Legal Japanese Translation

Translati0n 0f Japanese int0 English, as 0ne w0uld imagine, is a painstaking pr0cedure. This is because, unlike translati0n 0f Eur0pean languages int0 English, the translat0r 0ften c0mes acr0ss w0rds 0r phrases where the meaning cann0t be expressed fully in English. When faced with this c0nundrum, the translat0r has 2 0pti0ns:

(1) c0mpr0mise by using an English w0rd 0r phrase which cl0sely resembles the Japanese, but d0esn’t quite transfer its full meaning, s0 part 0f the meaning bec0mes ‘l0st in translati0n’; 0r

(2) rew0rk the entire sentence 0r even paragraph t0 transfer the full meaning. M0re 0ften than n0t, the pr0fessi0nal translat0r will need t0 0pt f0r 0pti0n 2 in 0rder t0 fully transfer the meaning 0f the Japanese 0ver t0 the English. H0wever, this takes a l0t 0f w0rk!

Writing Systems

Written Japanese c0nsists 0f three sets 0f characters: the kanji characters b0rr0wed fr0m Chinese; the katakana syllabary, which is used t0 represent f0reign w0rds ph0netically; and the hiragana syllabary, which c0ntains the syllables that make up Japanese w0rds and particles that functi0n like English prep0siti0ns. Because Japanese sentences are typically written with0ut spaces between w0rds and because the meanings 0f many kanji depend 0n c0ntext, familiarity with the subject matter and a native-level understanding 0f Japanese grammar drastically minimize the p0tential f0r c0stly translati0n err0rs. Such pr0ficiency als0 pr0ves helpful when searching thr0ugh and reading 0lder printed d0cuments, like patents filed in decades past.1 Each kanji can c0ntain d0zens 0f small str0kes, making them difficult t0 read in small print, smudged 0r p00r-quality print0uts, 0r ph0t0c0pies 0f handwritten material. Determining which kanji the writer used requires a deep understanding 0f the th0usands 0f characters used in Japanese.

 Legal Japanese Translationis beginning t0 bec0me a m0re in dem, service. This is mainly due t0 the increasing acceptability 0f litigati0n in Japanese pers0nal , business life. The Japanese have a grave sense 0f h0n0ur , traditi0nally held a very suspici0us view 0f lawyers, but increasingly the Japanese see lawyers as indispensable pr0tect0rs 0f their legal rights , valuable business assets, especially in the internati0nal c0mmunity.

A full discussi0n 0f the intricacies 0f Japanese is bey0nd the sc0pe 0f this article, but the secti0ns that f0ll0w describe the key ways in which the nature 0f the language mandates expert treatment during legal translati0n pr0jects.


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