国際校ライフ② 「+/-」

では国際校で「多国籍組」に入ることなどにより、海外で「国際的」な育ち方をすると、どのような影響があり得るのでしょうか。

 

プラス面

1. 語学力が上達する。バイリンガルになれる可能性もある。

2. 話せる言語が増えれば、交流できる相手の幅も広がる。

3. 言葉の面白さや奥深さを味わうことができる。

4. 他の文化の知識も身に付くので、バイカルチュラルにもなれる。

5. 色んな国や文化の人と接するうちに、異文化理解力も鍛えられる。世界には色んな生き方や、様々な常識があることを実感できる。

6. 寛容さも身に付く。人種だけでなく、色んな面でもっとopen-mindedになれる。

7. 色んな環境に適応できるようになる。

8. 色んな国の人と仲良くできるようになる。世界中に友達や知り合いができる。

9. バイリンガル・バイカルチュラルになると、各言語・文化のものが楽しめるので、「楽しみの引き出し」が増える。

10. 語学力が求められる職種(翻訳・通訳など)や、文化の架け橋になるような仕事には有利になる。

11. グローバルに考えるようになるので、国際感覚や広い視野が身に付く。

12. グローバルな視点から文化を比較したり、日本を客観的に見ることができる(良いところも、良くないところも)。

13. 先入観や偏見はあまり意味がないことを学ぶことができる。

14. 人を人種別ではなく、一人ひとりの「個人」として見るようになる。

15. アイデンティティー的にどこにも属さないため、自由に自分を re-inventする (作り直す)ことができる。

 

マイナス面

1. 日本語のレベルが落ちる。また、英語脳になると、日本語で思うように表現できないこともある(英語で言いたいことが分かっていても、日本語では適切な表現がすぐに見つからない、あるいは存在しない)。帰国すると、英語を使いたいのにあまり使う機会がない。

2. 日本の文化に疎くなったり、考え方や価値観も「日本人らしく」なくなったりするため、日本に帰国するとなかなか生活に馴染めず、逆カルチャーショックを受ける(いわゆる浦島太郎化)。行動が理解できない、波長が合わない、価値観が異なる、笑うツボが違うなど、日常的に戸惑う。文化の違いなどにより、知らずに失礼なことを言ってしまうかもしれない。

3. 逆に日本の人からすれば「この人は日本人なのに~~」と相手も戸惑い、「日本人ではない」と思われ、余所者扱いされる。

4. 自己紹介する度に「うらやましい」「すごい」「別の世界の人みたい」などと言われる。悪意はないと分かっていても、ただ「普通に扱ってほしい」というのが本音なので疲れる。

5. 海外に行けば日本人扱いされるので、どこにいても outsider. そのため、「自分はどこの人なのか?」という identity crisis が生じる。

6. 「ホーム」がない「ホームシック」になる。日本に来た外国人がホームシックになったら母国に帰れば良いことだが、そのように「戻れる場所」がない。

7. 同じ境遇の人は少ないので、あまり理解・共感してもらえない。サポートが得られるグループとかもない。

8. 家族で唯一自分だけが国際化していると、家族とも価値観や文化が異なるのでお互い理解しづらくなる。言語面でも、得意な言語が異なるので十分に意思疎通できない可能性もある。

9. 孤独感、不安感、葛藤など、メンタル面で苦労する。

10. 海外の人種的多様性の高い環境に慣れていると、日本の同質的社会に戻るとそれも結構ショック。

11. 海外に戻りたいと思っても、国籍は日本なので簡単には移住できない。

12. 世間の帰国子女に対するイメージと現実のギャップを感じる。

13. せっかく英語力を鍛えてネイティブレベルになっても、日本では日本人である以上ネイティブレベルと認められないことが多いので、語学力を生かせない。

(&英語が「すごいレベル」と感心されることが多いのに、同時に「ネイティブには全然及ばないレベル」と判断されるという矛盾。)

14. 日本人の友達や知り合いはあまりできない。

15. 日本人のコネや日本人的な感覚に欠けていると、日本での就職活動は厳しい。日本の会社は国際感覚をあまり評価しない。

 

解説

・経験は人それぞれ

上記は「起こり得ること」で、もちろん全てが起きるとは限りません。

海外生活での経験は人それぞれです。

(僕自身は「国際派」のかなり極端な例だったと思います。)

 

・「正しい」選択肢はない

国際校で日本人組に入れば、日本の環境に近いため溶け込みやすいかもしれないですし、英語力はあまり伸びないとしても日本語や日本の文化を忘れません。中身が日本人のままになるので、日本に帰ったときも逆カルチャーショックなどもなくスムーズに移行できるでしょうし、日本の大学への進学や就職活動においてもメリットがあると言えます。

 

多国籍組に入れば、言語や文化面で「国際化」され、「日本人らしさ」を様々な度合いで失うことになるでしょう。「国際人」に育つことで、得るものもあれば、失うものもあると思います。

