December 15, 2006

Lost In Translation

For those of you who watched the Matsuzaka press conference yesterday evening, Matsuzaka's "translator" is a Boras employee named Tak Sato. With any luck, he's out of a job this morning.

He was horrible -- guaranteeing the Q&A would be worthless. Daisuke would speak for a minute -- laughing, gesturing -- and Sato would offer one short, inaudible sentence in fractured English. Or, as he said a couple of times, "Engrish".

Theo could have wandered out on Landsdowne Street and dragged in the first Asian-looking guy he saw and things probably would have gone smoother. ... Sato "struggled to communicate Matsuzaka's answers" and "his command of the English language was shaky".

The Herald was blunt:
Matsuzaka's translator was universally panned by the English-speaking media, which discovered afterward that many of the pitcher's responses were shortened, changed or butchered. Members of the Japanese media helped provide the accurate comments.
The Globe has a transcript. It is far from complete -- and some things I remember are missing -- but this exchange gives you a flavour of the proceedings:
Q. Welcome and I wonder if you could tell us at what point in these negotiations that you realized that you would be coming to the Red Sox, and did you have your doubts that this day would come to pass?

Matsuzaka: My nickname is Japan is Monster.
If anyone can find Dice's actual answers to the media's questions, that would be great.

P.S. Both the Herald and Globe have stories about how the deal almost fell through at the last minute. ... Some great quotes about Dice from Craig Shipley, Boston's vice president of professional and international scotuing.


dabdiputs said...

some amateur translation from extra bases:

Anonymous said...


Zenslinger said...

I'm glad the world is such that at least people know things like this. Though it's too bad someone better wasn't on hand to interpret.

gregpoole said...

I posted a comment on this issue of horrific interpretation earlier, but just to reiterate-- this was a huge glitch that will forever be a blemish on what will otherwise go down as an historic event in the annals of MLB. It is unforgivable that Boras and the Sox did not vet the interpreter, perhaps the most important person at that press conference table.

I must agree, and disagree, with redsock when he states that any asian-looking person off the street could have done a better job. This may be true, but unfortunately this is the attitude that caused the embarrassing situation in the first place-- anybody will do. If the Sox were more thoughtful about their perks on offer to Daisuke, why didn't they already have a top notch translator on the payroll instead of leaving it up to Boras' office? Unforgivable. Shows how unprofessional Boras' organization is as well to be using Tak Satoh as an interpreter. I suspect this was one of the main roadblocks the two parties faced and perhaps the immediate cause of the deal having almost fallen through.

A good interpreter will be adding cultural explanation along with his or her translation-- some bloke off the street may not be capable of this. For example, when Mr. Matsuzaka was asked about "beating the Yankees", though he did mention that he thought it was a joke, in no way did he mean to belittle the rivalry. He was just practicing standard public etiquette in Japan-- one would never brag or ridicule another party in such a serious public forum, even in a joking manner, to improve social standing amongst the audience. His understanding is that any flippant comment about "the MFY" would be unsportsmanlike.

redsock said...

Thanks, Greg.

I meant that line as a joke, but I really have to wonder why the Sox did not have their own employee there. Was this something that Boras insisted on?

When we heard the Japanese reporters translating their own questions in flawless English, it showed even more how DM got screwed at his big Boston introduction.

Anonymous said...

Give Dice Man the ball and have V-Tek put down the number 1 - see how A-Rod translates that! MERRY CHRISTMAS! Get the truck moving, start the season already!

redsock said...

Dan, post your comments only once, please.

Posting the same thing 5 times in 8 minutes is not cool.