Re: Japanese and English

Subject: Re: Japanese and English
From: "Stephen A. Carter" <hticn -at- GOL -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 1997 12:45:51 +0900

In article <199708081648 -dot- BAA16168 -at- gol1 -dot- gol -dot- com>,
Ed Klopfenstein hit the nail on the head when he wrote:
>Let's pull away from the "Japan is different" mentality, folks. That's
>dangerous. And it's something that's going to get anyone doing business in
>Japan in trouble.
>What's really rude is treating Japanese documentation customers as cultural
>anomalies. Listen and meet their needs like you would with any other

Bravo! This is *exactly* the way it is. Much of my own work is
Japanese-to-English translation of patent documentation in the field
of automotive electronics. I have yet to see anything "intrinsically
vague" about the Japanese language. Just as with English texts,
vagueness in Japanese documentation that impedes understanding can
usually be categorized as "sloppy writing" -- there's no need to
resort to some kind of mystical Orientalisme to explain it.

>In some ways, even more specific than English because it uses Chinese
>picture writing (kanji) for the real specific points. That makes the meaning
>crystal clear.

Here I've got to disagree. First, it isn't really picture writing --
it's simply a script that's mostly based on morphemes instead of being
mostly based on phonemes the way our own alphabet is. Second, it
doesn't "make the meaning crystal clear" in any way -- if it did, they
wouldn't need translators like us, and we wouldn't need all those
dictionaries. :-)

Stephen A. Carter High-Tech Information Center Nagoya, Ltd.
<mailto:scarter -at- hticn -dot- com> Nagoya, Japan
PGP key ID: 0x59B4F7AD * Team OS/2 *

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