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Successful Japanese Translation Projects and Stakeholder Involvement – Part 1

The term “maru-nage” in Japanese sums up very nicely in a single phrase the approach of wholesale delegation of a task to another party, without shouldering any responsibility or taking any involvement in the task at hand.

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The assignment of translation projects, at times, can be like this, in terms of the approach of both the end user, and even the translation company responsible for coordinating the project. There is a better way. In the first part of this article, I will look at the role of the end user, and in the next part, consider the role of the Japanese translation company, in achieving a successful project.

Most translators have the experience of being given a translation task with no glossary, reference material, or explanation of what is required. This may be partly due to a lack of understanding on the part of the end user of what is required in producing a successful translation, but there also seems to be the attitude that as the end user is paying for the task, any leg work required for research should be done by the Japanese translator (or translation company).

Even when reference material is provided, there is often very little thought given in to what will be helpful. In general terms, reference material needs to be bilingual to be of any value. Care should be given when providing reference material so that it is bilingual, targeting the material used, and is sufficiently short in length that the translator will be inclined to make use of it. A translator is (usually) paid by output rather than time, so it is not realistic to expect a translator to search through 50 pages of reference material for a $10 job.

I also find it surprising when end users react negatively towards questions from the translator (which will discourage future questions leading to a poorer product), or when they fail to give adequate directions on requirements before a project starts. The ultimate goal of all of the stakeholders in a project is to produce the best possible result. Failing to take adequate time to give clear instructions, provide focused reference material, or by answering questions in a manner that will discourage rather than encourage future questions is the equivalent of “cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face”.

Collaboration is vital for successful translation projects, and leaving it all to the translator is not the best way forward. In the next part, I will look at the role of the translation company as an intermediary.

About the Author
Simon Way is a contributing author to SAECULII YK, the owner of Japanese Translation Company Tokyo, Japan. Visit SAECULII for the latest professional case studies, articles and news by Japanese Translation Services

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