2013年2月12日

究極のインハウス - スポーツ通訳

野茂選手以降、MLBへ多くの日本人が進出するようになって随分なります。昨年、ダルビッシュ有選手の通訳エージェントであるジョー古河氏が the Baseball Writers' Association of America によるthe 2012 Harold McKinney Good Guy Award (日本語ではグッドガイ賞と報道されてました。)を受けたことは、日本人選手の「通訳の受賞」ということでその時の流れを感じさせる出来事だったと思います。

そして、多くの外国人選手が活躍する大リーグで、通訳ピッチでの行動について規定するルールがこのほど提案されたようです。おもしろいのは、様々な国籍の選手がいる中、とにかく通訳の言うことに頷いてしまう外国人選手として日本人選手が沢山取上げられていること。もちろん、相対的に日本人が多いのでしょうが、試合の勝敗関係なく見ている分にはほほえましいというか笑えるというか。そして当の選手や通訳の立場に立てば一筋縄でいかない問題もあり悩ましいというか…。

これまでにも何度か、サッカー通訳については取上げてきました。両言語に精通しスピーカーの意図を的確に訳出するという通訳技術という意味では、スポーツ通訳であれ会議通訳であれ変わりはありません。でも、私はスポーツ関係で選手や監督らの通訳をされている方は究極のインハウス通訳者だと思っています。

例えばこの記事中にある、ソフトバンクホークスで活躍した(笑?)二コースキーの例。

“Pitching coach said it would be good if you could pitch perfect now,” Nitkowski recalled the interpreter saying. He added that he was so exasperated by the unhelpful suggestion that he could barely contain himself.

“I told him, ‘If I could pitch perfectly, I wouldn’t be in Japan right now,’ ” Nitkowski said.
「全く役に立たない」と二コースキーが表現したそのコーチのセリフですが、文字通り訳せば「ここで完璧なピッチングしてくれたら問題なしだがね。」くらいで…まぁ字面だけ聞くと本当に役に立ちそうにありません(笑)。でも、実際にはその時のカウント数他が分からないのですが、どう解釈するべきか?と言う点においては、まさに記事でも言う ”intricate instructions from Sugimoto" で有ったことは間違い無さそうです。

つまり、コーチのコトバの裏には「ここでキッチリ仕留めておけば、その先もノッて行けるぞ!」とか「ここは落ち着いて完璧に仕留めていこう。」とか、心理的に二コースキーをリラックスさせる、あるいは引き締める意図の発言だった…かもしれません。

通訳がどこまでその裏を汲むか?フリーの会議通訳ではやるべきでないような深読みも、チームの一員として時には求められるに違いありません。スピーカーの性格や相手へのアプローチの仕方をとことん知ることでしかできない、チーム専属通訳ならではのパフォーマンスというのが必ず存在するはずなのです。そして、そういう通訳者でいるためには、どんな相手(選手、監督、スタッフ)でも懐に入っていけるような器量が必要だと思います。

先月、某野球球団の通訳者さんと食事する機会がありました。その時私の「スポーツ通訳は究極のインハウス通訳だ。」という読みは間違っていなかったなぁ…と、いろいろと話をお聞きして思いました。まさに彼は「相手の懐に入って行ける。」物腰の、でもとても内に秘めた情熱を感じさせる方でした。すっかり私はファンになってしまいました。

通訳者自身がチームの大ファンで、そしてチームの一員であるという自覚を持たないとできない、しかもそれを何年も長い間続けて行くことで、チームの文化までを言葉にのせていく…「大変だけど、やりがい有ります。」とおっしゃっていました。

今年こそAクラス入り、ぜひ頑張って欲しい!
毎年思っているけど、今年は例年よりはもうちょっと本気で応援します(笑)

Strikes Can Come Easier Than Words
Barton Silverman/The New York Times

A proposal would allow interpreters for mound conferences with pitchers like the
Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda.

By DAVID WALDSTEIN
Published: January 19, 2013

Major League Baseball’s new proposal to allow interpreters to accompany coaches to the mound is not unprecedented. Interpreters in Japan and South Korea have long participated in mound conferences with pitchers who do not speak the same language as their managers or coaches.

But the presence of a multilingual facilitator does not always eliminate communication problems.

When C. J. Nitkowski was pitching in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2008, the team’s interpreter would visit the mound with the manager, Sadaharu Oh, or the demanding pitching coach, Tadashi Sugimoto. On one occasion, the interpreter dutifully relayed the following intricate instructions from Sugimoto:

“Pitching coach said it would be good if you could pitch perfect now,” Nitkowski recalled the interpreter saying. He added that he was so exasperated by the unhelpful suggestion that he could barely contain himself.

