A compelling discussion of why there’s no such thing as a “bilingual subject expert” and why it’s best to do a translation yourself if possible, certainly if it involves patents and you may wind up being grilled about it on oath. An interesting tidbit:

According to the European Patent Office, about one million patents are issued every year on this planet, and about one-third of them are patents in Japanese. Japanese scientists, inventors, and patent lawyers have one great advantage over their counterparts in this country: they can usually read patents in English, while their counterparts almost never read Japanese.

(Via the Enigmatic Mermaid, who sadly doesn’t seem to have much time for blogging these days.)


  1. In China there are descriptions of translation factories both for the Buddhists (Kumarajiva) and the Mongols. The Mongols had at least two translation teams working independently whose work was then compared. Partly this was to keep translators from influencing policy. After translation one way, still another team (as I remember, would independently translate back into Mongol. Typically, three languages would be involved (E.G. Mongol to Persian to Latin).
    Contrary to popular opinion, the Mongols were organizational geniusses. They were in no sense primitive.

  2. Although if you crossed them, they could get medieval on your ass.

  3. I am actually writing something like that. The “barbarous” and the “civilized” are about equally nice in military situations. (The “primitive” are no nicer, but less organized.) Caesar “made a desert and called it peace”.

  4. Whereas Napoleon made a dessert and called it peace. (Sorry – I’m a little punchy today.)

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