This I believe, based on my own experience and that of native speakers of other languages who have cracked tonal languages. After about two years of stumbling and fumbling idiotically with Chinese on a daily basis, something weird occurred inside my head. I can liken it only to the impression conveyed by the Buddha statues that show the Buddha manually splitting his head apart to reveal another, true self beneath....continue reading
Fortunately, most of China's greatest poems were given English translations long ago. Hence, translating them anew is rarely a requirement: authoritative translations can be presented instead (ideally duly referenced - but that is the client's choice). Contextual knowledge assists in every translation task, and the following is a case in point. Lacking much knowledge of Southern China's geography, I found this translation a challenge. The side-by-side parallel translation format that I prefer shows - very clearly on this occasion - how terse Chinese can be compared to English. In this translation I made two very small mistakes. Can you spot them?...continue reading
Thank goodness trilingual jobs rarely arrived. The following is a tour guide I did for what is probably Japan's most famous fish market. I can't vouch for the quality of the Chinese (red) I'm afraid!
Tsukiji Riverside Fish Market Tour Guide...continue reading
This must have been the mid to late 2000s. I had begun my second Masters. It wasn't described as an "online" learning format. If I remember correctly, I negotiated with the university in the UK to allow me to do the three-year course remotely (I was living in Japan at the time and the options for distance learning Technical Communication were very limited). They accepted, on the provisos that I met all the standard deadlines, contributed regularly to the Blackboard discussions, kept up with the reading, and paid for the printed material to be sent to me by courier. (They also wanted three printed and bound copies of the dissertation couriering to them, which cost me a small fortune!) I think I might have paid more than a regular student, too, but I forget. Anyway, while doing this, I began to have thoughts about integrating translation and/or language enhancement functionality into Blackboard, the online learning platform (very similar to Moodle). What follows is a formal articulation of my ideas. Needless to say, I never realised any of these myself, but much of this functionality has become available - if not successfully integrated into e-learning platforms....continue reading
It's odd, isn't it, the jobs you can find yourself doing. This was a restaurant menu that came from someone who I don't remember. But I do remember that it paid fairly well. Not having much knowledge of cuisine, I found this a bit of a challenge (although fairly interesting - the one consistently good point about translation work is learning something new with each job). As you will see, some parts are still awkward - but the client insisted that the English be as close as possible to the Japanese! And the customer is always right (even if their customer is baffled)....continue reading
The following is a summary of notes I took on a series of presentations that I attended during a localization conference back in my Tokyo days. (It's surprising what you can find on old hard drives!)
The contents are as follows: Frequently made mistakes [when localizing into Chinese from Japanese]; Suggestions For a Functional Localization Model (the diagram); Chinese Character and [Other] Character Codes (and reference websites); Translation Methods; Points on Document Creation; Font Types; An Outline of Printing; Other Problems.
ウィルキンソン ケネス...continue reading
Quantification is a component of extreme importance in the field of technical translation. Numbers, in their many and varied guises, are responsible for a galaxy of translation mistakes. In English, small quantities are customarily counted in dozens; in Japanese, as tens, hence sūjū and jūsū, which are usually correctly, if not always appropriately, translated as “several tens” and “ten and several”, respectively. Although both are accurate in their expression of numerical value, both are alliteratively unnatural. A more effective translation would be “a few dozen” and “just over a dozen”, respectively. Just to confound things however, terms like sūman are usually translated appropriately, i.e. as "tens of thousands"....continue reading