Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Japanese and English language

Yesterday a few people asked whether Tetsu speaks English. Nope. He has never been interested in learning, has never felt a need; until maybe recently. With our children living in the States and with their friends all non-Japanese speaking, I think Tetsu is feeling a bit left out. He found it very interesting to see a quick summer video that I'd captured of the kids in the swimming pool, and hear Takumi and Leiya playing around and talking to each other in English now.

I have never particularly minded that Tetsu doesn't have an interest in English. It was one of things that attracted me to him anyway when we first met... he wasn't looking at me as a potential English teacher. In some ways maybe his lack of English has curbed our relationships somewhat because I tended to keep my friendships with Japanese rather than search out foreign friends. Even now, my only foreign friend in Japan is Marlene and these days she is in Hong Kong!

But all this means that I adapted quickly to Japan and the Japanese language! Thank you Tetsu! More often than not, even when I am in the States, I think in Japanese first, and there are lots of Japanese phrases that automatically come out of my mouth when I can't think of the correct English! But it's true that depending on where I am (in the States or in Japan), my brain goes into that mode.

I have some Japanese friends, the Sugas (Hi Keiko!) and we all used to travel to the States together every summer on the same airplane. We would chat away in Japanese on the way to the Japanese airport. We would chat away in Japanese while flying over the Pacific. We would take our first step into LAX and suddenly we would all be speaking ENGLISH to each other! We would meet once or twice during the summer at my mother's house or somewhere and we would all chat away in ENGLISH. The same for flying back to Japan together... all English. But one step onto Japanese ground and without thinking we would all switch back into Japanese. A very curious phenomenon but that was how our brains worked...


Well, I finished the translating/correcting work I was asked to do. (Remember, the job that was so much bigger than I thought it was going to be.) It has been hanging over my head all through the summer and I got annoyed with all the e-mails and documents and Flash drives that the prefecture was sending me before and while I was in the States. I finally just ignored everything that came about the job and enjoyed my summer, knowing that it would be waiting for me when I got back. And it was!

The last week I have spent about 5 hours a day checking the original translation and rewriting, searching out different websites for more information, gaining knowledge along with my frustrations. For example I had no idea how the Japanese insurance system works and so the round about way the original translator had written things didn't make any sense at all. Once I had a grasp of WHAT she was trying to say, then I could make the paragraph flow a bit more. (Of course, when we met last Saturday, the translator admitted that she didn't understand the system either so she had a hard time translating herself.)

I would really like to turn this all in... but it seems that every time I reread a page I find new mistakes that I overlooked before... Should we be using a comma there or a semi-colon? Didn't we capitalize the word in a different section so shouldn't we be consistent throughout the book?

Aaghhh! And I thought I enjoyed translating! I may have lived too long in Japan. I'm forgetting my English!!!

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