Journeys in Japan (Week 4)

面白いfinds in Harajuku and Kamakura tour
(Rebecca and Vincent)

OMG OMG OMG GUYS~~~~! It’s finally week 4 of our Senshu trip in Japan! And boy are we having lots of fun~~ Today we’ll be talking to you about more mistranslations that happened during our adventures in Harajuku and a bit from the previous Kamakura tour. If you read our blog post last week you will notice that Desmondo-kun talked a little bit about the Kamakura tour already, well 大丈夫 (daijyoubu; do not worry), we were in different groups so our stories will be a lot different! だから(dakara; thereforeit should be okay.
The normal weekday starts off with me waking up, like a mummy does when it comes out of its coffin. I then proceed to drag my lifeless body towards the washroom to prepare myself for the day to come. The frozen cold water running from the faucets were like a slap to the face and th…

//DRAMATIC CUT SCENE (ノಠ ∩ಠ)ノ彡( \o°o)\//

Let me just skip to the part where Harajuku comes in, I don’t want to bore you with the daily life thingies. So class was over and we made our way towards Harajuku, the land of uniquely dressed people. This was a place where people were able to expresses themselves fully and be themselves by wearing whatever they wanted. It was in this fashionable place that I found a translation error on one of the signs.

 The sentence” 無料でお名前彫ります “ is the only phrase that was translated on the sign but it ended up being a little funky. “The name is engraving for free of charge” should have been something along the lines of “The engravings of names are free of charge or Engraving your name for free”. The reason why there was a translation error was due to the difference in sentence structure. Japanese sentence structure, much like the English sentence structure includes: a Subject, a Verb and an Object, the only difference is the order that they are in. If you don’t know the word orders then I shall teach you!!

The Japanese sentence structure goes in this order: Subject, Object, and Verb. 
The English sentence structure goes something like this: Subject, Verb, and Object.
Since both word orders are different it could lead to mistranslations in between. For those who are currently confused… FEAR NOT! For I have an example that shows how both Japanese and English sentence structures work.

If we take the example of Japanese and English word order into consideration, the mistranslation that we saw in Harajuku could be explained as such:
In English =  Subject: The name          Verb: Is engraved          Object: For free of charge
In Japanese =  Subject: The name          Object: Free of charge          Verb: Is engraved
Through translations there can be errors made and meanings slightly changed in order to meet the right word order of a certain language. Isn’t that amazing?!?! We have figured out how the mistranslation’s happened to yet another sign in Japan~!

 A more funny mistranslation that I discovered was when I went to the Kamakura trip~~~ I got the opportunity to see the 大仏 (daibutsu; Big Buddha) and a traditional Japanese 結婚式 (kekkonshiki; Wedding Ceremony), lucky me~~~! On our way up the mountain, our group spotted a shop selling interesting stuff ranging from shocking pens, T-shirts and even slippers. This one T-shirt stole my attention because it mentioned (Sake; Japanese liquor). 

The shirt says “ 酒しか信じない。” (Sake shika shinjinai), I would have translated this phrase as: [I can] Only believe in sake or I don’t believe in anything but sake. But the translation on the T-shirt says otherwise. “ Only sake is believed”, the problems that we can see here is the sentence structure and the wrong use of tenses. The Japanese phrase was translated and then put in the original Japanese SOV sentence structure. Instead of using the English sentence structure of SVO to make the sentence: Only believe in sake; The Japanese sentence structure was used creating the sentence that we see on the T-shirt. The other reason for this mistranslation is because of the misuse of tenses. Unlike English, Japanese only has past and non-past making ti harder for them to translate verbs into the appropriate tenses in English. Hope you enjoyed reading the blog, catch you guys later next week!  酒を信じている。(Sake o shinjiteiru; BELIEVE IN SAKE~!) LOLZ 

 Searching for Evangelion 
(Desmond and Jessica)

The weather has been pretty bad this week, but it hasn't stopped us from having fun! However, unlike the other groups in the program, it is quite hard to "Wow" an audience with our topic, sure we may get a few laughs here and there, but there is usually nothing too impressive. However, earlier this week, a small group of us made a trip to Harajuku (not Rebecca's group!), where we managed to find a couple of unfortunate signs.

After splitting off from a larger group in Shibuya, me (Desmond) and a few members headed over to Harajuku in hopes to find the Evangelion Shop to buy various gifts for the folks back home. During the walk we ran into this sign;

Sorry for the size of the picture, but if you squint really hard you should be able to see that the text on the side of it says "Diaper cake and Balloon shop". There are many things wrong with this but I will assume that they meant "Diapers, Cakes and Balloon Shop". Here we can see that a missing comma will sometimes cause a sign to be very misleading. I'm not sure about anyone else, but a diaper cake doesn't seem too appetizing.   After stumbling through perhaps the sketchiest back alley in our lives, we all managed to locate the Evangelion store with the help of Google maps. The surrounding buildings were very run down and were filled with very unsavory characters which really made the futuristic store stand out. As we expected, all of the clothes were overpriced so we decided to settle for cheap(er) things such as posters and towels However I noticed this sign on the staircase inside and I couldn't help but take a picture of it;
2014-05-20 18.21.28.jpg

I know, I'm a bad person, I did something even though they specifically told me not to, but no one has to find out about it! In all seriousness, the upper floor was an art gallery so I can only assume that they did not want you to take pictures of those, not this sign.   After leaving the shop we noticed there were a couple of people loitering around which I can only assumed wanted to try and mug us, however we were in a somewhat large group so they left us alone. Heres a picture of one of the surrounding stores that I managed to take a picture of;
2014-05-20 18.26.02.jpg
It wasn't the only weird sign in the area but it definitely was the funniest, I just wanted to share it. Also, the shop right above it sold cheap things so I went up there and ended up buying a couple of things. 

