No. 15 — May 01, 1984

This is, probably, the only newsletter published anywhere in the world by and for our obscure community of Japanese technical translators. It is a completely grass-roots endeavor with no subsidies or support except that given by its readers. I have been hoping that the newsletter will evolve into a trailblazing publication which will win greater public recognition for the important role which we Japanese technical translators have to play in the area of Japanese scientific and technical information, on which increasing attention is being focused in the world today.

This issue marks the first anniversary of the newsletter (the first issue was published in late May, 1983). Your current "subscriptions" are for the one year from May, 1983 through this issue. I will publish one more issue of the newsletter in June and will then reassess my plans. Readers should send in their comments or suggestions about this.

One possibility which I am considering is to continue publication of the newsletter in its present format for periods of only 6 months, reassessing plans after each 6-month period. In that case readers would pay for 6-month periods instead of a whole year. Another possibility is to scale down the scope of the newsletter and aim it exclusively at only one readership: J-E technical translators. In that case, it would deal only with narrowly-defined questions of direct interest to translators, such as word lists and dictionaries, readers' questions and correspondence. The newsletter would be smaller in scope, would have fewer articles (and probably fewer readers), and could be published irregularly, instead of every month.

The editor's burden could be lightened if readers would volunteer to write one or two articles a month, with the editor supplying them with the raw material (Japanese-language press clippings, reference material, etc.) Volunteers should write me giving details of when they will be available and what they can do to help.

The June, 1984 issue may possibly be a retrospective issue and will contain the decision about the future of the newsletter.

The following two readers have kindly volunteered to reproduce the newsletter and distribute it to other readers in their countries:

Mr. John M. Shields, BEC Service, C.P.O. 42, Nagoya 450, Japan

Mr. F.R.D. Apps, 57 High Street, Ingatestone, Essex CM4 OAT, England

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by Donald L. Philippi

Q: My guest for this interview is Hannah Feneron, the Executive Director of Leo Kanner Associates, a translation agency in Redwood City, California. I have known Hannah for almost 10 years. One thing about you which interested me was your background in classical languages: Latin and Greek. How many classical and modern languages have you studied, and is Japanese among them?

A: I have studied only Latin and Greek, among the classical languages. My major Western languages are Italian and French, and I can read Spanish and Portuguese moderately well, German slightly less well. I studied Russian for three years in high school, but I no longer use it. About four years ago, I thought it was time to go back to school and decided to study Japanese. I took an intensive course in Japanese for a year and a half and then private lessons for another six months. Recently my work has kept me from further study, but I intend to go back to it. I think it is almost mandatory these days for a translation agency administrator to be somewhat familiar with Japanese.

Q: How did your involvement with LKA start, and what is the meaning of your title of Executive Director?

A: I began working at LKA in 1971 as a freelance translator and typist. Since my background was in the humanities, at first I did very little translation work and typed a lot. In fact, I remember typing a job of yours years ago. It was so beautifully done I typed the whole 90 pages in one day. The typing gave me a good chance to look at the work of some very fine technical translators, and this helped me enormously in my own first efforts at translation. Eventually I began to specialize in chemistry, medicine, and ultimately also aeronautics and military subjects. I also began to do some editing and administrative tasks at LKA. After a three-year sabbatical in Canada (1975-77), the company offered me my present position, which involves supervising a staff of 2 full-time workers and approximately 100 translators. I also do most of the government contract bidding and management, and I am involved to a small degree in the simultaneous interpretation service offered by our sister company, Kanner Language Systems.

Q: What percentage of your agency's jobs come from the government?

A: Right now about 60–70% is from the government, and the rest is from private industry. Private industry translations are almost invariably Japanese to English or German to English, and the Japanese translations that we get from private industry are, again, almost invariably patents. Two important fields I can think of that both the government and the private sector are interested in are polymer chemistry and electronics, and I would advise budding translators to study those fields.

Q: How many words a year do you think an agency would handle?

A: For all languages, I believe our agency translates about 20 million words a year.

Q: About what percentage of your work is from Japanese?

A: Japanese-to-English work has been increasing every year since I started my present job. I would say right now it's about 30–35% of the total volume. We currently have about ten Japanese translators. Russian, German, and Japanese are the largest volume languages, in that order.

Q: Tell me about some of the problems which you face in dealing with Japanese translations.

A: One problem is always pricing of Japanese translations. Since we work a great deal with the government, we have to be the lowest bidder, and that fact is sometimes unfair to the Japanese translator. Government work pays less than commercial work, and yet is just as technical, if not more so. The government has a clause in most of its bids which essentially precludes an agency from structuring its prices in an "unbalanced fashion," so that the prices for Asian languages may not be substantially higher than for Western languages. I feel that this is a constraint on the agency because it forces us to pay quite low rates to the Japanese translators. We pay in the range of $30 to $50 per thousand. (The pay differential between Asian and Western languages is about 30%.)

Another major problem is that of getting feedback for the translator, either from somebody else at the agency, such as an editor, or from a client. My Japanese is not good enough to solve a translator's doubts in any given job, and if the translator and subject editor can't solve them, we have no recourse but to send the doubts along with the translation to the client. Getting feedback from the government is virtually impossible. I know that most of the government agencies have their own in-house translators, many of them with a great deal of experience in the subject matter. But these translators don't have the time to give us any kind of feedback or helpful hints. Sometimes I feel as if we are working in a vacuum.

Q: How do you recruit translators?

A: Recruiting translators is not a problem for Western languages. I think we have available many more qualified translators in those languages than we can use. For Japanese, however, I use every method I can think of: advertising, word-of-mouth, etc. I find it discouraging that most of the applicants seem to have very little skill in technical translation. I don't know if that is a function of the prices we pay, or a function of the general state of Japanese translation in the Bay Area.

Q: There is an imbalance?

A: I would consider hiring only one out of every eight or ten applicants for J-E technical translation. I have a whole roomful of applications for French and Spanish, but there isn't very much technical translation to be done into English from those languages. In Japanese, there is always more work than there are qualified translators.

Q: How do you evaluate applications?

A: I usually give the applicant a test translation. After 13 years in the business, I can tell just by reading their English version if their test translation is really awful. If the translation looks good to me, I will give it to one of the present translators to comment on, and in that case, about half the time the person being tested passes. There is a kind of inverted pyramid: ten applicants, nine of whose applications are thrown out immediately, and the tenth one is tested. Probably 50–70% of the tests are thrown out immediately, and of those tests that I think are good, the staff translator who then reads them throws some out. The number of new translators that we can successfully recruit is very small.

A lot of the applicants in the past few years have been native speakers of Japanese. I don't discourage them from attempting J-E translation, but my experience with the quality of their English is not usually very good.

Q: What advice would you give to a native Japanese wishing to learn J-E translation?

A: To team up with a good editor who is a native speaker of English, possibly someone who is a translator himself, not necessarily of Japanese to English. Somebody who understands the discipline.

Q: There is the method, practiced in Japan, whereby examples of translations are organized by patterns, and the translators try to simulate native English by using these patterns.

A: I tried to learn Japanese by the so-called pattern method, and I didn't find it very valuable. The theory was to build your speaking knowledge of Japanese by blocks of set phrases. This is fine if you are talking in idioms, but it breaks down when you want to extract words from those phrases and use them in other contexts. I was laughed at a lot when I tried to do this in Japan because I obviously was not using the individual words correctly, when in fact a particular phrase that I had been taught by the pattern method could be perfectly OK. That could be the pitfall of the translation method you mentioned.

Q: In any case, translating into a language which is not your native language is always more difficult. But I have recently come into contact with some native Japanese whose written English is superb, and I wonder how they learn it. I imagine it is by living in this country surrounded by Americans for a long time. Some of them are married to Americans, too.

A: We have currently three native Japanese who translate into English. I shouldn't really complain all that much, because their English is very good. As far as I know, they have all lived here for some length of time. Something that is also important when you consider technical translation is keeping up with the technical literature in your target language. I try to read, every week, two or three technical journals — whatever articles catch my eye in English, and it's amazing what tidbits you can pick up just by doing this.

Q: My way of doing that is reading Japanese trade and business newspapers. The amount of technical information they contain is truly amazing. What about training programs for translators?

A: I don't know of any translation agency in this country which has a training program for novice translators from Japanese to English. There is at least one school — the Monterey Institute of International Studies — that gives a certificate in Japanese translation, but the subject matter of their courses is strictly non-technical, as far as I know. San Francisco State University was talking a few years ago about starting a translation and interpretation program in Asian languages, but I don't know if they ever got the funding.

Q: I advocate an apprenticeship program, whereby beginning translators would be paid for learning and their work edited by more experienced translators. I say that because I think that translation can be taught only by translators, and I am skeptical about general courses taught by linguists or specialists in some other field.

A: The government agencies that procure translations don't currently have any money budgeted for this kind of program, but I think that you could pinpoint a group such as the IEEE which might be starting a large-scale translation project, approach them and tell them that there are not enough translators, and that they must provide funding for training. If that were the case, your suggestion of an apprenticeship program would work quite well, and is I think the only logical answer.

Q: What advice do you have to give to J-E translators?

A: One thing that always strikes me about Japanese translators is that many of them, even the best ones, have very little knowledge of Western technology and Western culture. I am constantly having to help out translators with Western proper names, Western company names, a lot of chemical names, trade marks, etc., many of which I am surprised they don't know. That's why I stress reading in your target language as well as your source language. People who also have a background in European languages as well as Japanese don't have this problem.

Q: Do you think there is hope about gradually improving the pricing for agency work?

A: I have been fighting to improve the price structure for years for all languages, but particularly for Japanese translation. Because I know a little of the language I feel that I can understand what difficulties the Japanese translator has to go through to produce a finished job that the translator of Western languages does not have to go through. But I can see only a gradual rise in agency prices for the next few years. Agencies like ours that work with the government a great deal are bound to contracts that are increasingly being written for threeyear periods; therefore, raises are not inevitable yearly events. I would like to see all translators treated like the professionals that they are, and paid professional wages.

Q: How has your study of Classical Languages been of assistance to you in your career?

A: I have a Master's Degree in Greek. I feel that a background in ancient languages, culture and philosophy prepared me for any career, not just teaching Latin and Greek. That may be an old-fashioned attitude, but it didn't stop me from doing what I wanted to do: working with languages. The study of Greek philosophy (Plato and Aristotle) was important. The rigorousness of the logic helps to prepare you for other careers.

Q: What are your current goals?

A: To complete the transaction whereby I am currently buying LKA, and to go back to studying Japanese. Ideally, I would like to return to college and get a degree in Japanese area studies. I would like to take advantage of the Stanford Asian Languages Department's program to learn more Japanese.

Q: I wish you continued success in your studies and your career.

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According to an article in The Japan Times of April 3, 1984, the National Technical Information Service has begun a full-scale effort to collect Japanese technical information for American manufacturers. Specifically, the NTIS has signed an agency contract with Mitsubishi Research Institute Inc. to obtain Japanese industry-published technical periodicals.

The newspaper reports that NTIS had earlier turned to the Japanese government for help in obtaining technical information from government-run research organization, but "this effort has apparently failed to produce desired results."

Thus far, more than 50 Japanese high-technology companies have agreed to provide their information periodicals to NTIS. Among them are steel, electronic, robotics, biotechnology and chemical manufacturers. NTIS intends to expand the coverage eventually to more than half of the 1,000-odd companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's first section, the newspaper reports.

NTIS, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, was set up in 1946 to serve as a central, permanent source of scientific and technical information resulting from research undertaken by and for the U.S. Government. The NTIS Foreign Technology Acquisition (FTA) program was launched in 1981 and aims at supporting U.S. industry by providing ready access to certain kinds of technical information originating outside the U.S.

NTIS operates a computerized database called NTIS Bibliographic Data File. Some 2 million pieces of technical information stored there can be retrieved by the public at computer terminals via several commercial online services (BRS, Dialog, SDC Orbit). Much of the information obtained from Japan through the Mitsubishi Research Institute will be included in the database.

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College & Research Libraries News (45, no. 4, April 1984) has an article by Carol C. Henderson, Deputy Director of the American Library Association Washington Office, about the hearings held by the House Science, Research and Technology Subcommittee March 6 and 7 to investigate the availability of Japanese scientific and technical information (STI) in the U.S.

"Japan now ranks second as a world economic power in the free world, and third in research and development spending," writes Henderson. "The collection, analysis, translation, and application of STI from all over the world has played a role in Japan's success but, according to subcommittee chairman Doug Walgren (D-PA), the U.S. does not have an adequate system for exploring technical developments in other nations and does not take advantage of scientific information available elsewhere."

