Chinese quality

First, I get what everybody would consider spam:

"... Ltd is a dynamic, growing translation agency ... translators, with rich practical experience, are certified in China. ... We do our best to provide first class quality, because satisfying the needs of our clients is our main goal.
Your early reply is appreciated!

I did answer:

>No thank you.

Hi Sir:
Can you tell me why? Why do you refuse Chinese company?

>I am wasting my time, but since you ask ...
> From personal experience I know, that Chinese just love to spread false
>information (less politely = lie) and deceive (= cheat).
>I would never volunteer to work for Chinese again.
>Have a look at your national TV: they proudly announce that they again
>"succeeded" in "using" foreign intellectual property (patents,
>trade marks, characters etc., which is naturally protected as
>intellectual property on a global scale) -> that means THEFT!
>Try and buy ANY piece of software (music, PC), books, branded articles
>(Rolex) from China.
>You get about 100% PIRATED products. That also means THEFT!
>A bunch of pirates (Chinese even admit that themselves!). I don't like
>And ... since I am a service provider myself, I naturally don't care
>about your "services".
>But of course, since you probably send these mails to millions of people
>(that is called "spam". I don't like that either), you did not notice.
>(Did you notice that your "high quality English" is rather funny?
>"Hi Sir" -> "Hi" is used colloquially among friends, "Sir" is a formal,
>honorific address. These do not fit together.
>But, well, Chinese quality ...

Dear Sir:
Thank you for teaching me a lesson. If you don't absolutely know our Country's
condition, you can't stand the position to address the follow words.

I suppose, this last sentence means, that I have not enough information/knowledge to judge China. Would that include the worldwide known fact, that almost all products from China are pirated? All those "copied" Chinese products - I find it extremely hard to imagine, that the respective Chinese makers are paying the holders of the real brands any premiums.
Personally, I have not yet seen ANY product of really good quality, that had on its back somewhere "Made in China". This goes from acupuncture needles, over books, consumer products to some special order-made cast iron parts for a coal mill, worth several million dollars(!!!) I had the privilege to investigate during an interpretation job. And, naturally, that goes also for translations. I know of books, that have been "translated" into Chinese, significantly altering the content, so that it suits the communist party rules, and is on sale in China, but the Chinese pay no royalties whatsoever to the author. Even though I do not have any concrete further information myself, I find it hard to believe, that this is exception.

So, and now this (and other) translation agency comes along and wants me (everybody) believe in their sincere efforts, honesty, credibility and high quality. Well, I can speak only for myself. In case anybody would like to place their orders with the mentioned company I gladly pass on the address ...

** Two days later I got the EXACT SAME mail from the same person, who thereby verified herself, that she is distributing spam. Naturally low quality spam. (The highly educated, certified  supertranslators apparently were not able to find, that "Frammaker" is misspelled. But I am sure, every other piece of work will always be flawless ...)


"Translation industry's leading workplace"

Recently, again for the x-th time, I got a mail from Proz.com asking me to renew my membership, which expired 1-2 years ago.
> *Thank you for using ProZ.com*.
> *During good times and bad, as a smart business person, it is important to keep your client flow going, and maintain a high-profile presence in the marketplace--* even if you are fully booked at the moment. As the translation industry's leading workplace, ProZ.com is the number one source of new clients for translators. As you know, the best way to market your services on the site is to be a full member (the site is designed to promote members before non-members).

Well, my personal view is, that based on the very nature of sites like Proz.com, they are basically slave markets, where outsourcers from around the world look for "best rates" = cheapest labor.

So, I answered the lady, who sent me that mail as follows. I can speak ONLY for myself, but believe, quite a number of translators may harbor similar feelings ...


Thank you for your mail, but ...
I heard all this before. Yet, 10 years of experience with Proz.com has proven beyond any doubt that Proz.com is basically a slave market, where the outsourcers always are looking for "best rates" (= cheapest). And since the market includes the entire world, there are enough places, where people can make a living on rates considered elsewhere to be signficantly substandard.
As far as I can remember I got NEVER ANY job through Proz.com.
That includes the period of my paid membership (waste of money!).
The founder of Proz.com, with a little luck Henry remembers me, has lived and worked in the past in Japan.
I refuse to believe, that HE would ever work for what is offered on Proz.com.

ALL offers - no exceptions - coming through Proz.com have ALWAYS considered me to be too expensive.
Fine. But living in Japan I cannot afford to work for peanuts.
If I were to accept jobs through Proz.com at the offered rates, I would be working (maybe even overtime) and still starving with my family to death.
No thank you.

There has  been no satisfaction with my last membership.
It is highly unlikely that a renewed membership would suddenly produce any mirracles.
None of the funny calculation Henry offers, like if you get one big client in 10 years, even the membership for 10 years would pay off, do work.
I have never ever seen any glint of hope, that this may actually happen.


Dropping the bars ...

Today - again - Edisense in India is bombarding the net via multiple translator sites with its fabulous job offers. Today's offer:
Japanese-English translation; volume: 50,000 pages !!!!!!!
(let's say, they pay 25 USD/page --> 1,250,000 USD !!! WOA.. That would be almost 200 times of my annual income! Let's go get this job.)

AND, hold on to your hat, they publish DIFFERENT job offers in different fields of expertise, ALL OF WHICH have a volume of 50,000 pages (at least 3 -> that would make 150,000 pages, worth something in the neighborhood of FOUR MILLION dollars. Incredible! (exactly: you cannot believe this)

But the requirements have significantly decreased:
* Should have minimum 1 year experience in Academic Translation
-> only ONE year. This used to be at least 5 years. But I guess, they cannot find the required specialists

* Should be a native speaker of either Japanese or English with proven Japanese skills
-> Since this is a translation INTO English, I have difficulties understanding the necessity for being a native JAPANESE?
I guess, the logic in India works differently from the rest of the world ...




