Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I am from the midwest. Depending on who you talk to, the midwest stretches from Ohio to Kansas. Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, etc. are NOT the midwest. They are the Plains States or whatever.
The midwest is Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, hmm...and maybe Iowa.

Anyways. I've heard recently on the internets that we are supposed to be passive-aggressive. Now, I fully admit to leaving angry notes for my mom as a kid, or being pissed that someone had the audacity to ask me something that was A Big Deal while thinking it wasn't (are those really passive-aggressive actions?).

But, as much as I like to fancy myself a mind reader, I find it really annoying here in Japan. I don't like being blunt, but I also know that things that are obvious to Japanese people (who are local) are not going to be obvious to me. So, all they have to do is tell me and then they can go back to their style because I've been clued in on How Things Work and I should get it now.

This past week, I heard from a coworker than my kind of supervisor was annoyed with a "native check" I did. "Native checks" refer to materials that have been translated into another language, often English, and need a native speaker to read through them. 

Native checks are a crap shoot. If I change everything (and more times than not everything needs to be changed so that it doesn't sound like it was written by Google Thesaurus Translate), I get called to change it back because, "It doesn't match the Japanese." If I make minimal changes, I'm told later that the paper doesn't matter and I can use more natural-sounding English.

I never know what I'll get. But, there I am, going over a document that has a tight deadline and I make a few changes. Now, one of the biggest problems I have here is that my pay is low, I'm stressed, I haven't been back to the US in years and the weird English questions have finally gotten to me ("Should it be 'a' book or 'the' book?") 

I absolutely hate explaining my phrasing to Japanese people. I hate it. What they will do, is find another English speaker who will agree with how they've arranged the words and feel confident that they were picked over the native English speaker. They only want to hear opinions that agree with their own. No one watches English-language TV programs. No one has lived in an English-speaking country. No one reads English-language literature to know that there are countless ways to say the same thing. 

And that has left me feeling stressed and pissed because I don't have the energy to scour the internet looking for phrasing that matches mine. I don't have time to explain how pauses and stressing words can render a flat sentence into something inspiring. I don't have the motivation to talk about how the language has evolved over the past 60 years.

If you don't like the phrase, say so and let's find one that you do like. Just because a sentence or phrase is not cataloged in your mental dictionary, does not mean it's wrong. 


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