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片言⇄カタコト⇄broken language

Digital prints
Vol. 1, 2
Edition of 30
4" x 2.5"

片言⇄カタコト⇄broken language is an ongoing text based project of Japanese kanji characters that have different definitions in Cantonese and Japanese.

There is poetry in the unique set of words and phrases of a language that other languages don’t have, and therefore cannot be accurately translated. Being a multilingual person allows me to peek into these lost-in-translation gaps and be amazed by them, which inspired me to work on this project. 

Each time I encounter a Japanese kanji that has a different meaning in Cantonese, I secretly remember them in my mind. As time goes by, I have learnt many of them and realized that this can make an interesting education material for others who are also multilingual, and are interested in learning Japanese in a casual way. I began to do more research and work with other multilingual individuals to translate these words from and into Japanese/Cantonese, and English. Despite the research and help from human translators utilized for this project, the translations may not be 100% accurate. That’s how languages work; these lost-in-translation gaps are very much hidden.

The front side of each flashcard shows a vocabulary written in Japanese Kanji, and the rear side of the card shows the definition difference in Japanese and Cantonese (with English translation). Each set of flashcards contains 25 vocabularies.

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Flashcards content are translated using a few human translators and these websites:

Hong Kong Vision: Kanji⇄Cantonese translator

Tangorin: Japanese⇄English online dictionary