Tu be, or not tsu be...  that is the question...
(Rebecca & Vincent)


Last week, we went to Kamakura as a school trip with the conversation partners.  This sign is placed right next to a Koi pond that I saw near a shrine in Enoshima (Kamakura).  Like many of the errors we have seen before, this one is very easy to decipher.  Obviously, it is a sign telling you not to throw food into the water.  Koi ni esa wo ataenai de kudasai.” literally translates into “Please do not feed the fish”.  This sign is off by only one word, so it is easy to know what the actual message is… but Kamakura is a place with a large number of foreign tourists, and usually Engrish is easy to find in areas with low English-speaking presence.  Was I surprised that I saw this in a tourist place?  No.  Mistakes happen.

This next sign was at a train station next in Kamakura.  This sign is a little bit more jumbled up than the other one.  It is also not very easy to understand.  In short, this sign is marking the point of where a train stops, if it has only two cars.  All of the trains in the Kamakura area were four cars long, and some of the short transit trains are only two cars long.  This sign has two major grammatical errors including the incorrect use of a plurality, and the wrong preposition to describe the position of the stop line.  The proper position of the “s” is… well, nowhere.  In this case, the preceding “a” eliminates the need to use “s” in this message.  The “a” denotes that the following noun is singular, in this case “…a two car train” is the correct way to write this.  Furthermore, the preposition in “is this point” does not sound very pleasant.  Some alternatives would be “…is at this point” or even eliminate the first preposition and replace it with a descriptive verb such as “…stops at this point”.  Regardless, this type of information is important for travelers, especially considering how confusing the train lines can be for newcomers.

This last sign was found in Odaiba.  Our teacher took us to an onsen, where we wore yukata, drank milk, and had a relaxing soaking in the hot water.  Afterwards, we ate dinner before going home.  However, during the walk between the train station and the onsen, we walked by a waterway, and this sign popped up.  While this sign does not contain an error, it is unusual.  In the Japanese syllabary, つ is commonly written as “tsu”.  In the t-line of the hiragana chart, there is ta, chi, tsu, te, to.  However, it is also possible to transliterate these syllables as ta, ti, tu, te, to.  While the second set does not display the phonetic properties of chi and tsu, it is not necessarily incorrect, because these are legit ways to Romanize these sounds.  However, these are uncommon and look strange to someone who is used to the textbook chi and tsu.  In this case, “tsunami” has become “tunami”.  For me, this reminded me of the American cartoon network “Toonami”.  Coincidentally, Toonami is a portmanteau of “cartoon” and “tsunami”.

(What is a portmanteau, you ask?  A portmanteau is the combination of two words or morphemes, and their meanings to create a new word.)

English, English, or English-English?
(Desmond & Jessica)

English is a really difficult language to learn, especially when there are many versions of English from different regions. For example, Canada, America, England all use English, however due to the geographical differences between countries, different versions of English emerge. But compared to Chinese, it is not as bad, since it did not become a different language completely. Then again, English is an international language, so it has to be somewhat unified.

Vincent and Desmond were having a lot of fun with a British Slang App, in which I find amusing myself also. It is very interesting to hear (Vincent's AWESOME British accent)/read new words. On the day when we made curry, Mitch, Aulora and Vincent were having a conversation while using British accents. I was so amused. Each country tends to have their own accent which makes it difficult for even native English speakers to understand. Can you imagine the difficulty it causes for students learning the language? As amusing as it was to listen to a British accent conversation, I didn't catch all the information because of the slang.  After interviewing a few students, they seem to find listening to be the most difficulty because of the pronunciation. There are certain tones that exists in English, but not in Japanese. For example in our previous blogs, the "la" and "ra" are difficult for Japanese because it is really similar for them. However, it was written out, then they will more likely understand.
Another problem that Japanese students find is that the certain words has multiple meanings in both English and Japanese. For instances, the word "right" can mean the direction as well as correct, which may confuse English learners. Also, with the usage of Katana words, some words such
as "cake" (ケーキ) exists in both the languages, which we would believe to make communication better.

However, that is not always the case. Consider the word Mansion (マンション). For English speakers, Mansion would mean " a really big, grand house"; but to a Japanese speaker, a mansion is an apartment house. Because of the multiple meanings for the same word, mistranslations may occur. Another reason of why mistranslations occur is the different words/phrases that does not exist in the English language. 勿体無い (もったいない) is an expression that only Japanese have. It means conveying a sense of concerning waste. For coke, if you don't finish it and dump it, that would be called mottainai. When Japanese people talk about mottainai, it is often referred to environment programs. For example, recycling. If you don't recycle items that could have been recycled, that is also called mottainai. Because there are no words in the English vocabulary that means the same thing due to the difference in culture and customs. When trying to translate the phrase, it's not completely correct.

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