human relations

One of the things I love about being an interpreter is that my job is finished as soon as a meeting is over. Other participants need to create the meeting’s minutes, compile a report or come up with action plans. Meanwhile I don’t have any take-away from the meeting I need to worry about and tomorrow is really another day. I love the moment when I can tear my memo into pieces and throw it away to a recycle bin. I also like the fact that I can keep a distance from business. Because I am just facilitating communication, not facilitating operations or processes themselves, I don’t get engaged in business as other people do. I can be interested in business but I can also be indifferent to it. I have no responsibility for business and I get no pressure. However, there is one thing I have to deal with. I cannot get away from human relations. Typically human relations at work are quite tricky. There is a certain degree of competition or tension. Interpreters are well known as being competitive but that’s not just among interpreters but really working people in general. It’s not only about who is more competent but also about who is well-liked by superiors, who is more popular, or who has more network/connection.
I started to notice this tension or competition among people probably because I am no longer working for someone exclusively. When I was working as an assistant, I was protected by my boss and the only person I need to think about was my boss. Because I was always with my boss and had certain influence over him, people never said or did things that would upset me. Now working as a sort of roving interpreter/translator, I feel that I am more exposed and I started to pay more attention to human relations. I see intricacies of human relationships here and there. I figure I was quite ignorant of human relations in the past and am now belatedly experiencing them. I hope my ignorance and straightforwardness won’t upset or hurt other people.
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word list

One of the problems for an in-house interpreter is the fact that you can survive meetings without creating a word list. That is in fact the beauty of in-house interpreters. You can get involved with similar kinds of meetings on a regular basis and you are allowed to familiarize yourself with technical words over time. Hence you never create your word list. That is probably why it is hard for me to work on vocabulary when I get a freelance assignment since I don’t know how to tackle with new words and phrases. I used to create a word list because I saw many interpreters creating word lists of their own in excel spreadsheet and I thought that was what you do when you work as an interpreter. But somehow the method did not agree with me. I was never able to establish my word list. I think I realized that the approach is not working for me and that I am a kind of person who needs to write it down by hand in order to memorize it. Typing is different from handwriting and I need to HAND WRITE things to get them. As time goes by, however, I feel like creating my word list because there are so many useful expressions I want to keep and I don’t want to lose them. But I dislike excel spreadsheet. As a result, I decided to create my word list by handwriting words on my notepad. It is very old-fashioned but it works for me.
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Ginza cafe

When you go to Ginza, it is extremely hard to find a nice café to have a cup of coffee and a good chat with your friends. I wonder why. There seem to be plenty of cafés and restaurants in Ginza but they are always busy and you just cannot find a seat there. When I went there a couple of weeks ago, my friend and I , as expected, wandered around to find a place to relax and cool ourselves. Luckily we found a nice place at the center of Ginza. It’s called Suzu café and its atmosphere was very soothing. It’s quite spacious and you can also have lunch there. We were there for more than 2 hours but did not feel uncomfortable. It’s quite amazing to feel that way at a café in Ginza. I always thought that Ginza is a nice place to have lunch but bad place to have coffee, especially on the weekend. Not anymore. Oh, I also found another good café in Ginza. It’s called Dole café and you can have a very nice, fresh fruit juice there. You should try.
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The chicken or the egg

People say that you have to improve your reading skills in order to improve your listening skills. Listening to the news 100 times doesn't do you any good if you don't understand words or phrases in the news. Is it also true to speaking/writing skills? Do you have to focus on your writing skills in order to brush up your speaking skills? This is the question I have been asking myself lately. I realized quite a while ago how important it is to improve reading skills to enhance your overall English level but I was never sure if it is also the case with speaking/writing skills.

The other day, I had lunch with my friend. She is someone I always love to see and we meet each other once in every 2 or 3 months. During our lunch, I brought up the topic and asked her opinion about it. She said, “I strongly believe that you have to be able to read it first in order to be able to listen to it. That is for sure, but I don't know if that is true for speaking skills. I know that if you can say what you want to say in English, then you should be able to write it in English, too. But you may not be able to say what you want to say in English in the way you want, even if you can write what you want to say in English.” I said to her, “You can be right. Maybe there is a stronger correlation between reading and listening skills but I still think that there should be an interrelation between speaking and writing skills. Probably it is not not 1 to 1 relationship but 5 to 1 or 10 to 1. If your writing skills are 100%, your speaking skills are 50% or less.” That is certainly my case.

I guess I am trying to find logic on this and trying to find a faster, better way to boost my Japanese-English interpreting skills. But obviously there is no “magic”to make it happen.
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日英をしているときに私は主語の選び方でよく失敗をする。日本語だったらどんな主語を選択しても(まあ主語がないことも多いが)そのあとのセンテンスをうまくつなぎ合わせることはそれほど難くないが、英語だと主語の選択を間違うとドツボにはまる。そのあとのコロケーションを考えたときに「しまったあ、あれを主語にしておけば何の問題もなかったのに!」と悔やんでも後の祭りである。特にメモを取っているとどうしても日本語に引きずられてしまって日本語の主語をそのまま使いたくなるがここでグッと一瞬こらえて英語頭に切り替えられたらどんなに楽だろうと思う。私の日英が不安定になるのは主語があれこれ登場する内容の逐次通訳だ。特に自分があまり知識がない場合、脳みその使い方に負荷がかかるので少しでも余計な作業を減らしたい。そんなときに大活躍するのがWeである。全てのセンテンスをWeで始められたら何て楽だろうと思う。人が話をするときは無意識にリズムをとっている。人によってはそれがyou knowだったり、I meanだったりするが、私はWeで始まるセンテンスだととても安心する。たぶん自分のリズムに合っているのだろう。そればっかりではマンネリ化してしまうのでもちろんWeばかりに頼ることはできないが、今日の会議でもやっぱりWeに助けられた。
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私はparty pooperか

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