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January 25, 2017

The Translator Who Wasn’t Aware of WWII

If You Likey, Spread the love, Y'All

Today I want to share something very special with you!

Two (or was it four?) interesting, parallel stories from the past about people who lived so far, so isolated from the real world, that for decades (yes, decades) they had no idea what is going on in the real World.

The first is more popular - the story of a Japanese soldier named Shoichi Yokoi who lived in the jungles of Guam for 28 years not knowing that the World War Two has ended. How awesome is that.

There were many variations of this so called "Japanese holdout" in popular culture (films mostly). One that I remember the most if from a movie from my childhood: Who Finds Friends Finds Treasure featuring Bud Spencer and Terence Hill.

It might have not been about Shoichi Yokoi per sé, maybe about the other two very interesting characters: Hiroo Onoda (his story is so amazing, I'll put it in another post), and Teruo Nakamura. Their time will come. For the story, I mean.

But today I want to focus on a totally different family. A Russian one. You'll love it. 

This story is about a Russian family Lykov which lived in the depths of Siberian taiga, at the Sayan mountains from 1936 all through 1978. That's 42 years my friend!

If you are interested, their full story is written in full in the book Lost in Taiga by Vasily Peskov and Marian Schwartz.

You can grab it on Amazon if you are lucky (as far as I have seen only used are available)

Here's (an affiliate) link to the book: 


​The story, yes... let's get back to it.

They moved there because Pater Familias wanted to protect his family after his brother being shot by the Russian patrol (for reasons unknown to me).

So he took them, and they literally moved to "God knows where"!

For 42 years nobody knew they existed. And when a group of geologists found them (in 1978) they were still living as it was 40 years ago completely unaware of all the cool stuff that happened in the mean time. Like WWII. Television. Audio Cassette. Star Wars. And the Thing for Comparing All The Best Things: Sliced Bread (even though it was invented around 1928, I don't think it came to Russia that fast).

Wow! Can you imagine that? Thew were not aware of Star Wars!​

You can watch a 35 minute Youtube video about it if you want:​

What's even more astonishing, is that the Lykov family refused any of the new stuff from "new" people, and continued living in medieval conditions. Some of them died in 1981 from kidney failure, and pneumonia. Both curable, or at least treatable to my best knowledge, if the nearest hospital wasn't 300km away in Mongolia.

This story reminded me of some translators.

Many people in the Translation industry are reluctant to accept progress and innovation. 

Boy if you ever read those translation forums, just the amount of people crying why do they have to use CAT tools, or Terminology lists, Translation Memories of some sort... 

There was one guy who said he does all his translation on a typewriter (wonder how much work does he get).

But seriously? It's like refusing to use Vaccines (ok, easy, delicate subject... right?), or gas-grill, or electricity.

For those people I have a special picture: 

"If you remember Ancient Egypt you have had a wonderful childhood" 🙂

I mean, it's one thing to be a little afraid of super-new technology such as Machine Translation - especially if one of your favorite movies is The Terminator (part 1, 2, well maybe 3). Or to at least be sceptical about our safe future when you read that AI software learned to write better AI software. Hence, Terminator.

This is why You should tell your kid not to play with the tablet all the time.

But to completely ignore the great stuff the new technology has provided us with is acting a little as the Lykov's. Or like Mr. Yokoi-san. Ignoring the outside world for 28 years, and living a fantasy-land where:

  • people still translate with a typewriter
  • use seventeen different Excel sheets to track translation projects
  • they have no need for weighted wordcounts, translation memories, because
  • customers are happy to 11,000 times pay for the same "Click here" phraze (true story!), because quality and consistency doesn't matter, and of course
  • translations are sent on papirus, or printed paper via pigeons or what not

Sometimes there's no need to use the latest technology, but refusing to use it on account of "I'm happy where I am" could easily backfire. And if You are not ready for the new wave, then you too could be left behind.

The choice is, in the end, completely yours.

But if you don't want to be the Shoichi Yokoi of the Translation industry, then embrace the technology and fly with miniTPMS to the Moon.

Or at least, that's what other Translation Agencies or Translators will think about you. Because You use stuff from Science Fiction, and they still write their invoices by hand.

They will think, that your system is so advanced, you must be an alien!

Want to check the current state of MiniTPMS? ​

I'll tell you all about it in our e-mail series!

If You Likey, Spread the love, Y'All

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