Dec 23, 2015

ATA 2015: Skills and Strategies for Deciphering Handwritten Japanese Documents

ATA 56th Annual Conference Session J-6
Saturday, Nov 07, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Session summary by
Paul Koehler

A session on how to decipher difficult-to-read handwriting in Japanese was given by Dr. Mariko Okada, an associate professor at J.F. Oberlin University in Tokyo, and ATA (American Translators Association) Japanese Language Assistant Administrator Yoshihiro Mochizuki, a lecturer of Japanese at the University of Michigan.

Several examples of difficult-to-read letters and correspondence in Japanese were given in order to show how relevant the handwritten style is to translators in the present day. A brief history of the evolution of the Japanese language was given. In particular, emphasis was given on the origins of hiragana and how the standardization of those characters reached its most current form only in 1900. As such, there are examples of handwritten documents that are very difficult to read due to changes in the characters over the years. Two terms used for these changes are変体がな (hentaigana) and くずし字崩し字 (kuzushiji). Technically speaking, くずし字 is the umbrella term for any cursive style (including kanji) and 変体がな are a variety of different kana that stem from different kanji (字母).

The second half of the session was dedicated to a workshop where participants broke up into four groups and attempted to decipher difficult documents, with the assistance of handouts and guidance by Okada and Mochizuki. This session helped shed light on how to deal with such documents, which are a problem for translators regardless of whether they are native English or native Japanese translators.

(Added 2016.01.07)
源氏物語から蕎麦屋の看板までマスター 変体仮名あぷり・The Hentaigana App 早大・UCLAで共同開発(早稲田大学,2015/11/2)

Kuzushiji Dictionaries
児玉幸多『くずし字用例辞典』東京堂出版, 1993.
児玉幸多『くずし字解読辞典』東京堂出版, 1993. 
高田竹山監修『五体字類』西東書房, 2001.

Self-Study Materials
O’Neill, P.G., 1984. A Reader of Handwritten Japanese, Tokyo: Kodansha International. 
菅野俊輔『書いておぼえる江戸のくずし字いろは入門』柏書房, 2006.
中野三敏『くずし字で「百人一首」を楽しむ』角川学芸出版, 2011.

変体仮名あぷり iPhone/Android

Dec 16, 2015

ATA 2015: The Japanese-English Interpreter's Panel

ATA 56th Annual Conference Session J-8
Saturday, Nov 07, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Summary by
Tyler Miller

There were many things to take away from the entertaining and informative Japanese/English Interpreters Panel at the Miami ATA conference.  The four presenters, Ms. Izumi Suzuki, Mr. Hiro Tsuchiya, Mr. James Patrick, and Mr. Paul Koehler each provided different perspectives on not only on the ever-changing world of Japanese/English interpretation but also the nebulous role that an interpreter can sometimes play in that world. Each presenter brought their differing views on some of the challenges faced by interpreters as well. 

Dec 6, 2015

How Many Words or Characters Can You Translate in a Day?

by Paul Koehler

Out of all the questions that translators are asked while doing their jobs, there is one that pops up with regular frequency and needs to be answered, even if the answer is not as simple as many people may think.
How many words or characters can you translate in a day?

Dec 2, 2015

ATA 2015: Challenges of Literary Translation: Finding your Voice

ATA 56th Annual Conference Session J-4
Friday, Nov 06, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Summary by
Patricia Pringle

Juliet Winters Carpenter shared with us the various types of challenges and choices she faces as she translates Japanese literary works. She gave us some idea of the complexities of translating another's words while expressing a voice that is compelling for English readers and retains the flavor of the original. When is a translation too free? What do you do with specific cultural references? Can you leave things out? Can you add things? What about explanatory notes?

Nov 27, 2015

ATA 2015: Deposition Interpreting Workshop

ATA 56th Annual Conference Session J3
Thursday, Nov 05, 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM

Session Summary by
Miyako Okamoto

Izumi Suzuki started her workshop by asking the attendees’ preferred language, Japanese or English. Then she asked how many have ever interpreted in deposition. She saw only few hands and decided to give basic level of workshop. Basic does not always mean easy. All of the attendees were on the hot seat trying to provide accurate interpreting of a video-taped sample case, TRZ vs Max Mutual Insurance. Here is the brief summary of what we learned.

Nov 18, 2015

ATA 2015: “Two Roads Diverged…”: Making Good Choices in Japanese-into-English Translation

ATA 56th Annual Conference Session J2
Thursday, Nov 05, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Session Summary by
Drew Fernando

As you probably already guessed by the allusion to the famous poem by Robert Frost, Session J-2 dealt with choosing between the possible options when translating from Japanese into English. It was presented by Professor James (Jim) Davis, director of the Technical Japanese Program in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s College of Engineering.

