English postsの一覧Mike’s Posts

Sapporo English Conversation Newsletter #7

English posts

(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #7」の英語訳です。)

🚬Photo taken at JR Hokkaido Sapporo Station🚬

 

‘Smoke Here.’  X 😢

This English phrase means ここでタバコを吸いなさい (koko de tabako o suinasai)!

It just so happens that I quit smoking last year, so I was a bit surprised when I saw this… Does JR Hokkaido want me to start smoking again???

You won’t find many signs with English phrases like this other than in Japan. By the way, the verb “smoke” is used here in the imperative form, which isn’t a very friendly way to address your Hokkaido train passengers.

By taking one-to-one private conversation lessons at Mike’s English Class Sapporo, you can learn about and practice speaking the kinds of sentences and phrases that are actually being used in English-speaking countries.

―> Smoking Lounge   √ 😇

Note:  After this blog post became public and received coverage on a local Sapporo tv program called “Kyo-Doki,” JR Hokkaido replaced the sign with a pictogram sign containing no words. Although this solved the problem of using faulty English when you should have checked it first with someone who actually speaks the language, wordless pictograms such as JR Hokkaido’s replacement sign can be confusing and easily misinterpreted.

For example, visitors to Sapporo who see just the image used on the sign in the photo here might think that it’s saying, “Smoking Allowed (Wherever You Can See This Sign).”

The term ‘Smoking Lounge’ is used worldwide for such smoking booths and is readily understood by international travellers.

Watch the video here.

JR Hokkaido Sapporo Station (near the West Ticket Gate)📸🚬

 

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Sapporo English Conversation Newsletter #6

English posts

(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #6」の英語訳です。)

“The car is watched around the clock.”   X 😭

I came across this sentence on a newfangled high-tech monitor in an elevator in a building in Sapporo’s Chuo Ward. If you translated this English example back into Japanese, it would read something like あの車は24時間ずっと誰かに見られている (ano kuruma ha nijyuuyojikan zutto dare ka ni mirareteiru), which in everyday English conversation would go… ‘That automobile is being watched by someone all day and all night.’

1   The word ‘car’ used by itself is usually taken to mean an ‘automobile.’ In this example, ‘the car’ would be referring to an automobile that has previously been mentioned or specified. Since one is reading this sentence in an elevator, the phrase ‘the car’ would have a meaning that is similar to ‘that automobile.’

2   ‘Is watched’ is the passive form of the verb ‘to watch,’ so in Japanese it would be rendered as 誰かに見られている (dare ka ni mirareteiru). For example, ‘This TV show is watched by thousands and thousands of viewers.’ このテレビ番組は、何万人もの視聴者に見られている (kono terebi bangumi ha, nanmannin mo no sityousya ni mirareteiru).

3   The phrase “around the clock” means all day and all night, or twenty-four hours a day.

So if you took the three phrases that comprise the English sentence example and then translated them back into Japanese, you would get something like ‘That automobile is being watched by someone all day and all night.’

Okay, then, how should one go about coming up with the appropriate English translation for the original Japanese sentence 24時間遠隔監視しています (nijyuuyojikann enkaku kanshi siteimasu)? Well, first you’ve got to nail the subject at the beginning of the sentence by using ‘this elevator,’ which refers to what you’re standing in at the moment. Then you can use the phrase ‘under 24-hour surveillance’ for 24時間遠隔監視.

Finally, you can join these two phrases together with the singular form of to be, which is of course ‘is.’ Et voila!

—> This elevator is under 24-hour surveillance.   √ 🌈😇

 

Taken at Kiriaki Building, South 2 in Chuo Ward, Sapporo  📸

 

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Sapporo English Conversation Newsletter #10

English posts

(この記事は、『札幌英会話ニュースレター #10」の英語訳です。)

‘Bicycle-parking space maintenance construction is performed, so I’ll causeyoutrouble, but please take care. It should be noted , is placed with the points please offer to staff .’  X 🤣

I ran across this sign with its garbled English translation in front of the Maruzen and Junkudo Sapporo Bookstore at Odori 🙄

Those able to read English are likely to end up standing in front of the sign for several seconds in bewilderment while wondering what these sentences mean. Since no one even slightly proficient in English would write such gibberish, I’m fairly certain that the person in charge of making this sign used translation software and printed what came out without checking to see if it was okay or not. There are a lot of different translation tools available on the internet, but when you use one to translate a Japanese sentence, it’s pretty likely that the resulting English translation won’t make much sense at all.

