All in The Translation

We’ve been slowly selling odds and ends we see no need to keep and as means to clear the house out so we can easily pull the trigger to speak, and move out of here if we need to.

Made arrangement to sell one item and arranged to meet the buyer, a Japanese woman, at a certain spot at a certain time and the transaction went off without a hitch.

But as we exchanged goods for $$ she asked as she passed the bill to me すみません、はだかでいいですか?, meaning she was apologizing for handing me money as is (はだか= hadaka-bare, naked).  Not a bug deal here, but in Japan giving money, say as a gift, one never hands the recipient a couple of notes as is, but instead hands the gift enclosed in an envelope to show politeness.  So, this is where she was coming from, though she said she’s been here for a couple of years, so I would have thought by now, she’d be out of her Japanese cultural cocoon.

Now going back a bit in time, thought of another incident in which the word はだか=hadaka- bare, naked and the mistranslation of it, Caused a bit of grief.

Many, many years ago now,  Large International Automobile Manufacturer #1, brought over from the United States, American workers to train them in The Way and once trained, to serve as a core cadre in its first experiment of local(U.S.) automobile manufacturing.  These trainees were housed in a company facility and one trainee ran afoul of the rule san regulations.

To wit, it was against the rules to go about, even on a hot, humid day, shirtless while staying at this facility.  One American worker did do that and was written up for it.  But the howler was that in English, it was written he had been naked outside, which would look, bad to say the least in a personnel file.

The problem was a simple translation error.  True, hadaka does mean naked, but not completely naked.  Hadaka by itself only means in this case, bare from the waist up.  To describe butt naked, there would be the word, mappadaka, which means as naked as the day one was born.

What happened?  The poor trainee in question appealed and the report was either expunged or revised, can’t remember which, but all ended well for him.

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