Do you think you have what it takes to become a Japanese translator? Translating isn’t just about having technical knowledge or access to a dictionary. With Japanese, context and understanding are everything, so being able to immerse yourself in the culture is critical to getting the message past the language barrier intact.
The Nuances of Japanese Translation
Like many languages, modern Japanese has absorbed diverse influences from different cultures. Japanese incorporates European and Asian loanwords that date back centuries, and their history may even impact the way they are transcribed. Japanese words can be written in one of three scripts depending on their origin and grammatical syntax, and this makes the task of translation even more complex.
Loanwords aren’t the only tricky part of Japanese translation. Kanji, the multi-thousand character writing system derived from Chinese, consists of ideograms that represent entire words or concepts. When multiple kanji are joined together, their pronunciation and meaning may change, so translating compound words can be extremely difficult. If you’re going from Japanese to other languages, simply inserting the literal translation of the word components may result in terms that make technical sense but don’t really flow well. It’s important to have an understanding of context and typical usage patterns if you want to create text that actually sounds natural.
Becoming a Better Japanese Translator
So how do you get to know Japanese well enough to sound like a human instead of an awkward app, like machine translation? Cultural exposure is key. While everybody has their favorite methods, we especially love reading and watching. Listening to how Japanese naturally flows in normal conversation is one of the best ways to get closer to authentic, and the same goes for the other dialects in our repertoire. Checking out native television programs, talking to people from different countries and reading literature all make it fun to keep up with language as it grows and transforms.
Natural learning also helps you work with increased speed and accuracy. When you have to parse sentences on the fly, you become way better at keeping up with complex thoughts and ideas. Being a Japanese translator is one thing, but getting really good at it requires the ability to put concepts together in a way that makes sense.
Check out our other translation blog articles to learn how the innovative Link Translations approach lets us bridge the communication gap.