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Translation

Speaking of the difficulty of translation...

When I think of putting my blog entry into Japanese, I should say it would be difficult -- if I want to do it "correctly." Actually, I once did try for fun, but gave it up on the way. It may sound strange, but I found it interestingly hard to translate my own writing, because it's virtually impossible to make both entries identical. If I were to try a word-by-word translation, it would almost certainly be a disaster.

There's no such thing as perfect translation. All we can do is make a better substitution.

And this is where one of the problems lies in the English education in Japan. Translating English sentences into Japanese is (still) a popular way of teaching English at school. The trouble is, teachers tend to give only one fixed meaning to each English word, which could be an impossible practice depending on the word, and students take that for granted, which often results in awkward translations. In the "school English" sphere in Japan, there are a great number of English words whose corresponding Japanese meanings are traditionally "established," as if no other alternatives were forever permissible. Some stupid teachers (and there seem to be many) force their students to write exactly the same translations in exams that were taught at class. How could students grow their intuitive sense of the language in such settings?

Translation is, in my opinion, no bad way of learning a foreign language. What is needed is flexibility, and freedom.

And I'm sure M-san and Mieko-san will prove that.

Comments

I did something I haven't done since my freshman year of college last night - I went to a movie by myself. After two weeks of plans that refused to coalesce (i'd made arrangements to go no less than three times) I decided that, perhaps, it wasn't just fate but a concerted aversion to soft understated film that was keeping any of my friends from accompanying me to Lost in Translation.