 

僕自身は後者を選び、今も後悔はありませんが、それはあくまでも僕個人の選択ですし、日本人組を選ぶ人が間違っていると言うつもりはありません。日本人組に入るか多国籍組に入るかは個人の自由だと思います。どちらの道にもメリットがありますし、ただ違う育ち方をしただけです。

 

・よりバランス良く

また、このように二極化するのではなく、もっとバランスの取れた育ち方もできるかもしれません。

例えば僕とほぼ同じ時期に海外移住されたBilingirl Chikaさんは、国際校でなく現地校に入られたと思いますが、明らかに僕よりもバイリンガルでバイカルチュラルだと思います。「日本人らしさ」を失わずに国際感覚を得ることも可能なのかもしれません。

僕ももし子供の頃もっと日本の文化に触れることや日本人組に歩み寄ることに努力していれば、あるいはそもそも生徒が二つのグループに分かれていなければ、この二つの育ち方をもっとうまく両立できていたかもしれません。

国際校ライフ① 「日本人組と多国籍組」

前回の記事でも少し触れましたが、僕が通っていた海外の国際校(インターナショナル・スクール)では日本人生徒のほぼ全員が日本人同士で固まっていて、その他の生徒は色んな国の生徒同士で混ざっていました。

もともと日本人が多い学校でしたので、生徒がこの二つのグループ(日本人組多国籍組)にはっきり分かれていました。 

見えない壁

この二つのグループは正式に分離されていたのではなく、お互い仲が悪いというわけでもありませんでしたが、昼休みは別々の場所で行動してましたし、休み時間中に使える2つのサッカーのフィールドも片方は日本人組が使ってもう片方は多国籍組が使っていたくらい分かれていました。

グループ間の交流はほとんどありませんでしたし(そもそも日本人組は一日中ずっと日本語で話してるので)、まるで見えない壁があるような感じでした。

そのため、同じ学校なのにまるで二つの世界が存在するような環境でした。

僕の場合

僕は9才の時から海外の国際校でしたが、最初から多国籍組でした。日本人生徒の99%は日本人同士で群れていたわけですが、僕にとってそれはむしろ不自然に感じました。

せっかく海外まで来て多様で多国籍の環境にいるのに、わざわざ自分の国の人同士で固まることが理解できませんでした。僕は国籍を問わず色んな人と交流したかったですし、国籍を理由に仲間を選ぶという発想が嫌でした(日本や日本人が嫌いだったのではありません)。日本人以外の生徒を除外することはその生徒たちに失礼だと思いました。

 

「多国籍組に入れば英語が上達する」とか「国際人になりたい」とか、大きなことは考えていませんでした。

ただ自然に思ったことをしただけでした。

 

その結果、僕は小学校後半から大学までの10年以上の間、家以外で日本人と接することや日本語を使うことはほとんどありませんでした。

いわゆる formative years(形成期)の間、ずっと色んな国の人と遊び、グローバルな環境に浸りきって、英語優位で育ちました。

振り返りますと、国際性が最大限に伸びるような育ち方だったと思います。

A double-edged sword (諸刃の剣)

しかし、これは自慢とかではありませんし、僕の経験も決して良いことばかりではありません。

僕は現在も「国際人」としてのアイデンティティーが強いですし、これからも大切にしたいと思っています。また、日本には国際人やバイリンガルに憧れを持つ人も少なくないかもしれません。

しかし、このような育ち方や生き方にはプラス面もあればマイナス面もあります。

このシリーズでは、その両面を含め、国際校で育った経験とその影響について書いてみたいと思います。

HuffPost TCK piece: My thoughts and reflections

Rarely do I come across an article that strikes such a deep chord with me, or a writer whose life story so closely mirrors mine. Ms. Miki Naganuma’s piece on her experiences and identity as a third culture kid evoked many feelings and memories in me, so I thought I’d share some of them here, in quote-and-comment format.

 

「すごく日本語上手ですね」(だって日本人やし)

→ I get this too. And I react in the same way (albeit in standard Japanese) in my mind. Like, I’m a bilingual Japanese person, so by definition I can speak Japanese.

I’ve also had people get super impressed or surprised upon seeing me reading a Japanese novel, and when I knew a certain Japanese city or prefecture they had mentioned. I don’t take offense or anything, but evidently there are people who don’t expect me to do or know these things.

 

「純粋な日本人の方ですか?」(そうです)

→ I get asked this question a lot too. And even when I reply in the affirmative, some people still don’t buy it.

 

「素敵!格好いいですね!」 (何が?)

→ 何が? is exactly how I feel when I hear this, or any other variation of sugoi. I don’t consider myself sugoi; it’s not like I ran the 100-meter race in 8.2 seconds, or performed brain surgery on a tree shrew with my eyes closed. All I did was grow up in a different environment than most; I’m just different. I have never said or thought that I was better or more special than others because of my background. Better at certain skills, yes, but we all have our strengths and weaknesses, right? Being raised abroad doesn’t make me sugoi as far as I’m concerned.