The reason that translation tools and programs are still unable—even in this day and age—to produce well-written translated sentences is that at their roots the Japanese and English languages are based on fundamentally different grammar structures. For example, while English has twelve basic verb tenses, Japanese has only four, so using translation programs alone won’t result in one’s coming up with appropriate English sentences. Translation tools are more useful for trying to figure out the meaning of written English sentences than they are for writing them.

When you’re trying to compose a sentence in English, use a dictionary and your own knowledge of English grammar. The results will surely be much better than if you relied on some random translation program.

In order to help improve the quality of English signs in Sapporo, I will gladly offer translation advice if you buy me a few drinks. In addition to giving private English conversation lessons, I can also teach you how to improve your skills in composition, translation, editing and academic writing 🌟 🌈 😇

At South 1 West 1 in Chuo Ward, Sapporo 📸

Garbled Sapporo sign produced from Japanese to English translation software

 

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English posts

(この記事は、『札幌英会話ニュースレター #12」の英語訳です。)

Welcome Foreign Tourist
We Have Many Resort
Short Stay      Condminium
Long Stay       Cottage
Niseko           Guesthouse
Otaru             And More!!
No Commission                   X

I happened to come across this English sign on the window of a real estate agency that recently opened on the main station road in Sapporo. If you took the phrases and words on this sign and translated them back into Japanese, this is roughly what you would get:

外国の観光客、あなただけ、ようこそ。たくさんの行楽地を一つだけ持っている。短期滞在。コン??ミニアム。長期滞在。一つのコテージ。ニセコ。一つのゲストハウス。小樽。それからもっと!! 手数料はない。
(Gaikoku no kankoukyaku, anata dake, youkoso. Takusan no kourakuchi o hitotsu dake motteiru. Tanki taizai. Konminiamu?! Chouki taizai. Hitotsu no koteeji. Niseko. Hitotsu no gesutohausu. Otaru. Sore kara motto! Tesuuryoo ha nai.)

People who understand English would take one look at the English in this sign and go, like, “What the heck?!”

Why? Well, when using English, the plural form is indispensable. Grasping the full importance of the plural form can be pretty difficult for a lot of native Japanese speakers, because the Japanese language doesn’t really have one. However, English-speaking babies are able to use the plural form in simple phrases like “one boy, two boys; one man, two men; one girl, two girls; one woman, two women….” If you counted all the nouns used in everyday English conversation and writing, I think you would probably end up with more plural nouns than singular ones.

When one sees the singular phrase “foreign tourist,” one imagines a single traveller who has just arrived from another country. So if you’re trying to attract more than just one person to your business, you should use the plural form “foreign tourists” instead.

Since most stores, restaurants and businesses offer or provide large quantities of the same items, the sentences in English signs in countries proficient in English generally contain plural words and phrases. For example, one uses the phrase “short stays” for 短期滞在 (tanki taizai) and “long stays” for 長期滞在 (chouki taizai).

The English word “resort” means 行楽地 (kourakuchi). So the sentence “We have many resorts” would mean 弊社が行楽地を沢山持っている (Heisya ga kourakuchi o takusan motteiru, ‘Our company operates many resorts.’) And コンドミニアム in English isn’t ‘condminium’ but ‘condominiums.’

Creating an English window sign and getting it up requires a lot of time and energy, so wouldn’t it normally make sense to check and see if the English phrases and sentences you’re using are actually okay? I appreciate the fact that more people are making English signs in order to reach out to foreigners, but some of these attempts seem rather flaky. If you’re making a sign in English, please check your spelling and show the sign to a native English speaker to see if it looks good before putting it up.

At Mike’s English Class Sapporo, in addition to providing proofreading and editing services, I give one-to-one lessons in English conversation, business English, English for travel, academic writing, and preparation for English tests including the TOEIC exam.

Foreign Tourists Welcome!
Find Accommodations Here!
Both Short and Long Stays
Condominiums & Cottages
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Places to Stay
in Niseko and Otaru
Fee & Commission Free!      

 

At South 8 West 4 in Chuo Ward, Sapporo

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(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #4」の英語訳です。)

‘We have the English menu.’   X 🙄

Translated into Japanese, this sign would read あの英語のメニュー一枚あります (ano eigo no menyuu ichimai arimasu, ‘Oh, you mean that English menu?  We have one of those.’)

First, we use the article ‘the’ when referring to a concrete noun (as if we were pointing to an object with one of our fingers) or to a specific noun that we have already mentioned in speech or in writing. Close equivalents to the word ‘the’ in Japanese include この, その, and あの (kono, sono, ano; this, that, that).

Examples:
Look at the sky!  (空を見て!, sora o mite!)
Bring me the file.  (そのファイルを持ってきて, sono huairu o motte kite.)
Can you see the moon?  (お月様見える?, otukisama mieru?)
Did you like the CD?  (あのCDは気に入った?, ano CD ha ki ni itta?)
I’m going to see the new manager tomorrow.  (明日新しいマネージャーに会います, asita atarashi maneegyaa ni aimasu.)