At the Subcommittee hearings, collection and translation efforts currently under way, needs and problems, and the role of the federal government were discussed by representatives from government agencies (the National Technical Information Service), academic programs (MIT's Japan Science and Technology Program), and firms and organizations (Chemical Abstracts Service, Engineering Information, Inc., Xerox Corporation). Witnesses included William Budington, executive director of the John Crerar Library in Chicago, and Robert W. Gibson Jr., head of the Library Department, General Motors Research Labs in Warren, Michigan.

Gibson has identified over 9,100 pertinent Japanese sci/tech periodical titles, three-fourths of which are published only in Japanese. Only 19% of the total are available to researchers through the major Western abstracting and indexing services. Budington noted that the larger research libraries hold only a few hundred Japanese STI periodicals each; the Library of Congress with about 2,000 titles may have the largest holdings. Better information about holdings and improved procedures for obtaining copies of articles are needed.

The article continues: "It is difficult to acquire Japanese professional and technical journals and reports. Japanese scientists and engineers have relied to a much greater extent than the U.S. on oral communications, personal libraries, and in-house company and government publications, most of which are unavailable to the public. Recent developments in Japan are beginning to impose a more formal structure on information exchange and processing, however.

"The most significant problem is the scarcity of Japanese language competence teamed with technical and scientific background and understanding. There is an extreme shortage of skilled technical translators in the U.S. Finally, existing translations must be announced and disseminated. The John Crerar Library operates the National Translations Center, a depository and information clearinghouse on individual, unpublished translations. In 31 years, the Center has provided access to some 120,000 needed and requested translations, saving $50 million in duplicative translating expertise. Removal of National Science Foundation support in 1972 caused a 50 percent cut in operations and instigation of fees to cover costs. Budington admitted that the Center's fees made its services unaffordable to most of the academic community.

"On the appropriate federal role, many witnesses compared the current situation to the Sputnik crisis in the late 1950s when the U.S. had to catch up with Russian technical literature in a hurry. Suggested remedies include government support of language training, funding of translations, government cooperation in sharing translations, plus subsidizing the acquisition, announcement, and dissemination of Japanese STI."

[Thanks to Frank Joseph Shulman, East Asia Collection, McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, for sending me a copy of the article from College & Research Libraries News. - Ed.]

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Two Japanese laboratories are making progress in the work of designing the computer hardware capable of handling programming languages for artificial intelligence. They are the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation's Musashino Electrical Communication Laboratory (known in Japan by the abbreviations Denden Musashino Tsūken) and the Electrotechnical Laboratory of MITI's Agency of Industrial Science and Technology (known by the abbreviation Densōken) ICOT (Institute for New Generation Computer Technology), the MITI-sponsored organization developing Japan's Fifth Generation computer, also has already completed some of its own hardware.

The NTT Musashino Laboratory has been designing a computer to be called "DFM." DFM uses a "data-flow" system, in which many processing units run in parallel. NTT claims that DFM is the first hardware of this type ever designed in the world. The Musashino Laboratory is currently fabricating a prototype of the DFM, and by spring of next year it will test the DFM with software written in a programming language called VALID which the Laboratory developed last year.

By using the data-flow system, it is claimed that the speed with which a program is processed can be increased to more than 30 times the speed with which the same program can be processed in computers currently in common use.

Kazuhiro Fuchi, director of ICOT (Institute for New Generation Computer Technology), speaks approvingly of the designing work being done at the Musashino Laboratory and says that the Laboratory's thinking about processing Al programming language by a data-flow type computer is "basically the same as ICOT's thinking." He says the latest Musashino achievement will be an important step leading towards the Fifth Generation Computer age. (Nikkei sangyō shimbun, April 7, 1984)

The Electrotechnical Laboratory of MITI's Agency of Industrial Science and Technology (Densōken) has also finished the designs of a prototype AI computer. It plans to complete the prototype by August of this year and to begin operating tests. It will be a "Non Von" (i.e., not von Neumann) type computer and will be able to use the LISP language. The big drawback of computers using LISP has been their slow speed, but the Laboratory hopes to overcome this by using the "Non Von" system of parallel processing.

The Electrotechnical Laboratory's prototype computer will have eight basic processors capable of parallel processing by means of something called a "queuing memory mechanism" (machiawase kioku kikoo) in which the computer will execute a command immediately as soon as it receives the needed data. The Laboratory has already carried out simulation tests with a large-size computer and has confirmed that a LISP computer of the "data flow" type can operate as expected theoretically. In the tests beginning in August, a prototype will be used with question-and-response programs using natural language in order to study the calculating speeds.

The computers being designed by the Musashino Electrical Communication Laboratory and by ICOT are also "data flow" type computers. The ICOT computer, however, will have a maximum number of 1,000 basic processors and will use a new computer language based on PROLOG. (Nikkei sangyō shimbun, April 10, 1984)

ICOT announced in December, 1983 that it had completed part of the hardware for its inference machine (suiron mashin) The inference machine is for efficiently executing syllogisms by means of pattern-matching and backtracking functions. ICOT will use it to develop software for the Fifth Generation computer. (Nihon keizai shimbun, December 28, 1983)

Further readings: Bro Uttal, "Here comes Computer Inc.," Fortune, October 4, 1982, pp. 82–90. Tom Alexander, "Reinventing the computer," Fortune, March 5, 1984, pp. 86–98. "Daigo Sedai kompyuuta no 'zunoo' tachi," Common Sense, February, 1984, pp. 12–13. Dwight B. Davis, Supercomputers: A strategic imperative?" High Technology, May 1984, pp. 44–52.

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As part of its policy to strengthen technical collaboration between Japan and the U.K. in the computer development field, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has decided to set up a joint British-Japanese specialists committee to study the possibility of British participation in Japan's "Fifth Generation Computer Project." The British government is said to be strongly interested in this and concerned about falling behind the U.S. and Japan in the development of very large computers. The matter will be discussed in Tokyo in early June when the Japan-U.K. industrial co-operation commission, a government-level group, has its fifth meeting. This was reported in the Nikkan kōgyō shimbun of April 11, 1984.

MITI's policy is that it wants to collaborate positively in the field of advanced electronic technology in order to avoid trade frictions between Japan and the European Community. It also has a policy of making public, both domestically and overseas, technical information about the Fifth Generation computer, which is now entering the final year of its first threeyear period. In line with this policy, MITI intends to accept the wishes of the British government. The joint committee of specialists, when it is set up, will start by studying a framework for exchanging technical information concerning the Fifth Generation project and for exchanging specialists. It is expected that British computer manufacturers will participate in some way or other.

MITI is planning to hold an international conference on the Fifth Generation project in Tokyo early in November of this year (see issue no. 13, p. 16). At the conference it will demonstrate the achievements of the first three-year period, including a sequential inference machine, a relational database machine, and a knowledge representation system. The aim is to make public, both domestically and overseas, the technical information accumulated by the project and to promote positively international collaboration in hightech fields.

In addition, West Germany and France have both expressed interest in the Fifth Generation project, and MITI intends to respond positively to them. (Nikkan kōgyō shimbun, April 11, 1984)

A similar article about this appeared on the first page of the Nihon keizai shimbun of April 21. This article said that MITI is appealing to both West Germany and England for their collaboration in the Fifth Generation project, which will cost altogether ¥100 billion (more than $446 million) for research and development. Reading between the lines, I think this means that the Japanese Government is finding the project too expensive for one country alone and would like to share the financing and some of the research with Germany and England.

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Ever since this newsletter began, we have been reporting items about machine translation. We have described the system now being introduced in Japan by Bravice-Weidner and have mentioned the research and development which Fujitsu is doing, including its development of a Japanese-to-Korean machine translation system. Japanese newspaper articles have also mentioned the names of other large manufacturers in this connection; for example, Hitachi is said to be developing its system, aiming to market it in 1985. NEC, Japan IBM, and Sord are also said to be developing systems.

Now the Nikkan kōgyō shimbun (April 24, 1984) has an article about still another group which is about to start developing a machine translation system. A Tokyo software house called Keiei Joohoo Kagaku Kenkyuusho (abbreviated MIS), located at Ichigaya Honmura-cho 34, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (tel. 03-235-3911), and a large translation agency called Technical Service, located at Nishi-Shinbashi 3-23-6, Minato-ku (tel. 03-436-0567), have decided to collaborate in developing a machine translation system.

Technical Service will develop the dictionary database, while MIS will perfect the system and market it as application software for a VAN (value added network) service. The two companies will soon initiate a joint project team. They hope to complete a database of technical terms by this summer, and will then conduct tests. They hope to have the system ready for commercial sale within two or three years.

The newspaper says that Technical Service has already been engaged in dictionary compilation for a large project aimed at developing a machine translation system. The project was initiated in fiscal year 1982 as a "national project" by MITI's Electrotechnical Laboratory (Densooken), the Japan Information Center for Science and Technology (JICST) and Kyoto University, and Technical Service was commissioned by JICST with the portion pertaining to creating the dictionary.

MIS, the software house, also has had experience in translating computer manuals for the past ten years.

The joint project will aim first at developing a system for translating from Japanese to English.

The project lays great emphasis on semantic analysis. According to the newspaper article, technical translation ought to be possible with a vocabulary of about 700,000 words. However, each of these words must be subjected to extensive analysis, and three dictionaries are needed for this purpose: one for analysis (kaiseki) one for conversion (henkan) and one for generating (seisei) Taken together, these three dictionaries will require 2,100,000 words. The project plans to complete these dictionaries by this summer, then go ahead with studies of the frequency of use and ranges of significance.

The two companies seem to have far-reaching future plans. In marketing their machine translation system as an application for VAN systems (online telecom services which help distantly located computers of different types communicate with one another), they plan to collaborate with mainframe computer manufacturers, computer centers, etc. In addition to machine translation, they also want to do joint development and sales of information-related data services and software packages on the overseas markets.

The interest in Japan in machine translation seems to be even broader than we imagined a year ago. It will be fascinating in the future to watch as competing systems come on the market and try to revolutionize our industry.

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In our last issue we printed some rather far-reaching questions from two readers in Japan about word counts and other practices in the U.S. translation business. Those questions must have struck a resonant note, as responses from readers in the U.S. have been pouring in. The answers reveal that there is considerable variation in practices, although most of the writers are in general agreement about how to answer some of the questions. Here are some comments received from U.S. readers.

Richard Patner of Madison, Wisconsin writes (March 26):

Mr. Uleman of Tokyo is quite right in asserting that charging for translations from Japanese on the basis of the Japanese original would be more appropriate, but he should be glad that most people in this country are helpless when it comes to dealing with Japanese (how fortunate for us) and must thus rely on us to tell them what they have. Americans are quite capable of discerning wheat from chaff however, and translators who pad their writing or are sloppy are soon without work.

One significant difference from working in Japan is that Americans provide nothing except the text to be translated. Hearing someone refer to supplies of reference materials and access to the author makes me envious. I deal with unintelligible entities by either phonetic transliteration or literal translation with a note to that effect.

The question of how to determine the word count is handled in a straightforward manner. Simply type the original in a special format ensuring that one page contains 500 words (10 pitch, single space, no paragraph indent) and then alter the format to that desired by the client before printing. A word processor is invaluable for this.

My annual load has exceeded one million words for years now, and the range of subjects is extensive, as it seems to be in Japan. The question of being a generalist versus specialist has no definite answer. I think it better for one to specialize, and I attempted to do so, only to find people sending work covering the entire spectrum of subjects, from mercury poisoning in Iraq to LOCA in reactors.

Most work consists of patents and technical journals for an audience of engineers and chemists, which should clarify the level of technical expertise required.

Lynne E. Riggs of SWET in Tokyo writes (March 26), I think in response to a previous query:

I wonder if the interest in setting rates or establishing standards of that sort can work in the U.S. In SWET meetings we have talked about standardization of rates, but there seem to be too many conditions involved; the nature of the client, the extent of responsibility of the translator (some clients seem only to expect a rough product and edit, check it themselves), the budget for the project, etc. In my own company we can get only so much from a place like The Japan Foundation, but charge organizations that can obviously afford it more (we have to to cover costs). We keep some places that pay less as customers because the work keeps coming in and offers what my boss calls komedai I think most translating companies and individual translators here do the same. If we tried to standardize prices, the consensus among my colleagues here seems to be that clients would just go elsewhere — i.e. to poorly qualified, cheaper non-professional companies. Abroad, perhaps all the "ifs" are not so tyrannical. J-E translation seems to be done from anywhere from 3,000 to ¥10,000 per 400-character page, and is almost always done by the Japanese manuscript here. Some individual translators seem to be able to get 4,000 per page from most clients especially after they have proven their ability, and I think most companies charge 7–9,000 for non-technical translation (most farm it out, you see, to freelancers).

See also the article below entitled "Rates in Japan." Next, Linda Moffett, a reader in Denver, Colorado, writes:

I agree with your estimate of 3,000 words per day if you are speaking of a clean copy that involves moderate research. I know that I start to mess up if I try to do too much. My brain gets fuzzy! Patents do seem to go a little faster because they are so repetitive.

