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04/23/18 04:43:am

Why 'Momiji Tech Translations'

Autumn is my favorite season. I was born in the autumn and love the weather. I especially love the colors of the leaves. I enjoyed playing in the leaves when I was a child and then appreciated later in life how the falling of the leaves symbolized how delicate life is. So, when I was thinking of what to name the business after transitioning to translating full-time as an independent professional, I wanted the name to capture the essence of my basic philosophy toward translation.

Momiji means autumn leaves in Japanese, and so I chose this word to represent the delicate side or ‘art’ of translation. The core of this means genuinely considering the true end user and application of the translation and creating English that truly communicates what is intended by the Japanese so as to be useful and helpful while also being natural, concise, and easy to read as opposed to a simple mapping of Japanese words into English. This also means taking all available context into consideration to create more complete and meaningful sentences from the often over-abbreviated Japanese. Finally, this also means making sure that phrases flow into sentences and that sentences flow together and into paragraphs. This is much, much easier said than done because of the modern translation process and because of the nature of Japanese and how incredibly different English and Japanese are.

Tech is short for technical, and I chose this word to represent the analytical, discriminating, and detail-focused side of translation. On a basic level, this is the process of ensuring that grammar is correct and precise, such as using the right verb/direct object pairs or the most appropriate prepositions and conjunctions. This also includes other basic practices such as maintaining consistency of style and vocabulary and accuracy of data, labels, proper nouns, and so on. On a deeper level, this means ensuring that the English translation is technically accurate, even when the Japanese is not, by doing research as needed and using terms normally used for a given context. With technical content in particular, care must be taken to ensure that a description in Japanese of a technology, standard, concept, methodology, product, etc. developed or created in another country is worded properly, accurately, and consistent with the original, especially if it was developed in an English-speaking country or environment.

Now you know why I named my translation service Momiji Tech Translations and my fundamental approach to translating Japanese. This approach most certainly gives me a competitive advantage, and, yeah, having this advantage is certainly great for me personally. However, this is honestly quite an unfortunate state of affairs. Translating Japanese into English based on a foundational and deep recognition and acceptance that Japanese and English are completely different (about as different as two human languages could be) should be a minimum requirement to being a translator. What I mean by recognition and acceptance is not thinking that Japanese can just be mapped into English via a ‘paint-by-numbers’ approach (future post!), not stubbornly trying to force Japanese structures and patterns into English, and not limiting the English by the Japanese.

Furthermore, this recognition and acceptance plus a genuine effort and rudimentary ability to incorporate the basic philosophy I briefly described should be the minimum requirement of a professional translator. Accordingly, the mark of a good or great translator should be distinguished by the translator’s skill and ability to successfully incorporate this basic philosophy. Translators should be personally motivated to strive for this level of translation, and clients should also recognize the importance of such an approach as well as the value of such translations and of those who are so capable.

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