 

現地校へ通い出し、辛いと言うより正直訳が分からなかった。

→ I was kind of in the same boat; after moving abroad to Singapore as a fourth grader, everything was new to me. You’re just a nine-year-old kid, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a completely English-speaking environment at school (which in my case was an international school). You don’t speak a word of English, and you can’t understand what everyone is saying. Looking back, that sounds a little daunting. But I don’t remember ever feeling scared or homesick. I was probably just too young to know any better; the transition likely would have been more challenging had I moved abroad later in life. When you’re nine, you aren’t afraid of anything. At least I wasn’t. Life was different after my move, but I just took it as it came.

 

早く日本に帰りたいとばかり思っていたのを覚えている。

→ I can safely say I never felt this way during my childhood. Not one bit. I do remember some of my Japanese classmates at my international school becoming homesick, though, and me being unable to comprehend why they were homesick. I might even have needled them about it (what a jerk!), which I regret.

And years later, I would finally understand that feeling, because I got “homesick” myself—but for the U.S, not Japan. During my first few years back in Japan (after graduating from college in California), which were pretty rough to say the least, I missed my stateside friends and the life I had left behind, and I badly wanted to go back. That’s about the only time in my life that I have felt homesick—though I don’t call it homesickness myself, because the U.S. isn’t home to me. But at the very least, I could understand what it felt like.

 

小中学生時代は英語が第二言語ばかりの生徒が集まるESL(English as Second Language)という特別なクラスで英語を学んでいた。私はこのクラスが大嫌いだった。

→ I started out in ESL as well. I personally liked it. Being with other kids who were in a similar situation as me helped me fit in and make friends, and I loved the multinational environment. There were kids from literally all over the world—Bulgaria, Brazil, Australia, Norway, Taiwan, you name it. I didn’t feel out of place at all, because we were all different.

I liked the ESL approach as a form of language education too, because it was very hands-on and it enabled me to immerse myself in the language from an early age. The ESL label didn’t hurt my pride, because I knew I wasn’t a native speaker and I was indeed studying English as my second language.

 

自分の日本人アイデンティティを避けたがるようになった。

→ I went through this phase too, though it wasn’t so much about trying to be “less Japanese” as trying to be “more global”. As a student at an international school abroad, I was eager to become part of the global, multicultural environment around me. I didn’t want to hang out only with Japanese classmates and talk in Japanese all day and read Japanese comics during recess (which, by the way, is what 99% of Japanese kids at my international school did)—no offense, to each their own, but that MO made no sense to me. I mean, if I’m living abroad, I might as well make the most of my opportunity to experience the world, right? Going to an international school and “being Japanese” the whole time was, to me, the equivalent of visiting Yosemite National Park on a gorgeous summer day and playing video games all day in your cabin. There was no way I was doing that. I wanted to get to know and become friends with classmates from various countries, which entailed speaking in a language we could all understand (English) and holding values we could all share. And doing those things effectively meant becoming “more global” and “less Japanese”. I distinctly remember once being told I wasn’t very Japanese, and taking it as a compliment because that meant I was succeeding in becoming more global. So, it wasn’t that I had anything against Japan; this shift in identity was part of my natural gravitation toward a “world citizen” (国際人) mindset.

Now, wasn’t there a way to be both Japanese and global? Did it really have to be a choice? Those are valid questions, because there are Japanese bilinguals who clearly were able to achieve a better balance of the two than myself. But if there was a way, I didn’t know it or follow it.

 

中でも一番私が影響を受けたのは、大学にある「日本人生徒会」を通して出会えた「変な日本人」仲間のみんな。

→ My university had a Japanese student group too, but I didn’t join it. The thought of mingling with fellow Japanese students felt foreign to me after years of not doing so, and the idea of ethnically themed student organizations in general didn’t fit my worldview. I believed in ignoring borders, not celebrating them. Joining the Japanese club would almost have felt as if I was turning my back on my friends, who were of various races and nationalities. So, I never participated in the Japanese club’s events. But, in hindsight, I think I could have benefited from joining the club, and I think it wouldn’t necessarily have meant a betrayal of my friends or beliefs. If I could go back in time, I would at least give it a try.

