Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This is why I hate translating technical discussions

Since the English ability in the organization of our little company is severely limited, I sometimes need to help out my fellow salarymen in translating in their interactions when someone from the head office comes over from the great head office. Considering that my technical competency is limited to activating a coffee maker, and even that is pushing it, it can pose some considerable challenges when I need to help out my technical R&D colleagues in Japan...

Last week I was working quite a bit with this and this type of exchange was the norm:

HQ Trainer: So now you need to make sure that the PCP board is communicating properly with the ITC slaves, done through a standard OCP protocol.
Salaryman: (To trainer in English) Uh, ok, what's the ITC slaves again, I don't really understand what you're saying which makes it a bit difficult to translate...
HQ Trainer: Oh sorry, it's the sub-functions of the 4R4 ports that make sure that the ventilation is functioning properly
Salaryman: Uh... Ok, what's the OCP protocol again then...?
Japanese Tech Staff receiving training: (looking with me confused and with expectation glimmering in their eyes that I will soon clarify everything that they didn't understand)
HQ Trainer: (getting in a casual English mode) Well, it's basically the control function that makes sure that communication is going fine across the device, sending signals to the BPB rotor and getting confirmation back.
Salaryman: (resigned) Ok, I don't really have a clue what you're talking about, but I'll try...
Salaryman: (in Japanese to tech staff) Ok, make sure that the whatever-it-is PCP board is doing something with the (asking the HQ trainer what it's called again) ... uh, ITC-something-slaves through something OCP something...? I don't have a clue what I'm saying, do you understand any of this?
Japanese Tech Staff: (looking slightly confused but with some occasional nodding going around)
Salaryman: (pointing at one of the tech guys that seems to understand what it's about) Maybe you can try and help me explain if you understand what this was the hell about?
Tech Guy: Sure Salaryman, it's about... (launching into a detailed explanation that far surpasses what the trainer said, but seemingly correct)
Salaryman: (breathes a sigh of relief and turns to the trainer in English) It seems like Nakamura-san has figured it out so it's ok


Another Tech Guy: (curious) But Salaryman, we usually use the TBB protocol, will this interfere with the OCP? We had some things happening in the past, can you please ask.
Salaryman: (extremely tired) What's a TBB protocol...?

Rinse and repeat.

Usually I find it easier to just herd the tech dorks together and then have them communicate in International technical abbreviations since that seem to be least painful for everyone...


ThePenguin said...

TBB protocol? How quaint. Normally you'd want to hook up your OCP stack to an UTC-enabled multiplexer and have it write ROT26 encrypted packets over a TLC layer with trinary TLA hashing.

RMilner said...


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