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Re: Translation Difficulties

February 6 2013 at 10:33 PM
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John Melmoth  (no login)
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Response to Translation Difficulties


Yes, I have gone over this before on this forum.

Ya pays yer money & ya takes yer chances re those translations...I have not seen any good JPN materials translated properly by any but JPN citizens, and best of all, veterans. Though there are certainly JPN scholars at work with excellent English-language skills. There's a guy at a university in Singapore, for example, who has done some fabulous research & his English is just fine. On the other hand, one of my connections who is an IJN expert (in a specialized field), teaching in Japan as a professor, and who has provided some wonderful material for me, does not have those language skills really.

The saving grace--if there is such--may be that operational military records are much simpler to decipher, say, than a personal account by an individual participant who may have good reasons to shade or color his memories, etc. That is, if the sentence merely says, "On Sept 21, 1943 we spotted such-and-such a ship at a distance of 15,000 meters. We fired 10 rounds of 20cm shells at it..." that's not too problematic.
If it is an account of the intimate workings of the Imperial Army & Navy's innermost cabals as they plotted & struggled with warplans, in which each player had a strong "territiorial imperative" of his own, and you're trying to understand these turf wars which had fabulous subtleties involving everything from personality clashes to financial schemes to profound clan loyalties (or, in some cases, even familial issues), then every bloody little nuance in the translation becomes critical.

Nonetheless, it's one thing to get translations for 15-20$ per page and find them to be of mediocre quality. It's quite another to be spending 35-40$ per page* and discover that the work is not satisfactory. I simply could not afford that.


* I am told that professional translators in large corporate jobs or something such as the aviation industry get even higher rates; perhaps twice as much again!

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