“I told him, ‘If I could pitch perfectly, I wouldn’t be in Japan right now,’ ” Nitkowski said.

It is unclear whether Nitkowski’s retort was accurately relayed to Sugimoto.

Having an outsider on the mound in the heat of competition was an often awkward and weird dynamic, Nitkowski said. But in the United States, where most Asian pitchers do not go through minor league systems and often have little command of English, communication problems are not infrequent. So 19 years after the groundbreaking arrival of Hideo Nomo from Japan, Major League Baseball is set to adopt a rule that will allow interpreters to accompany the manager or the pitching coach to speak to a foreign-born pitcher.

The new rule, first reported by ESPN.com, is one of many expected to be ratified by the players association before the 2013 regular season. It would even the field for players who do not speak English fluently. After all, nothing in the rule book establishes English as the league’s official language.

Two Major League Baseball officials said interpreters would be permitted for not only Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese pitchers, but also speakers of Spanish, Dutch and Italian.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Yoichi Terada, the former interpreter for Hisanori Takahashi, a veteran Japanese left-hander with the Mets, the Angels and the Pirates. “Managers and coaches try to use easy words, but most of the Japanese players don’t understand every word they said on the mound.”

Still, pitchers often nod as if they do.

In September 2004, Jae Weong Seo, then pitching for the Mets, was about to face Atlanta’s Chipper Jones with a runner on second base. Rick Peterson, then the Mets’ pitching coach, jogged to the mound to give Seo simple and specific instructions on pitching to Jones. Peterson had a list of statistics to back up the tactics but did not bother describing them at the time. He just told Seo not to throw a strike under any circumstances.

Seo, a right-hander from South Korea, nodded several times and said, “O.K.,” Peterson recalled.

But Peterson had barely returned to the dugout when Seo delivered a juicy strike to Jones, who drilled the ball off the wall in center field for a double. Peterson looked at anyone who would listen and said, “You know, I don’t think he understood a word I said.”

Seo had been in the United States more than four years at that point and probably had understood Peterson’s rudimentary instructions, but with some uncertainty. A great deal of nodding from a pitcher might lead some to suspect that he is not grasping the information.

“It’s universal,” said Pittsburgh’s Russell Martin, who caught the Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda with the Dodgers and the Yankees. “They nod and say yes to everything you’re saying.”

After one training camp, most foreign-born pitchers have command of enough English baseball terminology to understand the basic directives of their pitching coach and catcher. When he was with the Mets, Takahashi knew to listen for “down and away” from the pitching coach Dan Warthen.

But when a pitcher has no idea what his coach is trying to convey, perhaps he nods as if he knows what is going on, just to be polite.

“Oh, sure, that happens all the time,” said Kenji Nimura, the former interpreter for Kuroda. “That’s pretty much what’s going on out there.”

But the good pitchers, like Kuroda, usually know what they are doing anyway, and the mound conference is a way to give him a breather, or buy time for the next pitcher to warm up.

When Nomo came to the United States from Japan in 1994 to pitch for the Dodgers, he spoke almost no English. But Tommy Lasorda, their manager at the time, said he never had a problem communicating on the mound without an interpreter.

“I don’t know if he understood us or not,” Lasorda said, “but usually he got the guy out.”

In most cases, the only time interpreters are not with pitchers is on the mound. But during a scouting meeting, in the trainers’ room, warming up in the bullpen or on the team bus, the interpreter is at the pitcher’s side, translating everything said. That was the case with Kazuhisa Ishii when pitched for the Mets in 2005. But when he got to the mound, communication broke down.

“It was always a struggle with Ishii,” Peterson said.

To facilitate communication with all of his Asian pitchers, Peterson would print a small card with the translations for certain instructions, and when he got to the mound, he would point to the appropriate one. But on several occasions Ishii failed to follow strict instructions not to throw his breaking ball in certain situations. Finally, during one game in which Ishii threw a breaking ball at the wrong time, Peterson turned to the interpreter on the bench and said, “If he throws one more curveball when he’s behind in the count, I’m going to kick your butt.”

In that case, no translation was necessary.
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This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: February 3, 2013
An article on Jan. 20 about Major League Baseball’s proposal to allow interpreters to accompany coaches to the pitcher’s mound misspelled the surname of Hiroki Kuroda’s interpreter. He is Kenji Nimura, not Nomura.

URL:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/sports/baseball/baseball-set-to-allow-interpreters-on-pitching-mound.html?_r=1&#h[]