An Open-Ended Question about Context

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Why is it so difficult to get some people (at times, it feels like most people!) to post enough context to get a reasonable translation?

While a few newcomers do an excellent job of phrasing their questions, many newbies seem to have the expectation that this site should work like a mathematical function: you pop in x and out comes y. Even requests for "context" often result in just a phrase or, if we're lucky, a complete sentence. This seems to happen irregardless of the direction we're going (Spanish to English or English to Spanish.)

There are people at every stage of language learning on this site, as well as many language teachers, so -- what do all of you think? Why is something that seems so simple, so hard? Does this happen everywhere and in other languages?

(And while we're at it, would anyone like to translate "open-ended question" into Spanish for me')

3442 views
updated OCT 3, 2008
posted by Natasha

2 Answers

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As you all know, there are rules on this site, which very few of the new members read. These rule are very specific about Headings and Context. Heidita and I try our best by advising these new members when we see incomplete posts. Unfortunately by the time we see them, some have had quite a few replies. The ones with no replies are immediately deleted and the member forwarded the rules. The others which have had replies are left, as to delete them would mean members have wasted their time in providing answers. Our experienced forers normally see these posts first. What I would like to happen is for one of them to mention either the heading or the lack of context and the other members avoiding posting anything further. When Heidita or I then pick it up we can delete the post and forward the rules to the member.

updated OCT 3, 2008
posted by Eddy
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In a word: ignorance (meaning lack of knowledge, not stupidity).

People who are unfamiliar with translation, regardless of their language ability, just don't realize how important context is. They don't realize that a single, simple word (say, run) may have dozens of different meanings, and dozens of translations in another language. Most people don't think about their own language very much, and if the meaning of a word or phrase is obvious to them, they assume it will be obvious to everyone else.

As for open-ended, in the context of a discussion or question, I think it would just be abierta.

updated OCT 3, 2008
posted by 00bacfba