 

「あ、一緒だ!変な人こんなに沢山いるんだ。自分ひとりじゃないし結構普通かも」と思えた瞬間だった。

→ This sentence hit home the most for me. For much of my adult life so far I’ve felt alone psychologically, because it’s so hard to relate to others or to ever feel at home. I’m not very Japanese, not very Singaporean or American, and not even like most returnees for that matter (because most Japanese returnees are very Japanese). It was my own doing for the most part, but I have a unique, rootless, global identity, and I’ve found it hard to find people who share a similar background and perspectives. I really miss being around people I can relate to (my immediate reaction to this piece was, “If only I could find this kind of group too!”); the feeling described in this sentence is precisely what I want and need in my life right now. So, if there are any “weird people” out there who are reading this and feel the same way, give me a holler! :-)

 

変な日本人でも自分が日本国民であるという事を自覚し、誇りに思えるようになった。

→ I share the same sentiments, in that I am a Japanese citizen after all and I’m proud of my roots. I was born in Yokohama to a Japanese family, so I consider my Japanese nationality my birthright. No amount of becoming Americanized or globalized is going to change that.

 

将来何処に住もうが、私はこれからも2ヵ国の真ん中を生きていく。

→ So too will I. The TCK identity is deeply ingrained in me, and at this point I am who I am, wherever I may end up.

 

しかしTCKという国境線を越えたアイデンティティを見つけて以来、知らぬ間に多文化や異文化を通して身につけてきた語学力、共感力、コミュニケーション力、グローバルな価値観や視点が実は素晴らしいものではないかと気づき始めた。

→ Being a TCK is a double-edged sword. There are challenges unique to TCKs, but there are positives too, as outlined in this essay. Life as a TCK can be hard at times, but at the end of the day all I can do is try to make the most of my positives and deal with the negatives. Don’t we all?

英語力とは:方言編

1. 発音の違い

TOEICのリスニングセクションなどでは「きれい」な発音の英語が流れますが、実際英語圏に行けばアクセントや発音の仕方は様々です。

過去の記事でいくつか具体例を紹介しましたが、発音やアクセントは地域によって異なります。

また、人種によって発音が異なることもあります(ネイティブスピーカーでも)。例えばアフリカ系アメリカ人は ask を aks (アクス)と発音したりします。

そのため、様々なアクセントに対応できるリスニングスキルも英語力の一部と言えるでしょう。

 

2. 単語レベルの違い

イギリス英語とアメリカ英語のスペルの違いは良く知られていると思いますが、その他にも地域によって使う単語略し方が異なることも多いです。一部の地域でしか使われない表現も多数あります。

 

3. 文法の違い

イギリス英語とアメリカ英語を比べますと、コロケーション複数形使い方カンマの使い方などが異なります。

また、文法は同じ州の中で異なることもあります。

 

上記の他にも、国により使う単位が違ったり、日付の表記方法が異なることもあります(例えば12月8日はアメリカでは12/8、イギリスでは8/12)。

今日のグローバルな環境では英語の様々なアクセントや方言に触れることがあるので、そのような英語の多様性に対応することも求められます。

A Commentary on Osako Hanpa Naitte

Introduction

When Yuya Osako headed in the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute of Japan’s World Cup opener against Colombia this past June, few would have imagined that hanpa naitte, the phrase associated with the wiry striker, would catch on like wildfire and become the expression du jour nationwide for months on end. Indeed, the chances of this nearly decade-old catchphrase blossoming practically overnight into a national phenomenon that would transcend the sport would have seemed as unlikely as the Samurai Blue pulling off an upset of the heavily favored Cafeteros. Yet, both happened, on the very same night, by virtue of a single flick of the head. Here is a look at how and why this phrase took off the way it did. 

The meaning of hanpa nai

Before I get into the origin of the full phrase “Osako hanpa naitte”, let us first examine the meaning of the phrase hanpa nai.

First, this expression translates as “incredible” or “unreal”. Unlike these English words, however, you will not necessarily find an entry for hanpa nai in the dictionary, because it is a colloquialism used only in informal settings. The more grammatically complete version is actually 半端ではない (hanpa dewa nai) or 半端じゃない (hanpa janai); hanpa nai is an abbreviated form that sounds even more casual and slangy than these expressions, and is most often used by the younger generation during informal conversations. This is why eyebrows were raised when the announcer calling the Japan-Colombia game for the notoriously stiff NHK quipped late in the game, 「半端ないヘディングシュートがありました」 (“[Osako] had an incredible header.”). This ad-lib comment, no doubt inspired by the immediate and explosive increase in the mention of hanpa nai in the twitterverse and beyond after Osako’s goal, would be the rough equivalent of a BBC sports commentator remarking, “That match between Chelsea and Arsenal was totally lit.”, or “Agüero’s goal was one of the illest ever.” Therefore, despite its popularity, hanpa nai is not an expression you will readily find in a dictionary or on an NHK TV script.

It is this “hip” factor that differentiates hanpa nai from synonyms such as sugoi, or even yabai. There is a certain fresh, out-of-the-box quality associated with hanpa nai; had the original quote instead been Osako sugoitte for example, it would have sounded bland and its impact would have been diminished considerably.

The suffix -tte in hanpa naitte is an intensifier that serves to add further emphasis to this already high praise. Also, this term is used only in the negative; the affirmative form (hanpa aru) does not exist. The full phrase “Osako hanpa naitte” may be translated in a number of ways, but my rendition would be “Osako is just unreal”.

