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The Real Implication of Japan's High-Context Culture for its International Relations

Which primate is more intelligent?
In the last couple of months, I was working on a J2E, a jargon used among translators to mean a Japanese-to-English translation. The gig had come from my friend Lara, Chen Tien-shi, a brilliant ethnologist specializing in the issues with statelessness and the Chinese Diaspora. I was fully tied up with an all-out legal and extra-legal battle against the City Hall. But I didn't want to decline her offer in part because the remuneration would help make ends meet. More importantly, she is one of the few respectable scholars I know in person.

The ethnic Chinese was born and brought up in Japan and completed her doctorates in the prestigious Tsukuba University. She has an excellent writing skills in Japanese, English, and perhaps in Chinese as well. But this time, the Japanese material given to me for English translation was not her writing, except for the opening speech of a symposium she had organized, inviting many speakers without special academic background from various ethnic groups. Actually it was a massive transcript of the conference. Presumably, most of the presenters hadn't used PowerPoint slides. As a result, the overall quality of the transcript was extremely poor.

I used to claim to be a "value-adding translator" but this time around the time constraints and the deteriorating health would not allow me to add any value. So I farmed it out to two fellow translators living in Yokohama. They are about my age but much more experienced than I as far as language translation goes. But I shouldn't have expected them to send me back good enough "deliverables," another jargon. What I received in a ZIP file when the delivery date was drawing near was more of a disaster. It took me a solid 3 days and 3 nights to straighten out the doubly messed up WORD files.

I somehow managed to survive the ordeal, but this experience has reminded me all anew that you've got to have two different abilities aside from a reasonably functioning body to be able to connect people to each other through translation, be it J2E, E2J, Thai-to-Japanese, Chinese-to-English, and even J4J or E4E, i.e.:
- Ability of abstract thinking which Betty Friedan called "fluid intelligence."
- Ability of contextual thinking which Friedan named "crystallized intelligence."
My physical ability including eyesight keeps deteriorating, and as the women's lib activist-turned-antiageism advocate warned, the progress of decrement of my fluid intelligence seems unstoppable. And now I've started to suspect my crystallized intelligence, alone, can't help much although it still seems to be growing.

Earlier today I tried out Google Japan's automatic translation software, though not for the first time, to find out how it handles my most recent post titled The American Revolution is No Picnic and an article contributed to the Yomiuri Shimbun daily by Leon Panetta, who is currently visiting Japan, under the title of The United States and Japan: an Enduring 21st Century Alliance. Maybe I just wanted to restore my sense of superiority over apes.

I think you may want to translate the Japanese texts I am going to copy-paste at the bottom of this piece back into English on the premise that they will not get garbled on your computer. I don't have any tool to do the Japanese-to-English translation on my end, but I am sure the Panetta part will still make some sense although it would be only a little better than if you gave a chimp a J-E dictionary and told him to do the translation. On the contrary, you will find my essay totally destroyed by the ape presumably because he got frustrated at his inability to understand the context in which I wrote this essay. In short, this is really reminiscent of the transcript of Lara's symposium before I put it in order.

Believe it or not, Japanese linguists, knowledge engineers and software engineers have been strenuously working on the development of translation software for almost half a century. And that is why these idiots at Google Japan put the software to actual use so confidently a decade or so ago. The application may be more or less workable with the likes of Panetta, but it never works with anyone who, like myself, doesn't want to swallow a ready-made context. The same is true with Ron Paul, of course.

You may burst into laughter looking at my essay reverse-translated into English, as I did at its Japanese text, but to me it's not a laughing matter. The most important thing you should bear in mind is that when a software developer designs a system or writes a program specification for it, the first and the last thing he does is to make the computer emulate his own way of thinking. That means that the merciless destruction of my message about the American Revolution, and the good comprehension by the Google ape of Panetta's remarks, only with minor deformations here and there, should be understood as something that exactly mirrors the inside of the totally impaired brains of the Japanese.

Small wonder practically all Japanese now blindly believe in hogwash that the cross-Pacific alliance should endure until death do them part, or Japan should be treated as the anchor of the arc of freedom and prosperity, while stubbornly refusing to listen to heretical views like mine. My argument against the security treaty hasn't been understood by these mentally-retarded people on either side of the Pacific. I'm afraid it will remain so until the end of time.

