Translation is generally suitable for communicating facts. Creative adaptation is often more effective in communicating your ideas. If you need effective marketing materials or a strong proposal written in Japanese, the contents should be customized for your target audience. It may not be a good idea to use materials that have been simply translated from English. Translators focus on the accuracy of the information rendered in the target language. Their job is to inform the readers of what has been said in the original document, without omissions or embellishment. While this approach generally works well in legal and technical situations, the words and expressions used in the original documents often lose their effectiveness when they are translated into a different language.
What your Japanese customers want to see may not be what you are showing them. If you randomly browse Japanese business Websites, you will immediately notice that their visual images are clearly different from those of their American counterparts. You may feel unfamiliar, even uncomfortable, with what you see, but these images are what your Japanese customers and clients are accustomed to. In the same manner, your Japanese customers and clients may feel somewhat uncomfortable when viewing your regular business materials.
The vast majority of translators have never been trained as professional writers. It may be hard to believe, but it’s true. Most translators are doing their jobs simply because they can read a foreign language. Translation schools teach their students how to translate correctly, but they don’t teach them how to write effectively in the target language. Remember, the job of a translator is to simply relay information from the original language to the target language. Translators are not allowed to modify the original contents, and they have not been trained sufficiently as copywriters. If you need a natural, readable, and effective text for your target audience, you may want to consider copywriting instead of translation.
Informal, nontechnical, colloquial, and short expressions are generally the most difficult to translate effectively. For a Shakespearian scholar at a Japanese college, it may be impossible to understand what “hamburger to go” means. After studying Japanese for 10 years, an American may not understand why Japanese grownups visit homes of others to “play.” Even though you have ensured correct, accurate, and reliable translation of your original document, these cultural issues may not have been fully resolved in the target language.
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