Translating: The Correct Mindset.

Lifelong Learning 生涯学習Recently, while searching for leads into new opportunities for translation and interpretation, I came across a question posted on the Japanese Q&A portal known as 教えてgoo (oshiete goo) that resonated with my feelings towards translation exactly. There are several websites in English which run on a similar platform. A question is posted, other users freely offer up answers and suggestions, and the original user chooses what they believe to be the best answer. The author of said answer receives credit and reputation in the community for providing valuable information. Whether or not any monetary transactions take place, I am unaware. What I am aware of, and have been surprised by several times to date, is the number of users that offer very detailed, specific, and thoughtful feedback (oftentimes in very polite language). Aside from websites that pride themselves on the quality of their content and manage their community well (such as the American-based Quora), it has struck me that this differs dramatically from the oftentimes shallow and too oftentimes reckless commentary found in similar websites catered to English-speaking audiences.

That aside, here is the original question posted in 2010 by user sosrsvp titled “英語の翻訳者・在宅翻訳・フリーランス翻訳で少しでも稼ぐ為には??”(What does it take to save a little money as an English Translators/Home Translators/Freelance Translator?): Continue reading

The New JLPT: Review & Essential Tips

Japanese, long noted for its high level of difficulty, has become increasingly difficult to master this year with the onset of the new Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) format.

Background

In the past as is the case still today, the JLPT was divided up into several sections based on reading, grammar, and listening.  However, whereas in the past your passing score was based on your overall score, this year’s test-takers will need to pass every single section in order to be awarded proficiency in that level of Japanese.  What this means is that in order to pass the exam one must be proficient in all levels of Japanese (except speaking).  In other words you may be a fantastic reader and have a high level of kanji-recognition, scoring high in the first section; but should your ear be green and unaccustomed to spoken Japanese then your chances for passing are slim. Slim still are your chances should the opposite be true.

Another change that has been made this year is the addition of a new level between the old level 1 (the most difficult level) and 2.  This change means that the JLPT now offers 5 levels of proficiency examination.

This year I have had the privilege of being in South Korea for the summer where the test is offered twice a year (as opposed to only once a year in the United States).  My aim was 一級 (ikkyuu), the highest level of Japanese proficiency. Note: Ikkyuu is now known as N1. Continue reading

Hand-Writing All 1,947 Jōyō Kanji: Ten Things I Learned.

“The Jōyō kanji are the 1,947 most essential kanji in the Japanese language as designated by the Ministry of Education.  I hand-wrote them all.  This is what I learned…”

Waves of Kanji

Waves of Kanji

In an effort to improve my Japanese writing finesse and satisfy my nearly insatiable interest in Chinese characters I undertook the daunting task of hand-writing every single one of the 1,947 Jōyō kanji as included in this book.  I literally went through every single one of the kanji included in this reference book and wrote and rewrote them until I had gone through all of them.  The focus was on repetition and muscle memory, and maintaining the correct stroke order was pivotal to the entire exercise.

To set the record straight, I really enjoy studying kanji…really enjoy.  What to many is boring and impossible, I find meditative and relaxing, insightful and enlightening.  Within each kanji there is a story and a reason for its construction.  Every kanji is based in a history that is long and clouded and originates in ancient China making them living artifacts, speech relics that are as good today as they were one-thousand years ago.  Each stroke is carefully planned and, when performed in the correct order, smooth and natural to your hand. Continue reading