Remember the American people are getting Japanized very quickly primarily because of the rotten bilateral alliance. The Americans, now living in a high-context society, are still using English, one of the most low-context languages. As a result of the incongruous mixture of the language and the underlying social context, U.S. Defense Secretary, like most of his fellow countrymen, is now speaking a "no-context" language, so to speak, which is the only language that the chimp retained by Google Japan can understand.

Whether Panetta really meant what he said, or just thought his worn-out rhetoric would be effective enough to anchor the minds of his Japanese counterpart Yasuo Ichikawa and his fellow dupes to the hogwash about "enduring 21st century alliance," we see an unmistakable sign there that the collapse of the United States is at its doorstep. The intellectual decline apparent from the Twitter craze in the U.S. has already confirmed that there's no way back for the Americans.

The American Revolution is No Picnic

2011年10月20日(木曜日)9時04分がCDTの午前@ 山本:で貢献

すべての選挙の我々が我々を約束する候補者に扱われているサイクル"に変更、"、2008年には、異なるも行われていない。 しかし、アメリカの政治的な辞書で、"変化"は常に同じの多くを意味し、より多くの政府、アメリカ人のより多くの略奪、より多くのインフレーション、より多くの警察国家の施策、より多くの不必要な戦争と電力のより中央集権化。

今から5ヶ月、これらの人々がやっているだろう 同じ花見 、花見パーティー。 それは、、ので、温帯、親切、丁寧なので、のんびりと穏やかなので、洗練されたことはできない。M AO毛沢東はしばしば革命がディナーパーティ、またはエッセイを書いたり、絵を描く、または刺繍をしていないか"、言ったこととして引用されている、抑制され、寛大な。革命は暴動、あるクラスが別のクラスを打倒いることで暴力行為です。"


彼は、誰もが99%のクラブは、まともな夕食を買う余裕はないでので、もう、一人で豪華なものをさせる。"ピクニック"と"夕食"に置き換えるという と彼は革命ではない何の彼の長いリストに何かを追加します:"と、すべてのサイバースペース上で140色鮮やかな言葉を散らすために一日中コンピュータに接着されている。" Twitterの革命の概念に反対するときにロサンゼルスタイムズのドイルマクマナスが私たちを思い出させるように、"成功した革命は、ローテクであり続け、まだ人々が通りに入ると自分たちの生活を危険にさらす必要があります。"

しかし、残念ながら、ニューヨーク、ロンドン、フランクフルト、アムステルダムの街の占領の良い部分はまだ革命はピクニックだと思う。 真央は何を意味するか理解するように見えるだけの人々は、ギリシャ人と日本人です。 あなたが東京で行われている単一の右にならえのデモが表示されない理由を不思議に思うかもしれません。 これは日本の非常に特徴的ではないです。 私は、彼らが何を理想的に満開の桜の下で、酔っ払って、カラオケのテープに沿って歌うよりももっと楽しくない知っているので、東京の市民は、皇居や永田町と霞ヶ関の通りを占領していない唯一の理由だと思います。

言うまでもなく、アメリカの1%クラブのすべてのメンバーが実際にはまだテキサス州下院議員ロンポールは、米国第45回社長になることを、リモートにもかかわらず、いくつかの可能性があるという事実を恐れている。 しかし、それはほとんど99 - percentersは2012年にも彼の勝利を恐れていることを知って興味深いです。 驚くほど、さらに元産科医の背後にいる人たちは、米大統領として危険な帝王切開を行うために、彼の揺るぎない決意でひるむように見える。

彼らはロンポールは、2015年までに予算のバランスを取るために彼の大胆な計画を強行すれば、それが国全体に壊滅的な影響を与えると言うとき、実際に彼らは誇張されていません。 彼はすでにそれを明確に、彼はオフィスの彼の最初の年は$ 1兆の政府支出を削減すると表明している。 これは確かに崩壊にすでに病んでいる米国経済を送信します。 単にそれが自殺の隣です。 ロンポールの下で、アメリカでは、リハビリプログラムの彼の最初の日にパニックに襲われた麻薬常習者のようになります。

