Translating maru batsu into English

Japanese has a very handy shorthand for rating things:

symbol pronunciation meaning
nijuu maru excellent
maru good
sankaku fair
× batsu poor

I avoid using these symbols in my English translations. Even if a legend is included, I think they're too "foreign" to be easily understood by non-Japanese speakers.

The "translations" I use depend on the context. If the full range of symbols is used for ratings, I often go with the letters E, G, N, and U, with a legend:

Topic Rating
Does not run in hallway E
Lines up after recess G
Raises hand before speaking N
Follows instructions U

E: Excellent; G: Good; N: Needs improvement; U: Unsatisfactory

Other alternatives are numerical rankings (3/2/1/0) and letters (A/B/C/D), also with appropriate legends.

If it's something like a list of features, where the Japanese would use 〇 for "feature supported" and × for "feature not supported," my preference would be to use checkmarks for the supported feature, and leave the unsupported feature blank.

Feature Viking LiteTM Viking PROTM
Spam
Eggs
Bacon  
Beans  

In something like a matrix with 〇/×, I'll often go with a green check for 〇, and a red X for ×:

  sprockets cogs wing nuts
crank
spin
wobble

2 comments to Translating maru batsu into English

  • Consumer Reports has its red-dot/black-dot system, which is actually pretty smart because they can show a huge matrix of product x feature evaluations and you can take it all in in aggregate, or focus on one line. Otherwise I’d agree on check/x.

  • I like the Consumer Reports style. It kind of distills the feature matrix to its essence. When you’ve got a bit more space, however, the visual cues of check-marks and such can be valuable.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>