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The extended use of interpreters by Japanese players (some, for their entire careers) needs to be looked at closely and a pragmatic policy put in place by the league to manage a situation that will on

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APG Sports writer Kaz Nagatsuka, criticizing the over-reliance on interpreters by Japanese baseball players in the U.S. Major Leagues.

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Would Japanese reporters then have to use an interpreter for the now English-speaking Japanese player?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They're hired to play baseball, not to speak English.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What this guy is saying is a grace period of 4 years (seems too long) should be brought into effect whereby the international player can get accustomed to his new surroundings, have enough time to become functional in English and then be released from the safety net their interpreters provide. The majority of Latin American players, unlike the Japanese imports, do not have the luxury of an interpreter and in many cases English classes are compulsory for them. (Admittedly, this is when these players are offered contracts and start in the minor leagues) I agree that a programme should be put in place to make ALL international players, whether it's the majors or NPB, become more self reliant.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hogwash. If they can afford to bring their interpreter with them everywhere, that's their call.

AND if any club wants players to NOT use interpreters, they'll put it in the contract.

Besides, having skilled players on your club who always use interpreters probably gets more ticket sales and TV views anyhow.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

If the root problem of the problem were addressed (Mombusho) and English education reformed then these baseball players wouldn't need interpreters....

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I agree they do seem over-reliant on interpreters as I'm sure a lot of them speak English perfectly well, but I don't see why the league thinks it should have any say in the matter.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The use of an interpreter is not just wise but essential. Baseball players do get asked difficult and tough questions from the press corps and media who unfortunately look for controversies at times. Even English speaking baseball players have a challenging time learning to deal with all those issues.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ah, the U.S.'s famed "cultural diversity", by which they mean, "come to the U.S.A., act America, speak America... because if Americans can't handle anything different".

Small-minded bigotry.

Stand on a street corner in any major European city for half an hour and you'll hear a dozen different languages. Go to a business meeting in Europe and interpreters are the norm, because it would be rude to demand that someone speak your language (although it is good manners to at least attempt a greeting and read up on customs that might influence how you're supposed to act and react).

Of course the Americans got this from the Brits, who used to say things like, "They're only speaking their heathen gabble to confound us", and used to solve the problem by speaking very slowly and shouting. It is a symptom of an Empire on the decline, an Empire that feels threatened by everyone who isn't identical to them. The Romans used to do the same thing, insist that everyone spoke Latin.

... so it isn't even original bigotry, just good old-fashioned arrogance and intolerance.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Of course the Americans got this from the Brits

The quote is from APG Sports writer Kaz Nagatsuka, who is from Hokkaido, Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Frungy Talk about paranoid ... sheesh. Did you notice that the man making the comment is Japanese? Pro ball players, like other foreigners working and living in the USA, should learn to use English. It is both laughable and pathetic to see players like Nomo and Ichiro who used interpreters for like ten years. At least Matsui would try to speak English. I totally agree with Nakatsuka's comment - honestly, four years even seems too long. Your rant about 'bigotry' is well off the mark. To the surprise of no one Im sure.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

There is nothing ridiculous or unusual about living in a country for 10 years and not being able to speak the language. Many people simply aren't good at learning new languages, or they feel more comfortable expressing themselves in their own native language. I think Ichiro understands English but just prefers to speak Japanese.

The reason that these slow or reluctant language learners aren't a common sight is because they tend not move to other countries in the first place. Migrants are a self selecting group and those who pick up languages easily are much more likely to want to move abroad, be able to find work and end up staying. It doesn't mean everyone is the same.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Slumdog and hidingout - I don't follow baseball and even I know that this is just the latest comment in a long round of criticism of Japanese players' use of interpreters. Kaz Nagatsuka isn't the originator of the ideas in this quote, he's simply repeating what has been said (and written and published) many, many times before by U.S. sports writers. The latest round of criticism was kicked off by a 2013 decision allowing interpreters on the mound, which irritated a lot of fans.

Go google it.

So actually I am right on target on the bigotry angle.

As for it being "laughable" hidingout, how is your Japanese? Would you be comfortable answering reporter's questions in Japanese... especially if a misunderstanding or wrong answer could get you in a mess of trouble if you answered incorrectly?

My Japanese is pretty good and I speak to the press reasonably regularly (about once a month) and I always have a Japanese colleague with me to clarify the cultural and political nuances of the question before I answer, and to correct my Japanese when I slip up and what I say is ambiguous and open to malicious "misunderstandings". You'd have to be an absolute idiot NOT to do this.

