By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Discovering Japan

This is a hoot. The Boston Herald announces that it’s offering Japanese-language pages on its Web site to appeal to Japanese baseball fans who want to follow Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox.

Readers on the Herald’s Web site can now click onto the Japanese flag icon associated with selected stories and view a Japanese translation of the story,” the paper says.

Here’s an example.

For years, the Boston Globe published Spanish-language stories the day after Pedro Martínez pitched at Fenway Park. Why this was done only after home games is still a mystery.

Anyway, the Herald’s move is very smart, leading me to wonder if the Globe, the Providence Journal and others — including the Red Sox themselves — will follow suit. (Via Romenesko.)

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  1. Anonymous

    EB3 hereSmart move.Could pay-off in some way.

  2. mlaurence

    I could never figure out why a Spanish speaker would run out and buy the Globe just on the day after Pedro pitched (at home), and just to read that one story.The Herald doing this online makes more sense. But…is it a notoriously bad mechanical web translation, or did they actually get a real Japanese speaker to translate the page?

  3. neil

    Hey that’s pretty good. Mrs. Neil is a person of J-ness and though not interested in baseball has been reading about Matsuzaka. I think they’re right, there are a lot of such fans both in Japan and locally. Also, the ability to click back and forth to read relevant, fun content in two languages is a great learning tool. Americans can use all the help they can get in this regard. Sports writing is about the level of Japanese I can get through. Though I was looking for a “button on the right” when I read “right-handed superstar”. Er, a bit rusty. So cheers to the Herald. I hope though when they do have an article in Japanese, they put up an obvious “Japanese content today, click here” link at the Herald home page, rather than having the link buried down on the article page itself, where few are apt to find it. That way you only need a bookmark to the homepage and a glance to see if there’s any J content. Ditto content in Spanish or any other language.Boston media all seemed to start pronouncing “Daisuke” correctly at the same time. At least I heard it right in about three places in the same couple of days. Early stories were all about “Dai-SOO-kee” which was so cringeworthy. Like “soo-kee ya-ki”. Why don’t they make the tiny effort to get it right? More English-centric disinterest in ick, foreign languages. Maybe they were corrected at a press conference and actually took note. Now they’re saying it right, Dai-skay, with the -skay clipped. Easy.Too bad no credit to the translator or translation service though.

  4. mike_b1

    Hehe, how will this track with their loving calls for a one-language United States?

  5. Anonymous

    One word: Pandering.Somehow, it is upmarket and lucrative and laudable to accomdate Japanese speakers and top players and the second-biggest-economy-in-the-world money they are teasing with. Yet any hispanic pandering has to be kept underground and hush hush while their star commentator trash hispanics for a living.I do not like to encourage minority violins here. Everyone living in this country SHOULD speak decent English – not just words-, should make the effort and not feel cocooned in other languages.We cannot have double standards.Especially when we are talking about mutlimillionaires paid to play here. They owe it to common decency to at least learn the language of the much heralded “fan” on the way to cashing the checks.Japanese are hardworking decent people and also very well-educated and most speak English and the ones that live here very likely do or did study in a college so they have no problem reading the news in English.There is no shortage of Japanese sites they are more fond and truting of. We just don’t think they “exist” because we never look up anything in Japanese.No, Mr Purcell, there is such a thing as Japanese lanugage news channels and sites. They don’t just google-trasnlate our content.If we do Japanese or Spanish, we wouldn’t do a first rate job, so why do half-baked attempts. Leave it to people who know how to do it and concentrate on what you do best -whatever that means- ie English and giving a megaphone to blowhards to the likes of Callahan, Mass., Shaughnassy, Buck and McAdams. This the same paper whose most ’eminent’ commentator just made up a word the other day.While the most expensive Carr on the lot was again harping on hispanics and PC cr@p, he came up with the word “inclusionary” which seems to be a specialized term for real estate and financial jargons, as opposed to simply “inclusive”Or the partner of the radio station(WRKO) where two “eminent” political observers – Battenfeld and Hiller- didn’t even know what a “plebiscite” exactly is?Give me a break! Let’s learn English first.N.

  6. Anonymous

    what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is this N guy puling about? did he write that in japanese and hit a translate button on his Coleco Adam? man, what a load. is there a semiotician in the house?

  7. Anonymous

    It’s not pandering. It’s an attempt to tap into an audience of millions of readers IN JAPAN. If the Herald can convince Japanese fans to regularly visit the site for the Boston perspective on Matsuzaka, maybe they’ll gain some ad revenue from Japan. And the Herald is hiring a translator, not using an East Asian version of BabelFish.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    A Coleco Adam! I remember that. Here’s a link.And yes, the Herald is obviously trying to appeal mainly to readers in Japan. It’s smart, but not without its challenges — there’s going to be a whole Japanese media contingent following Matsuzaka’s every move.

  9. mike_b1

    Anyone who thinks the Herald is going to be able to garner advertising from Japanese companies just like that has another think coming. The sell process to Japanese companies takes years. It requires all sorts of relationship building, visits by high level execs, etc. Those Japanese companies (mainly consumer electronics giants like Sony, Panasonic, etc.) who have US media staff aren’t going to use a US outlet to sell to Japanese customers when, as Dan observes, there will be tons of native Japanese media on assignment reporting back to their home outlets.

  10. neil

    Here’s the link I was suggesting earlier, to the Herald’s index of articles in Japanese, suitable for bookmarking. There should be a mention of it on the Herald’s home page–I didn’t see one.I take (part of) N and Mike’s points. It’s too bad there’s no equivalent for Spanish and that the only non-English articles the Herald chooses to publish are about sports. (Based on a quick look. Is this really true?) And if there’s a connection between some editorial “make em larn English” policy and an unwillingness to publish anything in Spanish (but not in imagined-more-lucrative Japanese), then maybe someone can explain how that isn’t hypocrisy.Americans need more exposure to, not protection from, foreign languages. Trying and basically failing to raise kids bilingually here has shown me how hard it is to prevent English from inexorably overwhelming other languages. English is the linguistic equivalent of the Borg–it’s under no threat.Yes immigrants should make an effort to learn English. I get sick of the glibness with which people demand that immigrants “learn to speak decent English” though, as if it were simply a matter of will power. It can take years, and for many, especially older people, it is simply impossible. In any case it’s a problem that cures itself quite efficiently in the next generation. A much greater concern I think is our own disinterest in other languages and cultures, which leads to among other things simplistic, ignorant foreign policy. 55 members of the armed services, proficient in Arabic, which I’ll go out on a limb and suggest might be strategically valuable, were dismissed for being gay. How’s that for priorities?

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