Blog on Computing Tips for Japanese to English Translators

Here is a blog called Translator’s Tools that I recently discovered that is run by a Japanese-English translator who also happens to be a techie.

He blogs about ways to use personal computing technology to make translating jobs go more smoothly. Good stuff, very professional. This post on how to pinpoint glosseries on the web on specific topics is expecially accessible and quickly usable!

Give it a look!

– Harvey

Work Work Watching

Speed post. This is too funny not to share.

Work Work Watching #1

Especially funny is number 5, where the Japanese director teaches the American actor the art of NORI-TSUKKOMI 乗り突っ込み with the help of his useless interpreter.

Work Work Watchign #5 – Nori-tsukkomi 

There is a wikipedia entry on nori-tsukkomi if you are like the American director and not familiar with this traditional form of Japanese Kansai-style comedy.

Basically, nori-tsukkomi is when someone does something unexpected and silly against your expectation. For example, you say “wow it’s raining, go get the umbrella.” and the guy comes back with a toothpick umbrella used to decorate cocktails.

If you immediately bash the guy over the hed and say “hey! What the heck do you take me for! That’s not an umbrella!” That would be a regular tsukkomi.

If instead, you say “wow, nice umbrella. Now I can keep my fingers dry… Small… and easy to carry…. – WHAT the heck! This umbrella is way to small!” and bash them over the head… That is then nori-tsukkomi. You have first skillfully gone along with their silly gag before suddenly pointing out their folly and bashing them over the head.

I love this stuff.

“Listen, nori-tsukkomi you alright?”

– Harvey

Interpretation is Hard

I recently participated in an interview for a potential summer position on the PeaceBoat that included interpretation and translation tests.

I have done a lot of Japanese to English document translation over the past few years, so that part of the test wasn’t such a big deal. The English to Japanese translation of course was much more difficult than Japanese to English, but PeaceBoat wouldn’t expect someone to translate into their non-native language on the job, so no stress.

However, the interpretation test, English to Japanese and even Japanese to English completely blew my mind – smacked me around if you will. Made me cry “uncle”. 誰か助けて~!
I have a new a profound respect for interpreters and simultaneous translators. What a humbling experience.

It was my first time ever attempting to interpret so of course it was difficult, but I didn’t quite expect that it would be that difficult! It was so hard to remember the entire sentence in Japanese and then say it in English including all the proper nouns and numbers and whatnot. Of course I had scratch paper, but I found that when I would scribble down a year or proper noun or something that came up in the Japanese sentence as it was spoken I would miss the rest of the sentence while writing! Not to mention that since Japanese grammar almost flows backwards when compared to English you almost have to continue shuffling things around in your mind as you remember what was said and spit it back into English. It was like mind acrobatics – and I think I sprained something.

Halfway through the interview the staff told me that a major difference in interpreting and translating documents is that I don’t really need to match the language so precisely. He advised me to just grasp 80% of the idea, and relay it back to him in English as I would do if I was telling it to him in my own words. This really helped me out. I was making the mistake of literally attempting to convert the words I heard into text on paper in my mind, translating it in my head, and then “reading” my virtually noted translation back to them. It doesn’t work that way.

I found this great discussion about interpreting on the Honyaku Google Group, a forum for Japanese<->English translators.

Some people in the forum mention that doing translation is a great way to prepare yourself for interpreting, and also that most interpreters were previously translators.


They also mention that a lot of them like translation more, because they don’t have to go anywhere specific to do it. Just bring the laptop to a coffee shop, or sit at home.

Something about the stress and presence of people does attract me to interpretation though… Maybe someday I’ll take a class or something… Someday…

I’m still recovering from the shock of feeling like a Japanese-newbie again, but I’m motivated. It was a fun and challenging exercise, and interpreting is so cool when done correctly!

There is a program at the University of Queensland in Australia called, MAJIT (Master of Arts degree in Japanese Interpreting and Translation) that specializes in E-J & J-E interpretation if anyone is interested in becoming a translating/interpreting Jedi.

Lessons learned from this experience? Being able to speak Japanese, having JLPT1, working in document translation, and eating sushi, are all attributes that have nothing to do with being a good interpreter!

Never give up.

– Harvey

Valentines Day Chocolates For Me! Kinda

In Japan on Valentines day girls give chocolates to guys.

There is also a phenomenon known as “giri-choco” (義理チョコ) .

Literally it means “duty-chocolate”. Basically, it’s the chocolate that girls give to guys because they are obliged to do so. For example, my guitar teacher is a lady, so she gave me giri-choco. She doesn’t have Valentines Day-ish feelings for me, but I see her often, so she must give me chocolate or I will feel like a chump. I will.

This is good, because the only other chocolate I got on Valentines day was from all of the ladies in the office (they put their money together and bought something for all the guys… There aren’t that many of us… This is also 義理チョコ).

This is the lovely chocolate I got from my guitar teacher. Fujiya! Peko-chan!

My wife ate half of both the chocolates I got…

I need more chocolate!

– Harvey

Casio XD-GP9700 – Better than the GW9600

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve probably heard me raving about my favorite electronic dictionary, the Casio GW9600. Maybe you even want one too!

But wait! Put the wallet, DOWN!

A new model has just been released, the Casio XD-GP9700.

I haven’t seen it in the stores or tried it yet, but according to the Casio XD-GP9700 product summary over on The Japan Shop, the greatest new features include that the dictionary now pronounces the Japanese and that it has a backlit screen. It also seems to have a larger J-E dictionary than before.

Clay at the JapanShop mentioned that if you already have the GW9600 it’s probably not worth shelling out the cash to upgrade. If you’re about to buy your first electronic dictionary though, I would personally skip over the GW9600 and get this new one.

Now that this new model has been released do I regret buying my GW9600 just last fall?

Not really. I have gotten so much use out of it so far that I think it would have been counter-productive putting off the purchase. I’m alright. I won’t cry…

Remember, you might be able to get the dictionaries cheaper on if you can get through the ordering process in Japanese, be sure to shop around!

– Harvey

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