戻る1951年に、フランスの小説家アルベールカミュは、L'オムRevolte(反逆者)という本を書いた。 それは、相手陣営から激しい反論を点火。 その指導者ジャンポールサルトルは、彼が反乱軍を維持できるように、彼は常に彼の反抗的な攻撃に耐えるために彼の敵を必要とするため反乱がピエロであることを主張した。 これとは対照的に、カミュの相手が経つ、革新的な彼自身を含むすべてを変更するには、彼の敵を破壊する。 毛沢東は革命についても同様の考えをかくまった。 彼は一度書いた:"あなたは梨の味を知りたければ、あなた自身でそれを食べることによって梨を変更する必要があります。" 含意は梨ができなくなっていることですが、それは革命がすべてに約あるものです。

今から何十年もの間、アメリカ人はすべて同じ、古いために降りてき"スクラップアンドビルド"の戦術を彼らの政府の革命的な外交政策に使用されている。 現代のアメリカ人は、しかし、反乱とそれが自分の国に来る革命の間にしきい値を見ることができない。 あなたがそこに皮肉が表示されることがありますが、それは実際に彼らの政府が外国でプレーしているおせっかいの役割の必然的な帰結です。

子供のころから、アメリカ人はすべてのものを内部化しないように教え込まれています。 それらに、従って、それは常に他の誰かの問題です。 断固として、自分の自我を変更することを拒否しながら愚かなアメリカ人が変化について話し続ける理由です。

かなりの数のアメリカ人はすでにロンポールはおそらく失うことになる選挙の結果を心配し始めている。 これらの変化を好まない人によると、新政権下の米国は、より多くの社長が撮影した、より"警察国家の対策"と旧ソ連や東ドイツのようになります。 彼らは、これらの措置は、全情報認知プログラムの拡張版が含まれますと言う。 しかし、私が間違って服用しないでください、私はアメリカの人々は徹底した自己反省、またはそのことについては何もする物ごいていないよ。 私は、彼らが予測するように大統領選挙後のシナリオが展開するかどうか気にもかけない。 アメリカは、その必然的な崩壊の最終段階に向かっているかすぐにそれは、、私の彼らの頭痛ではありません。


技術的に言えば、私はこの既に死んで国にいつでもすぐに死ぬことができる日本人です。 だから、私は地平線に私は賞賛するために使用される国が、ロンポールの下に復活れてきているいくつかの兆候を見ながら私は自分の崩壊に直面することができればそれは素晴らしいことと思われるだけです。

POSTSCRIPT 10月21日:私は議員として介入法案に対する投票は一つのことであり、そして社長としてそれを拒否権とはまったく別であることを承知して。 しかし、革命が行き詰まりのうち唯一の方法とみなされる時点で、それはあなたがすべてのミッションは不可能だと思うタスクの長いリストを作成するだけ無駄なだけでなく、有害ではない。


An Enduring 21st Century Alliance

レオーネE. Panetta /読売新聞への特別

国防総省の米国国務長官として、日本への私の最初の訪問の前夜に、私はより多くのためのアジア太平洋地域の安定と安全保障の礎石となっている、日米同盟の永続的な性質に反映する機会を持っていた50年以上。 その真の強さは我々の2つの人々が愛する保持する共通の価値観、民主主義の理想の信念、そして法の支配から来ている - 私たちのパートナーシップは、単に共有セキュリティと経済的利益よりも基づいています。 私はアメリカがアジア太平洋地域における関与を増大させるように私たちの国との間の結びつきが大きくなっていくだけと深まること確信している理由です。

日本人は今年の3月に大東亜日本の地震に直面して彼らの各国語キャラクタの強さを示した。 アメリカ軍が苦痛に救済を高速化するために日本軍の支援に精力的に働いていたとしてその悲劇のは、私たちの同盟の強さの新たな証拠を来た。 そしてそれは我々がこの地域全体にたくさんある一般的な課題の範囲に対処するための努力をオンにすることを協力のその精神にあります。

これらは、無謀と挑発的な行動に従事し続けるだけではなく日本に、しかし、地域全体に脅威を与える核兵器と弾道ミサイルを、開発している北朝鮮が、含まれています。 中国は急速に軍事の近代化が、透明性の厄介な欠如で、東と南シナ海でますます強引な活動で結合されている。 一緒に、米国と日本は、六者会合に戻って、北朝鮮をもたらすために働く、と中国が国際社会で責任ある役割を果たすことを奨励する。

我々は2011年6月"2 +2"会合において私たちのアライアンスのためにレイアウト野心的な目標で良い進歩を続ける。 自衛隊は、"動的防御"の力に進化するにつれ、我々は、一般的な問題を解決するための補完的な能力を結集し、相互運用性を促進している。 我々は共同で、次世代のミサイル防衛のインターセプターを含め、ハイテク機能を開発し、そして空間とサイバースペースを含む協力の新たな分野を、模索している。