The origin of Osako Hanpa Naitte

The origin of “Osako hanpa naitte” dates back to January 5, 2009, and was summarized by the Guardian as follows: “The term was first used in reference to Osako by a tearfully awestruck opponent after a televised high school match ten years ago”. While this description is factually accurate, it would not be possible to fully appreciate the brilliance of this line or to understand its popularity without dissecting its origin more thoroughly on linguistic, cultural, and psychological levels. I will therefore attempt to peel back these layers below.

The high school match in question was one of the quarterfinals of the 2008-09 All Japan High School Soccer Tournament (a nationally watched single-elimination tournament held annually each winter) that pitted Kagoshima Jōsei HS, a powerhouse led by Osako, against Takigawa Daini HS, a soccer blueblood in its own right. Osako, then a precocious teenager, was in the midst of a historic scoring binge at the tournament, having netted six goals in three games entering the quarterfinal (he would eventually finish with 10 goals, a single-tournament record that still stands). His team too was on a roll, having outscored its opponents 16-6 in its first three games of the tournament, and on this day Takigawa Daini would become the latest victim of a Kagoshima Jōsei offensive onslaught as Osako and company ran roughshod over the Kobe side in a 6-2 rout, with the ascending star scoring yet another pair of goals.

Other than adding to Osako’s goal tally and his growing legend, the match itself was not of particularly great historical significance; few will remember the final score of this blowout, or the fate of Kagoshima Jōsei in the semifinal and beyond. What remains etched in the minds of fans and entered this match into Japanese soccer folklore was what transpired after the game inside the Takigawa locker room, where TV cameras caught the post-game player reactions live for the whole nation to see.

During this post-game locker room scene, a clip of which can still be viewed on YouTube (where it has garnered 6.7 million views and counting), Takigawa’s captain Takahiro Nakanishi exclaimed the following:

「大迫半端ないって!あいつ半端ないって!後ろ向きのボール、めっちゃトラップするもん。そんなんできひんやん普通。」

(For my translation of this quote and an in-depth analysis thereof, please see my past tweet and article [written in Japanese], respectively.)

 

With the camera trained on Nakanishi, his face contorted and his eyes welling up, the melodramatic visual (now forever immortalized in a flag, with the caption “Osako hanpa naitte”) left an indelible impression on fans, and the phrase “hanpa nai” would from that day on become synonymous with Osako, being attached to him during his subsequent professional and national team careers and being referenced in newspapers and TV broadcasts whenever he garnered attention. The meme was therefore common knowledge among soccer fans in Japan well before Osako redirected Keisuke Honda’s outswinging corner kick into the far corner of Colombia’s goal, some nine and a half years after the Jōsei-Takigawa quarterfinal and 7,148 km away from the locker room in Yokohama where the phrase was born.

The intent

What may be lost on uninitiated viewers of the video is the underlying intent of Nakanishi as he “laid bare” his feelings before his teammates with such intensity. Nakanishi was described in the Guardian piece as a “tearfully awestruck opponent”, and while this portrayal is true on the surface, it does not paint the full picture as there was a fair amount of histrionics involved in Nakanishi’s emotional rant.

To first put ourselves in the captain’s shoes, the mood around him is understandably somber as he and his teammates get changed and pack their bags after being eliminated from this prestigious tournament. His team did not only lose its chance to win the title, but was thoroughly dominated and routed by Osako’s team. The natural thing for a team captain to do in this situation may have been to console his dejected teammates and commend them on their efforts; give them a pat on the back, offer words of encouragement. But Nakanishi took a different approach. By shouting out praise for Osako and tearfully bemoaning how unstoppable he is, Nakanishi was trying to lighten the mood of the locker room through humor—as if to tell his teammates, “Hey guys, we lost today, but we got beaten by a total monster, that’s all. Man, wasn’t he something else!? I’m so in awe I’m crying my heart out on national television!!”

Such a display of leadership by comedic self-deprecation may feel foreign and be difficult to relate to for those not familiar with Japanese culture. If, for the sake of presenting a cultural equivalent, I were to transpose (or transcreate, in translation jargon) Nakanishi’s quote to the locker room of an inner-city high school team in the U.S., it might come out in rap form as something like this:

 

Yo, check it, your boy’s here bawlin’

As hard as Osako was ballin’

At trappin’ passes, that dude’s da best

Now what I need passed to me is some Kleenex

 

I’m not a rap lyricist by any stretch of the imagination, but if you can somehow picture an American high school team captain tearfully rapping (the “tearfully” part probably breaks the basic tenets of rapping, but please work with me here) these lines to his teammates after a heartbreaking loss, and thereby turning his teammates’ frowns upside down, that’s basically the kind of reaction Nakanishi was going for.

 

Down in the Takigawa locker room, Nakanishi’s amusing delivery immediately put his teammates at ease, allowing them to lift their heads and have a chuckle.

