Message from the Dean

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Message from the Dean

To all students in the School of International Liberal Studies

Dean, School of
International Liberal
Studies
Prof. Shigeo Akegi

The School of International Liberal Studies is a program with studies in five languages—German, French, Russian, Spanish and Chinese—in addition to English, that uses foreign language study as a window into understanding world culture, society and history. By developing the ability to apply foreign language skills in practical situations, a foundation for gaining broad insight into past and current international events can be formed. It is this important point that separates us from other departments centered simply on language learning, because our focus is on educating students who will be successful in an increasingly interrelated world.

I have applied this educational approach to my research. From my original area of expertise in Chinese classics, I developed specific interests in other theories. These have recently led to research in foreign translations of modern Japanese manga and anime, now popular overseas. However, the Japanese language used in comic books features many slang and broken expressions which to be successfully translated into other languages, need not only language skills but comprehensive understanding of the cultures, customs and histories involved. As an example, the Japanese expression, kotatsu de mikan (literally, “heated tables with mandarin oranges”) describes a situation representing comfort and quiet, or a lazy/restful day. In this case, without insight into the culture behind the target language, finding a suitable translation picturing the situation becomes difficult. Translations into English, Chinese or other foreign languages must be creative with the words used to translate, add various translation notes or take other efforts to communicate the background knowledge needed. Translating into Japanese also results in similar problems. From this research, I have gained a strong sense that translation of manga is not a task to be looked upon lightly as it requires an extremely broad-based study of the culture, customs and historical backgrounds of both the source country and the target audience. In fact, this is true for all communication, not only with regard to comics.

Our department is blessed with academics specializing in fields ranging far beyond foreign languages to include humanities, natural sciences, sociology, physical education, newly developing areas of study and education. I am always learning from them in areas beyond my own expertise. It is my deepest desire that all who study at the School of International Liberal Studies will take an active role in learning about a wide variety of topics through their lessons to form a firm foundation in foreign language and gain knowledge of the great variety that exists in the world while interacting with their instructors.

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