L1 interference in Writing

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Sometimes, even at Proficiency level, L1 interference - the influence of the Greek way of thinking in the way we express ourselves in another language - is natural and inevitable. A lot of untrained learners tend to naively translate into English word for word more or less, the results of which can be disastrous, if not ridiculous and humiliating.

By Maria Termetzoglou, LRN Oral Examiner/TEFL/ESL


Let’s talk using a specific example as a basis. Suppose the topic you have chosen to write or talk about in an exam concerns globalization and whether it is a good or bad thing for countries outside the US. Also, for the sake of argument, let’s imagine that you remember somebody saying:
«Πολλοί άνθρωποι δε βλέπουν με καλό μάτι αυτές τις σαρωτικές αλλαγές που συντελούνται σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο και που συνεχώς οδηγούν την πολιτισμική πολυμορφία να θυσιάζεται  στο βωμό της τυποποίησης των πάντων. »


Fine, this is relevant to the discussion about globalization, and what a profound idea indeed, but you need the skills of a professional translator to render this into English!


Start by processing in your mind the Greek idiomatic phrase «δε βλέπουν με καλό μάτι» and try to come up with alternative ways of saying this.

Expressing the idea in a way that is clearly understood is what counts, not if you know the exact English equivalent! This is indeed where your vocabulary skills and flexible way of thinking can work their magic.


Here are a few ideas about what you could write:

  • A lot of people/A great many people (nowadays) (tend to)
  • disapprove of …
  • are opposed to …
  • do not accept …
  • think that this type of … is unacceptable
  • have a deep distrust of…
  • fail to see the benefits of…
  • are suspicious of …
  • are (seriously) questioning the value of …
  • express serious misgivings about …
  • have (deep) reservations about…
  • remain skeptical about …
  • are taking a dim view of…

 

the sweeping changes that are taking place on a global level which constantly cause cultural diversity to be sacrificed on the altar of standardization.•

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