別にその類の文章を少し面白く、humorously などに書けば(翻訳すれば)損することは何もないし、読んでいる人が好評を受ける可能性はある:「あの会社の商品も良いし、説明書を読んでよく分かるし、面白い」。



Highest quality

There is this company in India, Edisense. I have been working for them for a while, but then was found to be "too expensive" and therefore have been dismissed.

I could not help noticing, that they *frequently* put ads of IDENTICAL wording on several major translator sites and ALWAYS are looking
b) extremely highly qualified translators, who volunteer to
c) work for very little money (peanuts) on
d) extremely large projects.

Like in:
[Urgent] requirement for Japanese to English translators for Medicine. We have served more than 8000 clients, translated over 18000 documents in various languages and are proud to be amongst the top three editing players in Japan.
- We have also successfully partnered with Japan's largest academic publisher, Maruzen, and Dai Nippon Publishing (DNP), the second largest publisher in the world, for their editorial needs.
Our Requirements:
1. Experience in Academic Translation (at least three years)
2. Either native Japanese or native English with proven Japanese skills
3. At least bachelor’s degree (Master’s Degree preferred)
4. Certifications in translation and/or academic translation are preferred
Volume: 100,000 words
Our company is committed to the highest levels of translation quality and we expect our freelance translators to be of the same caliber. If you feel you have the mettle and the translation experience required, come on board!"

If they actually did have these large projects from Japanese companies/universities AND would be paying the doctors/professors/scholars they are looking for a decent amount of money for their work ...the last thing I saw was 5 Yen/Japanese character, which is about 50% of the usual/acceptable rate ...
then they would not have to look all the time so frantically for new(?)
That seems to be the most natural conclusion that comes to my mind.
Probably not only my, but also the mind of a lot of other people ...


Extra payments?

Regarding jobs posted on internet sites or spread through lists, are often announced to be "rush jobs". Like for example the giant TransPerfect Translations ALWAYS sends "urgent" job offers:
"We have this urgent translation / proofreading assignment available.

The funny thing is, I have NEVER seen any offer of higher rates offered precisely because this is a rush job. If you call a taxi after midnight or order a suit that has to be finished the next day = rush job: it is a "matter of course", that the customer has to pay higher than normal prices for the service or product.
How come then, that translation agencies, like aforementioned TransPerfect constantly request rush jobs (which not infrequently require working through the night!), but don't even think of offering a little extra money for the extra effort/time?
I think, this is not only a very rude behavior, it is exploitation in the worst sense of the word of highly specialized, precious manpower = translators.

If people want to have appealing translations, then the workers (translators), who are sometimes literally "toiling" to straighten things out, should be treated a least politely and preferrably be paid what is "right" and not "peanuts" that will drive them into starvation.


Again, Transperfect slavery

Again, Transperfect slavery offers:
On October 8, I received the following (removed details):
"Hi all,
How are you? Please excuse this blast email but this project requires some urgency. I'd like to introduce a new job to you that requires translation from EN>DE. It consists of 4 pdf files w/ approx 6500 new words. 
I can offer $390 for the translations and will need this back to me by 12PM EST Monday 10/11. If this doesn't work for you please let me know what will."

Although I do not feel being addressed at all, I did answer:
"Good morning
Wonderful 0.06 (quite worthless) USD per source word ... for a **RUSH** job ......
Where do the translators live, who can survive working for peanuts like that???"
The result was am "amazing" increase in the rate from 0.06 to 0.07 USD:
"Hi Thomas,
So sorry for the rate.  I would really appreciate your help for this project though.  Is there any way you can meet me at a rate of .07/word for this?  Let me know.  I would really like to work with you for this one."

Although I should have left this at it, I composed an answer.
Mainly because I do not like being considered a cheap unit of expendable labor:

"Good morning from Japan
Please don't tell me, that you are NOT aware, that the so-called "international standard rate" (even on Proz.com) would be something like 0.10-0.12 USD - NOT taking into account the rush job nature.
Even that rate is at least 35% below my normal rate. (you are offering me 30% of my usual pay ...)
Then, the USD is not worth anything these days. When I signed up with TP many years ago, it was something like 140-150 Yen to the USD.
Today it is 81 to the USD. But I have NEVER seen or heard any offer of compensation from TP. Funny, when the exchange rate changes, the next morning I have to pay different prices in the supermarket across the street ...

Apparently, the people at TP consider this kind of modern slavery normal.
I do not . I have to survive too and for that end I need to work for at least decent rates.
But I am sure you will have no problems at all finding someone among the approximately 300 English-German translators on your list (in the past one of your PM has been to clever as to make the list of mail addresses visible to ALL translators on that list - it is public knowledge now), who is just dying to work for peanuts.
Maybe people living in rural China or India won't have any problems with that.

In short: no thank you.
Please find someone else."

I am (always) under the firm impression, that companies like Transperfect exploit the situation, that the entire world can see their job offers and force translators into cheap labor - on which many ultimately cannot survive. What remains then, are the so-called "best offers" and people, like the Korean lady I wrote about before, who claims to be able to translate in "native quality". And the clients ...?? Do they not notice? Are not capable of telling the difference? Or maybe they just don't care ... and give s**t about quality ...
In any case the final victim will be the people, who are supposed to/have to read the translated material.

Koran/Chinese quality

A while ago I received a mail from someone, who apparently wanted to offer her services to potential clients. I am definitely not one of the smartest persons and similarly not the world's best translator, but I believe the "quality" offered here is MUCH too close to "Chinese quality" than can be tolerated. At least, if someone is looking for acceptable, or possibly even good translation. Please form your own opinion:

"Freelance Translator from Beijing
Dear Sirs,
I am a freelance translator with more than ten years experiences.
I am a Korean but leave in China with my husband who is a Chinese.
So I can do English<>Chinese<>Korean natively.I can use Trados
myself.The rate is 0.08-0.12USD per word,extra 30% fee if use Trados.
First cooperation, I can provide a free testing. If need, I can send you my CV."

