In a company where both Japanese and English-speaking staff work closely together on large and complex software projects, miscommunications are sure to arise. To help battle this problem, my employer provides bi-weekly English lessons right here in the office (erm, but no language lessons for the Westerners 😥 ). This often inspires the more adventurous employees to attempt communications in both their native and non-native tongues, while the slightly less confident will instead use auto-translation software to add a bit of clarity to their feature requests and bug reports. Perhaps they don’t realize that the translations are anything but useful. But that’s okay. Because time after time, for the foreigners it means hilarity!
Without revealing anything about the project we’re currently working on, here are some carefully selected excerpts from Mantis, our bug-tracking system. Each is the full text of a single bug report, not taken out of context in any way. See if you can figure out the original Japanese meanings!
Please give the input between the number of frames to me without the acceptance when the problem begins. The purpose is to prevent the malfunction.
Prevention of malfunction – always an important bug fix.
A blue line comes out.
Then, the seam on the road shifts.
The number of passage appearance must increase at time.
There is a feeling in which the current state develops from first to last by the same rhythm.
I want the situation that passes over the center according to timing to which two or more models are intimate.
I also want the situation in which two or more models are intimate.
Please add the production when it lands on the edge of the car.
The operation that returns to the stand-by state after the cat is in a hurry is done.
At that time, cat’s position is shifted to central inclined to of the player somewhat.
I liking of cats, except car riding of them sometimes make appearance vomit.
Please do not allow the enemy
The following reports existed from Nintendo.
It enters the state in which the refuge doesn’t exist in two path part and it has knocked against.
This one actually starts out pretty well: Nintendo has requested that I prevent ‘inescapable situations’ from arising.
But then, as usual, all hell breaks loose.
Please achieve the operation improvement of the line drawing on the map.
There is feeling caught in the corner.
Feelings in the Corner. Sounds like a bad Kenny G song if you ask me.
Please drink and make the tunnel even of Toki translucent when you display the result.
There was no mention of drinking or “Toki” anywhere in the original Japanese text. Hmmmm.
The speed is reset and correct it, please though it steps on the brake when corn is dropped.
Again, no mention of corn in the original Japanese. Perhaps the software was simply reasoning “Well, if I dropped my corn, I’d certainly want to step on the brake.”
It comes to the center as the same object comes out from both sides according to the same timing.
Whether goodness when which is pushed is not understood, and toward at putting out two objects or more to the screen same direction.
All your base are belong to us!
It is not easy to understand because the display doesn’t change at all when continuously making a mistake and correct it, please. The slide is done from the under at the center of the lower side of the above screen and it is made to display. An old display is deleted when continuously making a mistake.
It certainly isn’t easy to understand because THIS TRANSLATION SOFTWARE SUCKS 😆
amusing unfortunate about all this is that Japan actually requires every citizen to study English through High School, yet the percentage of people who can form a coherent thought in the language has got to be somewhere in the low single-digits. And in many cases it’s not due to a lack of motivation, either: average people spend millions of dollars a year on 英会話 (English conversation schools), and I can’t tell you how many messages I’ve received on Mixi saying something to the effect of “Hi! Nice to meet you! (*^-^)/ You Japanese very good! Will you teach me English? (^_^;)”
…Despite specifically stating in my introduction that “I’m an American living in Kyoto, but I’m not a student or an English teacher.” This is an extremely difficult concept for some to grasp (99% of foreigners in Japan are either tourists, exchange students, or English teachers).
But if it’s not (entirely) a motivational issue, could it be that the system of foreign language education over here is in need of some drastic reform? Let’s see if I can conceive of any possible weak points…
- Reading cookie-cutter phrases out of a textbook doesn’t even begin to prepare you for the variety of situations that may arise in real life?
- Using textbooks that transcribe their examples into the Japanese writing system encourages bad pronunciation and a tendency to avoid using the Roman Alphabet?
- Forcing everyone to follow an identical curriculum doesn’t account for individual strengths and weaknesses?
- Japan-born instructors shouldn’t be hired to teach English conversation unless their pronunciation is actually comprehensible by native speakers?
- Foreign instructors shouldn’t be considered competent educators based solely on the criteria of having a college degree in anything?
…Nah, everything looks good! Full steam ahead!
*Note: This is not meant in any way as a jab at my many friends who are English teachers in Japan. I think you’ll all agree in one way or another how ineffective and naiive
some of this country’s schools’ policies are towards language education.