Whether you are looking for a Japanese translation for something technical, legal or medical, or simply a letter, we can help you.

Lingua Translations is well known for its quality-driven Japanese translation services.

We will equip you with knowledge and methods, enabling you to communicate in the correct written form of Japanese, so can reach your target audience with ease and confidence.

We offer a professional Japanese to English and English to Japanese language translation service. Here is some information which you will find useful as the Arabic language is full of interesting facts and essential tips when  you are looking to communicate effectively in Japan.

Location: East Asia
Population: 128 million
Language Family: Japonic
Related Languages: Languages spoken in the Ryukyu Islands
Number of Global Speakers: Around 128 million as native speakers

About Japanese

Japan is the world’s third largest economy and ranks second in the 2013 Global Wealth Report, meaning that it represents a multitude of opportunities for foreign trade and investment and of course, emphasises the need for professional Japanese translation services.

Many big UK multinationals already have a strong foothold in Japanese markets, for example HSBC, Rolls Royce and Barclays. The country is one of the world’s largest exporters and overseas investors. In sectors such as manufacturing, consumer goods, technology and service, British companies are gaining ground in Japan and they can use business in Japan as a stepping stone into other Asian markets. UK exports to Japan were worth £9.4 billion in 2012, particularly in the sectors of machinery and mechanical appliances and chemicals and pharmaceutical products. There is therefore a booming translation industry as all kinds of business documents, legal documents and correspondence have to be translated from and into Japanese.

Japan also has a long-standing and world-renowned entertainment industry and the translation of anime (animation), manga (graphic novels) and video games has always been in high demand. Because Japan is so culturally different to most English-speaking countries, localisation (or adaptation of content to conform to the cultural expectations of target markets) is needed alongside translation to enable these forms of entertainment to appeal to foreign markets.

However, a large percentage of documents translated into English from Japanese are in fact done by a native Japanese speaker, due to the paucity of translators operating from Japanese into English. However, no matter how adept they are at the English language, Japanese non-native speaker will never produce as natural and professional a translation as an English native speaker. At best, parts of the translation might sound unnatural, and at worst it may make even less sense than a machine translation! At Lingua Translations, we only use in-country professionals who translate into their own native language, as this is the only way that a nuanced, high-quality and completely accurate product can be assured.

Dialects of Japanese

There is now a Standard Japanese as a result of government efforts to standardise the language in the late 19th century. This is the language of the media, communications and education. However, for daily spoken communication, there are still many dialects of Japanese which is a result of the country’s geographical situation and history. Its mountainous terrain meant that historically, communities within the country were cut off from one another and Japan was, for a long time, isolated from the outside world. This meant that idiosyncrasies of the language developed in each community, resulting in the formation of dialects.

These dialects can be mainly divided into ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ dialects, where divergences emerge in both language and culture. The ‘Eastern’ dialect group includes the dialect spoken in Tokyo (by about 12 million people), while the ‘Western’ group includes the Japanese islands of Kyoto and Osaka, among other cities. They differ in various ways, for example accent, vocabulary and grammar. Although usually these dialects are mutually intelligible, some dialects from peripheral regions of Japan may not be easily understood by speakers from other regions.

Loanwords in Japanese

Japanese has a long history of borrowing words from other languages. They have two different names for loan words depending on the origin of the word:

kango (漢語) is used for words borrowed from Chinese, and gairaigo (外来語) for words coming from a foreign countries other than China (primarily from English-speaking countries).

Remember, these are written in the katakana script used for transliterations of foreign words and concepts!

Here are some examples of English gairaigo in Japanese:

konpyūta (コンピュータ) for computer

depāto (デパート) for department store

happīendo (ハッピーエンド) for a happy ending

They don’t look that similar to the English word because they are pronounced differently according to Japanese pronunciation and syllable rules, but they come from the English original.

Differences between Japanese and English

There is a considerable difference in Japanese and English grammar and sentence structure. For example:

There are no plural forms of words in Japanese, for example “this vs. these” or “his vs. their”.

Japanese does not have prepositions, but small words called “particles” that indicate the relation of words within a sentence. Some can be compared to English prepositions, but others can’t. There are 188 particles.

Japanese doesn’t have a future tense, which can be very problematic if the context does not explicitly state whether you are dealing with present or future.

Japanese has no definite/indefinite articles, which can lead to significant ambiguity when translating into English. For example, a word like “man” could be translated as “the man”, “a man”, “the men” or “men”.

Japanese sentences follow a subject-object-verb word order “I it do” rather than subject-verb-object “I do it”, like English. This means that sentences have to be radically altered when translating.

Because of the radical differences in sentence structure, many Japanese translators believe that it is better to translate on a sentence-by-sentence, rather than word-by-word, basis. This way, the meaning of the sentence will be transferred without the translator being bogged down trying to literally translate individual words.

There are no spaces between letters or words in Japanese