Book review: Barbarian at the Gate: From the American Suburbs to the Taiwanese Army

As an R.O.C. citizen who just finished his national service (though it only lasted for a year), I can relate to the stories and tales in this book. I am not sure if I’d do the same if I were in his shoes, i.e., renouncing much-coveted American citizenship in exchange for R.O.C citizenship whose country is not officially recognized by most of the members in the international community. That said, I enjoyed the book from cover to cover, feeling like I was also being yelled at by the master sergeants and given all the raw deal along the way as I flipped through it. Indeed, I did get roughly the same “treatment” as the author did in the army, and that in a way only manifests an important point he’d been seeking :being treated like anyone else, not left alone.

I am glad he found a sense of belonging to the place where I was born and raised, for I feel the same for her.

For foreigners wanting to know more about Taiwan, aka Formosa, you don’t want to miss this book.


Book review: 1984

Not too bad. This was a very inspiring book but its character development wasn’t as good as I had expected……The torture part was very disturbing and honestly I didn’t quite enjoy it. I flinched as I flipped through the pages.

Having said that, this is a legendary work that powerfully warns us not to take our hard-earned freedom for granted.

Book review: The Elements of Style William Strunk Jr.

Loved it. The book offers a great deal of tips on how to write succinctly and beautifully. It’s something worth pursuing however difficult it may be. I’ll keep it at hand as a reliable and handy reference book.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s keen on writing in the English language elegantly.

Book review: Dictionary of American Idioms (Barron’s Dictionary of American Idioms)

Some slang is quite interesting, but I found some to be offensive without being attached with a disclaimer whatsoever. For example, “for a coon’s age” meaning “for a long time” is covered among other slang expressions in the book. However, I was told by an African-American friend of mine that the word “coon” is offensive and is better avoided altogether.

Book review: Word Power Made Easy

Well organized and extremely helpful for anyone wanting to expand his vocabulary. It goes without saying that studying etymology of English words will efficiently boost one’s vocabulary, though it can’t be achieved with constant and extensive reading. That said, knowing a thing or two about etymology is arguably the most efficient way to expand one’s linguistic pocket.

Highly recommended!

Book review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

I thought it was quite inspirational. Knowing that there are such conceptual two systems in our brains counterbalancing one another is insightful to say the least. We often think we’re rational beings, only to realize that our acts have been driven by our irrational/impulsive selves most of the time. That said, having read this book, I know more about myself and about humans for that matter than I did before.

I recommend it.

Book review: Beyond the Chocolate War

Having enjoyed The Chocolate War, I couldn’t help but want to read more books Rober Cormier has written, whose writing is certainly top-notch. Though the plot of this sequence is very similar to that of its predecessor, this book nevertheless had me on the edge of my seat, as if I had been one of the characters, suffered, smothered, and hung in suspension as the story unfolded. What impressed me most was his delicate use of similes as well as metaphors.

Beautiful yet though-provoking writing.

Book review: The Chocolate War

It’s the first so-called “dark book” I’ve ever read. I liked the character development and the vivid writing of the author, making me feel as if I had lived in the story, shocked by the malicious plots and held anxious with the twists and turns along the way.

In short, I enjoyed the book, though the ending left me somehow depressed and wistful. One that reveals the evil human nature and almost always tough reality. Having said that, I suppose that’s just cruel reality that we ought to face, like it or lump it. I am looking forward to its sequence, After the Chocolate War.

Background & Service info

  1. Hello, I am Alvis Yu, a Taiwanese part-time freelance interpreter/translator based in Tokyo, providing English and Chinese (Traditional Chinese) translation/interpretation services for individuals and firms alike. I hold a B.A. in Applied English and an M.A. in International Affairs.

Background Information:

  1. I am a 27-year-old Taiwanese, born and raised in Taiwan.
  2. I have experience living and working with native English speakers for years.
  3. I’ve collected 20-plus English dictionaries and English stylistic/usage books.
  4. I am a member of both Taipei Translators & Interpreters Union and Taiwan Association of Translation and Interpretation.


翻譯公會會員證 (正面)


  1. Scored 990 points (the highest possible score) on the TOEIC test in 2013 without prior overseas or equivalent exposure. toeic 990
  2. I have a strong history of demonstrating a high command of overall English skills. (speaking sample)
  3. Got accepted to the GITI (Chinese-English pair) at Fu Jen University (one of the leading translation graduate programs on the island) on the first try.
  4. Passed the screening test (Chinese to English) of Linguitronics, the leading translation agency in Taiwan, on the first attempt.
  5.  Translated 10-plus books (not published yet).

    (Trivia: Prior to going to GSIA in 2011, an English-taught graduate program [albeit with only one English native speaker on staff during my stay] under the international college at Ming Chuan University, a local university with dominantly Chinese-taught programs, I had NOT attended Taipei American School or any other similar English-taught schools, which proves that I am an efficient, committed, and diligent learner.)

