Urgent: Looking for a fast instant translator! 12 Things You Need to Avoid

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I know that you sometimes need to have your Japanese translation INCREDIBLY FAST. It always happens when you are tied up with your work and you need a hero to save your life. Your boss is so strict about its turnover, you need to get it ready by the day of its press release, etc…


I’ve been working on English to Japanese translation industry for more than 8 years and here are the things you should avoid (even if you are panicking now). No blabs.


No time-consuming introduction. Let’s look into the tips to save your time…and hopefully your successful career!


  1. Don’t be rough/vague about your requirements


Oftentimes, my sellers are too rushed to explain their project requirements in detail simply saying “Please just translate this file ASAP” and, in that case, I always need to ask them the details before finally getting started. It, of course, wastes your precious time. Please collect yourself and explain well, then it will lead to a swifter smoother communication and turn around. I understand that people inevitably panic but trust me:  it will really make a difference.


  1. Don’t ask your translator about the progress too often


I beg you. Please stop it. I mean, it’s nice for you to care about the progress of your translation. (I love you!) But no too much asking! It really backfires. Trust me, once you get the confirmation that your order has actually started, what you can do is just wait. If you get a question about your text, simply provide your explanation in a timely manner. If you are so worried that your requirements might not be completely understood, make sure to explain in advance. You can even ask before placing the order. Feel free to talk to me. I’m super-easy to talk to. You can reach me through our contact form or my personal Twitter account.


  1. Don’t go for a vacation (maybe you won’t, but just to make sure!)


Once you place your order, you might either feel like you want to know every progress or get relaxed and want to go for the gym (which probably you have never visited in last 6 months). Both of them are extreme. Please be patient and keep reachable. Your translator might well want to ask you a few questions for a better clarification. If you are online, it would really help to clear every tiny thing in your script and it results in a FASTER turn around.


  1. Don’t be too frugal on your money for your translation


Japanese is a unique language and very much different from English. It does not go the same way as you do from English to French or Spanish. From the way you put the words, to the expression, to the politeness to be required, everything is literally different and it takes much more time and effort than most of the language sets. So if you find your Japanese translation a little bit expensive compared to other languages, it’s totally normal. You don’t need to panic, FYI.


  1. (esp. for App or Software translation) Don’t be lazy not to add additional comments


In the Japanese language, we strictly differentiate button and notification strings, for example, when it comes to app translation. I’ve been working in this industry for a few years, but sometimes I can come across some sentences that can either be used as a button, notification, or title of a page. I make sure to ask for further elaboration to ensure the quality of my translation. But as a matter of fact, this communication can inevitably slow down the translation process. So to avoid the delay, you should better add comments to explain what each string stands for, which will help you receive the result faster and more importantly without trouble.


  1. (esp. for movie or explanation video translation) Don’t be lazy (again)!!


I hope you are already on the same page now – the Japanese language is complicated and its translation requires too much care. Yes, we need to look after her with great attention. When translating, for example, subtitles, make sure to specify who speaks each line. It’s a must. Some details such as gender, age, personality (e.g, stubborn, easy-going etc…) would really help. In other words, they are imperative for a quality translation because depending on the speaker, we need to choose different words and expressions carefully. Without such assistance, however, effort your translator execute, it might go wrong and what you will get is an awkward translation.


  1. Don’t leave any Japanese name in English irresponsibly


Translating Japanese names into English is a reasonably easy job, but the other way doesn’t do so. For example, “Koji” is a fairly common Japanese male name and when trying to translate it to English, it can either be “剛志”, “浩二”, “浩司”, or even “康二”… (even more possibilities!) so there is no way your translator knows which one is right unless you provide the additional source to support it. Make it clear: you don’t look to translate that Japanese name in English to Japanese or provide a source your translator can refer to when translating it.