I do not consider Nakanishi’s act a completely made-for-TV charade featuring crocodile tears, as I’m sure the pain of defeat must have stung enough to elicit some level of genuine sorrow and disappointment in the captain (there is certainly no doubting his admiration for Osako), but Nakanishi did exaggerate his reaction for comic effect, and with his teammates in mind. (Nakanishi would, years after the fact, admit that he put on a show to lighten the team’s mood.) No matter the degree of embellishment, Nakanishi’s act was a commendable and effective way to lift his teammates’ spirits, and captured the hearts of soccer fans around the nation.

The reception

The video quickly spread among soccer fans in Japan after the match, and was received favorably by viewers, who appreciated Nakanishi’s approach of bowing out of the tournament with a positive attitude and praise for his opponents. Nakanishi was graceful in defeat, compassionate toward his teammates, and even put smiles on their (and many fans’) faces with his good-natured humor. He came across as genuine, thoughtful, and humorous, the kind of person you would want to have as your captain or friend.

The heartwarming clip also stood out in the context of the historically military-like culture of athletic programs at Japanese schools, as it was a refreshing departure from the grim stories surrounding student-athletes (the use of violence and abusive overtraining still persist at Japanese schools) that are all too common in Japan even today.

The language used by Nakanishi also endeared him to fans. Compared to English, the Japanese language has more distinct registers and dialects, which allows for a greater range of impressions the speaker can create on the listener. A given sentence may sound very different when expressed using formal, standard Japanese as opposed to using informal language in a regional dialect. Nakanishi’s diction leaned heavily toward the latter in that he used very casual expressions (“meccha”, “surumon”) and his native Kansai dialect (“dekihinyan”) throughout. His language could not have been more unbuttoned. Nakanishi’s casual form of speech, which was in stark contrast to the robotic, cookie-cutter manner in which most Japanese athletes speak on television, made him more relatable, and contributed to his authenticity and likeability.

Short yet powerful, melodramatic (in delivery) yet genuine (in intent), Nakanishi’s lines struck a brilliant balance that resonated with viewers.

The follow-up

As an amusing aside, in the full-length version of the post-game locker room segment, the head coach for Nakanishi’s team appears later in the video and is captured saying, 「俺、握手してもらったぞ」 (“I got to shake hands with Osako.”)—the perfect one-liner to follow Nakanishi’s words. Although the coach was more deadpan in his delivery and avuncular in demeanor, his witty quip was equally humorous (since it is obviously unusual for a coach to abase himself to an opposing player), and laudable in that it retained Nakanishi’s spirit of praising Osako and maintaining a positive attitude after a tough loss.

Nakanishi and his coach’s ability to provide comic relief with colorful, self-deprecating humor even during difficult times may also be characterized as distinctly Kansai-esque—it is difficult to imagine the same scene playing out in the locker room of a Kanagawa high school team for example. It is a type of humor that Kanto natives, including this Yokohama-born writer, can appreciate, but may not be able to imitate.

The rise to prominence in 2018

As catchphrases go, “Osako hanpa naitte” was something of a late bloomer; although it had been well known within soccer circles since 2009, it was not widely known in broader society until this past summer, when its popularity skyrocketed overnight following Osako’s goal. Why, then, did this phrase become so popular so quickly?

1. The hip factor

Hanpa naitte’s hipness and virality led to its trending on social media following Osako’s goal. The role of social media, in particular twitter, also cannot be overlooked in this story; it is unlikely the phrase would have caught on to the same extent 20 years ago.

2. Its scope of application

Besides being catchy, hanpa naitte is an incredibly versatile phrase; its application extends far beyond scoring dramatic headers in the World Cup.

Want to describe the unrelenting summer heat? Try: 「この暑さ半端ないって」

Want to express just how absolutely swamped you are? Go with: 「半端ない忙しさ」

Want to rave about your chocolate soufflé? Just say: 「この美味しさ半端ない!」

Because this phrase can be used in a wide range of situations, it was easy for Japanese speakers to incorporate it into everyday conversation, and this factor also fueled the popularity of the phrase.

By the same token, this phrase has also spawned many parodies. In fact, so highly spoofable is this phrase that there is a Twitter account dedicated to parodying Nakanishi’s quote—in its entirety—using various topical subjects, both within and outside the realm of soccer.

3. Its roots

After Osako’s header and the subsequent explosion in the use of the phrase hanpa naitte, TV shows repeatedly aired the aforementioned video of Nakanishi delivering the original line, which added an audiovisual element to this legendary quote and brought it to life.

Speaking of visuals, the flag depicting Nakanishi’s anguished face alongside the captain’s famous phrase was also shown on TV both during the live broadcast of the Japan-Colombia match and afterwards. This exposure certainly did not hurt, either.