Expecting a translation of "native quality" seems to be an illusion at best.


Who decides ...?

    Books and other information: I am often wondering who in the world decides on "what is worth being translated". In the past I DID translate a whole book on shiatsu, but in my opinion the contents of that book is a shame for the 1,500-year tradition of this fine art. Then again, those books that might really deserve to be translated ... well, they are drowned by all the purely money-oriented schemes. It is a pity.



先日新しい会社(日本の!(からProz.com 経由で問い合わせを頂いて、それに従って要求されたこちらの情報/条件も提出し ました。

やはり Proz.com 経由の典型的な対応パターンだと思いました。
私はもう10年前から Proz.com のメンバーですので、経験に基づく発言です。
そのサイトの性質でもあるでしょうが、兎に角 "cheap labor" (奴隷に近い)が探されているのは仕方が ないかもしれませんが、お陰様で日本に住んでいる私のような翻訳者はそのサイト経由で仕事を貰えない事は必然です。それとも通常のレートの30%以下で仕事しなければなりません。⇒相すれば生活できなくなります・・・

問い合わせに対してそれなりの労力や時間を掛けて返事を書き ますから、
せめて "No thank you, we found someone else" 類の一言返事を頂いても「普 通」のではないでしょうか。
Proz.com 経由の通信に於いて過去10年にそのような反応は2-3回程度でした。
日本は一応「礼儀を重視する国」とされていますので、上記の一言返事位期待し ました。
残念でした。再び 「Proz.com型」でした。


save a few bucks - spend (waste) millions!

The other day I was doing an interpretation job on a construction site. The workers were Japanese, but the product (a 5-story high device) was sold by a German company. This German company provided the Japanese company that bought the device with with hundreds (maybe thousands) of pages of documentation. I know, because I was interpreting during three previous meetings that finally led to signing the contract.
But on this occasion I was interpreting on site for the construction supervisor. Japanese workers and the respective people in charge of various things **ON SITE** always complained, that they do not have the necessary drawings and specifications. BUT, I know for a fact, that the company (at some other department) has those drawings.
However, the people on site apparently do not read/understand the language on the drawings/of the specifications = German + English. This resulted already during the one week I spend on site to misunderstandings, mistakes, delays, confusion. And EVERY delay in the construction work probably incurs incredible extra costs!

I asked the person in charge of the translation department of the Japanese client and asked, why they do not translate the documentation they have received. So, nobody would have to waste time asking unnecessary questions.
The answer: the client does not want to waste money on translation.

Well, I do imagine that the required translation would cost lets say a few hundred dollars. The delays caused by lack of information on the other hand probably will cost thousands, tens of thousands ... who knows dollars!!!
Complete nonsense. Or am I missing something here???



去年は関連の仕事が似いたような雰囲気( フラワアレインジメントはなかったし、会議室はどちらかと言うと「汚い」印象)でやりました。その時はプレゼンテーション、質問/解説、契約後の具体的打ち合わせだったが、今回工事現場で現場監督者のための通訳だった。猛暑の中で何を触っても直ぐに油や誇りで汚れ、高い所に上ったりして、巨大の鉄の部品の中にもぐりこんだりしていた。記念写真があるから乗せます。


Translation - telephone number

Translation - telephone number

Translators often get source texts that are more like lists of terms or sentencefragments that "real text". In such a real text usually the pieces BEFORE and AFTER certain sections, terms, phrases etc. are related to each other and refer forward and/or backward. THAT is frequently called "CONTEXT".

The material translators get to work on this "context" is often missing, or at least imcomplete. And that is then like I give you my telephone number as

That could be me, but you could also end up calling a whole lot of other people.Some of which are understanding, when you apologize for dialing the wrong number, while others may get really angry.
How am I supposed to know, if I call the right number, without knowing the persons name and/or his/her address?

Clients ordering translation would do well in providing that kind of information. Right now I am (again!) working on such a job. It is very tiring - and frustrating if later on claims come for not choosing the "right" terms ....


Das Beste oder nichts. (German; sent to Mercedes headquarter in Germany)

Guten Abend aus Japan
Ich kann mir gut vorstellen, dass das Folgende fuer Sie voellig uninteressant (eher belaestigend) ist, moechte mir aber trotzdem erlauben, mich kurz zu aeussern.

Gestern war hier in unserer japanischen Zeitung (landesweite Ausgabe) eine ganzseitige Anzeige - ganz in Rot gehalten mit einem unwahrscheinlich teuer aussehenden Sportwagen in der Mitte.
Darunter stand dann in sehr grosen Buchstaben:
* Das Beste oder nichts.
Dies wurde dann gefolgt von einem japanischen Text, in dem die Leser gefragt wurden, ob sie diesen Ausdruck kennen. Mir als Deutschem war dieser Ausdruck nicht bekannt (ich kann ihn jedoch verstehen, deswegen habe ich das Japanische zuerst gar nicht gelesen …), so dass ich wohl nicht zu Unrecht annehme, dass nur die wenigsten Japaner damit vertraut sind. Trotzdem wird im folgenden japanischen Text dieser Ausdruck weder erlaeutert noch uebersetzt.
Ich gehe einmal davon aus, dass dies eine Angelegenheit von "Benz Japan" ist und Sie nichts angeht, aber da ich hier auch keine vernuenftige Kontaktadresse finden konnte, an die ich mich haette wenden koennen, schreibe ich Ihnen.

