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Difficulty of Achieving High-quality Japanese Translation Work in Highly-Specialized Fields – Part 1

In the first of this two-part series, we shall look at reasons why, in many cases, it is difficult for end users to get high quality work when requesting the translation of highly-specialized translations.

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In the second part we shall take a look at what the end user can do to assist the Japanese translator and thus improve the standard of the submitted work.

I believe there are two main reasons why end users are up against it when trying to get specialized topics translated well. The first is simply that there is a shortage of translators with knowledge of specialist topics. This is particularly true in natural science fields. When students major in subjects at university, they tend to gravitate towards either sciences or humanities. Translation involves writing and naturally favors those with humanities-based skills. For this reason, people with both a scientific background, skills in writing, and, on top of that, skills in a foreign language are definitely something of a rarity.

Another reason for this, however, is the business pressures faced by translation companies. Translation companies like any other business will only succeed if they generate orders. Competition in the market is such that it does not pay translation companies to turn down work from end users, who are likely to permanently go elsewhere. Say, for example, they have a potential client wanting a highly technical translation in the field of cryogenics. The company may not have translators with a specialty that exactly matches this. From a business perspective, however, they will be inclined to accept the work and attempt to find a solution later. At this point, they have committed to the client, so what follows will be a consistent series of compromises looking for the translator with the next closest specialty to this. Even if the translation company has a cryogenics expert among their translator base, there is no guarantee the professional translator will be available at that time.

As mentioned in previous articles, the advent of the Internet with instant vocabulary searches has made it easier for translators to tackle a wider range of fields. For the reasons described above, however, it is still difficult to get high quality Japanese translation in truly specialized fields. There are things that the end user can do to increase the quality of the work submitted to them. We shall look at some of these in the next article.

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

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