I use the counting system you mentioned. When I have compared estimates from the Japanese and English, the Japanes usually came out a little longer, but not much.

David G. Jones of Austin, Texas has the following comments about American practices in word counting and other matters:

My understanding is that when an agency makes a word count as the basis of payment for a particular translation, it may estimate the number of words of the English translation by one of two ways. One is to automatically record the number of keystrokes on a word processor and divide this by the number of strokes in "the average word," usually assumed to be six letters. The other 'method is to make the word count "by hand," which actually involves counting lines and multiplying by 10 (the assumed number of words per line of a page containing 25 lines with 60 spaces per line, which supposedly contains 250 words). As Don notes, whole lines are counted, and partial lines are combined to make whole lines. This method is no doubt less accurate than a word-processor count, but I think it probably averages out fairly accurately over time.

I doubt that using the English translation as a basis for the word count actually encourages "padding" the translation. Most of the translators whom I know are more concerned about producing a good translation than filling their work with enough verbiage to make a difference in the payment for that job. That would be self-defeating for a serious translator.

The average load for a full-time translator (working on a contract basis with an agency) will depend on the amount of work available, the time spent in translating, and above all the translator's skill and efficiency. I have been translating for three years, but I am still slow by Don's standard for a "good translator." I clearly have not yet reached my maximum efficiency, but that goal gives further motivation to my work. I would like to know how long it has taken other translators to reach their peak efficiencies.

It has been my experience that agencies are not particularly interested in one's background, formal training, or experience. The bottom line for them is one's ability to do an "acceptable" translation (by whatever standard is used) within the time frame allowed. Of course, agencies would like one to possess, in addition to language skills, a knowledge of the field being translated. In practice, however, agencies are deluged with such a diversity of material that they cannot realistically hope to find a Japanese-translating specialist for every field. As a result they must make a compromise of some sort, such as using a non-translating expert in the scientific field to correct the work of the translator who is inexperienced in that field. It will probably be some time in the future before a majority of the persons deciding to become translators are also experts in a certain scientific field.

Tomoyuki Satoh, also of Austin, Texas, contributes the following comments:

Regarding the question of word counts, I somehow did not get the point that Mr. Uleman was trying to make. As long as there is a reasonable conversion formula (such as DLP's 2.4 Japanese characters per English word -- by the way, I'd say it's between 2.3 and 2.4, too), whether one gets paid by the number of Japanese characters or English "words" is irrelevant. We are talking about the same thing. Incidentally, it seems that in most cases a "word" is defined as 6 typewriter strokes (including blank spaces), although I know some companies use 6.5 strokes. Whether the figure of 6 strokes = word is an accurate statistical average or not is unknown, nor is it important. It is simply a pricing device used by the translation industry. I usually type my translations in Prestige Elite. So, I set the margins at 40 and 112. Thus, a full-length line (6" long) is strictly equal to 12 "words." I hand-count words in tables and figures, and make mental adjustments for lines that are shorter or longer than 6". I'm not really worried about the accuracy of my word counts because errors will be averaged out in the long run. Now, going back to the subject of sloppy translators being rewarded and conscientious translators being punished, the problem is obviously not how "words" or "characters" are counted. The real problem is the lack of quality standards in the translation industry. Especially in the case of Japanese, the demand is so great that clients and agencies often do not have any choice but to accept translations of less than acceptable quality at high prices. It is also unfortunate that, at present, prices of translations charged by various agencies vary so much (between $80/M and $200/M), that the rates translators get do not necessarily represent the quality of their translations. Under these circumstances, I suggest Mr. Uleman find another agency that carefully monitors the works of its translators and sets the translators' rates accordingly. (Mr. Uleman has to remember that a sloppy translator gets rewarded, even when his pay is based on the original character count, since it generally takes less time to produce a "flabby" translation than a "tight" one.)

Before I began to freelance as a J-E translator, I was an "in-house" translator at a large multi-lingual translation company here in Austin. Of the estimated 3.5–4 million words worth of J-E translation orders the company received each year from 250–300 regular corporate clients, I estimate that approximately 50–60% were patents and the rest were journal articles. In many cases, the translations of patents were used by U.S. patent attorneys for litigation purposes, but in most other cases I imagine that the translations were read by researchers. (However, I frequently have this funny feeling that our translations are filed away without anybody ever reading them. Does anyone have a definite answer for this?) About 99% of the documents were printed, but I must caution that "printed" does not necessarily mean "well written" or even "legible." The copies translators receive are often copies of copies made from microfilms, and we often find ourselves staring at black blobs that were once kanji. Facsimile copies are even worse, for most American facsimile machines do not have the resolution necessary for Japanese. But, we must translate those semi-legible documents with little or no support from the clients. In other words, we must be prepared to do some background reading, if necessary. In my case, my physics background is a strong asset, since I can often figure out what the authors really want to say by looking at the equations and graphs in their papers without doing much background reading. Although we translate a large number of Japanese patents in the U.S., my feeling is that a translator does not need any extensive technical experience to translate patents. The reason for this is that, when seen as technical documents, patents are low-caliber technical documents and, in general, translating patents is simply a matter of getting accustomed to the particular terminology and phraseology used by patent attorneys. In other words, when translating a patent, there is not much technically that you have to figure out. If you can use technical dictionaries, then that's usually sufficient. Of course, the other side of the coin is that patent specifications cannot always be trusted technically. In addition, sentences that appear in patent specifications are convoluted, to say the least, even to the point of being gibberish in many cases. So, my advice to Mr. Bender is that if he is thinking about moving to the U.S., then he should be prepared to do a lot of syntactical acrobatics. (Actually, it's not so bad.) To summarize, from my own experience, about 50–60% of "technical" in the U.S. means "patents," and another 40–45% means "articles from technical and trade periodicals."

Again, from my experience as an in-house translator, I recall the average load expected of me was about 12,000–15,000 words (i.e., 6 typewriter strokes) a week. That's about 600,000–750,000 words a year. Of course, for a freelance translator, the load depends on which agency or agencies he/she uses and how good he/she is. As a J-E translator, I am not particularly fast. I do not even use a wordprocessor. But, I can average about 500 words/hour to produce quality translations (this estimate takes the time for editing into account). The fastest I ever translated was about 1,000 words/hour. So, I figure I can average 3,000–4,000 words a day. However, I would rather average 2,000 words/day and earn $30,000/yr than average 4,000 words/ day and become ill.

Mr. Bender also raised the question of Japanese language experience for technical translators. My observation concerning the issue is that most agencies will ask a potential translator to supply translation samples or to take a translation test and will almost never ask about his/her Japanese background. The logic behind this is that (a) if someone wants to translate professionally, then the person presumably understands the language to some extent and (b) extensive language experience does not automatically make a person a good technical translator. An ability to understand a wide range of subject matters with a little background reading (as Mr. Bender puts it) seems to be very important.

Finally, regarding the question of what a translator does in the U.S. when something in the original is not understandable, I must say there is nothing much he/she can do. If certain terms appear to be in-company abbreviations or words made up by authors, I usually so note in my translations. If I have good guesses as to what the terms may stand for, then I will include them in my translations. If the original sentences are ambiguous, I usually straighten them up, although every now and then I feel I'm being too kind to the author(s). Well, I want to know, too, if there is a cure-all solution to this problem.

By the way, did Mr. Uleman use to appearas a guest speaker in the high school English correspondence courses on NHK TV (Channel 3)? I was a high school student in Japan 12 years ago and used to watch those programs to learn English.

Carl Kay of Japanese Language Services, Cambridge, Massachusetts, also sent us this lengthy communication:

First of all, my name is Carl Kay, not Charles. I'd like to address the question raised about the seeming injustice that dedicated translators spend a lot of time refining and condensing and thus end up with fewer words (= less money) than less thorough translators. I believe that such a question must have been raised by a relatively inexperienced translator, because anybody who has translated for a while begins to develop a sense of their capacity (in words per hour) and the value of an hour of their own time (defined internally and in relation to other translators, other professions, etc.). Accordingly, I believe that one develops an intuitive sense of how much effort to put into a job — what standards to achieve, given of course a minimum standard of good quality. It's an inner, intuitive process, affected by such external factors, in my case anyway, as my relationship with the customer (new customers and old loyal ones perhaps get a touch more inspired effort than the twice-a-year, small-job-I-need-it-yesterday types), my interest in the subject matter, the particular challenges of the job from a translation point of view, how nice the weather is outside, etc. I have a minimum professional standard of work for myself which I believe to be extremely high, but I'll be damned if I'll rewrite five times my translation of a badly written Japanese patent which was written to be intentionally confusing in the first place. On the other hand, a piece for publication, with my name on it, which many people will read, for me warrants much extra effort. In short, what I'm saying is this: Get set up so you can make a decent rate per hour. A rate you are happy with. If only for now. Set high standards of quality for yourself and live up to them as best you can. You have to live with yourself and live by the reputation you have among your customers. Some jobs will work out better, moneywise, than others. Learn to see the factors that will slow you down in advance, and try to get a higher rate for such jobs or turn them down altogether. For me, such factors include a blurry printed original or a handwritten original (as a non-native, it takes me forever to make sense out of little blobs or scribbles that are really kanji) certain subject areas where I am weaker than usual; jobs from customers for whom I have low regard due to past dealings but whose work I'm tempted to accept because I'm not busy, and any work which involves summarizing work. As a non-native, I cannot skim-read Japanese. I have to read and translate every word or almost. I charge more to summarize a text than I do to translate it, or I try to arrange an hourly rate in such cases, perhaps with an upper limit figure. My biggest strength is my ability to write expressively and clearly in English, so I try to take jobs where that strength will come to bear (articles, patents) rather than, say, captioning engineering drawings.

If it gets to the point where you consistently are feeling put out about the time put into a job, you'd better send back the job, or find a new profession. Hopefully the jobs that are a breeze (patents with lots of paragraphs repeated word for word) will balance the jobs filled with I-can't-believe-I-just-spent-a-half-an-hour-with-seven-dictionaries-to-make-5.5-cents words.

Now, having ranted and preached about the translator's proper attitude and standards, let me add this: there clearly are times when the customer is either ignorantly or maliciously undervaluing the work of the translator, and there are jobs and customers that make me think hard about the fact that lawyers and doctors and accountants charge by the hour, not by strictly or immediately quantifiable output. Why not translators? The answer is in one word: TRUST. I have customers who trust my expertise, honesty and integrity, my commitment to my profession and to serving them. When appropriate, I ask for an hourly rate from these customers, and I get it. I also have some agency customers who clearly view the translator as an adversary and in everything they do make me feel tempted to cheat them, if only by one damn word, by 6 cents, just because they show so little respect. I'm trying to eliminate any real or imagined dependence I have on the business of such people.

I count words by keystrokes — 6 to a word. I've learned to count words in a fairly quick skim fashion. I'm usually quite close. I figure that with repeat customers it'll average out over the years. I count loosely and liberally in jobs where lists of technical terms such as organic chemical compounds, sub-sentence units (captions in tables, drawings, etc.) predominate, particularly where the time spent keying is any significant portion of the total time spent. Again, I try for a keying surcharge based on an hourly rate when I can.

I work with pad and pen. I don't yet word-process, but I'm contemplating it. I only translate part-time because I'm busy managing my small Japanese translation-typesetting bureau and a small craft print shop I also own. When I have time to devote to translation without interruption, and when the material is familiar (chemical patents, software manuals, pharmacology articles, or anything else I've done a lot of), I hit my stride at about 400–500 words per hour. I currently charge translation agencies anywhere from 6 to 7.5¢ per word for neat handwritten copy and another 1¢ per word for final typed copy. I use a professional free-lance typist who charges $1.75 per page (or 0.7¢/wd) for typing of technical material. The other 0.3¢ covers (barely) proofreading. My own agency charges 15¢ per word for Japanese to English translation, with discounts down to 12¢ for volume. I don't yet get a big volume of "non-agency" translation work, but it's growing slowly. On the (few) occasions when I farm out JE work to other translators, I pay 5.5¢ to start and eventually 6¢. More and more I'm thinking of raising the agency rates I charge and the rates I would pay subcontractors. I go over a translator's work carefully and enjoy the mutual learning that goes on when we go over work together. Since few agencies offer an editor who is him or herself an experienced Japanese technical translator, I believe that my company offers a superior product and therefore should gravitate to the high-priced niche (with possible lower volume than, say, the agencies that charge customers 8.5¢ and pay translators 3.5¢). In the industry I consider ADEX of Menlo Park, California as a superior operation and a successful example of the high-quality, high-price approach. David Jones told me of an agency in Texas (I forget the name) that charges its customers a very low rate but does a huge volume.