  1. Don’t try to combine word-to-word translations


This is the worst idea you could think of in doing English to Japanese translation. You might not have any idea on this so let me give you an example. This often happens with app and software translation. Let’s assume you have these strings: “Please update your billing info to continue to enjoy” and “your subscription”. You can simply combine them to make a complete sentence and when replacing “your subscription” with “our application full features” it still makes sense without any problem. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t go well in Japanese at all because the order of words is completely different. To put it simply, Japanese places words as the form of subject, verb, and object for instance. So when you want to say “I run the business” it can translate to “I business run” in Japanese. To avoid this problem, one thing I always recommend is to use a variable you can put in between. For example use <target> tag and it will be: “Please update your billing info to continue to enjoy <target>” and you also prepare some variation such as “your subscription” and “our application full features” separately. Afterwards, you can feel free to change the valuable <target> to those phrases dynamically.


  1. Don’t say ‘translate it to Japanese kanji’


I don’t know why, but some people who seem to have a bit of Japanese language knowledge often say “translate it to Japanese kanji.” Kanji is a form of Japanese writing and I’m simply impressed if you have ever heard of it. However, let me be a little bit strict as a translator: kanji is just a form of Japanese writing and there’s no way we can write a sentence only with kanji. We normally do use kanji, hiragana, and katakana all combined. Well, I never hate it when you say this way. Rather, I’d appreciate your care about the Japanese language. I simply hope this would help your even better understanding.


  1. Don’t say “roughly” or “around”


When you say “around 1,000 words translation” it really hurts me. We work hugely based on the word count of your script so please be specific. When you have your text in Word file, simply refer to the word count information shown on the left-hand bottom. If not (it might be in PDF, txt, or Excel file) I recommend my buyers to use this word count tool:https://wordcounter.net, which is very accurate and easy to use. You can simply copy and paste all the text from your file to the web tool and it instantly gives you its word count.


  1. Don’t try to translate any propositions themselves alone


I don’t mean you can’t include any propositions in your text. It’s totally acceptable to have a text with propositions, but it’s mostly (let’s say 99%) impossible to translate any English proposition itself alone to Japanese. let’s take a look at an example. If you ask your Japanese translator to translate “on” he would simply dismay. In English, we often use ‘Published on’ string in-app translation, which will be followed by a number and say when something is published. Yes, in English, you can simply combine the string with a date. Easy peasy. It would be, for instance, like “Published on 20/05/2017.” On the other hand, in Japanese, we would say “2017年5月20日に公開”… Did you notice a huge difference? The date comes in the beginning. As you can clearly see, the structures of the sentence are completely different in terms of the order of the words. Now you can easily tell if you translate “Published on” you can never put a date after the string. Here’s the point: ditch the idea that all the languages have the same words order. You can’t ask your translator to translate “of”, “in”, or any other English propositions and combine them with the other translated words. One thing you can do to avoid this typical tragedy is to use a tag that replaces the number, which in the last example represented a date. For example, you can say “Published on {date}” or something like this according to your preference. Then we can properly conduct an authentic translation and it will look like “{date}に公開”, which results in a better translation and faster delivery. Here’s the thing to be noted by every app, web, or software developer: Take into consideration that a tag will surely save your time and life if you have even a tiny possibility to expand your business to other countries. The same even goes for some other languages. Trust me, it will save you lots of time. Time is money.


  1. Don’t forget to specify how much your content can be adjusted


I know that no single business expert expects his/her translator to change the original content at his will. However, It’s sometimes inevitably recommended for you to give your translator some extent of the right to tweak your content, (or I call it “make it shine”) of course to the extent the core idea of what to be conveyed should not be modified at all. It’s really crucial that you specify to how much extent the text can be adjusted depending on the decision of your translator.

Founder of GraspBuild and CEO of WANOZEN LLC. Shunya is a web marketing and SEO specialist passionate about introducing energetic companies from overseas into the huge yet seemingly exclusive Japanese market smoothly for their successful business.

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