds on the weakling. That's a natural law--get stronger or die trying. However, for appearances' sake, they use so-called contract law, where parties may come to an agreement, balancing the terms to some extent.

 The problem is not the show, but the fact most even decent translators are no good businessmen--they don't rule the market, trying in vain to change not the steps, but thei
... See more
 Luminita, according to the sword law--the strong (with power, money, info, and slyness) feeds on the weakling. That's a natural law--get stronger or die trying. However, for appearances' sake, they use so-called contract law, where parties may come to an agreement, balancing the terms to some extent.

 The problem is not the show, but the fact most even decent translators are no good businessmen--they don't rule the market, trying in vain to change not the steps, but their goals. That's why profiteers can safely ignore the weak using ANY excuse or "Just because!", imposing THEIR "standards", "discounts", and the rest.

 While insolent manipulators abuse others calling for such unpleasant emotions and afterpains as (1) fear, (2) guilt, and (3) shame, it's not the case with a fair qualification, where the majority (ten wolves vs hundred sheep?) is no equal party to consider. Get educated! Shortly, if you can't prove yourself worthy (lack of biz, interpersonal, or self-presentation skills?), it has very little to do with your pains. Perhaps, you could just start your own fair company on your terms, yes?


CONCLUSION: Don't waste your time on judging others--and avoid those, who try making you feel guilty or defective...
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
--Confucius
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Gareth Callagy
Jorge Payan
 

Alistair Gainey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2009)
Russian to English
Point of order Mar 28

Kaspars Melkis wrote:

There are different statistics collected about IELTS test takers. IELTS is the test of the English proficiency level that is required for those who want to study in the UK universities.

It was interesting to note that the best average results were achieved by native speakers of German whereas native English speakers lagged behind. Of course, we are talking about numerous edge cases when those native speakers have received education in other countries. Nevertheless, for the purpose of academic studies the declared or even verified native language is not even considered. One can qualify only by receiving previous education in English or by passing some kind of proficiency test.

I am not saying that the concept of native language is not useful but this example clearly shows its limitations to use it to assess proficiency.


The IELTS test isn't purely (or even mainly) a test of written English. It has four components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking), which are weighted equally. Only the Writing component requires candidates to write anything vaguely substantial, and even then it's only around 400 words in an hour.


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
standardized Mar 28

Alistair, you are right, yet the problem with such standardized tests is patterning: language instructors (are taught to) expect the pre/approved answers in a certain format, lowering the points for others. So, a real native speaker with a dialect, individual, habitual, or acquired peculiarities will fail the 'nativeness' test. Moreover, after learning and drilling a few 'right' patterns with "weighted" popular words/phrases, even a foreign backward pupil can soon pass the test successful... See more
Alistair, you are right, yet the problem with such standardized tests is patterning: language instructors (are taught to) expect the pre/approved answers in a certain format, lowering the points for others. So, a real native speaker with a dialect, individual, habitual, or acquired peculiarities will fail the 'nativeness' test. Moreover, after learning and drilling a few 'right' patterns with "weighted" popular words/phrases, even a foreign backward pupil can soon pass the test successfully.

Shortly, they test not the knowledge level, but ability to pretend meeting the requirements--to obey the system.
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Alistair Gainey
Gareth Callagy
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
+ ...
IELTS and native English speakers Mar 28

DZiW wrote:

Alistair, you are right, yet the problem with such standardized tests is patterning: language instructors (are taught to) expect the pre/approved answers in a certain format, lowering the points for others. So, a real native speaker with a dialect, individual, habitual, or acquired peculiarities will fail the 'nativeness' test. Moreover, after learning and drilling a few 'right' patterns with "weighted" popular words/phrases, even a foreign backward pupil can soon pass the test successfully.

Shortly, they test not the knowledge level, but ability to pretend meeting the requirements--to obey the system.


I had to take IELTS test for my university studies in the UK. It involves reading/listening to the text and answering some questions to show its comprehension, then writing an essay and having an open conversation about a pre-selected subject. Some say that the test is quite difficult but I scored 9 out of 9 in reading. The text was an article probably adapted from a publication for general use. If you can understand everything without a dictionary then you can answer the questions correctly. They are not particularly tricky. My worse score was in listening and I agree that my skills are not very good in this area.