Somebody please help me — I want to buy a microcomputer that will run Wordstar or any other good English WP program and Japanese WP software (with roinaji-kanji conversion). Is it out there? Will I need two different printers?

Additional note: I tend to use 2.7 characters/word in estimating word counts from Japanese texts. Technical material tends to have a high katakana count which pushes this figure above the commonly used 2.0 or 2.4. Computer and telecommunications work, etc., can reach over 3 character/word.

Leo Kanner Associates, a translation agency in Redwood City, California, does a large volume of translations by U.S. government contract. The Executive Director, Hannah Feneron, writes the following. (See elsewhere in this issue for an in-depth interview with Hannah.)

The problem of word counting for Japanese translation is compounded, from the point of view of the translation agency, by the proliferation of word counting methods required by different government clients. For example:

NASA and the US Patent Office require that we count two characters as one word

US Air Force: count two characters as one word, except don't count kana at all (their logic escapes me; fortunately they don't request a lot of chemistry translations)

Nuclear Regulatory Commission: count English lines, a "line" being defined as "between 6 and 12 words." No comment.

US Army: count English words, 6 letters to an average word (including punctuation and spaces between words)

So even if someone at the agency knows how to count Japanese words with a fair degree of accuracy, he/she also has to bear in mind the counting method required by a given client. But there is one perhaps surprising observation I feel compelled to add: in the long run, it doesn't make any difference how the words are counted. Even if the agency requires the translator to use whatever method the client specifies, I would judge that over a year of work, the translator might lose 10% on some jobs but make it up on others.

What I would really like to address, however, is the question of fair payment for Japanese translation. As your readers are all aware, translation agencies that hold government contracts got those contracts in most cases by being the low bidder. It is therefore difficult, to say the least, for an agency to pay going commercial rates for Japanese translation. It is also difficult for agencies to recruit new Japanese translators, possibly because of the impression some translators have of the "starvation" wages.

A little calculation shows, however, that a competent translator can earn a respectable amount even at an average of $40/K words. If we assume for the sake of argument that a Japanese translator produces 3,000 words a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year, this yields a gross income, at $40/K, of $28,800. If the translator also has private clients for whom he sets his own rates, mixing this work with agency work, his yearly income will of course be substantially higher.

I realize that this kind of generalization leaves out all sorts of variables: familiarity with subject matter; legibility of test supplied; the virtual necessity of buying and maintaining a word processor for doing Japanese translation; the high cost of Japanese dictionaries and reference books compared to Western-language books, etc. But I feel that some, maybe many, Japanese translators are apprehensive about working through an agency primarily because of the low rates, and while I agree that translating Japanese should be well rewarded, I misapprehend the average amount of work a Japanese translator can do per day: is 3,000 words of finished copy a day too high an estimate? I would like to hear from your readers about this, as well as any comments they have about the question of fair payment.

Thank you all for your lengthy and detailed comments. We can continue this discussion in the next issue.

About Carl Kay's question concerning the JL word processors capable of using Wordstar, I can say that Fujitsu has recently been placing advertisements in the major newspapers in Japan announcing that the Fujitsu My OASYS Japanese word processor can now run with Wordstar and Spellstar programs. (See page 47, this issue.) The My OASYS is being sold in three cities in the U.S. (New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles). Fujitsu has been holding demonstrations of the My OASYS in San Francisco and Berkeley recently, and I have already received a letter from a friend in New York which he wrote in Japanese with a My OASYS at his office. Carl Kay should contact the Fujitsu office in New York and find out whether the Wordstar software for the My OASYS is also available here. (If the software isn't available here yet, a friend in Japan could buy it for you and send it to you here.)

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The April-May issue of The Research News (University of Michigan) has the following insertion. Thanks to W. L. Jenson of Nagoya for sending in the clipping. Interestingly, the rates quoted here are given in terms of so many dollars per page:

Translators For Hire: A U-M Service

Does your firm ever receive correspondence in a foreign language? Do you need to advertise a product abroad? Are you negotiating a contract with a foreign agency? U-M's Michigan Information Transfer Service (MITS) can link you with a suitably trained translator.

MITS director Anne Beaubien finds translators to help individuals and businesses translate patents, technical processes, and legal papers.

"Translation is a very labor-intensive project," she says. Many people, when they find out how much it costs, decide not to do it. The people who must have the information understand the value of the work much better. "A very good French or German technical translator will earn ten to twenty dollars per page in Ann Arbor. Russian calls for ten to fifteen dollars per page, and Oriental languages fifteen to twenty dollars."

Says Beaubien: "There is a general lack of understanding of how involved it is to do a good translation."

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John M. Shields of Nagoya sent me some advertising materials about the translation services offered in Japan by the Hatsumei Kyōkai (Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation, JIII) and a Tokyo company called Intertec. Here is information about the rates which they currently charge their clients.

JIII has two sets of rates: one for patent specifications, the other for more difficult documents such as contracts, legal documents, and special technical documents. The rates from English to Japanese are ¥1,500 per 400-character Japanese manuscript page (genkooyooshi) for patent specifications, and ¥1,800 per page for special documents. The rates from Japanese into English are 3,800 per typed English page (doubled spaced on A4 paper, "clean typed") for patent specifications, and ¥5,500 per page for special technical documents. The rates for translations from and into languages other than English are higher.

Intertec's rates from English to Japanese are ¥2,000 per 400-character Japanese manuscript page for manuals, specifications, product catalogs, ordinary technical materials and patent publications, and ¥2,300 for monographs (ronbun), contracts, specifications of patent applications, etc. The rates from Japanese to English are ¥3,800 per finally typed English page (A4 paper) for manuals, specifications, product catalogs, descriptions of company, business reports, etc., and ¥5,000 per page for patent documents, monographs, contracts, etc.). Intertec's normal delivery is from 7 to 10 days, and rush surcharges of 30–100% are sometimes added.

At a recent exchange rate (¥225 per U.S. dollar), the rates per page of J-E translations amount to:

¥3,800 $16.89
¥5,000 $22.22
¥5,500 $24.44

These rates are in the same general price range as that quoted above for Michigan ("fifteen to twenty dollars for oriental languages"). If we suppose that one page contains 250 words, the rate per 1,000 words would be roughly $67.56 to $97.76. Remember, this is the rate which the client is paying to JIII or Intertec. The fee paid to the translator in Japan would be substantially less, since presumably the agency would in most cases edit and type the translator's draft. Lynne E. Riggs of SWET, in her letter quoted above, says that individual translators who have proven their ability are sometimes paid ¥4,000 ($17.78 at the abovementioned exchange rate) per page. That would amount to about $71.12 per thousand words (if one page contains 250 words). However, those translators who are receiving ¥4,000 per page are probably not getting their jobs from either JIII or Intertec.

Of course, all of the above calculations are somewhat out of line if there are less than 250 words per typed page, and comparisons between yen and dollars are difficult because the yendollar exchange rates are changing every day.

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It is always interesting to read about how one's counterparts are living in another country. The magazine Kōgyō eigo has started a series of portraits of Japanese who work as J-E freelance translators, whom it calls jocularly ippiki-ookami honyakusha. The first installment appeared in the May, 1984 edition and featured two translators, a woman with one year's experience and a man with eight years' experience.

The woman's name is Ikue Takeuchi. She was born in Tokyo and lives in Kawasaki. She majored in chemistry in the university (Tokyo Metropolitan University), and after graduation worked for seven years in the research institute of a petrochemical company, where she came into contact with foreign technical literature. She was married four years ago and quit the company one year ago to become a translator. She took some evening-school courses in English conversation and also a correspondence course in translation. She replied to an advertisement for translators and began to make English abstracts of Japanese articles on chemistry for the Nihon Kagaku Joohoo Kyookai (Japan Association for International Chemical Information), which sends them to the U.S. for publication in Chemical Abstracts. She currently does only about 4 articles a week and spends considerable time in reading related reference works, looking things up in chemistry textbooks and dictionaries. Sometimes she has to visit the National Diet Library to consult references. She wants to confine her practice for the time being to the field of chemistry and finds her work as a translator very interesting because it brings her into contact with the latest information and knowledge.

The man's name is Wataru Yabuki. He is 30 years old, was born in Fukushima and lives in Kita-ku, Tokyo. The article does not mention whether he is married or not, but I assume he is single. He went to Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, where he majored in Spanish. After graduation he worked for about four years in a translation company in Yotsuya, Tokyo, where he was a salesman and editor of translations. This gave him the opportunity to read many translations made by others, and he also learned a great deal from his co-workers in the company. When he was working there, he used to study translation for about three hours a day after work, and he gradually began to take translation assignments apart from his company work. He gradually came to receive work from 5–6 different translation agencies. These connections made it easy for him to make the transition when he quit the company and became an independent freelancer. He aims at being a generalist, although many of his jobs are computer-related. The amazing thing about him is the immense volume that he turns out: 700 pages of J-E translations a month. If each page has 250 words, and if he works every day of the year, this would amount to well over 7,000 words a day. He uses a word processor and has a telephone facsimile machine in his room; the latter saves him much time which he would otherwise spend in making deliveries to the clients. How does he do it? His secret seems to be a simple one: He is a real workaholic and spends at least 12 hours a day working. The figures work out correctly, since most of us spend about half of that time on our work, and we probably turn out about half of his output. However, he appears to be very healthy, sleeps 8 hours every night, and is very athletic, specializing in weightlifting and karate. Twice a week he takes time out to practice weightlifting in a gym at his university.

The articles don't say anything about the incomes which the two translators are earning, but it does give us an interesting view of their lives. If you would like to read the articles yourself, you will find them on pages 100–103 of the May, 1984 issue of the magazine Kōgyō eigo.

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by Paula Doe

April 3, 1984

I've come across a few items lately that might be of interest to your newsletter readers.

The grant is a two-year grant, reportedly for $250,000 a year, according to an article in the Nikkan kōgyō shimbun of April 19, 1984. - DLP

The American Electronics Association is opening an office in Japan to track Japanese technology and provide services to U.S. high technology firms seeking help dealing with Japan, thanks to a grant from the Commerce Department.* Steve Weiner arrived in Japan around April 1 to start setting things up. Vice President Bush will reportedly attend the grand opening around June 1. Their Tokyo address is:

AEA Japan
3-3 Kioicho
Nambu Bldg., 3rd Floor
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102

NEC Chairman Koji Kobayashi thinks the Fifth Generation computer is just a research lab fantasy, still too far in the future to be much of a concern. He gave his views at a March conference in San Francisco on U.S.Japan cooperation in high technology fields sponsored by JETRO and the Conference Board. NEC, Kobayashi claimed, was much more interested in developing an automatic translating telephone, where the speaker speaks in Japanese and the machine converts his words to English for the listener. But even that far simpler project was nowhere close to reality. His company had been working on it for 20 years, and he figured it would take at least 20 more before they got commercially useful results.

The difficulty of the problem was immediately illustrated with a real life example. Despite Dr. Kobayashi's own excellent English, and despite the fact that he was listening to a simultaneous translation over wireless telephones provided at the conference, he got into an embarrassing argument over a language misunderstanding with Erich Bloch, VP of IBM and Chairman of the U.S. cooperative Semiconductor Research Corp. Bloch claimed, quite rightly, that U.S. universities did a far greater proportion of significant leading-edge high technology research than did universities in Japan, where industry research played the more important role. And since key university research was openly published in both countries, while industry research was not, information exchange between the two countries was out of balance. But Kobayashi took offense at what he thought was an unjustified attack on Japanese universities not openly publishing their research results, and some argument ensued.

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In the last issue (no. 14, p. 32), I mentioned that a company called Nihon Jidoo Honyaku Kenkyuusho K.K. (Mishina Building 4F, Kanda Tacho 2-7, Chiyoda-ku 101, Tokyo, tel. 03 (254)9322/7330) is offering a seminar consisting of 24 lectures to be given by the company's president, Sakae Okaji. The May, 1984 issue of Kōgyō eigo (p. 85) gives more details about the contents of the lectures. The first program deals with the following subject matter:

Mr. Okaji says the following about the seminar:

"Under the present conditions, one must say that completely automatic translation from one natural language to another is an impossibility. In the seminar, I will give ideas about fully automatic translating machines, but the urgent necessity for Japan is rather the development of a man-machine translation system. We should first begin with something on the level of electronic dictionaries, and then raise the level gradually. That alone will probably increase the speed by 50%, and we will probably exceed the quality of American technical writers. What is necessary for this is input data consisting of examples of translations of American technical documents made by the 'pattern free-translation' system, and to make skillful use of such input data. These matters will be made public in the seminar

Evidently, Mr. Okaji advocates starting out by making a large collection of "cards" with facing texts in both languages in order to establish some sort of patterns for making "free" translations from Japanese to English. Another early step is, evidently, to accumulate a card dictionary of specialized terms, which can eventually be computerized. The "electronic dictionary" idea appears to be the same as that adopted by Inter Press in its "electronic dictionary" project, described in the memorandum "IP denshi jiten oboegaki" on pages 135–136 of the April, 1984 issue of Kōgyō eigo.