Was will Mercedes zum Ausdruck bringen, wenn die Firma potentiellen Kunden Worte an den Kopf schleudert, die diese **HOECHST WAHRSCHEINLICH** nicht verstehen koennen. Eine Erklaerung oder Uebersetzung wird nur Kunden geboten, die sich den abgebildeten Sportwagen kaufen? Der Wagen sieht so teuer aus, dass wohl "normalsterbliche Otto Normalverbraucher" so einen Wagen in ihrem gesamten Leben niemals leisten werden koennen. Und solche Hungerleider brauchen auch nicht zu wissen, worum es da geht.

Ist DAS die Aussage, die Sie hier machen wollen???
So sieht es jedenfalls fuer mich (und sicher auch viele andere Menschen hier) aus.

Falls dem NICHT so sein sollte und Sie etwas anderes sagen wollen - dann sollte dies besser in Worte gefasst werden, die die Angesprochenen auch verstehen koennen.

Jedenfalls bin ich persoenlich davon ueberzeugt, dass dies die korrekte Art waere, Kommunikation zu handhaben.
Oder sprechen Sie Ihre Kunden in Deutschland mit tiefsinnigen Weisheiten auf Chinesische oder Arabisch an, die Niemand verstehen kann???

Das Beste oder nichts







格好を付けたがる人は世界中にいるが、日本人は 多分特に「ブランド名」に弱い(イメージ中毒症)ような気がする。それが「流行マニア」と組み合わせてしまえば妙な雰囲気になりやすい。
気をつけないと味方次第でかなり滑稽になる危険 性ある。
例えば車に関して外車をのって、自慢する:内の ワーゲン(Volkswagen = VW)だと喜んでいる人がいる。しかし、Volkswagen は「庶民の車」と言う意味で、ヒトラー時代で一般庶民でも買えるために開発された車だ。今 度「内のワーゲン」で威張る人がいれば「内の庶民の車」と言って見るとどうなるでしょうか。
BMWも同様。「内のBMW」と威張る人が決し て少なくないだろうが、BMW = Bayrische Motorenwerke の略だ:バイヤーン地方自動車工場。
「オレはバイヤーン地方自動車工 場の車のっているぜ」ってどんなイメージだろう。
全く関係ないだろうが、楽器に対して同じ態度を とる日本人(今井さん)。
素晴らしい楽器(私は個人的に知っている事⇒  ギター)を作る日本人がいる。とこらがその楽器を国内の楽器屋さんに持っていると「素晴らしい楽器。だが、内では売れない。なぜか:貴方は名前がない=有 名ではない。
本人は同じ楽器ヨーロッパなどの楽器屋に持って いくと「あっ、これは凄い!是非とも販売させて下さい。」
私の馬鹿の願いですが、日本人は自分の「偉大」 な歴史に誇りを持って、外来ブランド依存症から少しずつ離脱して、ものの良さ自体の見る目を持つようになるように祈ります。

"Speak German", by Wolf Schneider

"Speak German", by Wolf Schneider より
世界ランキングにおけるド イツ語: 
ドイツ語は英語、スペイン語そして最近中国語に 続いてドイツ人以外の人の間に4番目に多い外国語(second language).
Vierter Platz nach der Zahl der Auslaender, die es als Fremdsprache erlernen - nachst Englisch, Spanisch und neuerdings Chinesisch.
Dritter Platz unter den Sprachen, aus denen am meisten in andere Sprachen uebersetzt wird, naechst Englisch und Franzoesisch.
インターネット経由でコミュニケーションが行わ れている二番目に多い言語だ。そして、世界で二番目に大きい本の市場。
Zweiter Platz unter den Sprachen, in denen die Kommunikation im Internet stattfindet; dazu zweitgroesster Buchmarkt der Erde.
世界中で他のどの言語よりもドイツ語に翻訳され ている - もう200年前からそしてUNESCO統計により今日現在でも!!
Einsam auf dem Siegerpodest aber steht das Deutsche unter den Sprachen, in die uebersetzt wird: Seit 200 Jahren - und nach der Unesco-Statistik noch heute - ist Deutsch das Sammelbecken, das Esperanto der Weltliteratur.
ドイツ人は相変わらず翻訳する事 が好き:UNESCOの統計によると他の言語よりもドイツ語に翻訳され、スペイン語及びフランス語より多く、そして英語よる倍ほどだ。
Die Lust am Ubersetzen ist den Deutschen treu geblieben: Nach der Statistik der Unesco wird in keine andere Sprache so viel ubersetzt wie in die deutsche - mehr als ins Spanische und Franzosische, mehr als doppelt so viel wie ins Englische.
よって、全ての民族や文化の本の 宇宙をたった一つの言語で探検したいならば、ドイツ語は最適だ。
So lasst sich nuechtern feststellen: Wer das Universum der Buecher aller Voelker in einer einzigen Sprache durchstreifen will, der kommt dabei mit Deutsch am weitesten.


Politeness / Hoeflichkeit (English/German)

Ueberholte Hoeflichkeitsformen …

Schoene Gruesse aus Japan

Neulich habe ich einen Kostenvoranschlag (Uebersetzung) vorgelegt, aber keine Antwort bekommen. Das is vermutlich normal, da dies in mehr als 90% aller Faelle vorkommt, aber trotzdem …

Ich bin wahrscheinlich inzwischen zu alt fuer das 'digitale Zeitalter', aber in meiner Jugend hat man mir gewisse Hoeflichkeitsformen beigebracht. Zum Beispiel:
*  Man sitzt am Tisch und jemand bittet mich, das Salz zu reichen.
*  Ich reiche der Person das Salz und sage "Bitte".
*  Die Person nimmt das Salz entgegen und sagt "DANKE".

Was fuer einen Eindruck wuerde es machen, wenn die betreffende Person zwar das Salz nimmt, aber einfach den Kopf wegdreht und gar nichts sagt???

