Is a good translation one that follows the original text to the letter? Or is it something more than that? Just how much work goes into producing a translation that sounds not only good, but is appropriate to be released to the public? In the coming weeks I want to continue tackling issues that translators face which may not be obvious to the average reader.

Language is not like a math problem. To those who study language, there is no one solution that works out neatly and perfectly. No two translators’ final products will look the same, which as a checker and editor can make things really fun sometimes. Looking at a Japanese sentence and then seeing what turns of phrase our talented translators come up with is really incredible and makes me proud to work at Renta!

Scene from A Windflower Embroidery (Anemone no Shishuu)
Author: mm

Despite the name, it’s not even like a programming language, where you type in exactly what you want and the computer will do exactly what you input. It’s fluid. It’s alive. It’s weird and ambiguous and magic. Language is like a very strange jigsaw puzzle, where you have all the same starting pieces, but anyone can put them together to make a very different result.  Every translator has their own strengths and weaknesses, making the final product blurry in some configurations and clearer in others. That’s why there’s value in having multiple translations of the same source, and why we have a policy of having the translation go through multiple pairs of eyes before it goes live. Everyone has a different approach, and the combination of different people with different styles working together will lead to a stronger final product.

That’s what makes language so interesting for me to use, and so fun to talk about. I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts soon!

Update: Check out the next part here! What Makes a Good Translation? Part 1 – Remembering the Audience