Some of these ideas may be applicable to our work also. I for one have long advocated keeping extensive files of problem words or new words not in dictionaries. I use 3" x 5" memo slips rather than cards and keep them filed in drawers for ready reference.

In a future issue I would like to present some of the ideas advanced in recent articles in Kōgyō eigo about how J-E translators whose native language is Japanese can learn to write technical English "simulating" that produced by native speakers of English.

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According to the Nikkei sangyō shimbun (April 14, 1984), a Tokyo systems house called Blue Ocean has recently established an in-house Computer Document Department headed by an' American specialist for the purpose of translating and editing computer manuals of Japanese manufacturers. The American specialist was hired in April and put in charge of the Department, which is to take Japanese-language manuals written by Japanese manufacturers, translate them into English, and edit them until they can be relied on perfectly by users overseas. Blue Ocean says that it aims at producing highly reliable manuals which describe everything very concretely, even the bugs in the programs.

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At a conference on "Methodology and Techniques of Machine Translation" held at Cranfield Institute of Technology on February 13–15, Jiri Jelinek of Sheffield University gave a presentation about Sheffield's AidTrans project for technical Japanese. He said the project is based on three converging, interacting lines of action: an efficient automatic integrated dictionary, which they hope to demonstrate within two years; machine-aided translation, perhaps later MT; and a computerised course for teaching Japanese-English translation. Already they can teach subject specialists with no Japanese to translate in their own subject area by the end of a seven-week course, now available throughout termtime. (Language Monthly, no. 7, April 1984, p. 14)

The seven-week course in Japanese translation from the University of Sheffield's Centre for Japanese Studies is to be given this summer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. This is the first time the course has been offered in London. The course will run from June 11 to July 27, 1984. The course fee is £850. Address enquiries to: Lt. Col. P.A. Whitaker, Assistant Organiser, Extramural Division, School of Oriental and African Studies, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HP. Tel.: 01-637 2388, Ext. 590/583. (The Economist, April 7, 1984, p. 95)

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New York University's Continuing Education Department is planning a certificate program in translation for the 1984–5 academic year. The university's Professor John Miller wishes to initiate standards, as the United Nations and the ATA accreditation test are thus far the only verifiable measurements in a profession to which there are no entry barriers and no minimum qualifications.

Courses on introductory translation, translation theory, and modular, language-specific work are planned, although no interpreter training is presently planned. Partial scholarships will be available. For more information, contact Professor Miller at the School of Continuing Education, New York University, Shimkin Hall, Room 332, Washington Square, New York, NY 10003. (Language Monthly, no. 7, April 1984, p. 20)

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A three-day conference was held on January 23-25, 1984 at Chantilly on "Communication between European and Eastern Languages," under the auspices of the European Commission's multilingual action plan. The languages discussed were Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Korean. Over a hundred European specialists in these languages were invited. Data processing was a major interest.

Speakers were asked to present their projects, define "synergies" (or co-operative strategies), and suggest how the European Commission might help European industries and authorities to master the more commercially significant Eastern languages.

Possible results of the conference are a register, newsletter and meetings for specialists in Eastern languages; new dictionaries; support for computer-assisted learning of Eastern languages; specifications for multi-purpose text processors; an inventory of (notably Japanese) databases and other documentary resources; and a new institute for training diplomats, academics and businessmen before trips to Arab and Asian countries.

Four plenary sessions were held: one each on Japanese, Chinese and Arabic, and one on transliteration, terminology and translation.

It was found that the problems of a complex script had left lexicography in Japan and China lagging far behind their Arabic counterpart. For the same reasons, text input in Asian languages takes more time, trouble and expense than any other operation in computer processing, even translation. Standards for text input and for terminals and work stations are therefore urgently needed.

Some of the projects presented could be applied to more than one language, particularly those relating to the processing of Japanese or Chinese characters.

Other problems were the variation in Arabic script and terminology from one country to another, and the shortage of people combining language knowledge with technical expertise. (Language Monthly, no. 7, April 1984, p. 19)

* * *


The New York Circle of Translators held a meeting on "The Frustrations of Editing Technical Translations from Japanese" at New York University on February 14, and another on the subject of the September convention of the American Translators Association, on March 14. (Language Monthly, no. 7, April 1984, p. 20)

* * *

[From the Editor: There has been considerable interest in the Sheffield University program for teaching technical Japanese. Some readers have been thinking about taking the course by way of correspondence. I asked Dr. Charles P. Ridley for his reactions to the program, but instead he sent me the following long article outlining a project which he once formulated for training Chinese translators. - DLP]

* * *


by Charles P. Ridley

On reading the description of the Sheffield program for teaching the uninitiated how to translate Japanese scientific texts, I recalled an ambitious and grandiose program that I worked out for training translators during my tenure as a lecturer charged with teaching a Chinese "translation course" at a certain university. My reputation as a teacher having preceded me, I had only one student each quarter and thus was blessed with ample time to allow my imagination to run rather wild. The result was the program that I have outlined below. The proposal was duly submitted to my superiors, who most wisely ignored it.

The program, as envisioned, sought to draw on the vast armory of courses available at that particular university. While the reader must agree that what is presented here is something of an inflatio ad absurdum it may provide some food for thought and discussion.

It should be noted in passing that the program was developed with Chinese and the specific course offerings of the university in question in mind.

The general philosophy underlying the program was spelled out rather clearly in the preamble to this remarkable document.

One of the difficulties in setting up a curriculum for the training of professional translators is that translation is an activity that cuts across many disciplines. The translator must be at once a linguist, an anthropologist, an historian, a writer, an editor, or a poet, or should his text take him into a scientific field, an armchair biologist, physician, or chemist. That is to say, not only must he know the language from which he is translating, but he must also be aware of the cultural context in which a given text is written. And that cultural context might be the social and political structure of the nation from which the text originated or it might be the international scientific cultural context of the research chemist. In other words, the translator does not translate in an intellectual and cultural vacuum in which words are the only reality.

Thus the best education for a translator, apart from the necessary language work, is a "liberal" education. The prospective translator should present himself to the program after having majored in some well-defined academic subject and after having been through an undergraduate program that has allowed him to sample a wide variety of disciplines, including the sciences.

In the light of the above, the program outlined below is deliberately eclectic, for it must somehow seek to develop the many intellectual facets of the translator.

It was assumed that all prospective candidates for the translation program would have completed a minimum of two years of language study, and, preferably, three years. The program consisted of two major components, the first comprising courses in linguistics, editing and writing and the second comprising the courses devoted exclusively to translation. For the sake of convenience, I have designated the first comporient as the "Prerequisite Curriculum" and the second component as the "Translator Program."


A. Required linguistics courses. The following two courses should be considered a minimum requirement in this area:

  1. Introduction to General Linguistics
  2. The Structure of Modern Chinese

B. Required work in writing and editing. Since a translator works with words he must be able to express himself well in his own or "target" language, and, since he must inevitably subordinate his own style to that of the original author, he must be aware of what sort of a writer he is in his own right so that he will know when he is perhaps rewriting the original in his own style. Further, as editing of texts is almost as vital a part of translation as translation per se, he must be aware of techniques and methods of editing. It is with this in mind that I suggest something on the order of the following as a basic requirement for the prospective translator.

  1. Expository writing
  2. Narration
  3. Editorial techniques. Copy editing, headline writing, illustration, typography, printing processes.

C. Recommended courses

  1. Typology and Universals of Language
  2. Language Society and Culture
  3. Language and Culture


A. Introductory level. A one-year sequence of courses aimed at setting the foundations for proficiency in translation of Chinese.

  1. Theories of Translation. Readings from the general literature on translation to determine what translation actually is as a process. Topics covered would be the general basis in human experience of all language and how that experience is expressed in varying ways in Chinese and English. An interesting topic bearing on the process of translation that should also be covered is that of the relationship between translation and the bilingual state.
  2. The Process of Translation. An analysis of the process of translation using Chinese to English translation exercises as the teaching technique. The development of a methodology of translating and an analysis of levels of language and how they affect techniques of translation.
  3. Contrastive Analysis of English and Chinese. Application of contrastive analysis to problems of translation.

B. Intermediate level. The sequence at this level would give the student a higher degree of mastery of the techniques of translation.

Intermediate Translation Practicum. Carefully graded translation exercises running from the straightforward style of simple expository writing to literary writing. Study of the lexicographic resources available and of methods and problems of dictionary use. Students would prepare an extensive translation as well within their own field of academic interest, concentrating on the terminology and lexicographical resources in their field.

C. Advanced level. Courses at this level allow for specialization in various types of translation.

  1. Literary Translation. Translation of prose works, essays, short stories, novels, depending on the interests of the student. Attention to finer points of diction and rhetoric.

    Suggested collateral work for the serious literary translator:
    • Narration
    • Advanced Exposition
    • Directed Writing: Fiction

    The serious student of literary translation would naturally find it helpful to be well-versed in the study of literary criticism.
  2. Translation of Chinese Poetry. A carefully graded program of theories and techniques of poetic translation. Students might select a group of poems from the works of as yet untranslated Chinese poets.
    Suggested collateral work for the serious translator of Chinese poetry:
    • Directed Writing: Poetry
    • Workshop in Verse Translation
  3. Mainland Chinese Documents. A course devoted to the problems of translating mainland texts.
    Suggested collateral courses:
    • Contemporary Asian Politics
    • Government and Politics in China
    • Modern China
    • Intellectual Trends in Modern China
  4. Scientific and Technical Translation from Chinese. A course allowing the student to pursue individual work in specific fields of scientific translation.

    It would be hoped that the prospective technical translator would have taken at least one laboratory course in the field he wishes to concentrate on. If this is not possible, he should become familiar with the literature and reference works (i.e. English language) in the field of his translation specialty. He should also follow a program of general readings to acquaint himself with the history and development of that field. In short, he should be able to talk intelligently, if he is a medical translator, with a research worker in bacteriology, clinical medicine, or virology, to name a few. Thus, the medical translator must know the various medical dictionaries (English language) in use as well as such books as the Merck Manual and how to use them in assisting the work of translation.

* * *

[Editor's Comment: My personal feeling is that the best way to solve the problem of training technical translators might be a non-academic one. That is, established translation agencies would offer in-house apprenticeship programs, possibly funded by some governmental agencies. Beginning translators would be paid for their work and would be able to "earn as they learn." Their work would be carefully checked and supervised by another more experienced translator and by the editors at the agency. After completing a year or so of apprenticeship, the translator would be turned loose to earn his own living. It seems to me that it would be far more practical for a beginning translator to be paid for learning a trade, rather than to go to a university and pay it to go through a complicated curriculum such as that outlined above, even if such a curriculum were offered anywhere. We are dealing with skills which are urgently needed in the marketplace right now, and a translator could be out in the world earning a good living instead of spending years taking courses in a university. DL?]

* * *


According to an article by Sandra Celt in the April edition of Language Monthly, Merck & Co. has just published the tenth edition of the Merck Index (the first edition was published in 1889). This is an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, diseases and biologicals, complete with diagrams of molecular structure and listings of side effects. Of particular interest is the 1463-page Monographs Section, furnishing the names, formulas, and basic information on some 10,000 chemicals, drugs, and biologicals. Structural displays, depicting modern stereochemical representations, are contained in almost 6,000 of the monographs. There are also 100 pages of organic name reactions (i.e. those named after their discoverers), and 108 pages of miscellaneous tables, as well as a Chemical Abstracts section containing names, registry numbers, formula indices, 315 pages of cross-indexing, deleted ninth-edition titles, and an appendix.

The hardcover volume (there is no softcover or paperback) boasts some 4,000 pages and weighs about five pounds. Because of the large press run (the 9th edition was some 200,000 copies), the price is a real bargain: $28.50 post-paid if shipped within the USA. Merck & Co. are at P0 Box 2000, Rahway, New Jersey 07065. Tel. (201) 574-4000.

Sandra Celt adds that the Merck Index is strongly oriented toward substances of medical interest, but many compounds have broad uses in organic chemistry and polymer chemistry. The monographs, by the way, furnish literature references and patent numbers where applicable. Although not researched and written specifically for translators, the Index will doubtless prove highly useful to us because of the staggering amount of information it contains. "What client," she asks, "can fail to be impressed by a medical translator who can provide the breakdown of salicylic acid or of the U.S. patents of hydrocortisone at the drop of a hat?" (Language Monthly, no. 7, April 1984, p. 26)

* * *


W.L. Jenson of Nagoya writes (March 23, 1984) to inquire about some problems he encountered in an automobile painting manual. I am reproducing the letter:

In regard to your "PROBLEM WORDS" feature, I am currently translating an automobile painting manual and have come across a couple of words that I can't come up with a suitable English equivalent, probably because I lack sufficient reference material. Publication of the manual is still a couple months off so maybe some of your readers could help me.