Das Angebot muss ja nicht einmal angenommen werden.
*  Ich biete jemandem eine Tasse Kaffee an.
*  Die Person lehnt ab und sagt "Nein Danke".
Dadurch wuerde sich niemand verletzt fuehlen, aber wenn die betreffende Person wie im obigen Beispiel einfach den Kopf wegdreht und gar nichts sagt???

Sind diese Hoeflichkeitsformen Heute im digitalen Zeitalter spur- und gnadenlos ausradiert (deleted!) worden?

In der Hoffnung, dass ein bischen mehr Hoeflichkeit der Welt nur nutzen kann.


Outdated politeness ...

Greetings from Japan

The other day I quoted upon request on a certain translation work, but did not receive any response. That is probably "normal", since this happens in more than 90% of the cases, yet I decided to express my unhappiness about this situation ...

I am probably already too old for today's 'digital age', but when I was young, people taught me certain forms of politeness. For example:

*  People sit at a table and someone asks me to pass the salt.
*  I do pass the salt to the asker and say: "Here you are" etc.
*  The asker takes the salt and says: "THANK YOU".

What impression would it make, if the asker takes the salt, but then just turns his head away and says nothing???

The offer does not even have to be accepted (at all).
*  I offer someone a cup of coffee.
*  That persons reclines and says: "No thank you".
Nobody would be offended by that, but here again, what if that person just turns his head away and says nothing???

Have these forms of politeness - just saying "Thank you" - been completely erased (deleted) in our modern digital age?

In the hope, that a little more politeness can only help to make the world a better place.


Body Words





 本職は鍼灸師だが、本業が翻訳であるから、今回翻訳者の立場から発言する。 世界中のどの分野でも同じだが、その分野の達人にしか通じない用語がある。その用語を部外者に理解してもらう必要も時々発生する。例えば患者にムンテラ(日本人が作ったドイツ語!)の際病状を解説する時。しかし、使われている言葉に関して双方が類似の意味合いで理解しない限り会話(話が会うこと)が成り立たない。コミュニケーションを取ろうとしている人の自然条件(年齢、教育、社会的背景など)の相異が大きければ大きいほど通話(話が通る)は困難になる。
 自然な違いに加えて人間は独自の相異も作り上げる:最近何でも「科学的根拠」が必要だが、その根拠を見出すために、測定しようとする項目を定義し、測定を可能にする環境も整える。妨げる物は出来る限り除外する。これはframe of referenceと言い、カメラのファインダーと同様見えるものを限定する。
 だが、最初から見る(理解する)ものを限定する上、私のよう他文化圏の人間も居れば以心伝心の世界は夢の彼方まで遠ざかる。アジアに於いて東西の医学では同一漢字を使うが、それぞれの分野で概念が丸きり異なる。患者の心臓が悪いと説明しなければならない時(例えば、broken heart=失恋のための心気虚)、東西の概念を分けて理解してもらうのも一苦労だ。その患者が外国人であれば尚更に困難が増してしまう。


製品に添付される "documentation"(取扱説明書) は相変わらず悪い。



Transperfect - one of the nonsense giants!

Transperfect - I do not trust them any more ...
(a few pieces from their website ? and my comments)
"TransPerfect is headquartered in New York, with offices in over 50 cities on 4 continents."

"Commitment to Quality
"We have demonstrated our commitment to providing the highest quality language solutions, to achieving client satisfaction, and most important, to working to continually improve our processes and operations to exceed our clients' expectations,"

Well … if that is so, how come I continuously get mails like:
Please excuse this blast email but this project requires some urgency. I have contacted many of you about this job already but we still have about 4700 words left to place. I am in desperate need of help for this one and I would really appreciate any help at all. Even if you could take a page or two that would be extremely helpful. … Quality is of utmost importance for this project as well as the client has already complained about the quality of previous translations."

→ If quality is of such importance, why then split a 20+ job among several translators. This will by necessity and assuredly result in a mixture of styles and probably also a "quality cocktail".

"For TransPerfect, achieving ISO 9001 certification is an honor: but it is simply not enough. We continue to innovate, to strive for excellence, evolving every day to take advantage of all that the emerging technologies have to offer, streamlining our processes, and meeting our clients' needs in the most effective manner possible."

→ As far as I know, they insist on using an outdated, not very reliable software that many translators DO NOT like. And the require translators to use this tool, which forces the translator to work with equipment s/he may not be familiar/efficient with. How can this then help to produce better results???

While Transperfect ALWAYS tries to cheat the translators and offers a pay that is significantly substandard, there are sometimes desparate situations:

"This job is still available and we need your help!!!?
Please let me know if you can take proofreading or translation and when is the soonest you can deliver the files."

A short while later:
"Hello again,
I can pay whatever is necessary to get this job completed for the deadlines below. Please let me know if you cn help.?

In that case I would suggest, that they offer the translator a decent pay up front for work to be completed in reasonable time. THAT would help!

"I have 560 words of an urgent press release due in 3 hours. A great way to make some extra money for the weekend."
Since Transperfect offers mostly something between 0.04 ? 0.08 USD, assume they will pay 0.07 USD = 40 USD. Fine, but I would have to pay 30-40 USD in bank fees to get that money" = a "great way to make some extra money".

And the other day:
"Hi Thomas, you came highly recommended by my colleagues (==> that is something I doubt VERY much) and I was wondering if you could help me out with a small favor. I have a EN>DE translation that was done, the linguist is now offline but I just wanted to check that the translation of this one word is correct."

Stupid as I am, I DID answer.
"Hi Thomas! Thank you for that! I was actually wondering why the "of" is not translated. Should it be …."

