Problems with Japanese-translated English

Subject: Problems with Japanese-translated English
From: Nana Kato <nanakato -at- MA4 -dot- JUSTNET -dot- NE -dot- JP>
Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 14:41:40 +0900

Hello to you TECHWR-L subscribers!
I was allowed to join TECHWR-L only yesterday. Since I'm a VERY native
Japanese translating Japanese technical manuals into English,
I'm not sure if I'm an appropriate participant in this list.
However, I believe some kind subscribers would help me
and I may be able to offer some knowlege concerning
matters of Japan or other things in return.
I have typical problems in English that are often seen in
Japanese-translated English. (Many of you may have
seen funny (frustrating?) ones.) In addition to my shallow
understanding of English, a major factor that makes us
English hard to master is that we have few good reference
books on writing English. Most of the English grammer books
in Japanese are intended merely for students to get good grades in 
college entrance exams and are rarely practical. Even worse, with
their word-by-word meaningless translation style, they often
prohibit us from mastering natural flowing English.
So I thought it is a good idea to study English with style books written
by native writers for native writers and actually
bought some. (Chicago Manual of Style, Style by Joseph M. Williams,
The Elements of Technical Writing, etc.) They are very good books
and helpful. However I have furhter elementary problems, which
shall be naturally mastered by any naive people. I especially have troubles on
use of definite/indefinite article and use of prepositions. English
dictionaries help me a lot. But still they offer me only few examples.
I cannot tell for sure why some nouns go without "the" while
the same noun go with "the" in the same paragraph, or when descrbing
a grahical interface software, why "monitor" go with
"on" (on the monitor) while "window" and "dialog box" go with "in"?
The reason why such kind of things are hard for me might have
to do with my shallow knowlege on spoken English. But unfortunately
I can rarely have a chance to practice spoken English here in Japan,
I wish I could get reference books written by native people
for people with this kind of problems.
If any of you know books or other resources that will help me,
please let me know and I will very much appreciate you.

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