One expression is "iro ashi" which is different (I'm told by the person who wrote the Japanese manual) from "iro ai" (color tone) Provisionally, I have translated it as "color temper" for lack of a suitable word.









It was explained to me that "iro ashi:is not the same as "iro ai" which my dictionary defines as "Color Tone or Shade".

色相 (Color Tone or Shade)



Another word is "ashitsuke kenma" which is supposedly the lightly roughing up of an area so that the paint will adhere better, but I'm sure the paint industry must have a word for this. In the manual, a distinction is made between "ashitsuke kenma" and various other "kenma" (sanding)

Also, there is "sutefuki" which I've translated as a "mist coat", but I'm wondering if there isn't another more suitable term.

1回目 〔捨て吹き)

Any help would be appreciated.

Below is the dictionary I'm using (along with Interpress's big one). It's been helpful but doesn't contain a lot of the jargon actually used in the field.

[Scanned Image No. 1]

I have never seen iroashi before and believe it must be a jargon term. However, you are lucky to have a good definition which makes the meaning quite clear: the hue or tint obtained after a colored pigment has been mixed with a white pigment, i.e., a post-mixing color tone. Perhaps "tone when mixed" or "diluted tone" might be better than "color temper." By the way, the two characters 色相 are read shikisoo not iroai. Shikisoo is usually supplied with "hue" as its English equivalent in J-E dictionaries. The Toryoo tosoo yoogoshuu which you quote above gives "hue" and "color tone" as the word's English equivalents. The Inter Press dictionary has "hue/tint" for iroai and the Toryoo tosoo yoogoshuu gives "shade; tone; tint; hue."

I have never seen ashitsuke kenma or sutefuki either. This would seem to be a classical example of those cases where Japan-based translators have the advantage over those in the U.S., since they can easily call up the author of the manual and ask.

* * *


John Shields of Nagoya sent me a copy of the JIS draft glossary of "terms used in adhesive and adhesion" (Setchakuzai, setchaku yoogo) The list has 144 terms and is 19 pages long. For each term, the yomikata definition, and English equivalent(s) are given. Pages 15–19 are an English-Japanese index. If anyone in the U.S. would like to have the glossary, send me $1 to cover the reproducing and mailing, and I will send you a copy. (DLP)

* * *


John McWilliams, Managing Director, The Word Shop, Ltd. (71 Karasawa, Minami-ku, Yokohama 232), has sent us a list of specialized vocabulary words pertaining to the Japanese Fifth Generation Computer Systems (FGCS) Project. Concerning the article on p. 16 of no. 13 of this newsletter,

Mr. McWilliams writes: "I believe the proper term is 'sequential inference machine' rather than 'consecutive reasoning machine,' and 'intelligent expression system' probably refers to the 'knowledge representation system." (I stand corrected. - DLP)

親和性 affinity
要素モジュール component modules
データ駆動 data driven scheme
データ・フローの概念 data flow concept
基本的な知識ベース fundamental knowledge base
階層化されたメモリ・システム hierarchical memory system
高度な並列処理方式 high-level parallel processing methods
推論機能 inference functions
知的マン・マシン・インタフェース・ソフト・モジュール intelligent machine interface software module
知的プログラミング・ソフト・モジュール intelligent programming software module
核言語 kernel language
知識ベース管理システム knowledge base management software module
知識ベース・システム knowledge base system
知識情報処理システム knowledge information processing system (KIPS)
知識表現システム knowledge representation system
ロジック・プログラミング logic programming
メタ推論機能 meta inference function
多数ネットワーク multiple networks
オブジェクト指向の概念 object-oriented concept
並列推論システム parallel inference system
並列推論マシン parallel inference machine (PIN)
リダクションの概念 reduction concept
関係演算メカニズム relational calculus operation mechanism
リレイショナル・データベース・マシン relational database machine
逐次型推論マシン sequential inference machine (SIN)
構造メモリ・モジュール structural memory modules

* * *


A reader asks about dictionaries for botany. I have the first two of the three listed below. The third one, which has already been mentioned in the bibliography on p. 40, no. 13, is listed in an advertisement in the second one:

新旧・英独対照 標準学術用語辞典 植物学編 標準学術用語辞典編集委員全編
 誠文堂親光社 昭和39年発行 定価2000円
最新植物用語辞典 編集下郡山正巳他 広川書店発行 昭和40年初版発行
広川車用植物大事典 広川書店 定価¥4000

Some of the words you want may also be listed in the following horticultural science dictionary:

園芸学用語集 園芸学会編 養賢堂発行 昭和47年

* * *


Ronald B. Granich, a reader in Kyoto, has written to tell us about two textile dictionaries and a glossary of traditional texile terms which he compiled himself. His glossary is called Japanese-English Glossary of Textile & Dye Terminology. It has about 140 pages and was printed privately in 1981 in a very limited edition. Ron says that the "glossary evolved out of a little notebook I kept while reading magazine articles and books on traditional textiles. The notebook soon became unwieldy and in the fall of 1980, I borrowed a friend's word processor to try and organize things better. In September of 1981, a conference on traditional Japanese dyeing and weaving was held at Arrowmount in North Carolina. The glossary was conceived and designed to be a communication tool between Japanese artisans coming to teach at this conference and non-Japanese-speaking participants. I arranged for someone to write the kanji, did all the paste-up myself, 'printed' 50 copies on a Kodak copying machine and did all the collating and binding too." The copies were "sold piecemeal to Japanese textile aficionados around the U.S. I also sent 10 copies or so to native Japanese textile artists for their comment's and corrections." The feedback from the Japanese specialists helped Ron locate numerous mistakes in the glossary, and he worked on corrections and additions until March, 1982, when his friend with the NP moved away. He says that "the glossary is not really aimed at any kind of a professional translator working with contemporary technical material. Most of the entries are of historical interest or describe hand techniques as opposed to industrial processes."

There are, however, two other reference works which Ron feels newsletter readers would be interested in. One is called Shin sen'i yoogo jiten. "This dictionary," Ron says, "was published in 1975 by The Textile Machinery Society of Japan (English name: New Dictionary of Textile Terms.) It is unfortunately now out-of-print and there are no plans to re-print it. It lists about 8,000 terms with their English equivalents. There's also an English-Japanese index. The biggest drawback is the maddening use of the kunrei system for romanization. This dictionary integrates many chemical terms commonly associated with textiles and dyeing into one volume. This dictionary along with the JIS yoogo-jiten volume VI, sen-i-hen, makes for a very powerful combination."

The other one is called Sen'i senshoku shiage Eigo nyuumon. According to Ron, "This book is aimed at native Japanese who are attempting to write reasonably correct English on topics related to textiles, dyeing, finishing, etc. Most of the book is useless to J-E translators with the exception of a group of 300 'selected terms', some of which I have found nowhere else. The publisher, Sen-i-sha, publishes a number of other textile related books, but apparently in Japanese only."

Ron sent sample pages from both of the reference books he describes, and they do appear to be useful. Here are copies of the colophons of these two books:

[Scanned Image No. 2]

I saw about 10 pages of Ron's "Glossary" and would like to obtain a copy of the whole volume, even in its current unfinalized state Ron is very self-deprecating about his achievement, but my impression is that a glossary of traditional handicraft terms would still be of some use to technical translators. I would not be surprised to find that some of the traditional terms are still in use, even in more high-tech contexts. Beyond that, I feel very strongly that the glossary is a very valuable work arid that Ron ought to be encouraged to publish a revised, corrected edition of his Glossary, perhaps through a commercial publisher. Readers wishing to contact Ron can write to him at his address in Kyoto:

Ron Granich
12-29 Kitsuji Minami-cho
Hanazono, Ukyo-ku
Kyoto 616 JAPAN

* * *


This refers to those peculiar words like assari, isoiso, sowasowa and ukauka which give the language such a rich fund of expression but are so troublesome to translate. Luckily for us, they occur seldom in technical writing, although we translators might encounter them in speeches and, rather frequently, in newspaper articles. In his A reference grammar of Japanese (pp. 1022–1025), Samuel E. Martin calls them "mimetic words," "mimetic quotations" or "mimetic adverbs" and classifies them into three groups:

Martin says that, although dictionaries "carry a good many of the mimetic adverbs that are in common use, new ones keep turning up, as well as unexpected variants of older forms." (p. 1023)

I recently found the following dictionary which is devoted exclusively to these mimetic words:

擬音語・擬態語辞典 浅野鶴子編 金田一春彦解説 角川書店 初版昭和53年 定価1300円

I find the dictionary to be a work of solid scholarship and also delightful to read. The author, Asano Tsuruko, is a specialist in English-language education who taught Japanese at Yale University from 1956 to 1958. She is director of a Japanese language school in Tokyo (the school has the rather formidable name of Zaidan Hoojin Gengo Bunka Kenkyuusho Fuzoku Tookyoo Nihongo Gakkoo). The Agency for Cultural. Affairs gave the school a three-year research grant (beginning in 1973) for research on comparative thought patterns between Japanese and English, and the researchers decided to take up mimetic words as a research topic. The result is this 371-page dictionary. Each word is defined in a very clear and lively manner. Variants are listed and the shades of meaning are distinguished between them. The best thing about the dictionary, I think, is the many examples which it gives to illustrate how each word is used. A rich treat for any student of Japanese linguistics, this dictionary deserves a place on a translator's bookshelf.

* * *


A reader recently asked about how to deal with the titles of Japanese scientific periodicals which appear in bibliographies in jobs which are being translated. That is, does the translator just transliterate the title, does he give the periodical's name in English, or both?

Sometimes the client specifies exactly what he wants, and in those cases naturally I follow the format supplied by the client or the agency. If the client does not specify how he wants the bibliographies to be handled, I follow this procedure:

I give the full Japanese title, underlined, making sure to include the word Nihon if it has been omitted in the publication. Then I follow this with the official English title, enclosed in brackets. I emphasize the word full because sometimes the bibliography in the Japanese article will have only kanji acronyms (acronyms consisting of two or three kanji selected from the full titles of the periodicals). I reason that, since the purpose of a bibliography is to enable the reader to look up the publication in a library catalog, it might be useful to include both the correct Japanese and the official English title. I would not make my own translation of the title because it would probably not coincide with the official title and would not be listed in any list of periodicals or library catalog.

To obtain the full Japanese title and the official English title, I use a 1330-page reference book called Directory of Japanese scientific periodicals, 1979 [Nihon kagaku gijutsu kankei Chikuji kankoobutsu mokuroku] edited and published by the National Diet Library and sold by Kinokuniya Shoten. The Japanese and English titles of thousands of periodicals are given in the index at the end of this directory. The index gives you a number guiding you to the entry for each periodical in the main text.

Suppose my bibliography had an entry for 日衛誌. Evidently, an acronym for a Japanese periodical about hygiene or sanitation. I consult the index and soon find NIHON EISEIGAKU ZASSHI, which has number 2257. Here is the entry, on p. 270 of the main text:

[Scanned Image No. 3]

This is how I would give this title in my translation of the bibliography:

Nihon eiseigaku zasshi [Japan journal of hygiene]

As you can see, I follow the practice of using lower-case letters for words in titles except for the first word and names of organizations. An example of the latter, found on the same page, would be:

Nara-ken Eisei Kenkyujo nenpo [Annual report of Nara Prefectural Institute of Public Health]

The Directory of Japanese scientific periodicals is one of the most useful reference books in my entire library. It is needed for all jobs which have bibliographies containing Japanese titles. Not only can you find the Japanese and English titles of 8,901 Japanese scientific periodicals; you can also find the Japanese and English names of the organizations which publish them.

* * *


Many readers have written in to express their support for the newsletter, which they say has been extremely helpful to them. To give just one example, John J. McWilliams of Yokohama writes (March 29, 1984):

Before TJT came along, I was like a "babe in the wilderness," but now that I've read a few issues, I don't feel so all alone anymore.

There have also been some suggestions about how to improve the newsletter. John Shields of Nagoya favors less editorializing (March 31):

I appreciate your opinion, but I think you must gradually get into the forum-type approach if you want to reach a wider readership. Lots of exchange, with fewer editorial comments. That's if you wish to expand and put it on a business basis.

Some readers in Japan have written to say that they feel that the newsletter gives too much emphasis to word processors. For example, W.L. Jenson of Nagoya writes as follows in his letter of March 23:

As far as comments or suggestions about the newsletter, I certainly do hope it continues as I've found it extremely informative and educational. However, I feel that a lot of space has been taken up unnecessarily with detailed announcements and explanations of word processor development. For those who are really interested, I'm sure that there are other media by which they can get their information. In Japan, there are still a lot of translators like myself who are just using a typewriter.

