Wednesday, December 30, 2009

嬉しいニュースと悔しいニュース Translation Work and Bamboo

 皆さん、新年明けましておめでとうございます!良い年を迎えましたか?始まったばかりだから、まだ分からないって言っても当然だよね。
 さて、去年(2009年はもう去年か)の秋、僕は竹工芸の勉強とは別に、将来フリーランスの翻訳者として働けるための地盤づくりみたいなことにも取り組んでいた。今までこんな話をしているのは初めてだから皆さん知らないと思うが、僕は大学時代から翻訳が好きで、今でもそれが本格的な仕事として出来るようにいろいろと試行錯誤をしているが、一昨年まで大分県に務めた2年間の実務経験を別にすれば、報酬をもらいながらの翻訳の仕事を請けたことは今のところまだ少ない。フリーランス翻訳の業界では、実績というのが非常に重要で、つまり過去にその仕事をした経験があること自体が次の仕事の受注につながっていく、というとても新規の翻訳者として入りにくい状況になっている。僕はそういう大きな壁みたいなものに直面している段階にある。かといって、竹もあるから竹一本でやってもいいんじゃないか、と思われる方もいらっしゃるかもしれないが、そううまく行ったらいいんだけど、竹工芸もそれだけで食べていくのもかなり厳しい職業であるという風に聞いている。正確な数字は覚えていないけど、竹センターを卒業した人でも20人だった人数が数年後に3,4人の現役者になったりとか。それだけ竹製品の市場が昔と比べたら縮小しているし、よっぽど技術が高くて魅力のあふれる商品・作品を作っていないと食べていけないというのが実情。なので、ちょっと前置きが長くなっているけど、ちゃんと収入を得ながらの翻訳の仕事ができるようになったら、それが竹工芸に励むための支えにもなってくれるだろうとの考えが去年の秋のこの二つのことに取り組もうと思った動機付けだった。
 では、僕は何をしたかというと、9月にはJAT日本翻訳者協会第6回新人者翻訳コンテスト、そして10月にはTQE翻訳実務検定にチャレンジしてみたんだ。その結果、まず翻訳コンテストなんだけど、日英部門(提示された文章を日本語から英語に訳す部門)で5人の最終候補者まで進んだが、最終審査で落ちてしまった。これは12月25日に日本翻訳者協会のHPで発表されたもので、そして題でも示唆した悔しいニュースのことだ。まあ、それはよしじゃないけどよしとして、翻訳実務検定のことはと言うと、これも日英翻訳で、僕がたくさんの分野から選んだのが環境分野。二酸化炭素の回収・貯留技術についての長~い原稿を訳して提出してみたところ、3級に合格!という結果になった。たかが3級かと思われるかもしれないが、3級から1級までが合格と見なされていて、そして今回の試験の受験データをみてみると、合格者には1、2級に合格した者は一人もいない。ということで、文字通りの嬉しいニュースとして僕は受け止めている。じゃあ、これで無事仕事が出来るようになったのかというと、それはまだ分からないが、頑張ってみた甲斐があったことは言うまでもない。翻訳の仕事が入り出しつつ、最後の課題の制作作業を進められるといいんだけどな~。

Happy New Year, everyone! It's hard to believe we're already in the start of a new decade. It still feels like the 2000s started not too long ago.

