Translation is …

I have already embarked on the next project, which is to be completed really soon  (by the standards of someone like me who is slow to finish work). But this time, the situation is much better. I don’t have to do the translation of the English passages.

A great number of language experts, whether they are in academics or not, tend to insist on not translating English into your first language (Japanese, for instance), and I am all for it. Why?

Because it’s hard!!

Are you laughing now? Well, I am very serious.

When I have to translate (yes, “have to” because translation is not my profession), I often look up words in plural numbers of dictionaries and encyclopedias, looking for the best translation.  However, I know it will turn out to be meaningless. Most of the time, I cannot find the Japanese translation! Besides it doesn’t make a difference if I do find the Japanese name for The Hackberry Emperor butterfly. Very few Japanese people will be able to identify the butterfly, because it inhabits only North America.

Vocabulary is merely one example. English sentence structures are not similar, much less identical, to Japanese, so translating, if conducted by inexperienced, novice translators like me,  can ruin the original sentences.

Last, but not least. We are studying for the TOEFL, where English is the only language you can use in answering the questions. Translation can be of some help, but if you develop a habit of relying too much on Japanese translation while studying, you will find yourself clueless about the passage.

So, I would advise my dear readers / subscribers / learners to never read the translation first. Think of this way. Oh this is a nice trap set up by the publisher who wants to give credulous readers satisfaction, thus making the product sell well. I won’t criticize publishers because they are exposed to a harsh business climate. However, if I were the target learner, I would cut away the translation and throw it into the trash can.

If you have a translation, you always look at it, but if you don’t, you have no choice but to focus on English. Isn’t that what you are supposed to do?





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