Swet Columns

Word Wise: Focusing on Translation

を中心に o chūshin ni

By Richard Medhurst

When choosing how to translate を中心に, there are two basic sets of options I regularly consider. If a product is described as 女性を中心に人気, this could be translated as “particularly popular with women,” “mainly popular,” “especially popular,” “primarily popular,” and so on. On the other hand, I may render研究課題を中心に, as “focused on research issues,” or “centred... more

Collect These Jewels

Reviewed by Anna Husson Isozaki

Translator Perspectives: Honyakusha no mesen 2015. Tokyo: Japan Association of Translators, 2015, 137 pages. ISBN 978-4-906408-11-5. Translator Perspectives: Honyakusha no mesen 2016. Tokyo: Japan Association of Translators, 2016, 59 pages. ISBN 978-4-906408-13-9. 

“The essays are to inform and inspire both translators and translation clients. This is the work we do. This is why it is important. This is how... more

Word Wise: Deal With It

対応 Taiō

By Richard Medhurst Translators are constantly dealing with work assignments. Many of them contain the word 対応, which itself could be translated as “deal with” or “handle.” In this sense of an action with an object, 対応 also commonly becomes “respond” or “response.” The first suggestions seem in general to be an easier fit for ongoing situations, like “dealing with customers”... more

Word Wise: Baffling by Design

整備 Seibi

By Richard Medhurst

There’s a Japanese Wikipedia article on 整備文, a term devised by Canadian author Iain Arthy to refer to the obfuscatory language deployed by elites in his book Oeragata no Nihongojuku 『政・官・財(おえらがた)の日本語塾』(1996). It singles out words like 検討, 施設, and for sapping readers’ will to understand. But the word he chose... more

Japan Writers Conference 2016 Remembered

We asked three people who attended the Japan Writers Conference, held October 27 and 28 at Tokushima University, on the island of Shikoku, to share their impressions and notes from the talks they attended. While by no means comprehensive—and we regret not including reporting on all the sessions—our three authors give us lively and diverse accounts of what they gained... more

Word Wise: Get a Grip

把握 Haaku

By Richard Medhurst

Some words look straightforward enough in the context of a Japanese sentence, but are not always easy to translate. Take 把握, consisting of two kanji meaning to “grip” or “grasp.” This latter word, “grasp,” is a common J-E dictionary entry for 把握 as it has the same connection with physically holding and mentally knowing, but it has... more