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Japanese & English Language Translation

Language conversion can be difficult so learning more about the language you are translating can help you write better documents that can give you more accuracy in your translations. 

Converting the Japanese language to and from English is easy when you use software. There are many differences in the language structure but Systran consistently delivers impressive translations for the languages.

 

Tips on Translation Japanese with Software

Japanese Characters (Symbols / Fonts)

There are a number of different systems of writing Japanese. You will hear the term "Kanji fonts" used a lot when related to translating Japanese because you'll need these fonts to see the correct Japanese characters. If you do not have the correct fonts you will see text that looks like small boxes and question marks.

You should be familiar with the Japanese Characters

  • hiragana onsists of 48 syllables, it is a phonetic alphabet where each alphabetic combination represents just a single sound. Therefore any Japanese word can be written in a way that can be read without having to remember how the word is pronounced.
  • Kanji are Chinese characters adapted to write more modern Japanese, they are used to write: nouns, stems of adjectives, verbs and Japanese names.
  • Katakana is used for foreign words in general, for example words like McDonalds.
  • Rōmaji are Roman characters, used to write numbers, international units of measurement and acronyms.

When reading Japanese with your computer you will need Kanji fonts. Kanji is based on the Chinese writing system and includes over 2000 signs or symbols. Even native Japanese speakers spend years learning all the symbols. Even though it can seem difficult the reason Kanji is popular is because it simplifies the older original letters used in the Japanese language. When using translating software you may need to install additional fonts for this language.

Japanese Fonts

 

Japanese Dialects

There are a dozens of different dialects throughout the four main islands and the smaller islands of Okinawa and others. The dialects are generally mutually understood but there are some regions that are so different it is not understood by other Japanese Dialect speakers. There is a standard though and translation software uses the Common Japanese Dialect. You will find movies, television and radio programs are translated using this dialect. Most people outside the Tokyo region speak the Common Dialect as well as the dialect of their region.

Gender in Japanese Language

Vocabulary can vary according to gender of the person speaking or writing. For example, the first person pronoun boku is used by a male usually in informal situations, while watashi is used by a female in informal situations and by both male and female in formal situations. 

Addressing People

Japanese has four different ways of addressing people. Kun is used for a younger man or a man of lower rank, using this can be condescending to the person so be careful.  Chan is for little children or intimate friends. San is universally used for almost anyone but children. Sama is very polite and is used when speaking to customers or VIPs.

Japanese Words

The first thing you will notice about Japanese is most words end with a vowel. This is why the pronunciation  can sound so different than English. When you are trying to pronounce Japanese remember that the individual vowel sounds are not very different from Spanish.  

 Pronunciation of Vowels

Pronunciation can be easy once you learn a few rules. For the most part, syllables consist of at most one consonant and one vowel.

There are also many Japanese words that sound like English words and can make it a little easier to learn. For example, Hai (sounds like "hi") means "yes", Ohayoo (sounds like Ohio) means "good morning". 

Now you have learned two new words and were able to correctly pronounce the vowel at the end of the word. There are five vowels, "a", "i", "u", "e", and "o".

  • "a" as in father
  • "e" as in etch
  • "o" as in rope
  • "i" as in meet
  • "u" as in cute

 

 

Verbs - You will find the language has many different word orders in a sentence but you will normally find the verb at the end of a sentence. Verbs are conjugated (joined together) to show tenses, for example, past and present. 

Adjectives are inflected to show the present, past, affirmative and negative. 

Nouns - in general nouns do not have a number (plural or singular) or a gender. For example the word. For example the word hon (book) in Japanese can be used for both singular and plural. So words in this language do not have a distinction between singular and plural. There are some native words though that can be indicated by reduplication. 

You may learn more about the language and tips for translating on our Japanese Translation page.

 

Systran’s translation software and Japanese Language

You can easily customize the Japanese translation by training the software to recognize different words by building your own custom dictionaries and building translation memory.

See all Japanese Translation Software

 

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