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The CIC-Keiichiro Connection: A Translation Project

Tim Mossman from Canada

Tim Mossman is an Instructor of Bilingual Studies at the Canadian International College, North Vancouver, Canada.

Canadian International College
Photo: Tim Mossman
Canadian International College

Greetings from Canada! My name is Timothy Mossman. For the past eight years, I have taught in the Bilingual Studies Department of Canadian International College (CIC) in North Vancouver, Canada. CIC is a private post-secondary institution for Japanese nationals.

The mission of the college is to educate students to become global citizens-individuals who understand their own and other cultures from a global viewpoint and who are committed to developing the knowledge, problem-solving strategies and compassion needed to fully participate in a global society.

Our students experience an integrated program of academic studies, experiential learning and campus life that maximize the benefits of study abroad in a safe yet challenging multicultural environment. CIC offers a Two-Year International Studies Certificate and a Four-Year International Relations Diploma based on the founding principles of independence, understanding, and co-existence.

Tim Mossman
Photo from Tim Mossman
One of the teaching assignments that I had for eight years was a course offered in our Two-Year International Studies Certificate program called, Interpretation and Translation (IT 200).

One of the teaching assignments that I had for eight years was a course offered in our Two-Year International Studies Certificate program called, Interpretation and Translation (IT 200). This course was an introduction to the field of translation and interpretation.

Student tasks included translating Japanese Folk Tales and presenting them in English as puppet theatre, translating news items, magazine articles, and consecutively interpreting speeches given by guest speakers. Rather than a technical course in translation. the focus was on how translation functions as a bridge between cultures, allowing for greater intercultural understanding between Japanese and North Americans.

In August 1997, our college campus was wired for Internet access. Faculty, staff and students were able to use e-mail to communicate and the Internet was gradually introduced into our programs and curriculum.

Through an Internet search one day I came across a site called, Keiichiro's Home Page. This web site, dedicated to "helping Americans and Japanese understand each other better," was a nice fit with the goals of our class.

Canadian International College
Photo: Tim Mossman
Canadian International College (CIC), North Vancouver

These essays were written first in Japanese by Keiichiro and then translated by him. Some of his most recent essays had not been translated when I first discovered his page back in 1998. Then, I got an idea--perhaps my students could translate some of these essays for him as a translating project and get their work uploaded onto his page. Then the whole world could see their essays!

This turned out to be a very motivating factor and the students were very keen to begin. I contacted Keiichiro about my idea, and although he was a little hesitant at first because he wanted to translate the essays himself, he consented, and we began the project.

How to Have Soup (May 7, 1998)
The first essay we translated, "How to Have Soup", was added in Japanese to his web page on May 7, 1998. My class began work on this essay in October of 1998. The students made two drafts, which I marked for accuracy, grammar/spelling, and naturalness. Since naturalness is the most difficult, and to my mind the most important part of writing an good translation, I edited these essays, rewriting the unnatural phrases to make them sound more native like.

All students were also required to e-mail Keiichiro, introduce themselves briefly, and ask him a question about his essay. On November 7, 1998, we submitted our English translation and asked him for feedback. Since the original ideas were his, being able to "speak" to the author directly via e-mail was an important step in this translation project since he was able to clarify what exactly he meant and we could therefore retain as much as possible his original meaning.

The Terror of L and R (August 8, 1998)
This was the second translation project. The original Japanese essay was added to Keiichiro's Web Page August 8, 1998. We began working on this in November 1998. Titles are often challenging to translate. Since a good translation doesn't "sound" like a translation, instead of just translating the original as "Pronouncing L and R", we came up with "The Terror of L and R" to more accurately reflect the content of the essay. We followed the procedure outlined above and submitted our translation, which was uploaded on December 4, 1998.

A Sandwich Story (March 1, 1999)
This was the third and most recent translation project done by my Interpreting and Translating Studies 200 class (a similar course, but offered in our Four-Year International Relations Diploma Program). I began by introducing my students to Keiichiro's Home Page and then asked the class to choose one essay in Japanese to translate for publication on his site.

The unanimous choice was, A Sandwich Story, a perfect fit with the content of our class. We were having weekly seminars based on our readings of a book called, Polite Fictions: Why Japanese and Americans seem rude to each other (Nancy Sakamoto, 1982), which deals with our natural and often unconscious cultural assumptions and how they influence communicative behavior. A Sandwich Story included many of the themes we had been reading and discussing all term.

Students were required to e-mail Keiichiro, introduce themselves, and ask him one or two questions. To illustrate the advantage we had in being able to contact Keiichiro directly to inquire about words and phrases we could not translate well, Keiichiro wrote about a restaurant chain in Chicago called, au bon pain. Since this is not a Japanese word, it was written in katakana, the symbols used to write foreign words in Japanese.

In addition, although these restaurants are found all over the United States and in several international locations, there is only one in Canada—in Toronto—far away from west coast where we lived. Therefore, we could not be certain how to write this name correctly, but one e-mail to Keiichiro clarified our dilemma. He even e-mailed us the au bon pain web site (http://www.aubonpain.com/). We submitted our translation in early February and it was uploaded on February 19, 2000.

Student Translators (Interpreting and Translating 200)
Takahiro, Hiroshi, Yumi, Etsuko, Eri, Koji, Atsuko, Nana, Yuki, Miho H.,Sonoko, Shuji, Maki, Rie, Tomomi, Masataka, Masako, Miho M.

Student Translators (Interpreting and Translating Studies 200)
Takahito, Kenichiro, Kanako, Kanae, Kazuyoshi, Kaori, Akiko, Masahiko, Hiroshi, Satoshi, Tetsuko

Contact Timothy: tmossman@cic.bc.ca

Student Project: Translating Keiichiro's Stories

Student translators have their say: Student Comments

Keiichiro's Page: Keiichiro Sugimoto's Page | Keiichiro's Home Page

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