Tokyo’s Toshima-ku district, like most metropolitan municipalities, provides an automated Japanese to English machine translation service on its website. Click on the English option, and you are warned ‘content may not be 100% accurate’. If you then click on ‘Procedures and Notifications’ (so far so good), the eye is immediately drawn to this link: ‘Information […]
Proverbs are windows into a country’s culture, illustrating its history and its mores. But although the sentiments expressed in proverbs are often universal, context and imagery can be culturally-specific, and require careful translating. Otherwise, a proverb-heavy Japanese conversation might end up like this in English: A: I’m thinking of buying my husband an expensive painting.
The opening of the first new KitKat factory in Japan for 26 years made global news earlier this summer. The snack is now Japan’s biggest selling chocolate brand and a cultural phenomenon. But how did this British-born treat get its big break in Japan – a country not short of its own confectionery? Well, it […]
In translation, sometimes even the simplest looking words can be a more than a shade tricky. For example, if you look up the word blue in Japanese, you might be confused to find it means not only blue and green, but also white, grey and black depending on the context. The grass is always bluer […]
People assume Japanese is a difficult language, but just how difficult is Japanese? Well it is hard to learn and translate, but not just in the way people typically think. They usually have in mind the task of learning thousands of kanji characters (not to mention the two phonetic writing systems, hiragana and katakana). In […]
Transcreation, the creative adaptation of marketing and branding, is rarely easy. But one of the trickiest tasks can be adapting a name for a foreign market. Let’s take a close look at how three Japanese brands chose a name for the UK market. Yakult: German, Japanese… or Esperanto?! From autumn 2016, people in the UK […]