Japanese is one of the most complex languages in the world, and Auerbach International offers translation services in English to Japanese and Japanese to English. Japanese is the official language of Japan and is spoken by over 130 million people worldwide. Besides having various spoken dialects, there is also an official written language called “Standard Japanese.” No matter what topic your translations deal with, our teams of professional Japanese translators have the necessary knowledge of and experience in every industry.
Special difficulties can arise when translating something into Japanese because of the differences in writing. Japanese has three writing systems used simultaneously in the same sentence:
Hiragana is used for prepositions, to indicate tenses and in general, katakana is used to write names and words that come from other languages, and “kanji” or characters often express a noun, verb or adjective.
For example, “l learned to play the piano.” Is written below as a standard sentence and then color coded as above.
I learned to play the piano.
Many kanji are pronounced one way when standing alone and in other ways when combined with other characters to make new words.
Grammatically, English has many tenses: present (as in I eat), simple past (I ate), present perfect (I have eaten), future (will eat), conditional (would eat), and others, as well as emphatic (do eat, did eat) and progressive (am eating, was eating, will be eating, etc.) forms.
Japanese on the other hand has two tenses, generally corresponding to English: Completed (simple past, present perfect, etc.) and Non-completed (present, future, conditional etc.). However, unlike English, Japanese verbs take on different forms depending on the level of politeness (simple, polite and honorific) depending on the person you are speaking to or about.
Some verbs also change to a “humble” form such as when you receive something from someone else.
As in Chinese, Japanese has no articles (“the” or “a/an”) and no plurals in most words. it is up to the translator to be able to understand the intended meaning and translate appropriately.
In many cases, pronouns (I, you, he/she/it, we, you they) are implied and not stated. For example, “Eat apple(s)?” in Japanese can mean “Do you [like to] eat apples?” or “Would you like to eat this apple?” or “Do they [like to] eat apples?” or “Do you want to eat an apple now?” among other possibilities. This relies on the reader and translator to base their understanding of the subject on the context of the sentence.
Word order is also very different when translating from Japanese to English. Japanese verbs go at the end of a phrase or sentence and all adjectives go in front of the noun. While that is generally true in English, our descriptive phrases go after and prepositions in English become nouns in Japanese. For example, “The girl over there wearing the yellow dress is my sister’s best friend” becomes in Japanese word order “Over there’s wearing yellow dress girl my sister’s best friend is.”
As in other languages, cultural concepts do not carry the same meaning. While being “independent” and “individualistic” are positive concepts in the West, they are generally negative concepts in group cultures such as Japan, China, Taiwan and Korea where the collective is more important than the person. The challenge then becomes understanding the Japanese meaning and translating the words to appropriate English phrases. The meaning should be as close as possible in both languages.
Because of the variety of challenges that are associated with Japanese translations, the translator’s subject matter expertise is critical to ensuring a successful translation. If the translators do not have the same level of knowledge as the readers of the translated text, they will not be able to understand if the document is meeting its intended goal. Additionally, the audience of the content will clearly know whether the word choices accurately represent the information being translated.
You can be sure that the team at Auerbach International can achieve accurate translation services Japanese to English and English to Japanese. Contact us today for further assistance.