Difficulty in Translating Japanese into English

Conference: The Asian Undergraduate Research Symposium (AURS2021)
Title: Difficulty in Translating Japanese into English
Stream: Language, Literature and Linguistics
Presentation Type: Virtual Poster Presentation
Keisuke Chida, Chuo University, Japan


There are a number of Japanese words with subtle or complex meanings, which are difficult to interpret in English. In Anime or movies with English subtitles, sometimes that translators fail to interpret such words accurately. What factors make translation so difficult? In this presentation, we will discuss three contributing factors: impossibility to correspond, context-based language, and grammatical differences. First and foremost, it is simply impossible to be compatible Japanese with English accurately. For example, お疲れ(otsukare)is one of the most commonly used expressions among Japanese people when meeting someone and leaving. But there is no equivalent meaning in English, making translation difficult. Secondly, Japanese is well-known for high-context language; everyone has concepts shared, so you do not talk about them specifically. You might see a label when you are on the train like “Please give way a seat to people who need it”. People who live in high-context culture can understand who needs a seat, so the sentence becomes concise. Last but not least, grammatical differences also make a great difference when translating. Japanese does not have articles, future tense or plural nouns; therefore, translators have to interpret if the meaning works as in Japanese. On top of that, Japanese has many pronouns, each of them is slightly different depending on the situation even referring to the same person. This presentation seeks to provide a good understanding of Japanese unique expressions.

Virtual Presentation

Virtual Poster Presentation


Conference Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Presentation