March 17, 2004
lost in translation


So, I was reading this article in the Times about Japan and how they have a different alphabet for just about everything, and I started thinking how could a country be so advanced with such a language obstacle. And then I found this ad from Japan with Arnold Schwarzenegger and decided to stop asking questions.

Posted by elia at March 17, 2004 06:34 PM

its not so much an obstacle as just a different way of writing stuff down.

and how can they be so advanced? by borrowing all the best stuff from other places and usually making it better.

Posted by: james on March 17, 2004 09:48 PM

I guess “obstacle” is too strong of a word, but it did strike me as inefficient - though whether it's strictly a cultural choice or a limitation of their alphabet (or somewhere in between), I'm not sure.

As for borrowing the best stuff from other places and making it better, I agree. Just look at what they did with Schwarzenegger.

Posted by: elia on March 18, 2004 09:40 AM

innefficient only in that it takes longer to learn and does not fit easily into western styled print and computering technologies.

but it is vastly more fun and goofy and deep. the puns are endless. whole ideas using kanji are represented not phonetically, but imagistically. and switching between the different alphabets can layer in meanings of culture and history that are not evident in the words themselves.

the difficulty to entry is more than made up for in a lifetime of fascinating combinations.

Posted by: james on March 18, 2004 09:58 AM

but weren't you claiming to not speak Japanese, like 5 months ago?

how do deaf people sign in Japan? ASL, or something more interesting?

Posted by: dbrown on March 18, 2004 11:18 AM

oh now i study everyday. though speaking is still tough.

but i can read quite a bit these days. particularly cookbooks. and some manga.

sucked learning all the basics... that took me a long time to get used to. but once i got used to all the different stuff going on, its really cool. some stuff you sort of sound out, and then other stuff you just see symbolically.

one wacky bit about japan borrowing kanji from china (and korea too) is that folks from the different countries can more or less understand the ideas going on -- but can't speak them as the sounds are all different. my wife can read a chinese menu, but she can't order.

Posted by: james on March 18, 2004 01:04 PM

Welcome our Japanese neighbors!
On March 20, 2004, The Sims Online (TSO) will be arriving in Japan. We've been preparing the way by allowing users to type in Japanese characters in chat and messaging (using Windows' IME feature).

Japanese players will live in the same TSO cities as current players and city names will remain the same. Look for some new neighborhoods springing up -- you'll soon have the chance to make new friends across the planet!

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on March 18, 2004 06:08 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:


Remember info?