I don't know how they mark it but I don't see a non-native speaker having any advantage over a native one. More logical explanation is that native speakers who take this test on average actually have lower proficiency than English language learners. If they haven't used the native tongue in all aspects of daily life, then their proficiency will not be as good.

Translators actually require higher level than the highest IELTS score. It was just an example that what we call a native speaker may not always be a good measure of proficiency for our purposes.

I am not saying that it is easy to achieve the same level of language proficiency that is achieved by one who has had full experience of all linguistic aspects while growing up. Maybe we should call such a person a competent native speaker.

[Edited at 2019-03-28 21:31 GMT]


DZiW
Alistair Gainey
 

Daniel Koychev  Identity Verified
Bulgaria
Local time: 08:00
Bulgarian to English
+ ...
Not discrimination Mar 29

I don't think the issue described in the OP is illegal discrimination, as the vast majority of people they will do better translating into their native language than from it into a foreign one, no matter how fluently they may speak it. It's simply how language skills *work*. That doesn't mean you can't have an excellent knowledge of a foreign language, of course.

For myself, I am in a bit of a special situation because I truly bilingual, or at least as bilingual as you can be - I gr
... See more
I don't think the issue described in the OP is illegal discrimination, as the vast majority of people they will do better translating into their native language than from it into a foreign one, no matter how fluently they may speak it. It's simply how language skills *work*. That doesn't mean you can't have an excellent knowledge of a foreign language, of course.

For myself, I am in a bit of a special situation because I truly bilingual, or at least as bilingual as you can be - I grew up in the US with Bulgarian parents and spoke both languages essentially from when I learned to talk, and have spent time in both the American and Bulgarian education systems. If push came to shove, I would say I speak English better (mainly because I spend much more of my free time reading in it than in Bulgarian), but not to the extent that I would classify Bulgarian as a non-native language of mine, as I have never been considered anything other than a native Bulgarian speaker here in Bulgaria.


[Edited at 2019-03-29 11:59 GMT]
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DZiW
Gareth Callagy
Liviu-Lee Roth
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:00
German to English
+ ...
a view Mar 30

I have acted as co-examiner a number of times for certification exams for one language pair hear. Certification provides certain legal status and the standards are correspondingly high. You don't see a candidate's name or background; only the work they have produced. You are grading the work of candidate 58204. Criteria are for "translation" (meaning etc.) and "language" (target language quality). If no. 58204 passes the exam, he or she is probably a pretty good translator all round. It wo... See more
I have acted as co-examiner a number of times for certification exams for one language pair hear. Certification provides certain legal status and the standards are correspondingly high. You don't see a candidate's name or background; only the work they have produced. You are grading the work of candidate 58204. Criteria are for "translation" (meaning etc.) and "language" (target language quality). If no. 58204 passes the exam, he or she is probably a pretty good translator all round. It would make no sense for me if later no. 58204 would be told that potentially she does not have the abilities she has, because where she lives or what her last name is suggest she can't do what she has proven she can do. That is why this "native" idea shocked me the first time I ran into it, and it still seems wrong. "Discrimination" may be the wrong word: I'd call it "prejudice" as in "prejudgment".

I read the "test" on ProZ where somebody's oral speech is used to test nativeness. I am hoping that this isn't really done. As a "test" for how well someone can potentially translate this leaves me speechless (pardon the pun). Besides the fact that not everyone who is native is also a good writer, a person who speaks well could even be illiterate. Surely nobody can think one can judge how professional a translator is based on how well that person speaks.
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Kaspars Melkis
lumierre
Josephine Cassar
Jorge Payan
Liviu-Lee Roth
Sandra& Kenneth
Natasha Ziada
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Italian
"Language Nativeness" is but a single trait, not a guarantee per se Mar 30

Maxi Schwarz wrote:

I have acted as co-examiner a number of times for certification exams for one language pair hear. Certification provides certain legal status and the standards are correspondingly high. You don't see a candidate's name or background; only the work they have produced. You are grading the work of candidate 58204. Criteria are for "translation" (meaning etc.) and "language" (target language quality). If no. 58204 passes the exam, he or she is probably a pretty good translator all round. It would make no sense for me if later no. 58204 would be told that potentially she does not have the abilities she has, because where she lives or what her last name is suggest she can't do what she has proven she can do. That is why this "native" idea shocked me the first time I ran into it, and it still seems wrong. "Discrimination" may be the wrong word: I'd call it "prejudice" as in "prejudgment".