I've already notified my friends and family of this news (perhaps more thoroughly than they cared to listen), but thought because it's relevant to my current studies with bamboo I'd share it with a wider audience. Aside from my bamboo craft training, I've also been pursuing work as a freelance translator. I should say "aspiring" really, because to work as a freelance translator one must have extended prior experience in a given field, and because I only have two years of general translation experience through working with the Oita prefectural government as a CIR I don't receive many job requests. So, to validate my skills as a capable and qualified translator I did two things this past fall that one needn't do when you are receiving a consistent flow of translation requests: I entered in the Japan Association of Translators 6th Annual JAT Translation Competition for New and Aspiring Translators, and I took the "Environment" section of the 51st TQE, or Translator Qualifying Examination, a translation certification test run by SunFlare Academy, a translation/interpretation school and agency based in Tokyo. Results for the former were not as savory as the latter. I advanced to the finals of the JAT competition, only to fall out in the last judging. For the TQE, I passed Level 3, which is the lowest of 7 levels that one must qualify in order to pass the test as a whole, and be granted the ability to register oneself in SunFlare's agency as a practicing freelance translator. The test results, shown here in Japanese on their home page, say the percentage of those who passed was 9% (54 out of 594 test-takers), but what was most surprising to me was that none of those who passed the test made it beyond level 3. This is all great news for me, because it's a sign that I just might receive more orders for translation work in the near future, hopefully putting me on track to translate on a regular basis and make it a source of income to support myself as I also develop my skills in bamboo crafts. They're both challenging, time- and energy-consuming careers that are difficult or nearly impossible to jump start, but for me they inform each other in ways that would leave me feeling a little empty if I were to focus on just one of them. While I'm on the subject, even for new graduates of the bamboo craft school here in Beppu, making a living off one's newly acquired skills is extremely difficult. I don't remember the exact figures, but just a few years after graduation, what starts as 20 fresh bamboo craft practitioners often dwindles to about 3 or 4. There are many reasons for this; one is simply that one year of training is often too short a time to acquire the technical experience with enough breadth to be able to develop on one's own bamboo products that are creative and take advantage of a certain niche in the available market. Another reason is that the market itself is much smaller than it used to be a few decades ago. For these and other reasons, many of the new graduates take on part-time jobs unrelated to bamboo crafts to support themselves as they continue their studies and focus on learning a particular type of bamboo product. This is where translation work for me comes in. I'm hoping for the best on both fronts.

7 comments:

  1. Hi.
    It's Koichi.

    Congratulations on your passing the exam!
    When I heard the news, I didn't think that the success was great thing. However, I was so surprised at the difficulty of the exam.I also wish increased your translation job.

    By the way, to study I read english sentences and Japanese ones. I noticed that each senteces have different order. Do you have some reason?

    Thanks.

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  2. Thanks Koichi! For writing a comment and for your congratulatory words.

    The reason my English and Japanese sentences have a different order is because I don't try to make them match exactly. I try to say basically the same thing, but how I write in each language depends on how I'm feeling. I try most to make the sentences sound natural (much more in Japanese of course). I usually write in Japanese first because I feel like my Japanese will copy the English if I write the English first. Does that make sense? I have greater control in English so I write that last.

    Good luck with your English studies! Let me know if you have any questions.

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  3. おめでとうスティーブン!
    今さらって感じでごめんね><前にメールくれてたのにね。
    この文章とか全部スティーブンが書いたの!?(当たり前か!?)
    なんかそこらの日本人より素晴らしい日本語を書いていて改めてビックリしちゃいました。
    日本語が完璧どころか、スティーブンはとても文章力があるね!!!
    これは普通の日本人にももってないスティの才能だと思います。
    いやぁ・・・・改めて感心・・・・!!

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  4. はずかしいよ、そんなに褒めてくれて。でも、ありがとう!ブログを見てくれていてすごく嬉しい。文章は完璧じゃないと思うけど、がんばってます。

    ちなみに、さっこの英語も相当うまくなってるんじゃないの?アメリカの暮らしを気に入ってるようだから、ネイティヴ並みの英語がしゃべられてるのを時々想像するんだけど。今年の10月に例のイベントでそれを披露してください。

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  5. CONGRATULATION!!
    You do have great gift and able understand the way Japanese think enable to convert from/or to English!!!! Without confusion...
    I KNOW...Not easy to do...But you did it!

    Keiji and Stefani Oshima Oshima Bamboo School

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  6. Wondefu Stephen. The artist in you has found another outlet and how beautiful these baskets are. I am enthralled by your experience and the direction in which you are going. I would love to see one in person some time. Maybe the next time I go through Portland, which is quite often it seems. love ms w

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  7. Wonderful work Stephen. Your artistic ability always comes shining through. I hope to see your baskets in person some time when I travel through Portland. I go through at least twice a year and will keep in touch. love ms. w

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