Sunday, March 29, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 57, Wrap Up

I've found that translating manga is an error-prone process. My approach is to first write out the original dialog on a sheet of paper, one line at a time, followed by the hiragana-only version of the sentence. This step right here is problematic because various kanji have multiple readings, and I'm likely to pick the wrong one at any given time. Second, I type up the full dialog into NJ Star, for both the original version and the hiragana-only version, so that I can use both as a learning tool for memorizing kanji readings. Here, I introduce more errors by dropping words, adding typos, and mistyping "は" as "わ". Finally, I use both my handheld dictionary and NJ Star's pop-up dictionary for getting word meanings as I do the actual translation work. This last step depends on my ability to pick the correct meanings from context, and well as looking up the right word (given that I probably misspelled it when I typed it up).

Of course, there's lots of slang phrases and common colloquialisms that I don't know, so I have to ask native Japanese speakers for help. And, surprisingly often, they don't know the answer either. Turns out that most Japanese people, when reading manga, gloss over a lot of the dialog and just get the gist of the sentences rather than really try to understand everything word by word. When asked to explain what a particular phrase means, they're stunned to discover that they don't know. Therefore, while I can translate the paragraph as a whole, I may not always be able to say what each word or particle contributes to that sentence (as I tried to do in the proceding blog entries).

What this all boils down to is that if you find mistakes in these "Learning Japanese" blog entries, let me know and I'll try to correct them.

If you want to go over all of the blog entries in order, please visit my "Index into TSOJ" page. The links are already compiled together in the "Learning Japanese" table.

And, the full set of manga pages is here for the Japanese version, and here for the English version.


Shiroibara said...

That's really weird. I wonder how many people in various countries could actually say they know most of the common phrases used in their cultures. I know some of it will be generational and some regional so there are allowances for that, but just in general.

TSOTE said...

Well, I'd at least expect that if someone read a book cover to cover and then set it down to go to the next one, that they'd be able to answer questions about the language used in that book. If not, then at least part of the book went over their head and they either didn't notice or didn't care. Unfortunately, probably more than half the readers in the U.S. are guilty of this, and I'd expect that the numbers are about the same in other countries.