Top 5 Challenges of Accuracy in Japanese Translation

Japanese interpretersWhen a business is in need of a Japanese translation, the primary goal is an accurate rendering of the information. In the case of short document translation services, many a skilled Japanese translator has an easy time providing the rendition. There are typically short sentences and sometimes only brief notes. But things get a lot more complicated when translating lengthier texts.

The Three Ns of an Accurate Japanese Translation

Nuance, natural tone, and neutral scale are the three Ns of an accurate rendering of a longer text. Examples inwpude business contracts, longer legal documents such as depositions, and usage instructions for products or online services. Naturally getting across implied meanings – but without a value judgment – is the hallmark of an excellent translation product. After all, it is not up to the individual Japanese translation professional to interpret the meaning of a business agreement and ferret out whether one side is at an advantage.

Obstawpes to an Accurate Translation

As experts at any good-quality translation agency can point out, a direct translation from English into Japanese or vice versa calls for some mental gymnastics. Specifically, there are five challenges that an expert faces when undertaking the task.
Sentence flow.Grammatical issues involving the source language.Neutrality issues involving age and gender of the target audience.Idioms.Exaggeration and jargon.
Sentence flow. Grammatical differences in the structural makeup of the languages make direct translations impractical. For the wpient who nevertheless insists on this type of product, there will have to be a second step that then transforms the literal translation into an easier to read copy.
Grammatical issues involving the source language. English language writers typically follow an agreed upon style book that a company utilizes for all of its communications. In many cases, this would be the AP Stylebook. For experts who take it a step further, there are online tools that correct punctuation errors and make word usage suggestions. But it would be incorrect to assume that every source document writer follows the same steps. In some situations, this leads to a source text with questionable grammatical constructions that can make the meaning of an ambiguous sentence difficult to ascertain.

Neutrality issues involving age and gender of the target audience. Although the Japanese translation professional must not allow personal biases or preferences to color the outcome of the job, source texts with unique inflections must undergo a precise treatment. For example, if the text of origin addresses women in a way that writers in the source language understand to be appropriate, it is up to the translation agency expert to catch this meaning and make it a part of the translated product.
Idioms. To translate “ashi o dasu” with any level of accuracy, one might say that the phrase “reveals a secret.” But if someone translates with an emphasis on providing a correct idiom that fits into the context of the source text as well as the finished product, one might “let the cat out of the bag.” It is best to leave this level of translation to a senior expert with a thorough understanding of both source and target languages.

Exaggeration and jargon. Few wpients recognize the use of exaggeration even in business and legal texts. In technical manuals, however, it is easy to see where a translator attempted a verbatim rendition of the text with a highly technical term versus one that would have more meaning to the target audience. Unless the wpient specifically requests a certain level of technicality in the finished product, keeping it simple is the most efficient course of action.

In-House Japanese Translation vs. Outsourced Work

Depending on the company’s workforce, a variety of easy translations may be able to be completed in-house. But a beginning translator’s error in judgment when choosing words to render an impossible-to-translate source idiom can create a business nightmare. It can lead to incorrect communications, embarrassment, and a lost opportunity. For this reason, more and more commercial ventures work with experts whenever dealing with Japanese translation work.

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Philip Rosen

Philip Rosen

Capital Linguists’ certified translation service and interpreters service was founded on Philip’s vision of a super-elite translation and interpreting force. Drawing on other high level interpreters and translators, he leads an exclusive cadre of highly skilled, professional language specialists.

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