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Lost in translation

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I was looking for some information on “Multithread programming” lately and I happened to find the Chinese version of the book “Practical UNIX programming” by Kay A. Robbins and Steven Robbins. Since my friend brought it from China, it has been sitting on my desk. I was glad I could find some use finally.

But it did not work out. I found it’s difficult to read a translated technology book, because my computer knowledge is larged acquired in past 8.5 years in the States (through English), not to mention the loss of semantics when the book was translated from English to Chinese.

I am not trying to criticize the translation work done by my wonderful Chinese colleagues. I have done technical translation work from time to time, and found it’s always a challenging task if I want to make it real good. The thing is sometimes we just can not translate things from one language into another: no corresponding words, background information, etc.

I don’t know if other Chinese students/professionals have similar problems like I had. I did have some experience using computer when I was in China. But I think I learned a lot more when I attended the graduate school at Rolla; and at work I am the only Chinese in my organization – I have to communicate in English on the technical things. A lot stuffs are new to me.

I think that’s kind explains why kids learn English (or other new languages) faster than adults. Because like me learning computer, the kids are learning new things in that language. We also tend to think in that language for the new things, given the environment. It’s just a habbit. For instance, I learned about “donut” in English because I have not seen it in China. Last year when I saw a “唐纳滋” store in Shanghai, I laughed.

That also explains my English is not picking up in other areas. Because in those areas, I already know them in Chinese, and I always try to convert the semantics from Chinese to English. Once I joked with my Indian coworkers my English thinking speed is about Intel Processor 486, they told me theirs are Pentium.

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