My response (partially):
The choice depends on the clients expectations / preferences
**UNLESS** you leave all the decisions to the translator. But in that case you/the client should not afterwards come and complain about a million
unimportant and annoying details? .....
AND ask people basically NOT involved = me, to provide you with free services.
I would prefer, if you do not bother me with this any further.
=> which the manager did not. Neither did he ever offer **ANY** kind of favor in return for this favor/service he got through me.
A symbolic representation of the exploitation of translators by Transperfect.

My advice to translators: unless you can really good offer from Transperfect (unlikely!) - preferrably in writing! - you should for your own good think twice before working for that company.


翻訳者 ― お任せするぞ

例えば補助金の制度が説明されている所で「最大30億円以上」が出てくる。「最大」とは⇒ 「これより上はない」と言う意味のはず。なのに数字に続いて「以上」が来る。


Translation of Material pertaining to "Kampo"

The highest academic authority (社団法人日本東洋医学会) on the Japanese form of "Chinese herbal medicine" is wrong ...
From the society's website:
The intention of the society is to hold research presentations and seek communication, tie-up and promotion concerning oriental medicine and contribute to the progress and dissemination of oriental medicine, and thus contributing to the development of scientific culture."
So, I wrote that academic society a letter.
私は神奈川県の葉山町で小さい鍼灸院を営んでいる鍼灸師、Thomas Blasejewicz と申します。鍼灸の他に過去25年間の間生活の基盤として翻訳の仕事もします。

例えば (KAIM, Volume 1, Special edition より):
* 桂枝茯苓丸料加ヨク苡仁 = けいしぶくりょうがんかよくいにん
* keishibukuryoganryokayokuinin
* Gui-Zhi-Fu-Ling-Wan-Liao-Jia-Yi-Yi-Ren
* Cassia Twig and Tuckahoe Pill plus Coix Seed

Prescription: Hangebyakujutsutenmato 22文字
Prescription: Bukuryoingohangekobokuto 24文字
Prescription: Ryokeijutsukantogotokishakuyakusan 34文字
Prescription: Keishikaryukotsuboreito 23文字
Prescription: Tokishigyakukagoshuyoshokyoto 29文字
Prescription: Yokukansankachinpihangegotokishakuyakusan 41文字

Keishi = 薬物
Ka = processing instruction
Ryukotsu borei = 薬物
To = drug form

私はきっと大変迷惑な喧しい者に違いありませんが、もし貴学会の目的の一つは”dissemination of oriental medicine,”が漢方を日本人以外の人々に紹介/説明/推薦するを意味するならば、その人たちが何となく理解出来る様な形にする必要あると痛感しましたので、連絡を差し上げた次第です。

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps
of the wise: seek what they sought.
- Basho

Longest word in English
According to that article the longest non-coined and nontechnical word is "Antidisestablishmentarianism" with 28 characters and
the longest word in Shakespeare's works is "Honorificabilitudinitatibus" with 27 characters.
So, for any "reasonable" discussion words of less than 20 characters should be suitable/comprehensible.
"Yokukansankachinpihangegotokishakuyakusan" is INCOMPREHENSIBLE (mumble jumble).

Is there really ANY reason, why the translation of Japanese Kampo names MUST be incomprehensible???

Thank you.
Thomas Blasejewicz
The chief virtue that language can have is clearness,
and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.


The famous "common place" is NOT common

"Translation is not about words - translation is about what the words are about." 
Throughout modern history a lot of things have been termed "common place" and been referred to uncountable times. Common place means that something is common, natural and understood by everybody. Yet, by definition that has to be restricted to specific people, cultures and times. Given this common place background, it might be worthwhile to think a little about the translator's job. S/he has to transfer material, usually present in written form, from one language to another. Doing so in some specialized area with heavy use of technical terms can be a rather clear-cut endeavor, precisely because of the technical terms. Mostly they define in very succinct ways what there is to be said among specialists who know what they are talking about. Admittedly, this form of straight communication may at times be endangered the very nature of the "specialists", who are so good at what they are doing / researching that their minds sometimes jump ahead of their writings, leaving the translator (and reader) wondering how to fill in the gaps. The real problems start, when you are talking about something considered very simple, namely common place concepts. So, if I as a German in Germany for example call to my family "let's sit down to dinner", it would be natural, or common place, to think of people sitting on chairs around a table. Yet, that may not be true for regions outside Europe and America. Here in Japan, if I use the same words to ask my family to sit down, that would mean sitting with legs tugged under on the floor. The same person uses the same words and they still mean different things. Please observe that "common place" refers to a place, where people share "common ground". Elsewhere in the world people may sit down to dinner, but do neither really sit on the floor or chairs nor use a table. This is the time when the "common sense" and finesse of the translator kicks in. S/he has to decide where the source material originated from, where it is headed and what it is being used for. Often the translator does not have all this information. Also, if a person/translator has a working knowledge of the target language, but does not live or has been living in the region where the particular language is spoken, s/he may not be completely aware of all the aspects of sometimes verbally not expressed common places.

“Use the right tool for the job”

“Use the right tool for the job” 
In Japan, ich vermute jedoch auch anderswo auf der Welt, scheint es immer noch üblich zu sein, dem Berufszweig die Arbeit mit den Anforderungen nicht entsprechenden Werkzeugen arbeiten zu lassen. Ich meine hier die Art von Aufgaben, wo ich (der Übersetzer) aufgefordert wird, zum Beispiel eine Excel oder Power Point Datei zu überschreiben. Dabei sollte eigentlich inzwischen hinreichend klar sein, dass Excel eine "Spread sheet software" und somit zum rechnen entworfen wurde. Nicht vorwiegend um Texte zu bearbeiten. Desgleichen gilt auch für PowerPoint. 
Gibt man jedoch einem Zimmermann die Aufgabe, ein Brett durchzusägen, wird man ihn kaum je auffordern, diese Arbeit mit einem Taschenmesser auszuführen. Das würde der Zimmermann wohl auch eindeutig ablehnen. Dies ist aber genau dass, was man ständig von Übersetzern verlangt ...

