親会社・子部品

親会社・子部品

I noticed an odd idiosyncratic in the way English and Japanese work in relation to the words 親 and 子. In English, you can say that an 親会社 is a “parent company” or a “mother company.” However, the Japanese子会社 has to be a “subsidiary” in English.

On the other hand, in my field we use the terms 親部品 and 子部品. A 子部品 is a “child part” but an 親部品 is, inexplicably, a “level one part.”

I wonder why English chose to eliminate this consistent pattern from our language. 

Advertisements
It’s okay to be afraid to talk to strangers

It’s okay to be afraid to talk to strangers

Many students of foreign languages are encouraged to speak that language out in public. I remember when I had just started studying Japanese. My family went to a Japanese restaurant and they were pressuring me to speak to the waitress. I timidly said 「水をお願いします」and she blinked at me and said “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Japanese.” She was Korean. I felt humiliated. However, even now it can be hard. I will be out at the Japanese grocery store and the woman behind the counter will speak to me in broken English. Should I talk to her in Japanese or let her go on assuming that I can’t speak Japanese? But then I realize that this is not any different from how I feel in an English environment. When I see that the check out girl at Kroger is having a bad day, I debate whether or not to say something. What if she gets mad at me for mentioning it? What if she wants to be left alone? These kinds of things run through my head in English interactions. It stands to reason that the trepidation would be even more severe in a second language. 

So, what I am trying to say is that, if you are new to learning Japanese, don’t expect yourself to start all kinds of conversations with total strangers. Find someone you know or can get close to, like a conversation partner, to talk to. Don’t try to mix language learning with outgoingness.

Downtime: What to do when you have nothing to do

Downtime: What to do when you have nothing to do

Lately I have had a lot of downtime at work. So, I decided to write a blog post about effective use of time, rather than using my time effectively 🙂

Step 1: Organize and Review

If you have been taking notes while you are translating or interpreting, or if you have been saving a document to look over in detail, now is the time to do that. I like to organize the vocab I look up into lists by theme (HR words, Manufacturing words, Financial words, etc) and that is rather time consuming. It can be a great thing to do if you have nothing else to do. Take the time to organize what you have done so far. Put your files in order. Take the words you looked up on the last translation and review them. Put them into a flash card program. Go over old translations.

Step 2: Practice

If you don’t have any work to do, you can always make work for yourself. Go get an NHK article and start translating. Put the translation up on lang-8 and see what people think. Practicing will grow your vocabulary and give you more words to add to your glossary. If you are a straight interpreter, try pasting an article into google translate. It has a read-to-me function that you can use to help you practice interpreting. (Note, I am not telling you to use the translation google provides. Use the read-to-me function on the original, not the translation. We all know how bad GT is.) If you work in close quarters with other people just stick your headphones in and interpret in your head. It may look silly but its actually pretty good practice.

Step 3: Professional Development

See what other things are out there that might help you be a better translator. Research translation classes, online classes in your field, articles related to your field. There might not be something you can do right then but you might be able to suggest something at your next personnel review. Most companies love it when their employees take the initiative in professional development.

Step 4: Familiarize yourself with the Building/Products

If you work in a factory, this is a great time to go out on the floor and watch the processes, see how things work. Take notes and try to look up how to say things that you don’t know. (You may see things you’ve never thought to mention in conversation: beams, rafters, ventilation, etc.) You can also take this time to shadow someone, if anyone is willing. You don’t have to get involved you can just watch them do what they do and take notes. Try to translate out what you saw in a diary entry kind of thing. If you don’t work in a factory, find some parts laying around or some drawings and familiarize yourself with those.

Step 5: Taking stock and self evaluation

Let’s take some time to look at where you are and where you want to be. Look at how much progress you’ve made in your job. List your accomplishments to date. Include things like “I went to this seminar” or “I translated this thing that was out of my specialty.” Then take time to list out some goals. What are your weak points? What would you like to be able to do? What steps do you need to take to get there? This will help you know how to better use your downtime when you have it.

Step 6: Read

Reading is always good for our profession. Open up any random Japanese news site and start reading. It can be taxing when you just got done translating 10 pages and all you want to do is zone out, but reading is one of those things that we have to be able to do. It is how we grow our vocabulary. Reading is essential for translators.