General ramblings on a Friday afternoon train ride...

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, no matter how hard you try there are things that people have said to you that stay with you and eat away at your soul and create a huge complex? D has a huge complex about his eyes because he thinks they are too small and the fact that he only has single eyelids is a bad thing. The reason he thinks this is because over the years various people have said stuff like that and it has stayed with him. (My MIL is the prime suspect as the main cause of his complex, but that is a story for another day.) Since I started working I have been struggling with a complex I have about not being able to translate well from English to Japanese. I have very recently come to accept that I speak/ read/write Japanese pretty well (rather than putting myself down and saying that I should/could be better) but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get over the block I have about translating into Japanese. Obviously I am aware that at the end of the day, translating into English will always be much easier for me but I don’t understand why I find it so impossible to translate/ interpret things into Japanese when at the end of the day I am perfectly capable to saying whatever I want to in Japanese, so surely it should be the same thing. It is going to sound tragic but I genuinely believe that my complex stems from a comment that Morimoto-sensei (who was my Japanese language teacher in my final year at Durham) made once about how I was never going to be very good at Japanese and that I would never be able to translate things into Japanese as I didn’t have the grammatical knowledge to do so. Yes, it is more than 6 years since that comment was made and since then my Japanese has improved a lot and I have passed the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) Level One but I still remain convinced that I am incapable of producing a reasonable translation into Japanese on paper. This is a problem because a lot of my current work consists of explaining to my boss what is written in e-mails that people write to him in English. I can do this pretty well if I am speaking to him but if I try and put a translation down on paper, it all goes horribly wrong and I struggle with it endlessly. My boss isn’t remotely bothered about the grammatical correctness of the translation, he just wants the gist of the e-mail but I still end up having to give myself a pep talk every day to try and convince myself that I CAN do it and that I should stop stressing so much about it. I often think that teachers/ other education professionals remain blissfully unaware of how much they shape/change the lives of their protégé. Obviously they realize that they play a very important role in educating the adults of the future but I wonder if some of my teachers realize how much of an influence (positive or negative) they have had over my self-esteem/ self-belief. But enough about complexes/ unhelpful teachers, I am currently typing this on a train on the way back from Bristol. I have taken to writing my blog posts in Word lately and then posting them when I get internet access/ a break at work. I don’t have much time/ scope for skiving but when I do, it makes sense for me to write stuff for my blog. If I didn’t do it this way, then I would never get around to posting at all. Lately I have been musing about the place in my life for blogging. When I was in Japan, it was very important as an English outlet/ place to talk about the trials and tribulations of life as a foreign wife. I originally starting blogging with the plan of sharing my blog with my family/friends back in the UK but for various reasons, which never happened. There are very few people I know IRL who know this blog exists. Recently I added it to my facebook profile so more people from the UK have been reading but until that, most of my readership was online friends all over the world. My life at the moment is definitely more exciting/fulfilling than the rut I was stuck in Japan but I find myself at a loss as to what to talk about these days. I doubt I will give up bogging any time soon and will no doubt find other topics to talk about as time goes on but I sometimes wonder why I get so much pleasure from writing on my blog. The little community of foreign wives/ fellow Mums that I find myself a part of has been a huge support/ source of sanity to me over the past couple of years and I think that is what keeps me talking. I also love reading what everyone gets up to and seeing all of us progress through our lives. What started out as a medium to maintain contact with friends/family has turned into something much bigger for me and I sometimes wonder what I did with my time/ pent-up emotions before I found blogging? As I participated in a couple of internet forums (and still do to a certain extent) that were similarly important to my sanity, I kind of know the answer to that one but I wonder how I survived before I discovered the internet and all the wonders it offers. Anyway, we have nearly arrived in London now so I guess I will stop my ramblings (to be continued.. as it were) and put my computer back in the bag. Hope you all have a great weekend!!


ambjp said...

I can relate to how important school teachers can be and they may never realize it.
Long long time ago, in my native Switzerland, I had a German teacher who told us words that have been glued into my brain since those days: "speak, speak, speak. Don't worry about making mistakes. Just speak, use the language". Or something like that.
We were in the French speaking part of Switzerland, where German (and the Swiss German dialects) are not very popular.

daikon said...

Hi there. Try not to feel too down; I bet that your translations into Japanese are better than you think they are. Also, I think you should be proud of passing the level 1 JLPT, as that's quite an accomplishment. In the future, I hope to be able to do that.

I've been living in Kagoshima prefecture as an exchange student; I've lived in a total of three different areas, but the place that I lived the longest was Ijuuin.

It's a wonderful place in Japan, isn't it. Thanks for creating the nice blog.

Take care,

dongurigal said...

Hey Midori

Am I ever jealous--JLPT Level 1. It's bloody hard translating from your mother tongue to a second language. My understanding is most translators translate into their mother tongue, not the other way around, so don't feel bad.

Allow me to play teacher--here's something that might work for you, but it might also be embarrassing to do at work. I tutored a grade 7 student who was amazingly articulate, but when it came to writing stuff down, forget it. So I suggested he say what he wanted out loud and I would write it down. No editing--exactly as he spoke. His writing improved. Then I told him, if he would speak into a tape device--or whatever is used these days--podcast--then transcribed his words, he would be able to get on paper what he was able to say so well.

In your case, it might help to translate each sentence outloud first and then write it down. Or, tape yourself--if that would work time wise.

chelle said...

You rock! I so second guess myself too. You got the job because it was perfect for you.

You are where you are suppose to be.

As for blogging. I will fix up you new look and you will feel refreshed here too! Hugs!

Sarah said...

I have found blogging to be such an encouragement, too. Like you, I started blogging as an outlet for my frustrations and to keep up with my English but it has become so much more for me. I hope you don't stop.

Heidi said...

Reminds me of a good friend of mine. She qualified as a barrister in England and started pupillage in a top law firm in Singapore. One of the partners told her during her pupillage (i.e. prior to qualification in Singapore) days that she is just not cut out to be a lawyer. Cruel or kind, I wonder? Well, she has since left law and I have always wondered if that is so because of the discouragement from the partner or the partner was right anyway ....

But I say, don't be beaten! Take your sensei's words as a challenge.

There is quite a big group of translators working in my office and I firmly believe that translation is not just a matter of how good you are at the language. If this is something that bugs you, you may wish to consider attending translation courses. Get your office to consider whether they are OK bearing the costs, if you decide to pursue this. (As further evidence that translation is not just a matter of language, the translation courses are divided up, at least in Japan, to translations for novels, translations for movies etc. And interpretation courses are again different.)

Anyway, all the best and don't lose the faith!