General Topic


For last few years, I am working as a Japanese translator. Frankly speaking, word to word translation is an imperfect concept, because a given word in a given language often carries more than one meaning; and because a similar given meaning may often be represented in a given language by more than one word. With Globalization, demand of business documentation is increasing, due to which generally documents are maintained in multiple languages such as English language and national language. Hence translation plays a vital role.

The literal meaning of Translation means, communication from the source language text converting with effective meaning into target language text. It is the process of translating words or text from one language into another language.

Though translation is an art, it is not easy at all. For a translation to be true or to convey appropriate meaning the translator must know both languages. And knowledge related to the documents domain is always an additional advantage. The translator’s role is as a bridge for “carrying across” values between cultures and by no means is an inactive and mechanical one. The features of competent translators are as follows;

1)    A very good knowledge of the source language, written and spoken.

2)    An excellent command on the language into which he / she is expected to translate (target language)

3)    Familiarity with the subject matter of the text being translated.

4)    Sense of when to “translate literally” and when to “paraphrase”, so as to assure true translation between the source and target language.

5)    A competent translator must not only be bilingual but also bicultural.

Challenges faced while translating Japanese to English or vice versa;

The script of Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese etc. is different from the Western languages. Japanese is written in combination of three scripts: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji (originated from Chinese characters). The Japanese Ministry of Education designated 1,945 characters as “Jooyou Kanji” (常用漢字), which is the most frequently, used characters. Similar phonetic words indicate different meaning with different kanji’s. While translating from source language to target language which is Japanese or vice versa, translator should know the appropriate usage and meaning of kanji.

Though Japanese are much a head in technology, they do not prefer going ‘paperless’J. You can see them carrying bunch of printouts for meeting. These printouts are often in two languages: Japanese (for Japanese counterpart) as well as English (for non-Japanese counterpart). Hence there is need to match meaning in whichever language.

There is a concept called as “back translation or retranslate”. A “back-translation” is a translation of a translated text back into the language of the original text, made without reference to the original text. Comparison of a back-translation with the original text is sometimes used to validate the accuracy of the translation. Generally in the context of machine translation, a back-translation is also called a “round-trip translation.”

Normally a Japanese person even though he can speak and understand English prefers all documents to be in Japanese. Hence there is great demand for Japanese bilingual translators 😄……

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