[od-discuss] Possibly inappropriate Japanese translation of two clauses of "Open Definition"

ishikawa at yk.rim.or.jp ishikawa at yk.rim.or.jp
Wed Mar 19 06:38:42 UTC 2014

 (Hi, I sent this out to "opendefinition [at] okfn [dot] org" on March 
 7, but did not hear response,
 and figured maybe the discussion list is where I should post it.
 So I am re-submitting it here. Linebreak positions are somewhat 
 Sorry for rather lengthy posting.

 Dear sir/madam,

 I have come across "Open Definition" in your web page,

 I appreciate the contribution in defining the fundamental concept of
 "Open Knowledge" and "Open Data", etc.

 In my line of work, I have come to know CKAN and the great efforts by
 the Australian government to
 make what they called "Public Sector Information" available to the
 general public.
 It is heartening to see the contribution from CKAN people and people
 involved in the open data efforts in Australia in your "Open 

 However, while perusing the definition, I notice there are a couple of
 places where the corresponding Japanese translation, available at open 
 web site,could be improved to reflect the original
 English definition (I take that the original definition was given in
 English and then translated into various languages of the world
 including Japanese)

 In this e-mail, I would like to point out the problematic places and
 suggest possible improvements.

 I am cc'ing this message to an e-mail address
 lod-challenge at sfc.keio.ac.jp
 I found by looking for "Linked Open Data Challenge Committee"
 which is given the credit as the translator of the definition into
 near the bottom of Japanese translation page
 I see "Translated by Linked Open Data Challenge Committee, Japan."

 If the above is not correct address, I would appreciate to know it and
 hopefully people at okfn.org can pass this to the original Japanese
 translator(s) for their opinion.

 [ADDED COMMENT on March 19: No, I am not sending this out to the above 
 .jp address this time.
 Still if someone knows a better address, I would like to hear about it. 

 By the way, as you will see, you may want to clarify the original
 English expression a bit
 for the benefit of translators, too

 Here the two cases in point.

 (1)  Japanese translation: The first clause of the "Open Definition"


 --- Begin Quote ---
 1. Access

 The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable
 reproduction cost, preferably downloading via the Internet without
 charge. The work must also be available in a convenient and modifiable
 --- End Quote

 The corresponding current Japanese translation given in

 --- begin quote

 よる無償ダウンロードにより提供されてなければなりません。また、作品は、変 更可能で便利な形式で提供されなければいけません。
 --- end quote

 What is the problem?

 My take on the first sentence of the definition with regard to the COST
 is that
  - the knowledge should be made available at no more than a reasonable
 reproduction cost,
  and "PREFERABLY" (in this age of the Internet)
  "downloading via the Internet without charge" is a good SUGGESTED

 I say "if it is possible to do so" because many organizations due to
 the maintenance of network, and network fee (if you have gigabytes of
 geographical data, for example), they would think
 twice before making the data available over the network for fear of
 running out of network bandwidth. Someone has got to pay for the
 infrastructure cost somehow.

 So, the "downloading via the Internet without charge" is JUST ONE
 EXAMPLE of "be made available at no more than
 a reasonable reproduction cost.". There are many different means with
 different cost structure, shades of grey so to speak,  (which must be
 "at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost"), and probably the
 most inexpensive and trouble-free method is the one EXAMPLE given as
 "downloading via the Internet without charge".

 That is my reading of the English definition and I am more or less
 confident that was the original intention behind the English 

 What the Japanese sentence suggests currently:
 Unfortunately, Japanese translation of this sentence with regard to the
 COST issue loses this nuance of
 shades of grey:
 "複製のための適正な価格*あるいは*インターネットによる無償ダウンロードに より提供されてなければなりません。"

 I put "*"s around "あるいは" which is equivalent to "OR" that shows
 ALTERNATIVE, not something that fits
 in the general category with different degree of cost issue as in the
 original English.
 It is as if the first sentence of the original English definition read,
 "The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a
 reasonable reproduction cost, *OR* shall be available by downloading 
 the Internet without charge."

 The above does seems strange because "downloading via the Internet
 without charge" *IS* an access method "at no more than a reasonable
 reproduction cost".

 My suggested change:

 I think the current Japanese translation should be changed to stress
 the original intention of allowing different cost structure for
 reproduction, and that downloading via the Internet is JUST ONE
 PREFERRED EXAMPLE.: my suggested translation is

 ---- begin quote

 作品の一部ではなく全てが、複製のための適正な価格で提供されなければなりま せん。
 ---- end quote

 The original second sentence is not touched.
 The original first sentence is divided into two:
 The first part:「作品の一部ではなく全てが、複製のための適正な価格で提供 されなければなりません。」
 This translates back into English as
 "The work shall be available as a whole and at no more than a
 reasonable reproduction cost."
 The second part: 「可能であればインターネットによる無償ダウンロードが望 まれます。」
 This translates into English as
 "If possible, downloading via the Internet without charge is 

 I added "If possible" which is IMPLICIT in the original English
 definition, and I believe many English-speaking people read this
 with this implicit understanding. But may I suggest that the English
 definition might be changed a bit to stress this to help many 
 English speakers (and many are techies rather than people who regularly
 read English legal documents)?

 (2) Clause 4.

