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Lessons Learned in Translation 3

I wanted to tackle something a little heftier than the last post to see if content that was less straightforward to explain was also challenging to translate. I went with lesson 28 – Exploring requires a lot of thinking.

The translation had a few things that were interesting, including the title. I’ll put up the translation, let you formulate your own opinions (and give Japanese readers the chance to tell me that I’ve got it all wrong), then explain what I took form it.

Lesson 28

When it comes to exploration, there are 3 ways of thinking

Exploration is the same as investigation. What comes out of the results of investigation is impossible to imagine. You can think of searching as movement through space. Ways of thinking are forward, backward and laterally.

例) プリントを見る。クリックしたら、何が起こるのだろう?
Forward thinking: From the known to the unknown, from the immediate facts search for the things you have not seen before. Seek out the results or effects of known actions.
e.g.) Look at the print menu. If you click it, what do you think happens?

例) 文書を印刷する方法があるだろうか。メニューに印刷の項目があるか確かめよう (Solow 1990)。
Backward thinking: from questions or conjecture get to a place that is known. Check the correctness of your guess.
e.g.) document print functionality probably exists. Make sure there is a printing option in the menu.

水平思考:思考の寄り道をしてみよう。思いつきで脇道を探索し、また本筋に戻る (de Bono 1970)。
例) おもしろいグラフィックだな。よし、何か複雑なグラフィックを印刷してどうなるか見てみよう。
Lateral thinking: Try taking detours in your thinking. Thinking of an idea, investigate side-roads and return to the main thread.
e.g.) That’s an interesting graphic. Right, let’s try printing complex graphics and see what happens.

Even if you don’t have a product to test, you can still use an exploratory process. Using this thought process is good for exploring a series of documents, or interviewing a programmer. By creating enriched conceptual models we make progress. Also, if you create a model, you can design more effective tests.

Original text

Exploring involves a lot of thinking.

Exploring is detective work. It’s an open-ended search. Think of exploration as moving through a space. It involves forward, backward and lateral thinking.

Forward thinking. Work from what you know to what you don’t know; what you see toward what you haven’t yet seen. Seek ramifications and side effects. Example: I see a print menu item. I’ll click on it and see what happens.

Backward thinking. Work from what you suspect or imagine back toward what you know, trying ti confirm or refute your conjectures. Example: I wonder if there’s a way to print this document? I’ll look through the menus and see whether there’s a print item. (Solow 1990)

Lateral thinking. Let your work be distracted by ideas that pop into your head, exploring tangents and then returning to the main thread (de Bono 1970). Example: That’s an interesting graphic. Hey, I think I’ll print some complex graphics and see what happens.

The exploratory process works even if you don’t have a product to test. You can explore a set of documents or interview a programmer, using the same thought processes. You make progress by building richer, better mental models of the product. These models then allow you to design effective tests.

I got the feeling that the tanslators wanted to make this a little more ‘concrete’ than the original. Not saying they editorialised, but there do seem to be some liberties taken.

My own take is that the original lesson describes one possible way to organise your thinking but isn’t necessarily looking to lock the reader into 3 distinct ways of thinking. There are other ways you could choose to organise your thinking. This translation has echoes of the book title ‘lessons learned’ vs. ‘immutable laws’ – one feels like a coversation (or an argument), the other a decree.

Okay, so I’m projecting a little bit, but I do think the renamed title takes something important away from the lesson. The words are there, the same structure is there, but the meaning I take from the Japanese version is different from the one I take from English.

As an aside, the word they chose for ‘exploration’ was 探求 (tankyuu). The two dictionaries I consulted listed this as ‘quest, search, pursuit’. When I looked for ‘explore’ I got 探検 (tanken). They share the same first character (tan), which means to search for or look for. 求 (kyu) means ‘want, demand, require’. 検 means ‘investigate or examine’. Based on the characters, I’d have thought 探検 was a more fitting choice for ‘exploration’, but perhaps the general usage of the word has connotations of an outdoors expedition. I’m not sure (I’ll ask around).

I think I’ll see what else I can find, maybe try a few lesson titles and see what the differences are there.

When it comes to searching(exploration), there are 3 ways of thinking

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