[techtalk] natural language vs. programming language
timoneira at unbounded.com
Sun Mar 25 12:39:07 EST 2001
Interesting, this natural language vs. programming language discussion...
I'm very much a language person, my mother language is Dutch and when I was
growing up I learned English and German from tv (we were very close to the
German border, and English shows and movies were subtitled) and also
Gronings, my dialect, which is spoken in the north-east of the Netherlands.
Since then I've learned Portuguese and a bit of Spanish, and am now
struggling with French in Montreal. This sounds like a lot of languages,
but my Spanish got buried under Portuguese, and my French isn't very fluent
yet. And the first four languages are a matter of circumstance. But still,
not many people can say that they know 7 languages.
But I also see myself as a computer geek, a techie. I call myself a
(software) localisation engineer when I'm at work (see
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/10609/61241 to find out what s/w
localisation is..); I built my own computer this winter and installed RHL7
on it; when I was ten or twelve I wrote my own BASIC program called
'Quadris' (anybody remember that tv series??) on an Osborne using only
PRINT, INPUT and GOTO; and I have spent a lot of my work and spare time on
the internet or making computers do what I tell them to.
I feel that a lot of the times I don't fit in people's categories: I'm not
a programmer, they see that I didn't study CS but languages - I have a
B.Sc. degree in translation, specialised in IT. But I didn't just 'study
languages', I studied translation, which not only means studying your
mother language and foreign languages, I also learned to study the subject
you're translating about and how to find the information you need. A
technical translator needs to understand what they're translating, a
dictionary won't help you very much. So one of the things I learned is to
be self-taught in a broad number of subjects.
I didn't become a translator after I got my B.Sc., I'm now doing the
engineering part of the translation of software, websites, multimedia,
etc... (localisation). There's this left/right hemisphere myth, and I
always thought it was an asset that I could go both ways, but lately in
searching for a job outside of localisation, I find I need justify myself.
People don't know what localisation is, what the tasks are, and only see
that I'm not a programmer but a linguist. So I've been thinking, maybe I
should learn some programming, find a job that will give me some
programming experience, take some programming courses, to finally get 'peer
recognition', but would this mean starting from scratch again,
career-wise..? I'm a senior localisation engineer now and a team lead, I
lead most of the projects that I work on and have quite a bit of
responsibility for 3 years of experience. I intend to start an MBA next year.
My boyfriend on the other hand is very much a programmer. He would like to
learn some natural languages, like Japanese and Dutch, and he'll probably
be good at it too. We're thinking of moving to Côte d'Azur in the south of
France, there's an IT/Telecom cluster there with loads of startups...
Anybody who lives and works there? I would like to find a job in wireless
applications, I'm learning WML and WMLScript, and after that programming
for PalmOS (C), and Perl, and maybe PHP... any recommendations on what is
required in this field? It sort of strengthens my self-confidence reading
that learning a programming language is very much linked to learning a
natural language, one of the reasons I haven't really started learning
programming yet is lack of confidence.
Thanks for listening,
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