4. The goal

Osako’s goal against Colombia was not just any game-winner; it was a clutch, late-game goal that secured an upset win for Japan, an underdog that had entered the tournament with low expectations. The team had endured consecutive losses in tune-up games leading up to the 2018 World Cup, and had not tasted victory in the finals since 2010 (Osako’s goal would also prove to be the Samurai Blue’s only winning goal in the 2018 tournament). In other words, Japan’s fans had not had much to celebrate until the shocker in Saransk. The significance of the goal, which came against all odds and invigorated the Japanese fanbase, also contributed to the phrase’s popularity.

 

The sudden rise of hanpa naitte to the mainstream may have been unexpected. But, given the fame achieved by this phrase in 2018, and the masterful manner in which it was originally delivered, the selection of hanpa naitte as one of the top 10 buzzwords of the year should not have come as a surprise (it really should have won the Buzzword of the Year, in my humble opinion). It was an honor well deserved, and congratulations are in order for both Osako and Nakanishi, without either of whom this phenomenon would not have occurred. 

Osako currently plies his trade in Germany, where he plays for Werder Bremen. Having earned a regular spot in one of the most competitive leagues in the world, he has lived up to his lofty potential and has become a household name in Japan. Still in his prime at age 28, he continues to play for the Japanese national team. 

Nakanishi, the godfather of this phrase, hung up his cleats after playing college soccer and never reached the same level of soccer stardom or Q rating as Osako. But, in coining a memorable phrase that eventually became a top 10 buzzword, he, like Osako in the Colombia game, used his head to produce a winner. And for that, he is every bit as worthy as Osako of being bestowed that most glorious of accolades: hanpa naitte.

ポストエディットの問題点

翻訳業界では近年、機械翻訳+ポストエディット」(MT+PE) というサービスが関心を集めています。今回はこのアプローチの問題点について書いてみたいと思います。

「ポストエディット」とは

まず、「ポストエディット」とは機械翻訳が出力した訳文を修正して、お客様に納品できるレベルに仕上げる作業です。具体的には原文と機械翻訳の訳文を比較し、誤訳や訳抜けなどのミスを探して直したり、文章を読みやすくしたりします。

作業内容は基本的に「翻訳チェック」という作業と同じですが、「翻訳チェック」は人間による翻訳をチェックするもので、「ポストエディット」は機械翻訳に対して行われる作業です。

機械翻訳+ポストエディット」というサービスのメリットは、機械翻訳の使用により人間よりも早く低コストで訳文が出力されるため、従来の人間による翻訳よりも効率的で生産性もアップすることとされています。 

ポストエディットの問題点

① 負担が大きい

ポストエディットにかかる手間や時間は、訳文の品質に大きく左右されます。

もし機械翻訳が高いレベルの訳文を生成することができれば、修正の数は少なく、セオリー通り効率良く翻訳を仕上げることができるでしょう。

しかし実際は機械翻訳はどのツールも未だに実用的なレベルではなく、精度に欠けていて多くの修正が必要です。これでは時間が省けないですし、このサービスのメリットがなくなってしまいます。

② 人材がいない

MT+PEサービスを提供する側としてはポストエディットをプロの翻訳者にお願いしたいようですが、それにはいくつか課題があります:

・求められるスキルが異なる:翻訳とポストエディットは根本的に異なる作業なので(前者は「ゼロから作る」作業、後者は「比べる」作業)、翻訳ができるからといってポストエディットができるとは限りません。

・経済的に成り立たない:ポストエディットの単価は通常の翻訳のレートよりも低いので、もし多くの修正や再翻訳が必要で通常の翻訳と同じくらいの時間がかかる場合、作業者は収入ダウンするだけです。

・受けたくない:レート以前に、単純にポストエディットという作業をしたくない翻訳者も多いです。まず、二つの文章を見比べる作業は非常に神経を使いますし、その上ミスだらけの文章を直す作業は大変でストレスになります。また、ポストエディットでは機械翻訳をベースとして修正するのが前提なので、「自ら訳を作り出す」という翻訳者の強みが生かせません。そのため、実力がある訳者さんほどこの作業を避けるでしょう。

③ 品質が落ちる

上記の通り、ポストエディットでは通常の翻訳と異なり、翻訳をゼロから始めることができません。しかし、翻訳は blank canvas(白紙状態)から始めたほうが高品質になります。ゼロからスタートするからこそ、原文に集中できて、意味を把握できて、最適な訳文を作り出すことができます。それに対し、ポストエディットでは最初から機械翻訳の拙訳を見なければいけないので、目障りですし思考の邪魔になります。また、ミスの修正に気を取られてしまうと、文章の流れや全体像も見失ってしまい、内容をしっかり把握できなくなる恐れもあります。