No Peanuts! Movement


Spread the word:
tell the world that you endorse the No Peanuts! Movement.
Join the No Peanuts! Movement.
Living wages for translators and interpreters! All our thanks from No Peanuts!

Translator as "Bookfinder"

Translator as "Bookfinder"
(This article has been published in Japanese in the March 2003 issue of "e-Trans" and posted as a "contribution" at "www.gotranslators.com")
Not to far in the past there was time, when the military used scouts, sometimes also called "pathfinders" (Merriam Webster: path.find.er n (1840): one that discovers a way; esp: one that explores untraversed regions to mark out a new route -- path.find.ing n or adj.), to find their way through unknown country. Literally, these were people that could find a path not visible to anybody else. During a recent conference on translation, a certain question appeared in several different sessions: what actually is the job and/or function of a translator?
The answer to this question appears on first sight very simple and obvious, but many of the attending translators and agencies presented widely varying definitions and concepts. This motivated me to write this little article and express an idea, I did have for quite a while now, but that so far failed to find any resonance. I.e., translators should also (or maybe predominantly) be "bookfinders" in analogy to the above mentioned pathfinders. Below I will try to explain why.
I have been a translator for about 18 years and during this time spent nearly 100% of my time with activities, involving rendition of a certain meaning in one language into another. At times, in particular when the source text is of rather poor quality and/or ambiguous, this also involves a more less significant portion of re-writing or copy writing. Nevertheless, the basic idea is always the same: change A into B. In my memory very few, if any, people I happened to work with have ever questioned or even challenged this view. This is simply the job and function of a translator.
Yet, if you are a translator in any specialized field, show a professional interest in extending your horizons, or conduct a little research in your own or other fields of expertise, then you will certainly do some reading.
This puts the translator in a unique position. He or she is not only capable of professionally handle and evaluate two or more languages, but will be reading reference books on certain topics in these languages. Sometimes there are equivalents or even translations of certain valuable references, but most often not. Under these circumstances the translator is put in a position where he or she can evaluate several books that might be worth translating from both a linguistic and a technical point of view.
I believe that a look at the currently available selection of translated books shows clearly, that the choices are certainly not always professional. They are made by publishers based on information and recommendations of not always certain origin. This provides the general population with a selection of translated books influenced by a possibly one-sided and - naturally - profit orientated choice made by the publishers. But this could also mean, that the average man has access only to a distorted view of the world.
Today, the internet provides the so-called information highway, which offers users so much information with an incredibly short turnover time that nobody can ever handle. Yet, fast access to a terrifying amount of information could also block the view for the more distinct, practical, comprehensive and interesting information a book can provide. After all, reading should also be fun.
Often access to the information highway is highly appreciated, but who would like to live in a house with the front door opening right onto the highway? I would prefer a little distance from it and like the quiet small back roads. This is, where books come in. It takes much longer to publish a book than to publish and then update a web site. Naturally this means, that books are always somewhat "behind their time", but that does not reduce their value.
For example, I am a native German living in Japan. I know of literally "uncountable" translations of German literature, science etc. available in Japanese bookstores. Yet, conversely, whenever I visit Germany and look through large bookstores, I can find at best a handful translations of Japanese books. A very illustrative little episode happened, when I visited the annual Tokyo International Book Fair a few years ago. There I asked a German publisher if they might be interested in the publication of translated Japanese books. The representative at that booth said: "No, why? Publisher XXX already has published two books." Of course, this is hardly any kind of representation of a nation that publishes several tens of thousands of new books every year!
Thus, in spite of the information highway and Japan being an economic superpower with a major impact on the entire world, it still remains largely uncharted territory (a sort of a black hole), because there is so little real information about it available.
Now, here is a field, in which the translator can offer a real contribution to international understanding: by selecting and recommending books worth of translation. The translator who recommends certain books might even do the entire translation. In many cases this would be not only be good for the translator, but also the translation itself and the final reader.





Hawk 【1-名-1】《鳥》タカ (複数形: hawks)

しかし、発音が非常に近いでありながら欧米人にとって(日本人は「病院」と「美容院」を区別すると同じ!)> >はっきりと異なる別の言葉に聞こえた:


どうやらアメリカで試合をやったらしいし、その放映は全世界へ!ならば見ている人の殆ど日本語の特徴を知らない筈。その人たちは> >"Softbank hoax" が聞こえているかもしれない。



Dear Mr.Blasejewicz,



Best regards,

「秘密に取り扱って ・・・」

「秘密に取り扱って ・・・」

そう依頼することは頻繁にあるが、それは例えば特許であれば・・・ 原文が「特許公開広報」である。つまり「公開」=「皆に見せます」って言う事。既に公に公開されている。全世界の人はこの文章を見られる。いや、逆に出願者は見て欲しい。じゃないと他の特許との問題が発生するかがわからない。それを「秘密に取り扱って ・・・」と翻訳会社から依頼されてしまうのは今風の「個人情報保護」パラノイアの延長線でしょうが、どれほど矛盾している/無意味である事が誰も気が付かないのでしょうか。

観光案内なども似たものだ。作成者も利用者もなるべく多くの人々に見て欲しいだろう。なのに「秘密に取り扱って ・・・」




日頃翻訳の仕事をする。数多くの日本の翻訳会社に登録されているので、通常国内の仕事で間に合っている。しかし、やはり複数の翻訳サイトにも登録されているから、世界レベルで出されている翻訳の仕事 (job offer) もネット経由で受診し、閲覧する。


Volume and pricing: 2 words
at 0.060 EUR per word [ TOTAL: 0.12 EUR ] ⇒それって12円(!!)ほど
Payment method: Bank transfer

Sample text: Applicants must translate the following text

The strategy adopted for the fire resistance assessment was based on the calculation of the maximum amount of possibly burning material which can be stored in the compartment having the internal height h=4.50 m ; the goods on show are mainly composed of cellulosic clothes and tissues having a specific calorific value Hu=20.00 MJ/kg (the same parameter for the wood is 17.5) and a combustion factor m=0.80.