 Another place where I think Japanese translation could be improved, and
 the original English expression can be changed a little to help the
 non-native English speaking world (and for techies specially) is the
 following sentence in Clause 4.

 --- Begin Quote
 4. Absence of Technological Restriction

 The work must be provided in such a form that there are no
 technological obstacles to the performance of the above activities. 
 can be achieved by the provision of the work in an open data format,
 i.e. one whose specification is publicly and freely available and which
 places no restrictions monetary or otherwise upon its use.
 --- End Quote

 My reading of the paragraph: The first sentence defines the requirement 
 The second sentence gives AN EXAMPLE of how this "CAN" (emphasis mine)
 be achieved.

 I believe no one argues my reading here (well, I hope.).

 However, please note that since the second sentence in the original
 description explains ONLY ONE EXAMPLE
 of how to meet the requirements spelled out in the first sentence,
 there MAY BE (CAN BE) OTHER methods how to
 meet the requirements of the first sentence. OK?
 That is, there is AN IMPLICIT "For example, " before the second
 sentence. "This can be achieved ...".

 I hope my reading of the Clause 4, especially the relationship of the
 first sentence and the second sentence
 with regard to the implicit and missing "For example, " at the
 beginning of the second sentence is OK.

 With this understanding, when I look at the corresponding Japanese
 translation, I see a room for improvement.
 The Japanese translation:
 --- begin quote ---

 ての制限が課されてないオープンデータ形式を用いて作品を提供することによっ て達成することができます。
 --- end quote ---

 If you look at the individual sentences, the individual translation 
 *may* look OK.
 The first sentence: "作品は、上記に示した操作を行う場合に技術的な支障が ない形式で提供されなければなりません。"
 The second sentence:
 れてないオープンデータ形式を用いて作品を提供することによって達成すること ができます。"

 I am raising an issue based on my experience of looking at software
 licenses starting in the 1980's as someone involved in
 software localization project. Japanese language structure (especially
 the power of auxiliary verb) is not so well fit for legal documents, 
 when I translated the English License of US and European software 
 often I had to insert additional conjunction to avoid misunderstanding
 on the side of Japanese readers (would be users of software packages.)
 who read the "translated" Japanese license. I needed to "resurrect" the
 implicit assumptions in the original English documents clearly in the
 translated Japanese documents. (This happens often when the auxiliary
 verbs such as "must", "may", "would", etc. are used, say, in 
 with "subjunctive mood").  I did a lot of software localization in
 1980-1990's, and had to add these conjunctions awkwardedly.

 The case in point here: the implicit and missing "For example, " is
 hard to deduce from the current Japanese translation of the
 paragraph in Clause 4. Yes, the people who created the Japanese
 translation may say, "it is obvious"
 Yes right. Translation of the each individual sentence may be OK.  But
 I would say, without mentioning "For example, " explicitly,
 about half the CASUAL Japanese readers of the Japanese translation
 would not catch that the second sentence is giving an exemplary method
 to meet the requirement of the first sentence when they read this
 translated Japanese paragraph.
 Rather, I would say, on the first reading, the majority might make a
 mistake of thinking that  the second sentence  *MUST* be observed
 instead of it being an example that should be treated as such.

 Problem is that not many Japanese readers of the definition check the
 original English definition and realize the subtle issue here.

 My suggested change: (add the equivalent of "For example, " to the
 beginning of
 the second sentence.)
 --- begin quote ---

 作品は、上記に示した操作を行う場合に技術的な支障がない形式で提供されなけ ればなりません。*例えば*,
 てないオープンデータ形式を用いて作品を提供することによって達成することが できます。
 --- end quote ---

 In the above, I put "例えば," (the Japanese equivalent of "For example, ")
 to the beginning of the second sentence.

 The above are two places where I felt we can improve the Japanese

 In general, trying to define something precisely in natural language as
 in here or as in many
 legal document needs careful attention to details. Aside from
 mathematics where rigorous systems of logic and symbols help, legal
 documents and the type of definition given
 by "Open Definition" try to do this almost impossible natural language
 task head-on.
 So I applaud that the contributors have created the "Open Definition"
 so far considering the difficulty of doing this.

 However, as I noted above, I think the Japanese translation can be
 improved to avoid the possible misunderstanding(s) by the casual 
 Japanese readers and to
 reflect the original English definition more closely.
 Also, the original English definition could be modified ever so
 slightly to avoid the kind of issues, such as losing the implicit 
 nuances that are universally
 understood by English-speaking community, that can happen during 

 Yes, precise definition is difficult, but to convey that into a
 different natural language may be more difficult.
 (I checked the French translation, and that does not seem to have the
 problems I realized in the Japanese translation. Maybe the Japanese
 language is so removed from European languages and that may cause the
 issues. But my experience tells me legal documents that need precise
 definitions require a very different mind set from the one that is
 necessary for translating other types of documents. And I think there 
 no inherent problem in English to Japanese translation if we are 
 enough. Diligence, certainly, is required to keep tabs on the type of
 issues I raise as noted above.)

 Anyway, thank you for making this great definition available over the

 I hope the issues I raised in this e-mail help us to improve the
 definition in the long run.

 Best Regards,
 Chiaki Ishikawa

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