China - "cheap is best" ...

English: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller DE...
English: Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller DEEPSEA (Ref. 116660) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day I received a mail from a Chinese company for which I did a few short proofreading jobs in the past. A portion of the mail said:

"Do you have time to help me proofreading the job?
Our client is not satisfied with the translator's quality, and unfortunately, the translator is not responding on the feedback since last night, we are facing to lose this client now."

Well, there is really not much to say.
First of all the original client is at fault, because they were looking for translations that are above everything else CHEAP. And China provides that kind of service.
And the translation agency is at fault, because they were using a translator (I got the impression from the text they sent me, that this person is first of all NOT a native German), who agrees to provide CHEAP (= this is usually called "reasonably priced", "best rate", or something like that) work.

Is it then any wonder, when the client (apparently requiring some official documents for the export of cars) complains, that the quality of the translation is not the "Ferrari" or "Rolex" quality they have been expecting?

I really do not understand these people.
If you buy cheap products, you get cheap quality.
It is part of the deal.
And it applies to ALL fields of business.
(you cannot buy a real Rolex watch for 59 USD ...)

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barefoot coffee

During lunch break I frequently ride my bicycle along the coast for exercise.
On one of my "standard routes" I always pass a sort of "container" near the beach that has been set up as a coffee shop.
Fine so far.

But its sign says, the place is called "barefoot coffee".
"Barefoot" - since this thing is only 50 m from the beach, this probably alludes to the possibility to come over and walk in with sandy feet, possibly barefoot (which is not necessary welcome in restaurants).

However, the way the name is written "barefoot" becomes a modifier for coffee, like for example in "outdoor exercise".

Well, if that is so, then the coffee comes walking in barefoot?
A rather unusual idea.

Probably the people wanted to express
1) "barefoot cafe
2) "barefoot coffee shop"

This is again a manifestation of the annoying laziness of the Japanese people to look up one or two terms in a dictionary.
It may sometimes reach literally "unbelievable proportions".

Facebook - insanity continues

I posted before about the insanity of facebook requiring me to use BOTH my real AND a false name.

This continues!
There is a field where I am supposed to enter my (in this case my clinic's) address. It has been 18 years since I opened this little acupuncture clinic of my own. You can find me at this address in any which way you choose. Google aerial pictures show the house.

BUT ... behold: facebook tells me: "Oh no, there is no such place"

Isn't that wonderful!

I tried to find out what's going on, "googled" around and found that other people have the same issue, tried to enter my address in ***ANY*** possible way. There are two fields for it, so you can distribute the portions of your address on these fields differently.

But NO!!! combination works.

Again - being required to be a real person to start with, but at the same time sent into the underworld and declared a ghost.

Could anybody tell me what exactly the purpose / advantage of this "virtual reality strategy" is???

I am only an ordinary mortal man and therefore this logic (?) is way beyond me.

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Facebook - racial discrimination?

English: Table of katakana characters, and the...
English: Table of katakana characters, and the kanji from which they derive. Français : Évolution des katakana à partir des kanji. Русский: Таблица символов катаканы (слева) и исходные иероглифы, из которых они развились (справа). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Japanese "alphabets" in Did...
English: Japanese "alphabets" in Diderot Encyclopedia (18th century) -- actually syllabaries, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For a long time I deliberately chose NOT to use facebook. Now my children "got me down" (they did not "convince" me ...) so that I set up an account a few days ago.

To understand the following, I have to explain a a little something about Japanese.
The Japanese language uses basically 4 different character sets:
* Chinese characters
* Japanese alphabet for native terms (called hiragana)
* Japanese alphabet for foreign terms (called katakana)
* roman alphabet

Facebook requires everyone to provide his/her REAL name. That is my case (I am a German) naturally written in roman alphabet.
However, facebook also asks, whether you (anybody) would like to display this name also in a different language. For me here this would be Japanese.

For me that would be Thomas (first name)
-> rendered in katakana 「トーマス」
Here the syllable for "tho" is extended to match the pronounciation.
BUT ... and I had the same problem before with NHK = the national TV station - facebook tells me: oh no, there is no name that would be pronounced "thomas" (with a prolonged "tho" instead of the short form used in English).
I ***MUST*** use a rendition of my name that simply is NOT(!!!) my name.
The same applies to my family name.

So, what is it with these facebook idiots.
On the one hand they demand that I provide my real name,
but on the other hand they force me to use a fake name.

That is, what it comes to: a false name! NO (!!!) official document related somehow to me would be recognized/accepted with the forced (Japanese) spelling.

How stupid!
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Facebook も人種差別している

Facebook も人種差別している。今日は子どもに進められて Facebook のアカウントをセットアップした。

私の名前(本来アルファベットですが、Facebook account setting の所で「日本語名を入力」場所ある/薦められる)の「正しい」カタカタ =トーマス ブラーゼイェーヴィッツ を入力すると:




NHKに「それはどういうつもりか。外人を付き合わない事を表現しているか」と言う内容でNHKで問い合わせた所で、NHK から次の返事(抜粋)が来た:


しかし:「カタカナ」で入力せよと要求されたら、自分の名前の正しいカタカナ表記:トーマス ブラーゼイェーヴィッツが受け付けない。



日本人なら例えば「佐藤」は「サトウ」とかけるが、Baker, Tayler etc. の横文字の名前はどうしても伸ばすカタカナの棒が必要。

結局 Facebook 多数の人間/人種等を相手にするはずですが、その人達の名前を日本語風に表現する事を***差別***している。
How wonderful!
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Translator as "Bookfinder"

English: Štefan Konzul, croatian translator.
English: Štefan Konzul, croatian translator. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

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Information - Japan

The Great Wave off Kanagawa
The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On every trip abroad I cannot help to notice one peculiar thing.
Japan imports and domestically spreads a wealth of information from all over the world. Every small town bookstore is filled with Japanese translations of valuable foreign literature.

Yet, "ALIENS", as foreigners are called in Japan, in their own countries usually have very little if any information about Japan. In (large) bookstores I recently visited in Germany I probably could have counted German translations of Japanese books with one hand! And those books, materials acutally present did not really appear to me as representative and informative examples of Japanese culture and concepts.
As an
ACUPUNCTURIST I am probably best able to judge the situation in relation to my special field, oriental medicine. Some of the available translations rather bring shame on the more than 1000-year long tradition of oriental medicine in Japan.
I really wonder why in the face of the booming popularity of so-called "alternative therapies" so few of the many GOOD books (here I speak for Japan and Japanese books) are translated.

Recently I participated in a national conference on acupuncture in Japan. A guest speaker representing the NIH held a lecture detailing the establishment of guidelines regarding research into and application of acupuncture in the United States. This lecture revealed, that the incentive to start studies of acupuncture are already more than 20 years old. Yet, the consensus conference supposed to provide the relevant answers for the issues at hand could not reach any conclusions until the mid-ninties, because there were "too few data/usable research". The persons in charge had been looking in China and throughout the world - except in Japan. Here the kind of research had been conducted since the mid-sixties.
Thus, because other countries are not really looking, and Japan itself not actively providing this information, Japan has been and apparently still is
a sort of
"undiscovered island"
along the so-called information highway!

If publishers should be interested in providing such materials, I would be glad to offer my services. Maybe this would also help a large portion of the world population to get finally access to a large body of valuable information on Japan.

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