Next, in this sentence the word ‘menu’ in the singular refers only to a single menu. If you have more than just one English menu at your restaurant, then go ahead and use the plural form, ‘menus.’

―> We have English menus!

Used in everyday English conversations, this sentence would sound quite proper and natural.  For example, if a foreign customer came to your restaurant in Sapporo and asked, “Do you have English menus?”, it would be perfectly fine for you to answer, “Yes, we have English menus!”

However, when written on an English sign and not spoken in English conversation, the sentence structure “We have … X …” would normally be reserved for somewhat rare or surprising items that are not usually stocked at most restaurants.

Examples:
We have live fugu!!! (いけすフグあります!, ikesu fugu arimasu!)
We have the best chef in the world!   (世界一のシェフがいます!, sekai ichi no chefu ga imasu!)
We have 99 different desserts!!! (99種類のデザート置いてあります!, kyuujyuukyuu shurui no dezaato oite arimasu!)
We have topless waitresses!   (トップレスのウェイトレスがいます!, toppuresu no uetoresu ga imasu!)

Obviously, using such sentences on English menus or signs would create a surprising and memorable impact.

However, in order to state that your establishment provides more banal, everyday items than these, use the sentence structure “ … X … Available.”

For example, “Restrooms Available Inside.”  (店内トイレあります, tennai toire arimasu.)
“Free Wi-Fi Available.” (無料無線LAN使えます, muryou musen LAN tukaemasu.)
“Private Karaoke Room Available”   (カラオケ個室あります, karaoke kositu arimasu.)
And “English Menus Available”!   (英語のメニュー置いてあります!, eigo no menyuu oite arimasu.)

―> English Menus Available  √ 😇

At Susukino Lafiler in Chuo Ward, Sapporo 📸

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(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #3」の英語訳です。)

‘Prior adjustment machine’  X  😭

Translated into Japanese, this sign reads 以前にした調整の機械?? (いぜんにした ちょうせいのきかい, a machine the adjustment of which was previously done!?).  The sign doesn’t sound natural and doesn’t make sense, so it’s hard for native English speakers who read it to understand what it means.

First, one needs to be clear about what actually is being ‘adjusted’ here.

Secondly, instead of using the adjective ‘prior,’ we use the prefix ‘pre-’ before a verb in order to specify an action that occurs before another action.  Examples:  preheat, preboard, preprint, prescreen, presell, and prepay!

Finally, similar parking garages and payment machines are used in foreign countries where English is really spoken, so before going through the unnecessary hassle of trying to figure out how to translate such signs from Japanese into English, just ask a native English speaker what phrases or sentences are usually used!

–> Parking Pre-Pay Machine  √ 😇
–> Parking Pay Station  √ 😇

At JR Tower in Sapporo Station 📸

 

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(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #2」の英語訳です。)

‘No Bicycles Parking’   X  😜

Nouns can be used as adjectives when placed before gerunds.

However, since adjectives do not usually have plural forms, generally nouns acting as adjectives modifying gerunds should be kept in the singular form.

Examples: video recording, mountain climbing, whale watching, home decorating, shore fishing, body surfing… and bicycle parking!

—> No Bicycle Parking   √  😇

At South 9 in Chuo Ward, Sapporo 📸

 

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(この記事は、「札幌英会話ニュースレター #1」の英語訳です。)

“Take Care of your foot”   X 😜

Are you offering me a foot massage on just my right foot?  Or on just my left foot?

Of course not!  Well, then, please use the plural form of ‘foot,’ since I have two feet!

–> Take Care of Your Feet √ 😇

At Susukino Lafiler, South 4 West 4, Chuo Ward, Sapporo 📸

 

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(この記事は、「札幌通信通訳」の英語訳です。)

”Punk Rock What Is All About!”  X 😭

When making sentences, first decide on the subject (Punk Rock), then the verb (Is), and then the subject complement (What It’s All About). And voilà!

–> Punk Rock Is What It’s All About!  √  😇

At South 3 West 6 in Chuo Ward, Sapporo 📸

Can Softbank speak English?

English posts

Sapporo English Conversation Newsletter

(この記事は、「ソフトバンクは英語できないの??」の英語訳です。)

“You got a mail.”  X 😭

Well, since I haven’t seen my new email yet, SoftBank should be using the present perfect tense.

Also, ‘mail’ is an uncountable noun and doesn’t take an ‘a’!

–> You’ve got mail!  √  😇

Softbank’s new mail notification on the iPhone 5 📸