太平洋の電源として、米国はアジアでの強固な前方展開する所存です。 地元住民に対する私たちの存在の影響を低減しつつ、在日米軍の足跡を再編成する私たちのアライアンスをより効果的になります。 キャンプシュワブの海兵隊航空基地普天間の移設を進め、この取り組みの中核部分であり、できるだけ早くこれを行うと、沖縄の人々のために、アライアンスのためによい、と地域の平和と安定のためになります。

この新興パシフィックセンチュリーでは、私は、地域と世界の安全保障の不可欠の柱として、日米同盟を参照してください。 私たちの共有する価値観から強さを描く、我々は、国際秩序を維持し、21世紀における私たちの人々の継続的な平和と繁栄を確保するために動作します。 ·

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The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 12:05 PM JST

Neither article above made sense when translated from Japanese to English. A few short lines held meaning but the translations were very boring. My eyes tended to fall asleep. Such software could not be trusted for international diplomacy.

I imagine that even expensive professional software made for international trade would be deeply flawed.

Years ago I hosted Japanese foreign exchange students. I had a mandate: Limit sentences to three words. That worked. I could see smiles.

It is the same for software. If the sentences are short, translation is possible. Long sentences fail.

I usually use Yahoo "Babel Fish" to translate. This program demands that I keep my entries short. That works better but... each sentence must be short also.

I think that we are wrong to expect software to translate well. It helps a little, but not much.

I note that German, French and Spanish translation software does better in converting to English. Our idioms are connected. Languages of the Orient have grand traditions and those traditions of speech deserve translation before individual words can be converted.

The words "cherry" and "blossom" can be translated. The Japanese traditions of the cherry blossom cannot.
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 12:37 PM JST


Thanks for taking time trying to reverse-translate. Here's the original text written by Panetta. This is so predictable that you may wonder why it didn't occur to the former budget committee member to save his travel expenses.

I disagree in two specific points:

1) You say the shorter the sentence is, the better the software performs. I think it's opposite at least when you want the high-text message translated into a low-text language. That's exactly what Edward T. Hall meant when he coined these words.

2) You seem to be saying that it's not the end of the world if the software strenuously developed over the last half century can't help much. But I'm afraid you are wrong because now the software exactly mirrors the way we THINK and the way we communicate within a culture or with different cultures. I think it IS the end of the world.

Yu Yamamoto
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 01:28 PM JST

That is a very interesting idea; that the software reflects the way we think. You have more confidence than I. (But you are most frequently correct and you have more experience than I.) The two forms of software that we used today seemed only to translate words. They failed utterly.

My confidence in long-term development is not so confident as your confidence. After all, 50-years to develop machine translation and computer translation is a short time. We have been trying to translate the thoughts of women to the thoughts of men for many centuries. That seems to be a failure in translation that crosses all barriers of language.

I had been unable to find the original text of Mr. Panetta's address until you pointed it out to me. Thanks for that. You are correct: That was not worth the price of transportation! It was a speech and nothing more. Speeches are not communication. Diplomatic speeches are attempts at manipulating the public through media. Manipulation is seldom related to truth or value.

As a former journalist, I am always suspicious of "speeches." Mr. Panetta's real work (or the lack of it) will be hidden from public view. A formal speech will seldom be of value to investigators like you and me.
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 02:03 PM JST

Some corrections to my previous post.

What I said about translating a high-context message into a low-context language also holds true with translating a low-context message into a high-context language perhaps to a varying degee. That should mean that the harder we try to understand each other, without changing our mental attitudes, the more we fail to understand each other. It's just a superstition that the harder we try, the more we can promote our mutual understanding.

I overemphasized the time element. But if the translation program had been developed overnight, I would have said the same thing because any computer program, including one embedded in the brain of the robot, is designed to precisely emulate man's cognitive functions.

Yu Yamamoto
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: samwidge on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 02:06 PM JST

Well!, Mr. Yamamoto,

You always get me to thinking in directions I had not tried before. You are magnificent at that. Thanks.

In this case we are concerned about trustworthyness of translation (by any means). It occurs to me that present major world conflict is rooted in languages-within-languages.

