Tag Archives: translation

Authors Answer 90 – Writing in Another Language

All of us are fluent in English. Most, if not all, of us have studied a language to varying degrees in school. But have any of us achieved enough ability in those languages to actually write books in them? Before you read on, take a guess. How many, out of ten people, can write in a language other than English? Let’s see if your guess is correct.  This week’s question was asked by Loren Killdeer.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 90 – Do you write outside of your original language?

Eric Wood

Seeing as I only know English and minuscule pieces of French, my original language is all I write in. Perhaps one day my stories will be translated into hundreds of languages?

Elizabeth Rhodes

I can only write in English. I don’t know nearly enough of another language to make the attempt.

Jean Davis

I have days where it’s difficult to write in my own language, so no.

D. T. Nova

No. If I ever publish in multiple languages I will need a translator.

Paul B. Spence

No. Rhyrhan is such a literal language, and difficult to spell with our alphabet…

S. R. Carrillo

How I wish I could~ I’ve been trying to spruce up my Spanish lately, and I’ve even attempted to read a book in Spanish, but I’m far from fluent. Maybe, one day, I’d like to be able to write a book in Spanish, I think. I may make that a life goal mwahah.

H. Anthe Davis

Alas, I’ve never been fluent enough in another language to try to write in it.  I’ve created fantasy languages, and I’ve dreamed in Spanish and Japanese while I was learning them, but I don’t know them well anymore.

Gregory S. Close

No, unless you count the fictional ones!  I do dabble in Aulden, Underkin and Ancient Andu’ai.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Nope! While I did take several years of French classes throughout my education, I don’t know nearly enough actually write in French, and I only know little snips and random phrases from other languages. It’s English-only for me!

Jay Dee Archer

I’m a language enthusiast. I’ve studied French for eight years and lived in Japan for eleven years. However, I have not achieved a high enough proficiency in either language to be able to write in those languages. Even if I were conversational in either language, my vocabulary wouldn’t be enough to write well. It would also take an incredibly long and frustrating time for me to write in another language, unless I were fully fluent. So no, I only write in English. I would love to write in another language, though.

How about you?

Are you bilingual or multilingual? Are you able to write in more than one language well? Let us know in the comments below.

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Common Mistakes I Hear While Teaching English

I’ve been teaching English in Japan for more than ten years now, and I constantly hear the same mistakes. There are certain words that are always misunderstood or misused. Some of them are so different than what they think it means, that what they say doesn’t make much sense. Let’s take a look at some.

Local

This is what I often hear: “Nagano is very local.”

This is what they mean: “Nagano is very rural.”

This is what an English speaker thinks they mean: “Nagano is near here.”

Their mistake is thinking that local means that any town or small city is easy to get around, so it’s local. However, local merely means that it is something that is near your current location. Nagano is not local. It’s a bit too far away to be local.

Skinhead

This is what I often hear: “Patrick Stewart is a skinhead.”

This is what they mean: “Patrick Stewart is bald.”

This is what an English speaker thinks they mean: “Patrick Stewart is a Neo-Nazi.”

They think that skinhead is a very innocent term meaning bald. Whenever I explain to them what skinhead really means, they’re quite shocked. I would hope they don’t go up to a white guy and tell him he’s a skinhead. Yikes.

One piece

This is what I often hear: “I wore a cute one piece on my date.”

This is what they mean: “I wore a cute dress on my date.”

This is what an English speaker thinks they mean: “I wore a cute swimsuit on my date.”

Normally, we don’t say “one piece” in English, unless we couple it with “swimsuit.”  So, we have a one piece swimsuit. Rarely do we think of a dress, though.

Drama

This is what I often hear: “I love the American drama Full House.”

This is what they mean: “I love the American TV show Full House.”

This is what an English speaker thinks they mean: “I love the very serious American drama Full House.”

In Japan, drama means any kind of TV show that is fictional and has actors. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, it’s still a drama. In English, a drama is serious. They often don’t realise that we never call a sitcom a drama.

The last two are actually used in the Japanese language as loan words. Local and skinhead are just a misunderstanding. Of course, people of pretty much every country gets terms wrong for other languages. One example is that in English, people often proudly call themselves “otaku” as a kind of badge of honour. They think it means they’re just a dedicated fan of something. However, in Japan, it’s a rather insulting thing. People think otaku are outcasts, strange, and unhealthily obsessive. They’re not just fans, they’re considered extremely weird. So, anime and manga fans, don’t come to Japan and proudly tell everyone you’re an otaku. They’ll think you’re very strange.

Do you know of any words that are misunderstood or used incorrectly from one language to another?

Disney Titles in Japanese

Sometimes literal translations don’t work well in other cultures.  You often get changes because the original English title doesn’t translate well or doesn’t make much sense.  Here’s a sample of shows from Disney Junior and some Disney movies.

Handy Manny

In Japanese, it’s おたすけマニー.  That’s Otasuke Manny. That translates as Helper Manny.

Special Agent Oso

In Japanese, it’s きんきゅうしゅつどう隊 OSO. That’s Kinkyuushutsudotai OSO. This translates as Emergency Dispatch Corps OSO.

Winnie-the-Pooh

In Japanese, it’s クマのプーさん. That’s Kuma no Puusan. This translates as Pooh the Bear.  Interesting how his name is now Pooh, rather than Winnie-the-Pooh.

Doc McStuffins

In Japanese, it’s ドックはおもちゃドクター. That’s Doc wa Omocha Doctaa. This translates as Doc is a Toy Doctor.

Gaspard and Lisa

In Japanese, it’s リサとガスパール. That’s Lisa to Gaspard. This is confusing me, because all they did was reverse the names. Now it’s Lisa and Gaspard.

Sofia the First

In Japanese, it’s ちいさなプリンセス ソフィア. That’s Chiisana Purinsesu Sofia. That translates as Little Princess Sofia.

Little Einsteins

This is such a minor change.  In Japanese, it’s basically just Little Einstein.

101 Dalmatians: The Series

In Japanese, this is 101匹わんちゃん. That’s Hyakuippiki Wanchan. That translates as 101 Puppies.

Frozen

Finally, we have last year’s Disney movie that was incredibly popular here in Japan.  The Japanese title was アナと雪の女王. This is Ana to Yuki no Jou.  That translates as Anna and the Snow Queen.

My daughter loves the song Ready Go from Frozen, sung by Adele Dazeem…

See what I did there?