Why We Need Translators

Like everyone in the world, I have been watching the Democratic primaries with great interest.  Here in Japan, coverage inevitably includes scenes from a town called Obama.  The folks in that village feel a special affinity with the multicultural candidate.  Apparently a resident chopstick maker even made a special set for Obama Barack, inlaid with precious metals or something shiny.  And then you get the people holding up signs intending to show their support, but what they say is “Fight Obama!”  In real English, that would mean, “Let’s work hard to defeat Obama.” Many Japanese erroneously translate the word “ganbatte” (“perservere”) to mean something else entirely.   If you are a Japanese student of English, please take my advice and NEVER translate “ganbatte” as “fight” again.  Better choices:  “Good luck, Obama!”  or “Keep at it, Obama!”

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One thought on “Why We Need Translators

  1. Hopefully someone has clued in Obama so he doesn’t think the Japanese are “fighting” him! What a thrill it was to see the huge turnout for the caucuses here in Washington state this weekend. It’s all very inspiring and gives me great hope for 2009! I have to agree with Obama that yes, we can.

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