The Glad Game > 2011年4月22日のアーカイブ

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2011年4月22日のアーカイブ

On Writing Papers

I’ve got an English assignment from my boss. One of the faculty members had to write a scientific paper in English. The original was written in Japanese, and he paid a translation company for English translation. The translation was awful, as if translated by the Google translation site. It sometimes happens because native English speakers can’t read Japanese, so Japanese translators do the job. The quality of the translation depends on translators’ abilities.

My boss tried to correct the “translated” English, but it is more complicated to correct someone’s peculiar essay than writing from scratch. So he gave up and delegated the work to me. The document had approximately 3,000 words.

The original writer who paid for the Japanese-English translation was so furious about the quality of work that he didn’t tell us how much he paid for the translation. I checked several translation sites and assumed it cost at least $450 to $600 to have the 3,000 word paper translated by a Japanese translator, as well as checked by a native English speaker. There is no guarantee that the native English speaker has a degree in science, and most of them must be BA holders. If we want our papers corrected by  BS degree holders from the biology field, the cost will be nearly $1,000 for a paper. So, most of the time, Japanese scientists are dissatisfied with the translation, or we are too poor at English that we don’t realize that the quality is bad.

The delegated work was an unpaid and time consuming work for me, but if I did this poorly, I would earn a bad reputation about my English skill. My boss had already corrected the first draft so that at least it looks like it was translated by a human. I have to re-write the essay by using commonly used scientific words and make changes for the repetitive words and phrases. After my correction, my boss will have it corrected by another commercial translation company for maybe $300 or so. At least this paper should be scientifically correct before the final commercial check; otherwise, it will become grammatically correct, but doesn’t follow the specific patterns required in academic fields. The final translator will only check grammatical errors, so if the original English is poorly composed, it won’t be a good one.

It was tiresome work to correct other people’s awful English, but I realized an important lesson by doing it. Just translating Japanese to English word by word won’t work. The way to describe things is different between the two languages, and it sounds peculiar when written with Japanese mindset. We should think differently.

Some people say we don’t have to learn English ourselves because we can hire translators. They seemed to have a valid point that we should focus on our work rather than spending our precious time learning languages. Although, not all of us can afford capable translators or be satisfied with the quality. As we found out by our own experience, having a good writing skill saves us from losing money and frustration.

お金を払ったからといって、満足のいく翻訳に仕上がるとは限らないということを痛感した出来事。自分のことを棚にあげていうのもなんだけど、英訳を生業としている人でもグーグル翻訳みたいな英語を書く人がいるもんだなと。

英作文の練習というと、あらかじめ用意された日本語を英文に訳していく問題集もあるけれど、どうせ練習するなら自分の伝えたいことを自分の言葉で練習するほうがいいと思う。いくら和文英訳が文節ごとに正しかったとしても、構成や組み立てがイマイチだとチグハグな印象を与えてしまう。


1週間悩みに悩んで手直しさせてもらったおかげで自分自身の課題も浮かび上がった気がする。日本語→英語にするときに、たくさんある対応語のなかから正しいニュアンスの単語を選べるか。日本語からの対訳が不自然な英語になっていないか。もっと簡単に表現できる言い回しがないか。

良質な英文をたくさんインプットしながら語感を養いつつ、わかりやすい英文を書く努力をしたい。

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