|Translating to Japanese poses several challenges. The information provided here is designed to assist you when preparing to translate content to Japanese. Note that written Japanese has one standard form, while spoken Japanese has multiple dialects, although the standard Tokyo dialect is used and understood throughout the country.
When translating to Japanese, it is important to ensure that the translator currently resides in Japan. The Japanese language changes very quickly; new words enter at an amazing rate (as loan words from other languages or as new words created by combining or abbreviating existing terms). Also, the audience is important; both structure and vocabulary are different depending on for whom one is writing. Key to the Japanese translation process is a good audience description.
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Japanese Population: 127 million people in the world speak Japanese. 61% of these have access to the internet.
Japanese Search engines: http://search.interconnect.co.jp/, http://www.dokoda.com/, http://www.infoseek.co.jp/
Japanese Character Encodings:
Japanese Language Code: ja
Japanese Charset: shift-jis
Geographical Location: Japan.
Japanese Literacy Rate: 99%
Japanese Dialects: Dozens of dialects exist in Japanese. These dialects differ in tone, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. Some dialects that are extremely isolated may not be intelligible to other speakers.
Japanese Currency: Japanese Yen.
Japanese Language Tips: Japanese is a subject-object-verb language. Japanese nouns do not show gender or number. Instead, additional words need to be used when these details become important. Verbs can be conjugated in two tenses, present and past. Japanese language can be used to show politeness and formality in differing degrees. Three main levels are used to show this; the plain form, the simple polite form and the advanced polite form. The degree of politeness used is based on the other person’s position (age, job, degree of familiarity etc) The differences in these forms are shown through the use of different vocabulary and verb inflections. There are 3 types of script in Japanese; kanji is used to write Chinese loanwords and some native Japanese sound combinations. The other two sets of characters are hiragana and katakana which are both based on syllables containing one or more consonants and a vowel. The Roman Alphabet is also occasionally used. Japanese-speakers use the Arabic numbering system for many things. The Japanese system is also used.
When translating a business card to Japanese: We would recommend leaving the person’s name and company name in English and Japanese script where space allows. Where a choice must be made, foreign addresses should remain in English script, Japanese addresses should be translated.