Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Red, Green, Kaizen

Back at the beginning of September Kevin Rutherford tweeted:

‘Anyone know the Japanese for "red, green, refactor” ?’

Now as it happens I know a Japanese speaker very well. Red was easy “akai”. Green was a little tricky because the Japanese actually have two words for Green, “aoi” and “midori.” We went with midori.

Refactor was a little bit tricky. After all, there was no such word in the English language until Martin Fowler published Refactoring. Indeed, “refactor” still haven’t made it into my English dictionary.

My translator suggested the Japanese would probably stick with the English term so we got “akai, midori, Refactor.”

At which point Kevin asked: “akai, midori, kaizen?”

Its taken me a few weeks to have an in-depth conversation about this with my translator but it seems Kevlin is right.

Kaizen is actually two Japanese words:
Kai: change
Zen: good

So the net effect is: “to change [improve] for the good”

Which seems to sum up refactoring perfectly.

Now, any other Japanese speakers out there like to refactor?

And just a gentle reminder that Changing Software Development is now available in Japanese. My personal Japanese translator didn’t do this translation, it was handled by the Japanese publisher.