Blog post

  It is quite interesting to live in the society where two languages are used almost interchangeably.  Good example is Canada where both English and French are written on almost anything. Automated reply on phone have both English and French as well.  As I spend some time in Canada every summer, I have become used to seeing instructions/directions etc. in both languages. 

  I wrote about the benefit of knowing two languages as you become aware of the unique characteristics of the language by learning another.  Language indicates what type of differences the society where the language is used  is sensitive to.  For example, the age and seniority plays a significant role in Japan, thus the language indicates the age difference clearly.  The examples shown were brother and sister.  In Japanese, clear distinction is made between older or younger, i.e. age and seniority,  while in English the distinction is not made that clear.  There are many different expressions showing how it rains in Japanese (some I do not even know), but not many in English, I hear.  It makes you aware of the differences when you learn another language than your own.

 I am thinking about the difference, as I am in the process of translating my recent articles into English.  I would rather do it myself than ask some professional to do so, as it is my idea and concept and I am the one that knows well how writing has developed to the final form.  (I do ask for professional help in editing and proof-reading.)  It is translation of concept, and not language and words per se I am trying to do, and thus, the original writer (in this case, myself) would know the concept better.

  What I find often when translating my own article is that my sentences are too long and try to capture too many ideas.  I personally like simple sentences and make every effort to write in simple, short sentences.  However, as I write and rewrite so many times, my sentences tend to become too long and the structure becomes too complicated.   I realize it when I try to translate into English. (In fact, when I ask for editing at the early stage of my writing in Japanese, the editors usually come back with comments that my sentences tend to be too long.)    Sometimes lanuguage does not even convey the feeling, as I know that photographers and designers can communicate much better directly even though they speak different language.  They speak the same “language” in concept and expressions.

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