Swet Columns

Word Wise: Typically Troublesome

By Richard Medhurst

What is the ultimate bugbear translation term? If there was a vote, 代表的 might well be in the running. Both it and synonymous variations of を代表する are scattered across Japanese texts at a rate that can vex translators who want to keep their writing fresh.

The way 代表的 covers a broad range of meaning from neutral description through to... more

Word Wise: According to Habit

By Richard Medhurst

While it is handy to have default translations for terms, a little variety can refresh both writer and reader. The phrase によると is common in Japanese and commonly rendered by translators as “according to” in English.

With a company or public figure, it may be possible to use “stated” or “announced,” when the context is clear or easily checked,... more

EVENT REPORT: Brainstorming for SWET’s 40th Anniversary

On the evening of Wednesday, June 19, six SWET members gathered in Jinbōchō, Tokyo, for a brainstorming session about plans for celebrating SWET’s upcoming 40th anniversary. To start off with, we discussed the proposed date: SWET’s inaugural meeting was held on November 15, 1980, and in 2020, the 15th falls on Sunday. We agreed that mid-November 2020 sounded optimal,... more

EVENT REPORT: Press Trips and Language Tips for Travel Media

By Rob Goss

On March 20, 2019, twelve people, including five first-timers, attended the latest SWET Travel Writing Meetup in Tokyo at Book House Cafe, Jinbocho, for a presentation by photographer Phil Ono about the handling of style issues in place-name signage used around the country and a presentation by travel writer Rob Goss about press trips for travel writers and... more

Word Wise: Second Appeal

By Richard Medhurst

I hear you soon find out who your true friends are when you appeal to them for help. Meanwhile, アピールする is one of the katakana false friends that I seem to meet on a regular basis. It is connected to the English verb “appeal” in that it is seeking positive action or judgment from others, but direct replacement... more

Word Wise: Safety First

By Richard Medhurst

Japan is particularly prone to disasters, and 2018 was no exception, to the point that 災 was chosen as the kanji of the year. The country tackles this perennial problem with 防災 practices aimed at reducing the harm that disasters cause. While the English-speaking world also has such measures, there is a range of terms that may be... more