For the moment, the thing that comes to mind is religious predispositions. I live among Christians but there are many kinds of Christians and none find it easy to correspond with any other. I suppose it is not the translation of words that troubles but the translation of concepts and then of phrases. We frequently hear the expression, "the Lord" and the term makes sense to some but others consider its use an affront. When one asks, "Are you saved?" this sounds idiotic to others.

Now my nation of Christians in a mix and mixed with other beliefs and the lack of belief must speak with other nations that are not mixed.

As a Conservative I see complaints about President Obama's obsequious ways toward the peoples of other nations. When I examine his behavior closely, I am convinced that this otherwise troubled leader is trying to cross that troubled barrier of translation.

We are having particularly difficult times with the peoples of Islam. We blindly quote their Koran as demanding the killings of all Christians (Infidels). There may be more to it than this. I don't know. It seems like languages-within-language within terms within phrases.

If I am in Argentina I cannot offer cheerful confirmation of an idea with a thumbs-up gesture. Nor can I snap my fingers to illustrate quick completion of an effort. These motions can be interpreted as offensive. There must be billions of other untranslatables both visual and verbal.

You are far more expert than I and I would appreciate your thoughts on languages-within-language and the difficulties of translation.
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leon Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: Diogenes on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 02:26 PM JST
Here's how Google translation converted it.

U.S. and Japan: a permanent partnership in the 21st Century
E. Leone

Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun Panetta /

U.S. Department of Defense as the Secretary of State, on the eve of my first visit to Japan, I have become a cornerstone of regional stability and security in the Asia Pacific Ocean for more permanent nature of US-Japan alliance 50 years had the opportunity to reflect.
The strength of its true common values that hold love the people of two of our belief in democratic ideals, which comes from the rule of law - and the partnership we have more economic benefits and shared security simply also based.
That's why I'm confident that only becomes larger and deeper ties between our countries to increase American involvement in the Asia-Pacific Ocean region.

Japan showed the strength of their national character in the face of Japan's Greater East Asia earthquake in March of this year. The tragedy had been working as vigorously support the Japanese military to accelerate pain relief to the Americans, came new evidence of the strength of our alliance.
And it is in the spirit of cooperation to make efforts to deal with on a range of common challenges across the region have a lot to us.

These are not just in Japan continue to engage in reckless and provocative act, however, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles pose a threat to the entire region, but North Korea has developed, is included. China is rapidly modernizing military, in a worrying lack of transparency, coupled with activities that are increasingly assertive in the East and South China Sea. Together, the United States and Japan, back to the Six-Party Talks and work to bring North Korea to encourage a responsible role to play in the international community and China.

Our June 2011 "2 2" continues to progress well with ambitious goals laid out for us at a meeting of the Alliance. SDF is a "defense" dynamic forces evolve, and we are bringing together the complementary skills to solve common problems, which promotes interoperability. We jointly, including next-generation missile defense interceptors, to develop high-tech features, new areas of cooperation including space and cyberspace, and are exploring.

As the power of the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. is willing to forward deployment in Asia strong. While reducing the impact of our presence on the local population will be more effective in our alliance to reorganize the U.S. military footprint in Japan. Promote the relocation of the Futenma Marine Corps Air Station Camp Schwab, is a core part of this effort, and do so as soon as possible, for the people of Okinawa, good for the Alliance for regional peace and stability and The.

In this emerging Pacific Century, I, as an indispensable pillar of regional and global security, please refer to the Japan-US alliance. Draw strength from our shared values, we are maintaining international order, works to ensure continued peace and prosperity of our people in the 21st century. •

This might make more sense. This is the Department of Defense English version of what Panetta said.
The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leone Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: Diogenes on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 02:39 PM JST
Here's another source for what Panetta said in Japan.\10\25\story_25-10-2011_pg4_1

The headline says it all - No US troop cuts in Asia: Panetta

And this opening quote certainly doesn't represent the views of the Ryukyu Islanders that have two occupiers. " Asia allies worry US might not fulfil commitments"

The Real Implication of the High-Context Culture(s): Why You Think Leone Panetta is More Trustworthy than this Blogger
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Tuesday, October 25 2011 @ 02:57 PM JST


I really appreciated the reverse translation. It was very intriguing in many ways.

Also thanks for the links to what Panetta actually said. As you correctly pointed out, I'm 100% sure that either Okinawans or Washington, or both, will explode by the end of the year. Actually I hope that at least the colonials will stage a sit-in there.

Yu Yamamoto