One year ago, when I first started the newsletter, my main concern was how to obtain a response. It was obvious, from the previous unsuccessful attempts at putting out newsletters in this field, that the most important things were perseverance and a bit of ingenuity. The patience has paid off, and now, a year later, the newsletter is much better established and has won some recognition for itself. The number of readers has increased steadily, and there are now more than 155 readers world-wide, and new readers are added to the list every week. Many of them regularly send in letters, news articles, comments, and glossaries, and I think the newsletter is moving towards a forum-type publication where people can exchange their views. I especially like the international character of the newsletter; it enables people on different continents sharing the same professional interests to communicate with each other and compare notes. This is exactly what I always wanted, but it has taken almost a year to achieve this much. It would be wonderful if the entire contents of every issue of the newsletter were supplied by the readers themselves. The newsletter would then simply write itself, with no need for editorial intervention at all.

The newsletter is not intended to be a commercial venture, and I don't care if it is successful on a business basis. I think a newsletter is always most useful if it addresses a narrowly defined interest group of persons whose special field is not served by any mass media of communication.

The newsletter has been giving out a variety of different types of information, and not all of them are narrowly limited to the translator's daily tasks. Matters such as data processing, news about the doings of computer manufacturers and the importance and availability of Japanese scientific and technical information have been dealt with. Readers have widely differing interests. Some readers say that they especially like the glossaries and word lists; others enjoy interviews or definitions of neologisms and slang words; and still others are more interested in computers and word processors than they are in translating. Some readers have even written to say that the aspect of the newsletter which interests them most is the analysis of the linguistic implications of computers and word processors, the impact which these products are having on the Japanese language. Very little information is available about this, at least in English. The editor's policy is to report anything which might interest some or all of the readers. Since dictionaries, typewriters, word processors, and computers are tools which we technical translators use, I feel that they are all legitimate items of interest for a newsletter for translators. I also think that if the language which we translate from is changing, for example as a result of the widespread introduction of word processors, we translators ought to know about it.

Information about Japanese-language word processors has not been widely available to U.S. residents. On the other hand, now that at least one model of a Japanese word processor is becoming available here in the U.S., the problem will be less acute, and we may be able to devote less space to them in the newsletter.

In a lengthy letter, Carl Kay of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the following to say about the newsletter. (For the rest of his letter, see above, "Correspondence from Readers about Translation Practices.")

I feel that this newsletter is extraordinarily useful and valuable, and even though the last thing I need is more overhead, when I think in terms of relative value, a subscription price of between $5 and $10 per issue, or say $50/year, does not seem unreasonable, if that's what it takes to keep it going. Unless the labor and costs of producing the newsletter could be rotated among subscribers with reliable results. My experience in other small networks is that a core group of just a few people end up doing all the work while receiving little feedback (positive or negative) from the bulk of the membership, except for the dues (or subscription) check. Under such circumstances, the core group should set the dues high enough so that they can put their allotted time and enthusiasm fully into the project without exhaustion, resentment or bankruptcy.

In another long letter, Tomoyuki Satoh of Austin, Texas, has the following conunents about the future of the newsletter:

I understand your dilemma about the newsletter. I know how hard it is to be a full-time translator, and I always wondered how you had the time to read all those newspapers to write the articles for your newsletter. However, I strongly believe that your newsletter should continue, and the first thing you can do is perhaps to set a subscription price for the newsletter. For instance, I wouldn't mind paying $50/yr. to subscribe to your newsletter and will also contribute comments, articles, etc., whenever possible. I believe the current ATA membership fee is about that amount, while belonging to the ATA does not seem to do any good to Japanese translators. I also suggest you contact universities that offer Japanese or Japanese-related study programs and see if they want to subscribe to the newsletter. With the interest in Japanese technology increasing in the U.S. today, I can imagine that the demand for Japanese technical translation will increase dramatically in the next decade or so, and people in those Japanese programs may be thinking about taking up translation as a career. Another obvious possibility is to accept paid advertisements from translation companies, wordprocessor manufacturers, etc. I believe very few people besides you have the experience and knowledge to publish a newsletter of value to Japanese translators and that most readers of the newsletter will rather pay a small amount of money than see the newsletter fold. How many readers do you have as of now? I think in the next issue you should include a page in which you should ask the readers to send in the information for the translators directory. That way, you can get some idea as to how many paid subscribers you may expect for the newsletter. If I get more ideas about this, I will let you know.

By the way, Don, how come your name is not included in the Directory? Have you forgotten?

Editor's reply: To answer the last question, I wasn't sure whether it would be appropriate for the editor to be listed in the Directory, and also I thought that everyone reading the newsletter already knows my name and address anyway. But since I am a translator, too, I decided to put my own name in this time.

There are about 23 or 24 names in the Directory now, but that is only a small percentage of the total number of readers. There are two reasons for this. (1) Many of the readers are not J-E translators, but are persons or organizations with a professional or personal interest in Japanese studies or in translation in general; (2) Some professional translators do not want to be listed in the Directory. I consider the persons listed in the Directory to be a sort of "vanguard" group of translator-activists who want to have their names and addresses known.

A count made in early April showed that the total number of readers at that time was 155. I suspect that the newsletter actually reaches more than 155 because many readers pass their copies around to others. Here is a breakdown on the numbers of readers in different countries. The number in Japan may now be larger than 70 since the records kept by the Japan distributor are probably more up-to-date than mine.

U.S. 76 reader(s)
Japan 71 "
U.K. 5 "
Mexico 1 "
Ireland 1 "
Germany 1 "

Within the U.S., California is the state which has by far the largest number of readers. 32, or nearly half of the U.S. readers, are living in California, mostly Northern California. No other state has anything near so many. Texas, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania each have four readers; Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New York, and Washington D.C. have three readers each; and nine other states have only one or two each.

There are two possible explanations for the remarkable preponderance of readers in California. One explanation is that, since the newsletter is published here, it is better known among the translators in Northern California. The other possible explanation is that Northern California really is the major center of Japanese translation in the U.S. Indeed, I cannot think of any other section of the country which could be considered to be a center of Japanese translation. Since translators can, generally speaking, live anywhere they like, they may possibly tend to gravitate towards Northern California for the usual reasons: They give their vote to that region because of its attractive climate, pleasant living conditions, and cosmopolitan and polyglot population. Besides, it is nearer to Japan than other areas.

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In issue no. 13, I quoted an article by Jack Seward which appeared in the Japan Timesof February 1, 1984. The article listed a number of careers which Mr. Seward considered possible for "Japan Area-and-Language Specialists" (JALS). In the article he did not even mention the profession of translator or technical translator.

After that a friend sent me a copy of an earlier book by Seward, entitled Japanese in Action (Weatherhill, 1968). The final chapter of that book goes into the same area as the article in the Japan Times but I did find in the book the following two paragraphs about translators, or rather "interpreter-translators," on page 201. This type of reference in a popular book (by an "expert") goes a long way to explain why we translators are so lacking in public recognition.

A few years back I knew of two ex-classmates of mine who were working in Japan as interpreter-translators. I have since lost track of them — and know of no others, although there may be a few. The profession is not sufficiently rewarding monetarily, particularly in view of the arduous study and broad knowledge these people are required to possess. Additionally, for most chores, Japanese competition is available at two or three hundred dollars a month. Simultaneous interpreters may receive more, but they are extremely scarce. (And, in any case, the position of the verb at the end of a Japanese sentence makes simultaneous interpretation from Japanese to English an impossibility.)

Sometimes we see the names of American translators on the dust jackets of translations of Japanese novels and stories, but I wonder how many of these make their living entirely from this work. I suspect that it is mostly a labor of love. Edward Seidensticker, a well-known and capable translator, is now a U.S. college professor — and I believe he was engaged in other income-producing activities even while he was translating in Japan. One technique employed in such translations (not Seidensticker's, of course) is that a Japanese first translates the work in question into rough English and then has an American polish it. The two share the translator's pittance. Sometimes the Japanese takes the lion's share of the fee but lets the name of his American assistant appear on the cover as sole translator.

[Editor's comment: Naru hodo]

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Reviewed by Thomas Wilds

Edward E. Daub, R. Byron Bird, Nobuo Inoue, Comprehending Technical Japanese, The University of Wisconsin Press and University of Tokyo Press, 1975, 437 pp. $15.00.

It is a pleasure to review a book that is so clearly a contribution to its field. Professors Daub, Bird and Inoue have transformed technical Japanese from an esoteric mystery to an organized field of study, making it possible for the English-speaking scientist, engineer or translator to learn technical Japanese far more quickly and easily than ever before.

Japanese is far and away the most difficult of the major technical languages for English speakers to learn. English, French, German and Russian share common grammatical concepts and cognate words borrowed from Latin and Greek. Japanese resembles only Korean in grammar and has done most of its borrowing from Chinese, including the difficult Chinese ideographs. Learning modern Chinese or Japanese requires mastering about 2,000 ideographs, but Chinese grammar is relatively simple and even resembles English, while Japanese grammar is complex and dissimilar to all Western languages. Thus the effort needed for English speakers to learn Japanese is perhaps double that for Chinese and triple that for a European language. This effort can be mammoth if the student has to learn the entire Japanese language just to read its technical part. But as the authors point out, technical Japanese employs only a portion of the 2,000 ideographs common in everyday writing, and avoids many of the most difficult grammatical constructions. They have identified 500 ideographs most commonly used in physics, chemistry and biology, as well as the grammatical constructions commonly used in technical writing. Now the scientist, engineer or translator can approach technical Japanese directly without plowing through the entire language.

Based on this simplified approach, the authors present twenty-five lessons, each introducing 20 ideographs used in three graded exercises. The first exercise, usually from a Japanese high school physics textbook, is given in the original Japanese, the same is then written in Roman letters, and finally in English translation — accompanied by vocabulary lists and explanatory notes. The second exercise is drawn from an advanced Japanese text and is accompanied only by vocabulary lists. The third exercise is an original Japanese technical passage with no study aids, called a "Final Translation Test." Thus the student progresses from an easy first reading, through a more difficult second one, to a final test that approximates what he will find when he first tackles technical Japanese on his own.

The authors assume that the student has had a year of beginning Japanese, including the grammar, the two kana syllabaries used in writing besides the ideographs, and an introduction to the ideographs themselves. Thus their book may be used at the second-year teaching level, either in formal classes or in home study.

We may wonder why this simple and practical approach was not taken earlier. I have studied Japanese for thirty years and have translated technical Japanese for fifteen, and this is the first book I have seen that adequately covers technical Japanese for someone who speaks English only.

Even with Comprehending Technical Japanese, the subject is still not one for casual interest, but rather for the "courageous" student willing to devote "hard work," as the authors so correctly point out. Thanks to Professors Daub, Bird and Inoue, the brave and hardworking scientist, engineer, translator, technical librarian or student can now approach this difficult subject with method and direction.

[Editor's Note: This review first appeared in International Chemical Engineering, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 380–381 (April 1976) and is reprinted here with the author's permission. Thomas Wilds is President of Thomas Wilds Associates, 516 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10036.

[Incidentally, although the book cost $15.00 when it was first published and reviewed, it now costs $32.50. I found the following information about the authors on a blurb on the book's jacket: "Edward E. Daub, who has had extensive experience in working with and translating Japanese scientific materials, is Associate Professor of General Engineering at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. R. Byron Bird, the author of many articles and coauthor of three previous books, is Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Nobuo Inoue, the author of six college-level textbooks on physics and mechanical engineering, and of more than fifty technical articles, is Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Tokyo University of Science, and is Managing Director, Tokyo Office, of the Franklin Institute Research Laboratories." — DLP]

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SORD COMPUTER — April 8, 1984

by Richard Willis

I was invited to the opening of Sord Computer's new U.S. Operations center in L.A., and picked up some data sheets. I specifically asked about whether any of the machines Sord intends to sell in the American market could be obtained with Japanese word processing software. The answer was … mixed. Sord's main thrust in the U.S. market will be with the M68 and with the little IS-11. They also had the M23P on display, but the sales manager made some ambiguous statements about whether it would be available here.

The M68 has some fairly powerful JLWP software available, but it's not a cheap machine with a kanji-capable printer, you're looking at $5500–$7000 minimum. Also, the standard American model doesn't have a kana keyboard, but I suspect that Sord would provide one if asked. One really doesn't need a 68000-based machine to do word processing, even in kanji.

The M23P, in the $2000 price range (without printer), would be a lot closer to most readers' budgets. It's only an 8-bit (Z80) machine, so it might be a little sluggish in its kanji selection and juggling; but I've never seen its JLWP software in action, so I can't say for sure. I was previously under the impression that the M23P was for sale in the U.S., but two of the people in the showroom said that Sord hadn't really decided yet whether to try to get the machine launched in the American market. Citibank has apparently chosen the M23P as the terminal for some sort of banking network they're setting up; Sord has made some very significant inroads into the banking world, with Citibank, Chase Manhattan, and several other world-class banks, not to mention Japanese banks. It may be that Sord will keep the M23P for OEM sales in vertical markets but not try to sell it through the dealer network they are trying to establish.