"He or she is probably a pretty good translator all round": IMO no, not necessarily. That's a "prejudgment" as well. If I pass a professional association's translation test based on a book passage (i.e. literary translation), that does in no way mean I will be able to adequately localize a piece of software, financial reports, medical records, etc.

Likewise:

I read the "test" on ProZ where somebody's oral speech is used to test nativeness. I am hoping that this isn't really done. As a "test" for how well someone can potentially translate this leaves me speechless (pardon the pun). Besides the fact that not everyone who is native is also a good writer, a person who speaks well could even be illiterate. Surely nobody can think one can judge how professional a translator is based on how well that person speaks.


Who says the fact of being a native speaker automatically means that person is also necessarily a good translator? No one, I believe. It is just an additional element of evaluation, like many others. E.g. If I were to hire someone for a marketing translation, all other elements being equal (years of experience, certifications, specializations, education, etc.), I would definitely prefer a "native speaker" of the target language, as that should (theoretically) mean that translator will be able to at least produce something more natural, fluent and smooth (possibly also using a richer vocabulary and repertoire of figures of speech, idioms, etc.).


missdutch
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 13:00
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Writing Mar 30

Alistair Gainey wrote:

The IELTS test isn't purely (or even mainly) a test of written English. It has four components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking), which are weighted equally. Only the Writing component requires candidates to write anything vaguely substantial, and even then it's only around 400 words in an hour.

That's one more writing component than the ProZ nativeness test, which tests only speaking.


 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
+ ...
considering all subjects Mar 30

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
If I were to hire someone for a marketing translation, all other elements being equal (years of experience, certifications, specializations, education, etc.), I would definitely prefer a "native speaker" of the target language, as that should (theoretically) mean that translator will be able to at least produce something more natural, fluent and smooth (possibly also using a richer vocabulary and repertoire of figures of speech, idioms, etc.).


If they both perform equally on a blinded test, I would give preference to a non-native. Because it means that a non-native person has put much more effort to get to this level and in long term the dilligence is more important than past performance.


Jorge Payan
 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Speaking of discrimination........... Mar 30

Here's a job posting that specifies the actual city/cities (with proof of residence!!) the supposed native speaker translator has to live in to be eligible for getting work.
https://www.proz.com/translation-jobs/1559776



Yvonne Gallagher
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Italian
Not what I said Mar 30

Kaspars Melkis wrote:

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
If I were to hire someone for a marketing translation, all other elements being equal (years of experience, certifications, specializations, education, etc.), I would definitely prefer a "native speaker" of the target language, as that should (theoretically) mean that translator will be able to at least produce something more natural, fluent and smooth (possibly also using a richer vocabulary and repertoire of figures of speech, idioms, etc.).


If they both perform equally on a blinded test, I would give preference to a non-native. Because it means that a non-native person has put much more effort to get to this level and in long term the dilligence is more important than past performance.


That's not what I said, Kaspars, and I don't agree anyway. I was referring to the OP, which in turn referred to clients using "native speaker" as a requirement in their ads as a means of narrowing down their searches for service providers. So, just imagine the filters you can set here for directory searches, which a client might also use as requirements in their job ads in case they preferred to ask for bids. What I wrote is that all other elements (or "requirements" if you prefer) being equal, I would give preference to a native over a non-native speaker.

Also, despite being a "service provider" myself (who therefore might have more than one reason to work into English as well...), I don't buy the "effort" reasoning, which moreover doesn't really make much sense from a client's perspective either, in my opinion. Why prefer someone who has (or has had) to work twice as hard to (supposedly) reach the same result as someone else?
Speaking of me, I just LOVE English. Always did. I have been studying it... like, forever, and practicing it by reading books, listening to music, watching movies and series in English, speaking it whenever possible, using it to communicate with clients and colleagues, etc. So what? Does that make me a better English speaker than a native English speaker just because I get points for the effort?

Besides, wouldn't that be "reverse discrimination" anyway, to put it in the OP's terms?