Nov 16, 2015

ATA 2015: Wrapping up Miami

It has already been over a week since our colleagues headed home from the ATA’s 56th Annual Conference in Miami full of new ideas and inspiration, wads of business cards, and hopefully some deeper business relationships. This was an election year for the JLD, and I feel privileged to write this post as your new Administrator and on behalf of Yoshihiro Mochizuki, who will be the new Assistant Administrator for the next two years.

We are grateful to Jim Patrick for his work on the Leadership Council of the JLD since 2011. 

Oct 13, 2015


--Request practice passage
J-5: Japanese<>English Certification Workshop
Friday, November 6, 3:30pm-4:30pm

If you are planning to participate in the Japanese<>English Certification Workshop, please obtain and translate a practice passage in advance. It is vital that translations be completed in advance in order to receive full benefit from the workshop.

J>E passages can be obtained from David Newby

E>J passages can be obtained from Miyo Tat

Oct 3, 2015

JLD Annual Networking Dinner

RSVP by October 19

Please join us for the 2015 JLD Annual Networking Dinner in Miami during ATA56! Enjoy conversation with colleagues over a light dinner of tacos and margaritas at lovely Rosa Mexicano in Mary Brickell Village, just a half-mile walk or a quick Metromover ride from the conference venue! Bring your spouse and other guests.

Sep 17, 2015

How Time Flies! Getting Ready for ATA 56 in Miami

Where did the time go?

Get ready for the 56th Annual American Translators conference in Miami! We hope to see you there.

Miami, Florida
November 4-7, 2015

Japanese and Japanese Related Sessions

We plan to have the JLD Newcomers Lunch (details TBD), and we of course hope you can join us at the JLD Annual Networking Dinner on November 6th. There is also an opportunity to tour the Golf Channel Studio in Orlando (organized by their Japan Operations). See the details after the jump.

Jun 28, 2015

Words and 言葉 by Jim Davis

This month we continue with Professor Davis' series of examples illustrating how context provides essential information that can assist the Japanese-into-English translator in producing a translation that is complete, accurate, and natural sounding. In this installment: Example 7 - reaching for specific vs. general; and Example 7 - wanting to maintain vs. improve.

May 10, 2015

ATA 2014: Minutes of JLD Annual Meeting

The minutes of our Annual Meeting at the ATA conference are now available.
(More after the break....)

Feb 24, 2015

Words and 言葉 by Jim Davis

Taken Out of Context:
The Importance of Context in Japanese-into-English Translation
(Part 3)

This month we continue with Professor Davis' series of examples illustrating how context provides essential information that can assist the Japanese-into-English translator in producing a translation that is complete, accurate, and natural sounding. In this installment: Example 5 - unraveling sense (感) and sensation; and Example 6 - awareness of loanwords and false friends.

Feb 1, 2015

Who’s Who in the JLD — Jim Patrick

Jim Patrick has been the Administrator of the JLD since 2013. Intrigued by the bio he submitted prior to the 2013 election, I decided to interview him. I have enjoyed learning more about Jim, and am pleased to share my new-found knowledge with the JLD membership.

利き手: Connie Prener

Translation training opportunity in Kanagawa

Nadine and I recently received this information from Fred Uleman about an upcoming translation training opportunity in Japan. See below for details. -Jim, JLD Admin

Translation Reboot Camp
The Translation Reboot Camp is an opportunity to learn from some of the very best in the J->E translation business in a concentrated series of workshops using field-specific material to provide broadly applicable insights. The small numbers, fantastic student:instructor ratio, and residential format with everyone (students and instructors alike) staying at the seminar facility ensure abundant problem-solving and discussion. If you already have some real-life J-E translation experience and want to improve your game, this is for you.
Participation is limited to twenty students.
Tony Atkinson, Sarah Bull, Helen Iwata, Ginny Takemori, Fred Uleman, and Richard Walker, each of whom will each lead a workshop in a specialty area and all of whom will provide advice on productivity enhancement, business practices, and more in an informal, personalized setting.
Starts on Friday evening (April 10), ends by noon on Sunday (April 12)
Shonan Village Center seminar facility in Hayama, Kanagawa
JPY100,000/person (includes single-room accommodations for two nights, five meals, and workshop materials; does not include transportation to and from the venue)
While we hope to repeat this initiative, including in the E->J direction, we cannot promise. If you are interested, sign up for this trail-blazing first one.
To register:
Registration starts when you complete the application form (available from rc[at] and return it by March 15 at latest. Because we expect more applicants than we can accept, there will be a selection process and you will be notified by March 23. If you are accepted, you should please remit payment to the designated account by March 31. Failure to remit by that date will mean forfeiting your place, which will go to someone else.
Please address questions to rc[at]