We’ve spent more than two decades in the world of translation and localisation. We’re constantly coming across new challenges, and in our world questions like these come up all the time:
- What’s the best approach to a customer’s new project?
- What tools are optimal to use?
- What team of professionals will work best?
- How can we make some parts or all parts of the process more efficient?
This means that every project we do is unique, and we’re always raring to go!
As we’ve worked in this industry for many years, we’ve seen just about everything: tight deadlines, last-minute changes, important instructions that don’t always reach the right person at the right time. The list goes on. But despite everything, we always find a way to keep moving forward. Experience definitely helps.
After quite some time working in the translation industry, we were asked to translate some highly technical documents from English into Japanese.
The Japanese market is incredibly demanding, and achieving quality Japanese translations is a big challenge.
The Japanese like buying products that are designed specifically for Japanese people, and they expect product instructions to be word perfect, regardless of the following:
- three types of Japanese writing (Kanji, Katakana and Hiragana);
- different order of words in a sentence compared with English;
- specific grammar and syntax;
- differing etymology between English and Japanese.
This is why Japanese translations can never be literal translations. Japanese translations need localization and transcreation, which adapts the written content to the Japanese market, to convey a message to the target audience as if the text were originally written in Japanese.
Some years ago, a customer from the US had a very detailed product user manual with concise explanations and clear images. When we asked a representative from the Japanese delegation of the same company what they thought about the manual, they told us that it needed to be more like a comic strip with lots of pictures for it to be in line with people’s expectations. Making this change would have been be a good example of localisation or transcreation.
Faced with the challenge of translating technical documents into Japanese, we got down to work. We asked our customer to give us reference materials in English and Japanese that they considered accurate in both languages, and we put together a glossary. We also asked our customer for a style guide so that we’d know what tone was expected.
We cherry-picked the team that would work on this project to strike a balance between technical knowledge and the ability to convey the information correctly in Japanese. We found two professionals with extensive expertise to take on the roles of translator and reviser. Their rates were high, but they had the right profile to satisfy the exacting standards of the Japanese market.
We gave them the glossary and style guide. We also encouraged them to ask us for anything they needed during the translation process. Any questions we were unable to find a solution for internally, we passed on to the customer. We needed to be 100% sure that nothing was misinterpreted and that the final message was a true reflection of the original material.
We completed the project on time and we sent the translation to the customer, keen to know their reaction. Generally speaking, no news is good news. But in this case, the feedback couldn’t have been better.
Our customer congratulated us from Japan. This rarely happens, and it came as a welcome surprise. It felt like we had come top of the class!
(“Very good translation. Thank you and your team for the support extended. We really appreciate it” HP Project Manager for APJ Customer Centre).
The time and effort we invested in this project was completely worth it. We nailed it! The process we used and the team we chose were the best. Obviously, as far as Japanese translations are concerned, you can’t cut corners either on the budget or the time it takes. For us, at LocalizationLab, praise like this is invaluable because the Japanese market requires gold-standard translations. Since then, we have continued doing regular translations for this customer based on the same high-quality standards. When working with the Japanese market, you must always stay on the ball to keep producing gold-standard Japanese translations.
Japan is the third largest economy in the world, and at some point you might well think about breaking into the Japanese market to gain international reach.
If you ever require Japanese translations, bear in mind that the only possible outcome is a gold-standard outcome. We’re here to help.