There's a huge gulf between being bilingual and being bicultural.

As for 4 years to become fluent in a second language, especially one as complex as English. These guys are hired because they're great athletes, not because they're great linguists. Some of them can do it, but I know plenty of people who've lived in Japan for 5 or more years and they can barely order at a restaurant, never mind navigate the complexities of reporters' loaded questions and their tendency to report what you said rather than what you meant to say.

And the U.S. tendency to allow anyone from any culture into the country is well documented... as is the tendency to require them to adopt US culture and American English. The US carries this to ridiculous extremes, with many US journals requiring that foreign authors publish in U.S. English rather than British English. How pathetic. There's no good reason for it, after all I can read U.S. English.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Frungy,

You must follow baseball more than I do, which is not at all, because I don't know anything about the 2013 decision regarding 'interpreters on the mound'. I do know Kaz Nagatsuka is not American. He is Japanese and he writes articles about sports for English language newspapers and magazines in Japan. I also know that just because people seem to have the same goals or opinions about something does not necessarily mean they have the same reasons for having those goals or opinions about something. Based on your first post, it seems to me that you were not aware of the fact that Kaz Nagatsuka was Japanese and were assuming the author of the above quote was American based solely on your own biased perspectives about Americans and not actually based on knowing Kaz Nagatsuka's reasons for his opinions. This makes me question whether there isn't at least just a little bit good old-fashioned arrogance and intolerance in your original post on the subject.

For those who would like to judge for themselves rather than making a generalization, here is the link to the article Kaz Nagatsuka wrote recently for APG Sports.

http://apgsports.com/2014/08/12/no-english-please-were-japanese-baseball-players/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

They wanted to play baseball in MLB, using an interpreters or not is irrelevant. Whether they wanted to rely on interpreters or study english for their own benfits is their own choices, why should others get involved in it. It's between them and the clubs they play for, not a rule or regulations.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

slumdogAug. 17, 2014 - 05:06AM JST You must follow baseball more than I do, which is not at all, because I don't know anything about the 2013 decision regarding 'interpreters on the mound'.

I don't follow baseball in particular, but I do read 5 newspapers most days, and this type of story caught my attention way back in about 2011. I tend to read them when I see them.

I do know Kaz Nagatsuka is not American. He is Japanese and he writes articles about sports for English language newspapers and magazines in Japan. I also know that just because people seem to have the same goals or opinions about something does not necessarily mean they have the same reasons for having those goals or opinions about something. Based on your first post, it seems to me that you were not aware of the fact that Kaz Nagatsuka was Japanese and were assuming the author of the above quote was American based solely on your own biased perspectives about Americans and not actually based on knowing Kaz Nagatsuka's reasons for his opinions.

There's a long backstory to this particular piece and Kaz Nagatsuka is merely parroting what has already been said at least a half dozen times (to my certain knowledge) in U.S. online newspapers. Kaz Nagatsuka's comment may be new in Japan, but it originates from comments made in U.S. newspapers, which Kaz Nagatsuka definitely has read.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Frungy,

I googled the the words 'interpreters on the mounds MLB' and while there may also be some negative stories or opinions about the subject somewhere online, the top stories were mostly positive or neutral and certainly not the xenophobic opinions you gave the impression I would find if I googled it.

Further, I question your assuming a Japanese journist must be 'parroting' something he has heard rather than merely giving his own opinion. I mean, it has been more than a year and a half since the story about the MLB deciding to let interpreters on the mound in 2013. Doesn't it make more sense to assume Nakatsuka is merely giving his own opinions rather than you assuming he is just parroting something he heard before? Keep in mind, it is your using the words, 'parroting' and 'bigotry' that I have a problem with. Whatever you may think of Kaz's opinion about Japanese players and their use of interpreters, it is quite obvious to anyone who reads Nakatsuka's article in the link I posted above, that he has thought out his opinion, that is indeed his opinion and that his opinion certainly has nothing to do with 'bigotry'. In fact, it is my opinion that your assuming he is just a Japanese writer parroting Americans' thinking (something you have no demonstrated by the way) rather than writing his own opinion about the subject strikes me as being at least a bit misplaced itself.

For my part, it just seems to me that Kaz Nakatsuka is writing as a Japanese English speaker that wants to see more of his countrymen make an effort to speak other languages, including English. While I agree with that, I am not sure that this issue about interpreters in baseball has as much to do with the general situation as Kaz does.

For those interested, you can find other articles by the writer here:

http://apgsports.com/author/kaz-nagatsuka/

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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