Category Archives: Books

The 7 Habits of Common Sense

I trudged through Stephen R. Covey’s well known book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People this weekend. Originally written in 1989, I cannot say that it has aged well. I have issues with book. Not just with its content but the way it is written too. The habits themselves are useful even if they are common sense. It never hurts to be reminded of things in this fast-paced world. Sometimes one just loses focus from time to time. But my problem is just how Covey goes about reminding us. His writing is bloated. It could be summed up in such a way that would fit on two pieces of paper. Maybe one depending on your font size.

He fills the space telling anecdotal stories. I am not a fan of this kind of method when used excessively. If used excessively then they better be entertaining. The ones in 7 Habits are just flat and lifeless. It felt obvious that they had to have been made up for the book. Some of them I laughed at because of their absurdity. For example, the son who thought of being a mechanic and his father telling him it would be a waste or how Covey and his wife would role play as their children to act out possible decision scenarios. Seriously?

Another point I grew tired of by the end was his word choice. Covey seems to enjoy using buzzwords like paradigm, circle of influence, and my absolute favorite, synergy. I winced when it came to habit 6 on synergy. He had to have used it 100 times. I debated getting the audio book just to use it as a drinking game! I don’t understand why he didn’t just use easier language. From reading it seems like he was trying to reach a wide range of people. Would it have made any more of a difference to use words like point of view, social network, and cooperation? It was definitely a stylistic choice.

Some of the sections were actually good at times. The time management section in particular interested me. It was the most down to earth section by far. It wasn’t the contrived time schedule system Covey suggests, but it is better to plan for the week than just one day at a time idea that I liked. I want to start trying this. There are other things that are interesting too. Such as making a life statement, being active, and work to sincerely listen to others. But these are all things that I have done or am striving to do. I didn’t reach any “Aha!” moments, and maybe that is the problem. I’ve already seen many of the things Covey wrote about in other people’s writings. But without the fat that Covey adds in.

7 Habits would be an enjoyable read if it were edited better. It feels like Covey just is going on an on trying to drive the point home. He uses different language to just say the same thing. He can also be preachy at times. I felt for Covey the world would be a better place if we were all robots. His book doesn’t seem to leave room for the human in all of us. He reminds us to live according to our goals but then not to get too caught up in our emotions, and feelings. I enjoy watching TV with its mind numbing programs just as much as I enjoy reading a thought-provoking novel. But to Covey these things can’t seem to coexist.

I didn’t enjoy 7 Habits. I wonder if that makes me an ineffective person as a result? I would rather live life with randomness and spontaneity than the cubicle condensed outlook of Covey. I recommend checking out Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy that one too much either. How it just feels intended for a business person didn’t appeal to me. But its overall message and points are more applicable than the ones in Covey’s book.

If you’re interested in other books I’m reading. You can friend me on Goodreads.

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Translation isn’t so easy after all

My goal in life is to be an Japanese to English translator. I honestly have no idea how I am going to do this. But this is what I want to do. There is something about translating from one language to another that is fun. It’s like decoding a puzzle. I like the ones that I can understand easily. The ones I can’t, well, they just frustrate me. Becoming a translator is something I think about doing in the far, far future. I have other things that I need to achieve first before that. For example, obtaining Japanese language fluency.

I came to the realization that just because I haven’t gotten to the level of fluency that I want. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t check out other avenues to improve the skills I have now. So, I started looking for online translation courses. I have one in mind that I am going to try in late spring. I decided to at least get a head start by buying the textbook the course uses.

It’s Introducing Translation Studies by Jeremy Munday. It’s an alright textbook, and it really is an introduction. But I hate books that introduce so many different terms and ideas at once. Then it just moves on to introduce a ton of other ideas and names in the next chapter. I like learning things in a more concise and in detail manner. This isn’t a bad thing though. I can be exposed to a bunch different ideas. Later I can then look into those of interest in more detail. I have about 50 pages left, and I would say that I learned new things that I didn’t think about before I read it.

To be honest, I want to be a translator but I don’t know about it as a study. I just figured people read a sentence and put it into the target language they wanted. I for a long time  believed that translation should be as exact and as much like the original as possible. But this book has opened my eyes to other opinions and ideas. Translating actually isn’t always that easy. There are many factors that can change the translation. Like who is the intended audience? What does this audience expect from the work? How can the original works ideas and feel be transferred into the translated text’s culture but still retain the same feel?

I like the case studies that are used at the end of each chapter. They’re interesting and put what was read in the chapter into perspective. For example there is a case study about the first Harry Potter book and aspects of its translation into Spanish and Italian. The Spanish version retains many of the names and places of the original without alteration. While the Italian version retained some names but tried to give a sense of what the names and places are of others in Italian.

This reminded me of the kind of alterations that people hated in translations of JRPGs. Chrono Cross is the only one that comes to mind at the moment. Like how they changed Yamaneko to Lynx for the English version. Yamaneko IS Lynx if you translate it to English. But for some reason or another people were pissed off about this kind of translating. There is an article on Hardcore Gaming 101 where they interviewed Ted Woolsey and other game translators. There is another that is about fan translation. I recommend them if that kind of thing interests you.

After reading this book, I believe that certain liberties can be taken in certain contexts depending on what is being translated. Taking the overall meaning and sense and then putting into how it would be found in English might work. But that might not be the best method. I know now that translation is far from an easy task. It has a lot of varying ideas. Some of which are interesting and I want to check into more later. I’m glad there is an extensive bibliography in the back.

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