④ 能力が落ちる

・翻訳者がPEを担当する場合:自ら訳を思いつくというステップが無いので、その能力(翻訳する能力)が落ちてしまいます。

・翻訳チェッカーがPEを担当する場合:翻訳チェックは翻訳者になるための良い勉強になると言われています。これは、チェックする訳文が良い「お手本」になり、チェックしていくうちに適切な表現や訳し方を覚えることができるためです。しかし、PEでは訳文がミスだらけで文章力にも欠けているので、お手本にはならず、翻訳スキルが向上しません。

最後に

最近、翻訳業界では機械翻訳やポストエディットのメリットだけに注目したり、それらのサービスを強引に推進しようとする動きが見られます。しかし、実際はこのように重大な問題点もあります。そのため、「機械翻訳+ポストエディット」を一方的に押し付けるのではなく、そのサービスが与え得る様々な影響を慎重に、かつ客観的に考えるべきではないかと思います。

My experience at the 2018 Japan Writers Conference

Last weekend (October 13-14), I attended the 2018 Japan Writers Conference, which was held at the Otaru University of Commerce in Otaru, Hokkaido. Below is a summary of my experience at the event.

The reason

I decided to attend this annual event because writing is a passion of mine, and a craft I am trying to hone. I am at this point a fledgling, part-time writer with only a single published piece to my name (a short essay in a zine that was published this past summer), but I aspire to write professionally at the highest levels, and I figured there was no better way to learn the keys to success than listening to those that already do. So, as soon as this year’s event was announced, I had my sights set on heading up north this fall.

The location

The choice of Otaru as this year’s location was serendipitous to me on a personal level. For certain sentimental reasons, I had for several years wanted to visit this picturesque port town, but had not yet had the chance to. It was in fact one of three cities in Japan that I had shortlisted as domestic bucket list destinations, and the other two had been crossed off earlier this year (Nagasaki and Zushi), leaving me only an Otaru trip away from completing the trifecta. The host city of this conference changes annually, and there are according to one source some 683 cities in Japan, so it really was a fortuitous coincidence that my first attendance at this conference was in the very town I had most wanted to visit.

Hokkaido is known for its long, harsh winters, but the event thankfully took place during a mild patch of weather preceding the winter, with the temperatures hovering in the teens (Celsius). All four days I was in town were mostly sunny, and the chill in the air was palpable but not biting.

On arrival

Once my cab dropped me off at the campus gate after negotiating the mother of all steep hills, I was greeted first by a swarm of yukimushi (“snow bugs”, an endemic species in Hokkaido that has a distinctive fluffy white rear and whose ephemeral appearance heralds the imminent arrival of the snowy season each fall), then at the door of the classroom building where the conference was held by the event organizer, who happened to be heading out and warmly welcomed me to the conference.

The presentations

The presentations varied in content (with topics ranging from finding writing buddies to news reporting in Japan) and approach (some more interactive than others), but were all highly informative and captivating. Being an inexperienced writer, this conference was a rare and valuable opportunity to learn about what it takes to make it in this business from some of the very best. The presentations were well worth the long trip, and my only regret is that I was not able to attend more of them.

The community

I also took advantage of the opportunity to approach and pick the brains of some of the speakers at the event. It was easy to get a little starstruck being around the big names and well-published authors—I might have been the greenest writer in attendance, and technically speaking a non-native writer at that (my dominant language has long been English, but I always respect the true definition of a native speaker)—but everyone I talked to was kind enough to talk to me and answer my questions, and was very supportive. Their cordiality put me at ease, and it was also refreshing to be able to introduce myself and my international background without being judged or feeling alienated. The typical Japanese response to my self-introduction is some variation of “sugoi” or “It’s like you’re from another world” with the person staring at me like I have three heads (I know they probably don’t mean any harm, but the stress of constantly being branded “not one of us” can be hard on the psyche), but at this event I received no such treatment, and I felt welcomed by the speakers and other attendees I talked to, even getting to exchange contact information with them. I may not be at their level of course, but they made me feel like I was part of the community, and that’s all I could ask for.

My takeaway

I returned to my home in Yokohama emotionally rejuvenated and infused with various new writing tips, which in itself made the trip worthwhile. But, most of all I enjoyed the company of fellow English-language writers. The writers at this conference hailed from many different places and genres, but we all shared a common interest in writing, and it was heartening and inspiring to be in the presence of like-minded individuals. It also felt good being back in a multinational, English-speaking environment, which is what I grew up in and where I can feel most at home. As a bit of a lone wolf with a cultural identity crisis, that sense of belonging can often be elusive, and it meant a lot to me to find and be a small part of a group that I can feel comfortable in, if only for a weekend. No matter the level of success I manage to achieve as a writer, I will remember this event as a weekend in which I gained not only the knowledge I had been seeking, but so much more.

All in all, I’m happy to have attended this event, and I’m thankful to everyone who made my experience as enjoyable as it was. If any of you are reading this, I would like to thank the conference organizer for putting together this wonderful event, the presenters for imparting their invaluable knowledge, and everyone I got to talk to for their time. Thanks also for reading this post, and I hope to see you all again next year!