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Challenge

hirashin

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Dear native English speakers,
would you teach me how to use the word "challenge"?
"Challenge" is a word that Japanese people often misuse.

Julimaruchan said that "8 Our challenge is to make the world a better place without wars." sound strange. But I still don't understand why.

How about these, then?
8a) To make the world a better place without wars is a big challenge.
8b) Making the world a better place without wars is a big challenge.
8c) It is a big challenge to make the world a better place without wars.

Thanks in advance.
Hirashin
 
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It's not the word "challenge", it's the word "our". That's why I suggested changing "our" to "the". When you claim possession of a challenge, the usual implication is that you are the one who is presenting the challenge, not that you are the one who is facing the challenge.

8a, 8b, and 8c are all perfect.
 

joadbres

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There is nothing at all strange about the original sentence. It's fine. If you google "our challenge is to", including the quote marks, you will see many similar examples. Often, there is a preceding sentence that "sets up" the sentence identifying the challenge, as in the following example.

"Scientific and technological developments in combination with political decision making have introduced these threats. Our challenge is to figure out how to control their spread and, ultimately, affect their elimination."
 

hirashin

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Thank you for the help, Julimaruchan and joadbres.

I think there is a difference in usage between the English word "challenge" and its Japanese equivalent "chousen (挑戦)".

I'll use (8b) for my exercise sheet.
 

Lothor

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Hirashin - working as a proofreader of scientific documents, the main problem Japanese people have with 'challenge' is when they use it as a verb.

As a verb, it's most commonly followed by a future opponent.

e.g., My son challenged me to a game of chess.

Or an opinion or behaviour

e.g. When I challenged his opinion that Japan is the most beautiful country in the world, he became rather upset.

However, it is often incorrectly used by Japanese people to mean attempt.

e.g. We challenged the development of a new bright LED,

which I change to 'We attempted to develop a new bright LED'.
 

Stavecrow

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“We challenged the development of a new bright LED“

This would certainly be understood as questioning the need for a new bright LED
 

Lothor

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“We challenged the development of a new bright LED“

This would certainly be understood as questioning the need for a new bright LED

Which is definitely not what LED developers intend to say!
 

hirashin

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Thank you, Lothor, for the interesting comment.
Hirashin - working as a proofreader of scientific documents, the main problem Japanese people have with 'challenge' is when they use it as a verb.
Hmm... That may be right.
As a verb, it's most commonly followed by a future opponent.

e.g., My son challenged me to a game of chess.
In this case, few of us would misunderstand the meaning.
私の息子はチェスで私に挑戦した would not be so different from the original English sentence in meaning.

Or an opinion or behaviour

e.g. When I challenged his opinion that Japan is the most beautiful country in the world, he became rather upset.
In that case, "challenge" should not be translated as "挑戦する". "異(議)を唱える" would be suitable. That's why few of us would misuse it.

However, it is often incorrectly used by Japanese people to mean attempt.

e.g. We challenged the development of a new bright LED,

which I change to 'We attempted to develop a new bright LED'.

Yes. That case is a stumbling block to most Japanese who have to use English. "We challenged the development of a new bright LED" is translated from the Japanese sentence "私達は新しい明るいLEDの開発に挑戦した", which makes perfect sense in Japanese.
 

Stavecrow

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That is interesting Hirashin, is this just a case of more appropriate terms or a different perception seeing “challenge” as an external act - an invitation to test your ability against the ability of another person, as essentially different from “challenge” as an internal act - testing your / your groups own ability against the difficulties in achieving a goal?
 

hirashin

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Stavecrow, are you learning Japanese?
IMHO, mistranslation occurs when it's "challenge something", not "challenge someone" .
I believe "challenge someone" can be translated into "someone に挑戦する” in most cases. But "challenge something" CANNOT be translated into "something に挑戦する".
In Japanese "something に挑戦する" means "to try very hard to do something", which is totally different from "to challenge something". That's confusing to most Japanese people.


 
 

Stavecrow

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I’m not actively learning at the moment Hirashin, but I really should learn some if I intend to go to the next Olympics, for convenience and politeness sake if nothing else.
But I am very interested in how languages express concepts. As you know most European languages have a foundation of Latin and Greek which also provides a conceptual framework, I may use different vocabulary to Spanish or French and different metaphors, but the underlying mindset and approach is similar.
Japanese seems is much less direct in the way it articulates a subject and with a very different soundscape, which is fascinating.
 
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