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Lost In Translation
Inu mo arukeba bou ni ataru
inu.jpg

An old Japanese saying: directly translated "Even when a dog walks, he will hit a stick." Has both positive and negative meaning revolving around the theme of action and consequences. You cause some kind of action and it will result in some kind of consequence.


It has been a really interesting year. When I first started this blog back in February, my take on it was that of a person trekking out into the middle of the desert and digging a hole just for the fun of it. Kinda pointless, kind of a personal challenge, and not bothering anyone.

If you check out >>my very first entry, you'll see I said something to that effect.

But it turned out to be nothing like I expected. I ended up not in this vacuum of the internet where I affected nothing and nothing affected me. Instead, I have been motivated and inspired by not only the football I've watched but also the voices of the people (football fans) who have shared their thoughts with me. And I am grateful to those people who have contacted me over the past year with comments and questions, keeping me on my toes. The blog also allowed me to "meet" a lot of good people, football writers and football fans as well as fellow bloggers.

I have also had my share of not-so-nice experiences as well. But I chalk it up to lessons well learned.

One of the things I think that struck me most was the unavailability of much Japanese football news in English (or any non-Japanese language). Not big news about the big stars, but the day to day kind of intelligent discussions that makes following football seductive, especially if you don't have access to full games. Of course, this is quite understandable. Not that many people in the world really care or know about football in this country, and part of my initial motivation for starting this blog was to bring a wide range of current topics to people who are curious.

Losing Us in Bad Translation

The trickiest part for me has been the translations. Which is why I have prefaced the direct quotes I've personally translated with "rough translation". It is something I want to underline a hundred times, not just when people read what I personally have translated, but also when you read any translations. Believe me, I've seen some extremely shoddy translating on a wide range of media -- both in and outside Japan, on tv and in print.

Along with translating the meaning word by word, the problem lies in the context of the comment as well as cultural context. And sometimes you will have people being quoted for saying things they didn't even say. To be honest, I have been rather unimpressed with the cavalier attitude with which many professional writers have used translations and quotes in sports (especially in football, where many countries are represented even inside one club) -- as many of you speak more than one language, you probably know what I mean.

Having struggled with this issue throughout the year myself, I was saddened when recently one of Japan's most famous baseball players, Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners) was the victim of exactly this kind of foggy interpretation.

>>Click to read article

>>Click to read what the original Japanese interviewer/writer had to say in response

As you can see, once it's "out there", you can't stop the bleeding. The P-I tried to defend their unquestionable error by saying they were justified in "reading between the lines" of the article. But as you can see the original author/interviewer has claimed those nuances as his own bias (how he saw the season and Ichiro's position in the team).... and you can go on and on, around and around. For a while there, the city of Seattle turned on one of their most loved athletes... backlash is that easy. I guess it's just something to keep in mind especially if you read a quote translation that sounds out of character. First be skeptical, is what I learned.

But this is not to say we should stop trying to understand cross-culturally. No indeed. What fun would that be?

That is, afterall, why I started the blog in the first place. I'm just learning as I go along.

I hope you continue to join me next year. We have lots and lots coming up -- the J league season with three newly promoted teams, more transfers in the works, the Asian Champions League, the Japanese players in the European leagues, the Asia Cup qualifiers, and the gem of it all: the World Cup!

But first in the next four days, we have the Emperor's Cup Semis and Finals.


Oh, and my New Year's Resolutions to come.

If you have suggestions, gripes, comments, and questions about the blog, now is the time to tell me!
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2006/01/05(木) 18:43:18 | | #[ Edit]
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2005/12/29(木) 10:52:09 | | #[ Edit]
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