Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Oh, ye of little faith

After being completely gobsmacked* by the near hysterical reaction of some in the US to Yukio Hatayama's article in the CSM and the NYT (translated from Voice magazine), I was reassured to learn from a reliable source that the folks who translated it have vast experience in translating bibles and other Christian materials. I am sure that this sort of expertise would fit right in with translating a political philosophy.

I did not read the original Voice article partly because it was much longer than my self-imposed limit of 3-4 pages for this type of Japanese language article. I try to avoid self-torture and confusion if at all possible outside of paid work. Had I read it, I am sure both things would have occurred.

I had assumed---the old ass-out-of-u-and-me error---that the translation, although condensed, was generally accurate to the original. I have since heard otherwise. Regardless of the accuracy of the translation, as a friend said the reaction of some Japan experts in the US---or should we say LDP experts?--- seems to have more to do with "power politics."

*Not sure what that word means, but I like the sound of it.


  1. Zach Baran11:05 AM

    "I was reassured to learn from a reliable source that the folks who translated it have vast experience in translating bibles and other Christian materials."

    Who did you hear translated it? There was a rumor going around that a missionary group translated it, but I think someone misread an acronym when they spread that.

    I read what Hatoyama originally wrote from his website. It reads fine, or at least par for the course of what one would expect from a politician. The translation/edit (in the process of syndication, some company in LA took a big axe to it) turned it into rubbish.

  2. I heard it that it was a group called FLC. It does appear to be some sort of missionary group that does translations of Christian materials. Their site does not list Japanese though.

  3. Zach Baran9:23 AM

    Yes, I heard that "FLC" was involved. Google hard enough (try "FLC 翻訳"), and you will discover a translation company called FLC.

    It seems that a certain mass of the blogosphere decided that the people around Hatoyama, when faced with the prospect of having his thesis on foreign policy and a new Asian order, would hire a group of Thai missionaries to do the translation for them. Then it went viral on Twitter and blogs like this.

    I know missionaries who translate. They translate the Bible into other languages (usually ones in which the Bible hasn't yet been published). They don't bother with political tracts. But who knows, I could be wrong...

  4. I actually heard (not from Twitter or other blogs) that it was one of the news organizations that hired them, but then again, that doesn't make any more sense than believing Hatoyama's people hired FLC.

    Lesson learned. I should have been more skeptical about the whole affair, from the original translation to FLC's supposed involvement.