Game to test kanji trivia

Here's a cool Flash game called "Verbatim" that tests your ability to read obscure kanji compounds and English words (I did best at that). After the time is up, it creates a mecha-robot for you. The more you got right, the cooler your robo.

Who in the heck uses half-width alphanumeric input?

If you write Japanese, you'll be familiar with using a front-end-processor (FEP) to input Japanese text. On Windows, this is typically the IME. IME lets you choose between various "input methods": direct input (normal keyboard typing), hiragana (which can be converted to kanji as needed), katakana, and so on. With the exception of direct input, […]

Funny errors in Japanese

I recently bought the book いいまちがい (Japanese Made Funny), a bilingual collection of funny errors made by foreigners speaking Japanese. One of my favorites was a guy who wanted a hamburger with no ketchup or other condiments. He calls up his Japanese friend, and asks him how to say "plain" in Japanese. The friend tells […]

Point on the graph: direct-client rates for J2E translation

A job offer was recently posted to the Honyaku mailing list, looking for a translator for a book by a Japanese researcher into English. The offered rate was ¥7,600 per 200 English words. That works out to ¥38 per word, or according to the XE.com Universal Currency Converter, US $0.42/word at today's exchange rate (31 […]

Yet to feel effects of recession

Living in a sleepy Okinawan town, and dealing with clients 1,000 miles or more away, it's hard for me to get a gut-level sense of what this recession will mean for my Japanese-to-English translation business, and for the J2E translation industry as a whole. So far, I haven't felt any ill effects from the recession. […]

Localization: Just “translating the words” doesn’t cut it

This month I've been getting ready to make the trip to IJET-20 in Sydney, Australia. I booked my flight to Australia online via Jetstar. Using amazing high-tech IP-geolocation techniques, Jetstar figured out that I was in Japan and decided to treat me to its Japanese-language site. Fair enough; but if you're going to foist off […]

Serendipitous misinterpretations of English loanwords in Japanese

This is probably going to give me away as a hopeless language geek (I'd been hiding it so well until now, too!), but I find it fascinating when language speakers borrow a word from another language, and due to insufficient understanding of the loaning language misinterpret it — but in a way that makes sense. […]

Ministry of Kitchen Sinks

A lot of Japanese government agencies have English names that are more … descriptive … than the Japanese. Probably the worst offender is the 文部科学省, which has the quite unwieldy official translation of Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. This is a real pain when you're constrained for space, such as when translating […]

Translating “gamen” into English

Japanese uses the word 画面 (gamen) in a software context in many different ways. It might refer to a window, a dialog box, a (web) page, or the computer's physical screen. The Fifth Edition of the Green Goddess gives the following translation for 画面 in a computer context: 【電算】 〔コンピューターや携帯電話などの表示面〕 a (display) screen. This, unfortunately, […]