‘Mother tongue standard’

The whole knotty problem of deciding who is a native speaker (Muttersprachler) of the target language, and whether a translator can have two native languages and how to tell, is neatly sliced through in an advertisement for a patent translator to translate mainly into English in the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

bq. The translation department in our Munich office is seeking a qualified TRANSLATOR with English to mother tongue standard to start as soon as possible. …

bq. We are looking for a translator with a careful and conscientious working manner who enjoys a challenge.

bq. … we are offering you an attractive and responsible position as part of an international team.

I wonder how you test ‘mother tongue standard’.

(found on the pt group at Yahoo, thanks to Silke)

8 thoughts on “‘Mother tongue standard’

  1. The ‘careful and conscientious working *manner*’ sounds dubious, doesn’t it? Good grief, even I can have a careful and conscientious manner.

  2. That’s a good name for a German translator’s blog, or business name, don’t you think?

    Muttersprachler.com is available

    Muttersprachler.de is also available

  3. It is very hard to define native competence. In fact, it’s a quality that only the person in question knows for sure whether he or she has it or not.

    There are some tests, but none of them is conclusive or 100% reliable. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say …

  4. I wonder if this has a legal background? Earlier this year, we were going to advertise a position for a senior native-English translator with the Guardian in the UK. They refused to accept the job requirement for a “native English speaker”, claiming this breached equal opportunities and/or racial discrimination law. So we pulled the Guardian ad and it went into the Economist instead.

  5. Robin, that’s ridiculous. But don’t you think some PC person on the Guardian didn’t like the word ‘native’ (and ‘Muttersprachler’ doesn’t suggest that)? After all, it makes no difference what your ethnic origin is or what language your parents speak – you can still be a native speaker if you grew up in an English-speaking environment. I think I should make an entry on this.

  6. It is ridiculous indeed. Plus, I suspect it’s really more of a word order issue… twisting my mind as I would, I can’t read as much un-PCness into a “native speaker of English” (the part about being “native” is of course still there, but toes a secure distance that allows to recognize “English” as refering to the language, not to English vs Scottish vs Welsh vs…)

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