Getting English Translations Out of your Head
You want to think in Japanese. But every time you read Japanese, those English internal translations just seem to pop up everywhere. Will they ever disappear?
*Click on Captions for English subtitles*
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
I have noticed that I have this translator as well. It seems that when I try to shut it off, I feel like I comprehend nothing and am just reading syllables, or speaking syllables, especially with the J-J sentences I am working on presently, the newest ones more so. I also find myself terrified of using a word I have learned in J-J in actual communication for fear that I may have misunderstood the word and will end up confusing my conversational partner. I also can’t rely on a translator to check the content of my writing if I use the new words because I don’t want to undermine the method. I guess this is my personal intermediate blues sort of speak.
At the present moment I am afraid of watching any Japanese with English Translations because I have noticed words that I have only just learned via J-J and am able to correlate them with the English. I’m afraid of my weak connections in Japanese being overwritten by English connections or at the very least tainted by them. Just now I watched your video with audio off so that I could read the captions without spoiling the Japanese connections I have been listening to. I am passively listening to it now as I write this comment.
It’s not as much as you turn it off, as you render it obsolete. And don’t worry so much about confusing a conversation partner. It’s not a big deal. Go ahead and confuse them. It may even make you realize your own grasp on what you thought you knew.
The early J-J phase is a bit delicate when it comes to seeing English, as it does feel like it does damage where you don’t want it to.
Thanks for continuing to support the new video series :)
Of course! I am grateful to see videos come out so regularly. I hope this leads to more growth for the community, now that I think about it, I should share it on my Facebook because I have at least one friend I know of who has been studying Japanese. He may end up seeing it. However, I haven’t been making it a point to announce to the world I am studying Japanese except for the fact that I use my full name in these comments lol. I think I’ll just message him out of the blue with a link. I’ve been trying to get some of my classmates to check out your website. One of them seems like he might actually bite, maybe over winter break.
Responding to “turning off” versus “making obsolete”, I think that making the active effort to “turn off” may just be the problem, it is like putting up blocks maybe. “making obsolete” is closer to what your video is saying in that the Japanese will eventually become more efficient and the translation will stop because it tires the mind more than just reading the text and understanding it. At least that is how I am coming to understand it.
Yes, please do share :)
And you’re right. It’s that active effort that can lead to frustration. You can’t control your brain directly. You can only influence and create the environment of how it is going to work.
This can be annoying at times. My brain is like, “Hmm, what would be the best way to translate this into English? I could do it this way, but then that would loose some of the original meaning.” Why don’t you wait until I’m fluent and doing translator jobs before you worry about that brain?
Though I love it when I come up with the Japanese word for something and think at first that I came up with an English word since it came so easily.
You need to have a heart to heart conversation with your brain :P Eventually it’ll give in.
This is something I’m currently struggling with when trying to read or watch something. I’m constantly attempting to translate into English when I know it’s unnecessary.
I keep having to remind myself that translation is for a third-party’s benefit and I should just worry about understanding. I’ll get there eventually I’m sure, just gotta keep going!
You definitely will get there. Once your brain realizes it isn’t for your benefit anymore, it’ll stop.
To me the biggest challenge to phasing out my internal English translator has been kanji. That is, whenever I see a new or not immediately recognizable word I immediately read it using the kanji English “meaning” from RTK (which usually helps me remember/deduce what it means, but of course not always). So there’s a near-constant undercurrent of kanji English equivalents going beneath the Japanese. I’m guessing this will fade as I become more familiar with the meaning of the entire words (rather than combinations of kanji), but I can’t imagine it’ll ever go away completely (especially with new words). Thoughts from others who are beyond this?
It will fade. The interesting thing about RTK, is it sets the scaffolding for understanding the kanji with English, and then you eventually don’t even know it’s there anymore.
I noticed the process for kanji goes like this
feathers on top + white on bottom=learn
The trick for moving from step 2 to step 3 is to have more JJ than RTK. There are kanji from RTK that I don’t see in immersion or JJ. Ex. 戒=commandment which I have now forgoten and had to look up. (I finnished RTK 1 year ago)
So a struggle you have to look foward to is doing worse at RTK because you are forgeting all the english keywords, while getting *better* at japanese. Adshap wrote “how to say goodbye to RTK” about this topic.