Service information:

  • Translating documents in the fields of literature, business, education, politics, international relations, marketing, among others, from English to Chinese and vice versa.

E-C Rates per source word:  $0.04 – $0.08 USD

C-E Rates per source word: $0.05~$0.09 USD

The actual rate depends on the difficulty (i.e. how technical the content is), word count, and urgency of the case.

  • Editing services: polishing otherwise decent documents that are marred by poor English and awkward syntax (temporarily not available)

    Rates range from $0.02-$0.06 USD per source word (i.e. English word)

  • Liaison and  consecutive interpretation services in the aforementioned fields.
  • Simultaneous interpretation services in a not-too-technical setting.
consecutive interpreting: $310 USD / half a day 
Liaison interpreting: $ 155 USD/ half a day
bilingual MC service: $ 110 USD/ half a day

Free Trial: Regarding translation and editing services, I can provide you with a free trial service with 100-150 words upon request. (Please feel free see the work samples on this blog to get a feel of my translation skills and style.)

As for an assessment of my oral proficiency in English, you can do so by calling me on Skype (ID: alvisspeaking)  or LINE (alvis514).

Availability (ever-updating):

Currently a part-time freelance translator/interpreter based in Tokyo.

Available for small or none-urgent cases. For big or time-sensitive cases, please contact me via email. Thank you! (

Translation/editing sample:



Tokyo Auto Salon 2017, liaison interpreting

New Taipei City Government (2015 New Taipei City International Trade Fair; I was a contract one-day interpreter providing CHEN consecutive interpreting service at an international trade fair held by the New Taipei Government.)

PTSGI‘s partner freelance interpreter (I interpreted during a technical meeting for the 2016 International Children’s Games [ICG] held in New Taipei City.)

imagelephant (a Taiwanese advertisement production house; I interpreted for them during their teleconference with an Australian client, from Chinese into English and vice versa.)


Yao Shun Language Services Limited In-house translator (C<->E) (2014/08-2015/02)

PACE (It’s a Singaporean company for whom I’ve translated 10 textbooks [organizational management; English to Traditional Chinese], though they are not published as yet.)

Meet the Translators  partner translator/interpreter

Major Science (A California-based company that designs, manufactures, and markets laboratory equipment that supports scientific research in life sciences laboratories ;Web localization, from English to Traditional Chinese)

Linguitronics (a leading translation agency in Taiwan; I work with them as a CH to EN freelance translator)

Blue Moon Films (a Taiwanese advertisement production house; I translated a storyboard and business letters from Chinese into English for them.)

Testimonials: Please click here.

Personal websites:

Contact Info:


Line: alvis514

Skype: alvisspeaking

Cell: +818021461409

CAT tools: 

Memsource Editor

SDL Edit (2007)

SDL Trados Studio 2014


Wordfast (cloud version)

Payment methods:

Wire transfer (into my Taiwan bank accounts)

Paypal (

Personal reference book collection (partial):

As a life-long student of the English language who considers learning languages (esp English, evidently) as a labor of love, I’ve so far collected 20-plus reference books, English monolingual dictionaries among them, for personal interest as well as professional tools. By the way, most of my collected dictionaries are in the CD/DVD format, so they’re all literally at my fingertip. You can see my partial collection below.

To view my complete collection, however, please click here.




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スクリーンショット 2015-11-02 11.37.40 スクリーンショット 2015-11-08 22.14.31スクリーンショット 2015-11-08 22.15.29スクリーンショット 2015-11-08 22.22.26スクリーンショット 2015-11-08 22.22.50スクリーンショット 2015-11-08 22.23.40スクリーンショット 2015-11-02 11.37.58スクリーンショット 2015-11-02 11.36.55

Thanks for your time.


Alvis Yu

Book review: Not SARS Just SEX

When I picked it up from the shelf in the living room of my shared apt, I didn’t exactly expect to get a whole lot from this book. The ownership of this book still remains to be a mystery, which somehow made this book more intriguing to me. Most of the content being trivial personal anecdotes notwithstanding, I’d still managed to extract some valuable stuff from this read, which was that it’s not customarily in the American culture to knock on the door when somebody else is doing his or her business in the bathroom. It was to some extent a culture shock to me as knocking on the door to see if any given restroom is occupied has long been practiced (I don’t even know when we started doing that) in Taiwan, and Japan for that matter. It might strike us as being rude when somebody outside the john is trying out the doorknob instead of knocking while we happen to be taking a dump/piss (sorry about the language) in there. The expected response to the knocking is to knock back to indicate your presence on the other side of the door. It’s a case in point where innocent cultural differences can make otherwise deep-rooted customs eccentric or even rude, as in this particular case. Okay, that was a bit off-topic.

I’d say folks who have extra time to spend and have been meaning to come to this island for the very first time might want to have a casual read of this book, as far as living it up in Taipei is concerned, which I suppose is rather self-explanatory given the title.