Source materials: Expected to be 20-50 pages.

Volume and pricing:
20 pages [ TOTAL: 25000.00 JPY ]

そのような日本国内の「通常価格」のはるか下の値段で仕事できるのは不思議と同時に不審感も抱かざるを得ない。そして - 勿論 - そのような値段でこの仕事を請ける翻訳者がいれば同業者の市場の混乱に陥れて、全ての翻訳者に迷惑が掛かる。


翻訳者 ― お任せするぞ

翻訳者 ― お任せするぞ

「最大」とは⇒ 「これより上はない」と言う意味のはず。





Editing: Requires subject-matter expertise. Post-translation critical
evaluation of the author's (or translator's) understanding of the
material and/or use of terminology or concepts in the text. Includes
also correction of obvious errors.
Editors are not proofreaders, although reading proofs is often part of
the job description. Proofreaders check written material, usually as
the final step before it is set into type, to correct errors in
grammar, spelling, usage and style.
Editors are expected to be fully qualified professionals, ex: a
medical editor should have an excellent knowledge of medecine.



製品に添付される "documentation"(取扱説明書) は相変わらず悪い。





[荘子天道] 人が引き受けてなすべき任務。「―を全うする」「―を持つ」「―をとる」








Digitale Welt

Digitale Welt
Kürzlich bekam ich eine Anfrage per E-Mail hinsichtlich einer Übersetzung von einer mir völlig unbekannte Person aus Amerika. Diese Mail began wie folgt:

Hi Tom, I have a small bit of text in my Japanese page that needs real translation.

Auf diese etwas wunderlich freundliche Mail für einen Geschäftsbrief habe ich geantwortet:
"Good evening, thank you for your mail, but I believe this is not really a proper way to do business. (assuming that you want to do business)" und weiterhin habe den Autor der Nachricht mehr oder minder freundlich auf meinen Namen hingewiesen:

Probably I am too old(-fashioned) for this world, but I DO have a name:
Blasejewicz, or Thomas Blasejewicz, either of which is usually preceded by "Mr." Not "Tom".

Daraufhin hat die besagte Person wie folgt geantwortet:
Also in the digital world people do talk quickly and not as formal. That is how business is done, people can get to know each other later.

Nun, wenn dies der "gesunde Menschenverstand / Höflichkeit" der modernen digitalen Welt ist, würde ich glaube eher vorziehen, NICHT ein Teil dieser Welt zu sein.

Bücher übersetzen

Bücher übersetzen .......
Bücher übersetzen .......

Wir leben im sogenannten Zeitalter der Information. Und über das sich immer weiter "ausbreitende" Internet werden heutzutage dermaßen große Informationsmengen verbreitet, dass keine einzelne Person diese noch überblicken, geschweige denn verarbeiten kann.

Wenn man in diesem Zusammenhang über das Übersetzen von Büchern spricht, klingt das fast wie ein Anachronismus. Aber persönlich würde ich gern einige (zahlreiche) Bücher aus dem japanischen ins Deutsche übersetzt sehen.

Denn es besteht hier ein ausgesprochenes Ungleichgewicht zwischen Ost und West. Hier in Japan findet man in jedem Buchgeschäft buchstäblich unzählige aus fremden Sprachen übersetzten Werke, natürlich einschließlich der meisten sogenannten deutschen Klassiker. Demgegenüber hatte ich bei allen meinen letzten Deutschlandbesuchen in ALLEN Buchgeschäften Schwierigkeiten Bücher zu finden, die aus dem Japanischen ins Deutsche übersetzt wurden.

Dann gibt es da aber auch die andere Seite. Nämlich schlechte Qualität oder seltsame Wahl der Titel. Als Übersetzer habe ich auch schon einmal ein vollständiges Buch über Akupressur übersetzt. Glückerweise bin ich da nur für meine Übersetzung bezahlt worden und mein Name ist nicht auf dem Umschlag erschienen. Und das ist besser so. Denn was ich dort übersetzt habe, halte ich persönlich (als Fachmann auf diesem Gebiet) für großen Unsinn und völlig wertlos !

Ich habe auch schon einmal ein Buch gelesen, in dem der Berg "Fuji" als Fujiyama (eine derzeit in Deutschland leider übliche Bezeichnung) genannt wird und es dann hieß, die Japaner würden ihn "liebevoll 'Herr Fuji' nennen". Das ist natürlich auch Unsinn! Zum einen gibt es keinen Japaner der diesen Berg "Fujiyama" nennen würde. Er heißt hier "Fujisan". Dabei steht "san" für das chinesische Schriftzeichen für "Berg". Das japanische Suffix "san" steht aber auch für Herr/Frau, was wohl zu oben genannten Missverständnis geführt hat.

Nur muß aus diesen Missverständnissen auch abgeleitet werden, dass deren Urheber nicht viel über/von Japan wissen. Und die Verbreitung von "falschem" Wissen, wie zum Beispiel "Fujiyama" kann in einem Zeitalter, in dem internationale Verständigung wesentlich ist, bestimmt nicht viel Gutes anrichten.

Meines Wissens nach ist ein großer Teil der Japaner ausreichend bis sehr gut über die Lage (wirtschaftlich, politisch, historisch etc.) in anderen Ländern (natürlich auch Deutschland) unterrichtet. Demgegenüber kenne ich persönlich niemanden in Deutschland, der einigermaßen vernünftig über die Lage in Japan unterrichtet ist.

Und nun meine ich, dies spricht Bände über die fehlenden Bände (übersetzter Bücher)!