Yvonne Gallagher
missdutch
 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 07:00
Member
English to Italian
Got that notification, but... Mar 30

writeaway wrote:

Here's a job posting that specifies the actual city/cities (with proof of residence!!) the supposed native speaker translator has to live in to be eligible for getting work.
/snip/



... I ignored it without even opening the link... so I didn't notice the city requirement.

At any rate, that DOES make sense, IMHO, as they expressly say they are looking for people "who will also act as local agents (liaison between shops and us)" and payment includes "sale commission of sold items in the area each will represent". So, once again, this is NOT discrimination. This is a perfectly legitimate requirement, as you NEED to be physically there, in "the area".

Imagine a shop in Milan looking for a clerk, and stating that the applicant MUST reside in Milan. Would that be discrimination? If I lived in Sicily, should I feel discriminated? And if so, would I be able to work 9-17 in that shop?

[Edited at 2019-03-30 15:54 GMT]


lumierre
 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Yes the city part makes sense, the rest is discrimination Mar 30

Mirko Mainardi wrote:

writeaway wrote:

Here's a job posting that specifies the actual city/cities (with proof of residence!!) the supposed native speaker translator has to live in to be eligible for getting work.
/snip/



... I ignored it without even opening the link... so I didn't notice the city requirement.

At any rate, that DOES make sense, IMHO, as they expressly say they are looking for people "who will also act as local agents (liaison between shops and us)" and payment includes "sale commission of sold items in the area each will represent". So, once again, this is NOT discrimination. This is a perfectly legitimate requirement, as you NEED to be physically there, in "the area".

Imagine a shop in Milan looking for a clerk, and stating that the applicant MUST reside in Milan. Would that be discrimination? If I lived in Sicily, should I feel discriminated? And if so, would I be able to work 9-17 in that shop?

[Edited at 2019-03-30 15:54 GMT]


In any case if someone feels their real native language is standing in the way of getting work, all they have to do is edit their profile page. No one will check and complaints are ignored. Profile pages are sacred and people are free to declare whatever they want. Truth is not a requirement. Simple as that.


 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2005)
English to Latvian
+ ...
. Mar 30

Mirko Mainardi wrote:
Besides, wouldn't that be "reverse discrimination" anyway, to put it in the OP's terms?


Well, if dilligence is a trait that we could reliably meassure, then does it make sense to consider it in selection of candidates?

My issue with your example was that if you provide an edge case like marketing in which it is hard to test and therefore the native speaker requirement makes some sense for practical purposes, then this option will be made default and soon will be overused and abused. In fact that has already happened and a nativeness has become a proxy measure of proficiency. It only distracts us from the real problem that is much harder to solve – how do we meassure actual proficiency?


 

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 01:00
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
You're misrepresenting the law Mar 30

lumierre wrote:

I quote part of the larger opinion received from Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes
”Insgesamt ist deshalb festzustellen, dass die Anforderung als „Muttersprachler“ in den meisten Fällen nicht zu rechtfertigen sein wird und damit eine mittelbare Benachteiligung aufgrund der ethnischen Herkunft darstellt. Sofern Sie eine Absage erhalten, weil Sie keine Muttersprachlerin sind, können Sie Ansprüche nach § 15 AGG geltend machen. Nach § 15 AGG können die von einer Benachteiligung betroffenen Beschäftigten Schadensersatz- und Entschädigungsansprüche gegen den Arbeitgeber geltend machen.”


That opinion says, "the requirement to be a 'native speaker' will IN MOST CASES be unjustifiable and thus constitute indirect discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin." (Capitals = boldfaced German text).

So that means that IN SOME CASES, such a requirement is perfectly legal and not discriminatory at all.

I don't think any of us need to ruminate very long before we can figure out in what cases a native-language requirement would be perfectly legal. Spoiler: translation jobs, interpretation jobs, and language-teaching jobs. Possibly other jobs too (certain tourism jobs perhaps), but certainly, without the shadow of a doubt, it's justifiable and legal when the job itself IS translation/interpretation/language teaching.


Nina Esser
DZiW
writeaway
Gareth Callagy
Yvonne Gallagher
Michele Fauble
Gina Centanni
 
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Discrimination based on national origin and native language in ProZ ads

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