Red Squirrel's Nuts

I constantly forget where I bury my nuts, but at least they sometimes grow trees.

Nov 16 2009

Second Nature

A Japanese translator contacted me last week. Apparently, Apprenticeship Patterns is being translated into Japanese. (In other news, Enrique might be working on Spanish and/or German translations.) Well, the translator wasted no time, and started asking Ade and me questions about the meanings of some trickier sentences in our dedication and Ward Cunningham’s foreword.

His question about the foreword forced me to rewrite Ward’s sentence, and I suppose like anyone who has had to rewrite anything of Ward’s, I found the experience enlightening. The translator was confused by a sentence in the last paragraph:

The craftsmanship movement in software recognizes that making this stuff second nature isn’t, well, second nature.

Being the web geek that I am, the first thing I did was look up the definition of “second nature”: “An acquired behavior or trait that is so long practiced as to seem innate.” And after struggling with it for a bit, I rewrote the sentence into this:

The craftsmanship movement recognizes that practicing and acquiring the skills of software craftsmanship are not innate to humans. Not only do we need to acquire software development skills, but we need to acquire the skills of skill acquisition.

This satisfied the translator. I was pretty happy with it too, since it helps explain what the book is about. It won’t teach you how to be a great programmer, it will teach you how to learn to be a great programmer.


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