【Hello WOVN #5 Tim】生活でも仕事でも言語と文化を楽しむ


◆General introduction

Hello, I'm Tim. I'm a programmer in the product side at wovn. I'm originally from the US. In May, I'll have been at wovn and Japan for 2 years. With my two year anniversary coming up, recently I've been reflective of my experiences in Japan and in Wovn.


I was born in Peoria, Illinois--it's located in the center of the US. Peoria is a medium-sized town of about 100,000 people. It's not a famous place and most people in the US even don't know about it. When people ask me where I'm from, I tell them I'm from Chicago. Chicago is also in Illinois, but actually it's three hours away from Peoria by car! Between Peoria and Chicago, there isn't much other than fields of corn and soybeans.


(with parents at WOVN)

◆Coming to Japan

When I was a child--I guess the same as many American children--I enjoyed Japanese media that was available in the US at the time--My Neighbor Totoro, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon. Me and my friends played Nintendo and Sega games together. I understood that these things were made in Japan but I never imagined that I would visit or even live in Japan.

After university, I was finally able to come to Japan for my holidays. My interests had changed a lot since I was young, but it was still a sort of magical experience. I visited Japan two more times after that. After the third time, I got the idea to get a job in Japan. I was so motivated, when I returned to the US I signed up for a kanji learning website that I used almost every day for four years (but reading Kanji is still hard for me!).

Even so, it wasn't until 2017 that I became serious about moving to Japan. Ideally, I was looking for a job related to language technology in a small company or startup, and one that didn't require advanced Japanese proficiency. The number of positions that matched those criteria was quite small--but wovn was one of them!


(lunch time with WOVN members)

◆What I do at WOVN

The product side of wovn is split into teams that specialize in certain domains--for example there is a team that builds the user interface and a team that works on the server code. I'm a part of the WTP Team (Wovn Translation Platform). If there is a problem or new feature request related to translation, there is a good chance that my team will work on it.

Before coming to wovn, I worked on language research, mostly in speech perception, for about ten years. It's quite different from what I'm doing now, but both are connected to language. Language is something I've always been very passionate about. I say that, but I'm only able to speak English. ^^" It a situation that I'm trying hard to change!

The engineering problems we face in translation come from different angles. One one side, there is the technical angle. How can we optimize the translation service to be able to translate more texts faster? What kind of information do we need to store with the translation itself? When a text can't be translated what can we do?

On the other side, there is the linguistic angle. For example, Japanese and Chinese don't use spacing between words but English does. What happens if we translate from Japanese to Chinese and there is an English word or phrase used in the sentence? As another example, Arabic is written from right-to-left while Japanese and English are written left-to-right. A system designed to work with one language might not work well with other languages due to such issues.

These various challenges are what make the work interesting for me. There are many opportunities for me to learn new things and lots of hard problems for me to think about.


(new year event)

◆What I like about WOVN

I've always been fortunate to work in international environments. Before wovn, I spent 10 years in an academic setting. The students and faculty were from different countries. Just by working near them, I could gain a broader perspective. Similarly, at wovn, I get to immerse myself in Japanese culture while also interacting with people from various cultures. It's a very lively atmosphere!

Because I'm a programmer, in my day-to-day work, I spend most of my time at my desk. However, I cherish the opportunities I have to work with my colleagues in other departments. When a client experiences a problem with our service or we need to plan a new feature, members from different teams gather to discuss the topic from different perspectives. From these sorts of interactions, I can gain new insight.

Working in such an environment also brings difficulty. No serious problems have happened, but sometimes there is miscommunication or misunderstanding. I'm fortunate that everyone here is very patient with me!

Outside of work, there are also opportunities to socialize with my colleagues. I often attend events like language exchange lunches or potekai meetings where I can talk with my colleagues in a more relaxed atmosphere. And sometimes after work, we'll go out drinking or play video games.

I'm very glad that I moved to Japan and am working at Wovn!










WOVNの開発は、専門分野に応じて幾つかのチームに分かれています。例えば、UIを作るチームがあったり、サーバー側の担当するチームがあったり。私は、WTP(Wovn Translation Platform)チームに所属しています。翻訳に関係する問題・機能開発があれば、私のチームが対応することが多いです。








Thank you💚
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