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The Top 7 Challenges In Japanese Language Translation

Posted by Ethan N. on April 25, 2023.

Japanese is an East Asian language that shares some similarities with Korean, Ainu, Austroasiatic, and Altaic, though these similarities are not often acknowledged. With more than 150 million speakers around the world, there is an increasing need for Japanese language translation, together with the correlated challenges. 

Let’s look at the difficulties we can overcome while dealing with Japanese translation services and some tips to overcome them.

1. Complex Kanji Writing Style

The three character alphabets Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji are used to write the Japanese language. Japanese daily life frequently uses the logographic-based writing system known as Kanji, which is based on Chinese characters. Meanwhile, both Hiragana and Katakana are phonetic characters, with Katakana being used for all foreign-language words. 

Kanji, an extremely difficult writing system, contains intricate characters and ideas. Different writing strokes are used in Kanji instead of characters to convey meaning. With a few extra characters that are almost ever used, it has more than 2,000 characters. The Japanese language translation is incredibly challenging to handle due to the sheer number of characters.

Our best pieces of advice to read and understand Kanji writing for every linguistic are to learn the baby-sketch-like Kanji symbols, utilize visual cues or clues, and take advantage of word mnemonics.


2. Cultural Nuances in Japanese Translation


Japan has a diverse population of cultures, and Japanese people may express their culture in their language more than people from most other civilizations. Japanese language translations are made more difficult by this. You may need to split each statement into smaller chunks in order to identify the subtle cultural differences and finally translate them accurately.

Japanese translators must thoroughly understand both the language and the culture in order to convey all these hidden meanings and cultural nuances. With the help of our native Japanese translators, GTE Localize conducts Japanese translation with care, confident that you won’t be troubled by the language’s intricacies or jargon.


3. Plural Nouns in Japanese Language Translation

In Japanese, there is no distinction between singular and plural forms. Japanese learning and translation are challenging tasks since learners and translators must rely on the context of the words in order to determine whether a word is singular or plural. Additionally, because plural nouns are ambiguous, it is impossible to verify the justifications for counting pronouns and adjectives.

Modifying the noun with a number of suffixes or using the counters can be suitable options when working on plural nouns of Japanese language translation.


4. Pronoun Choices 

Pronoun ambiguity was already common in Japanese before it spread to other languages. This is due to the fact that general allusions rather than particular genders are frequently employed in Japanese, making it unclear what gender the speaker is. It needs a skilled translator to be able to discover the appropriate terms for Japanese translation because English doesn’t have the same sort of non-gendered language.


5. The Placements Of Subjects And Verbs

Japanese has several grammar conventions and dialects that are less well-known than those of other languages, particularly when it comes to subjects and verbs.

In contrast to Japanese, where verbs are put at the conclusion of the phrase, English sentences begin with subjects and verbs. Additionally, as topics in Japanese are commonly comprehended, readers must comprehend the subject of the sentence as a whole.

To have a successful Japanese language translation, linguistics should understand clearly the grammar and learn how Japanese word order can vary. 


6. Complicated Honorifics


Honorifics are one of the most often-used grammatical features in Japanese. Since there is no exact counterpart in English, it may be challenging for a non-native speaker to comprehend completely. And since there is a more official style of communicating in English, you don’t always address your friends and relatives the same way you address your employer. But formality is highly ingrained in Japanese society and, consequently, in the Japanese language translation as well. 

For instance, when speaking to someone you find lovable (-chan), such as small children, close friends, or even grandparents, you employ the honorific suffix. Someone who has mastered a particular field of study, such as a teacher, doctor, lawyer, musician, or martial artist, is denoted with a distinct suffix (-sensei).


7. Various Tenses in Japanese 

Did you know that, unlike English, the Japanese language lacks both a future tense and any perfect tenses? There are just two tenses used in Japanese, the present tense and the past tense, making them considerably easier to manage. But unlike English speakers, there are certain peculiar rules for tenses in Japanese that are rather distinct. In other words, it would be difficult for a non-native speaker to understand that the present and future would be discussed using the same tense, leading to the big challenge when handling Japanese language translation.

Particularly in verb conjugations, auxiliary verbs, and postpositional particles are significant components of the Japanese language. This is due to the fact that auxiliary verbs that attach to verbs are used in Japanese to convey tenses. In order to master Japanese tenses with new rules, forget about how you formed tenses in English (I do, I will do, I did, I have done, I had done, etc.).

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In short

Without questions, working on Japanese language translation is challenging for someone who is not a native speaker. Putting aside the fact that it uses three separate alphabets, Japanese is a highly contextual language that honors the Japanese culture as a whole. It also comes as no surprise that there are several difficulties in translating Japanese into other languages and significant disparities in sentence structure and syntax.

So, you should hunt for a subject matter expert who is aware of all the language’s difficulties and offers you flawless translation if you want to acquire trustworthy outcomes. With a pool of native Japanese speakers who are experts in multiple industries, GTE Localize can offer you cutting-edge and high-quality Japanese translation services at competitive prices with a quick turnaround.


Contact us now to get a free test and receive the best quote!