Amazingly enough, Sord intends to offer a one-megabit kanji ROM for the IS-11 portable that will give it the entire JIS daiichi suijun character set. That's kind of interesting from an engineering standpoint, but as far as serious word processing is concerned, I'm not too optimistic about how well it will work — the display would hold at most 4 lines of 16 kanji (in a 15x16 dot format) and the unit's Z80 seems pretty overtaxed already just handling ASCII text. I suspect that the real usefulness of the kanji capability in Japan will be for adding labels to spreadsheets, recording short memos, and that sort of thing. Anyway, I'll keep you posted as I find out more.

I also picked up a copy of Sord's little self-promotion booklet, The Flame from Japan. Although many Japanese companies (and American companies for that matter) publish such items, this one is very interesting in the extent to which it emphasizes the maverick nature of Sord and its founder Takayoshi Shiina. Having met the man on a couple of occasions, I can vouch for the fact that he comes across quite unlike most other Japanese businessmen I've talked to. He has a number of ventures going peripheral to Sord, including some publishing and marketing groups. For your computer-interested readers, this is clearly a company to watch.

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Joseph D. Becker, Manager, International Advanced Development, Xerox Office Systems Division, has asked me to state that the letters which I published on pp. 33–35 of issue no. 14 were private, and were published without Mr. Becker's knowledge or permission.

It is my understanding that all letters knowingly addressed to the editor of a newsletter are subject to being published at the editor's discretion, unless, of course, they are libelous or unless the writers of the letters expressly state otherwise. I apologize to Mr. Becker, but the letters in question were written on company stationery and had no indication at all that they were intended to be kept "private."

In the article on pages 26–31 of the last issue, we mistakenly referred to Carl Kay of Cambridge, Massachusetts as "Charles Kay." This was unforgivable since Carl Kay's name is correctly listed in our Directory in the same issue. Apologies to Carl for the mistake; it was unintentional.

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The directory has been very helpful, not only to persons who are looking for translators, but also to translators who want to contact each other. For your convenience, I am including in this issue again a composite directory which embraces all the names submitted so far, including my own. Do readers want to have the whole directory reproduced in every issue?

APPS, F.R.D. Owner, Ingatestone Translations, 57 High St., Ingatestone, Essex, CM4 OAT, England. Japanese to English Technical Translation. Specialties electronics, organic chemistry.

CHANDLER, Brian. 10, Sixnmondley Grove, Glossop, Derbyshire SK13 9NQ, England. Tel. Glossop (04574) 61906. Japanese to English Technical Translation. Specialties computers, electronics and patents.

DAVISON, Lucile S. 50 Tomlinson Rd.., Woodbury, CT 06798. Tel. (203) 2634207. Japanese, Russian, German, and French to English. MS in Chemistry, Univ. Oklahoma 1940; technical librarian for U.S. Rubber Co. 1942-45; abstractor for Am. Petrol. Inst., Chemical Abstracts, Metals Abstracts; associate editor Rubber Chemistry and Technology 1967–80. Specializes in chemical literature and patents.

FIELD, Rikko. Director, JLS, 61 Renato Court, Suite 1, Redwood City, CA 94061. Tel.: (415) 321-9832. Technical translation and interpreting; IBM Displaywriter-processed copy; Japanese typesetting and typewriting. All technical fields including patents and legal documents.

FRASER, D.A., BA, MIL, 22 Gresley Road, London N19 3JZ, England. Japanese to English. Chemistry, medicine, life sciences. Freelance translator.

GLEASON, Alan, 1280 4th Ave., No. 3, San Francisco CA 94122. Tel. (415) 753-2702. Member NCTA. J-E translation and J-E/E-J consecutive interpreting. Fields: electronics, chemistry, computers, business, economics.

HAZELRIGG, Meredith, 468-1 Mizuno Sayama-shi, Saitaxna-ken, Japan 350-13. Tel. 0181-429-59-7959 (direct dial from U.S.), 0429-59-7959 (Japan). Freelance translation (general technical work with emphasis in three areas: medical, electronics, financial) and consultant in cross-cultural communication. Member, SWET. Listed, Contemporary Authors. Trustee, Allegan Education Foundation (Box 155, Allegan, Michigan 49010 USA).

HOWE, Josephine. 158 Wood Street, Doylestown, PA 18901, USA (Philadelphia Area). Tel.: (215) 348-7884. Japanese and French to English; pharmaceutical, medical, biochemical and industrial chemical research and patents. M.A. Japanese, Columbia U., New York, N.Y. B.A. English (French and Japanese minors, biosciences course work) Indiana U., Bloomington, IN.

ISHIMOTO, Paul. Japan Patent Service, 2025 Eye Street, N.W. #307, Washington, D.C. 20006. Specializes in translation of Japanese patents. Worked as translator in U.S. Patent Office for more than 15 years.

JENSON, W.L. 1-24 Tashiro Hondori, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Japan 464. Tel.: (052) 7626532. Freelance Technical Translation (J-E), proofreading & rewriting. Field: Mechanical engineering specializing in automobiles. (Seven years' experience with Toyota Motor Corp. and affiliates.)

JONES, David G. 3013 Yellowpine Terrace, Austin, TX 78757. Tel.: (512) 451-4381. Japanese to English. Patents covering chemical synthesis, plastics, photography, electrophotography, magnetic recording media, etc.

KAY, Carl. Owner, Japanese Language Services, 607 Franklin Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139. Tel. (617)661-9784. Offers Japanese translation, typesetting, interpreting and research services.

LIM, Peter, Ph.D. 5220 N.E. 51st St., Vancouver, WA 98661. Tel.: (206) 694-5353 (home); (206) 695-4477, Ext. 349 (business). Areas of experience: Electronics, semiconductors, nuclear engineering, chemistry, mathematics, mechanical engineering, pulp and paper, patents, contracts.

MOFFETT, Linda. 749 Ash Street, Denver, Colorado 80220. Tel. (303) 3880284. BA, University of Colorado Japanese Studies, background in chemistry and pharmacy. Specializes in chemistry, batteries, textiles, medical.

MUNOZ, Roey. 7401 Cannon Mt. P1., Austin, TX 78749. Tel.: (512)288-1897. JapaneseEnglish and Spanish-English translation. BS in Japanese language from Georgetown Univ. with 6 years of translation experience. Special interest in medicine, pharmaceuticals and chemistry.

NISHIMURA, Keiichi. 461 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Berkeley, CA 94708. Patent attorney. Translates technical and scientific documents including Japanese patents into English.

OSBORN, David K. 2495 Santa Rosa Ave., Altadena, CA 91001. Tel. (818) 797-8956. Japanese-English translator, editor, business correspondent and technical writer. Experience in medical, cultural, legal and business fields. Abstracts, typing and revisions.

PATNER, Richard. 4110 Derek Road, Madison WI, 53704. Tel. (609) 249-2506. Japanese to English translation of patents and technical documents with over ten years experience.

PHILIPPI, Donald L. 715 Tenth Ave., San Francisco, CA 94118. Tel. (415) 752-7735. J-E technical translation in all fields. 23 years experience, Tokyo 1961-1971, S.F. since 1971. IBM Displaywriter. Editor of Technical Japanese Translation since May, 1983.

RIDLEY, Charles P. 2780 Ross Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303. Tel.: (415) 3287344. Japanese-English and Chinese-English. BA in biology from Bates College; MA and PhD in Chinese from Stanford University. 20 years experience. Specialties include medicine, pharmaceuticals, chemistry, computer technology.

SATOH, Tomoyuki. 2714 E. 22nd St., Austin TX 78722. Tel. (512)479-8460. M.A. Physics, The Johns Hopkins University. J-E translation and abstracting. Excellent in physics, mathematics, chemistry, elec. and mech. engineering, and patents in all fields; adequate in medical, pharmaceutical, electronics and computer science, law, economics, etc. $50/M minimum for freelance work.

SCHODT, Frederik L. 144 Parnassus Ave. Apt. 14, San Francisco, CA 94117. Tel. (415) 681-9803. Member A.T.A. and N.C.T.A. Japanese-English interpreting, translation. Specialties computers, electronics. Epson QX-10 word processor.

SHKOLNIK, Alexander. 4434 Fulton St., Apt. #2, San Francisco, CA 94121. Tel. (415) 387-0290. Member A.T.A. and N.C.T.A. Japanese-English-Russian technical translations. Specialization in patent matters, mechanical engineering, metallurgy and chemistry. Worked as patent agent since 1963. Translating since 1959 from English to Russian, since 1965 from Japanese to Russian, and since 1970 into English from both.

SORDEAN, Jay, C.A. 505 23rd St., Apt. 4, Oakland, CA 94612. Tel.: (415) 839-9527. Languages: Japanese. Subjects: Medical, biological, patents, chemistry, electronics, mechanical engineering, oriental medicine, computers, legal, etc.

UYAMA, Hiroshi. Director, Japan Technical Information Center, 706 Seventh Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003. Tel.: (202)544-6314 (days), (703) 979-0054 (evenings). B.A., Chemistry, International Christian University in Tokyo, M.S. Inorganic Chemistry, Tokyo Institute of Technology. Since 1975 Japanese-English interpreting, translation, and consulting services in Washington, D.C. Science, technology, politics, social sciences.

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No doubt you have all been busy, earning your "pittances" (to quote the inimitable Mr. Seward).

I've been busy too — with my regular work and with this issue, which has turned out to be the biggest one so far. Next issue, which may or may not be the last one (I'll let you know then), will also probably be quite extensive. I want to do something retrospective in the next issue a summing up of the first year of the newsletter's work. Send in retrospective articles if you'd like — describe what you have accomplished during the past year, what changes have occurred in your professional life, what the newsletter has meant during that time, and so on.

With all this talk going around about Apple's new Macintosh computer, I went down to a Computerland store and tried one out. The salesman wanted to know the type of application I had in mind, and I said I already had a good word processor but was interested in a toy to play around with. He smiled and said that the Macintosh was the first computer he had ever seen which people would buy on impulse. I was first struck by how little it is, really toy-like. The main unit is a tiny little machine measuring 9.7 x 10.9 x 13.5 inches. The display is considerably smaller than the one I am used to, and that added to the feeling of miniatureness. The charming thing about the Macintosh, obviously, is its graphics and its numerous type fonts. I watched the salesman draw on the screen with the MacPaint program, but I wanted to try out word processing with the numerous type fonts. The salesman let me sit right down and try it out without any preliminaries, and I found the mouse easy to use. The salesman didn't know how to obtain the special symbols and accented letters, but I figured that one out on my own. The optional characters can be accessed easily from the keyboard while typing, but the set does not seem to include all the Greek letters and scientific symbols which are commonly used.

The appearance of the characters on the screen was not terribly impressive, but I did like the idea: that one can select any of eight different type fonts. They have names like New York, Geneva, Toronto, Monaco, Venice, Chicago, Athens, and London (the latter is Old English and looks extremely ugly). You can get them in different sizes: 9, 12, 14, 18, 24, 36, 48 and 72 point. Each type face and type size can be in plain text, bold, italics, underlined, outline, and shadow, or in combinations of those. (You can have bold italic underlined outlined shadow text if you really want it.) You can combine text with graphics in any way you want, but there is evidently no way to get into the fonts and customize them yourself to create your own alphabets.

The Computerland salesman said the main unit including mouse and the two software packages cost $2,405 (I had seen a list price of $2,495 in a magazine), and with the printer the price was $3,000. That would make the printer cost $595.00, although I had seen a list price of $495 for the printer in a magazine. The printer, by the way, is called an Imagewriter and is made for Apple by Tokyo Electric, the company which also makes C. Itoh printers. The same printer, I understand, is also used by the Lisa, the more sophisticated elder sister of the Macintosh.

This is a new product which has only been out for a few months, and only a limited amount of software is available for it as of now. I imagine that there are a number of bugs to be ironed out (the salesman mentioned one or two which he had encountered already). The memory now available is very limited (it will hold only about 10–20 pages of text), and the MacWrite software is more suitable for writing short memos than for serious word processing. However, additional memory is promised, and no doubt other vendors will be making other software packages available quite soon. Some sort of Japanese-language word-processing software for the Macintosh is being prepared in Japan, but I am not sure whether it would be possible to run it on the units sold in America (let's not cross our fingers about that).

Those who have more serious requirements might be interested in the Lisa-2, which already is available with hard disk (at about $6,700) and is a more sophisticated computer. All the Macintosh software will also run on the Lisa models.

The main problem with this type of computer is the printer. The Imagewriter which I saw was a rather ordinary, run-of-the-mill dot-matrix printer. It is capable of printing in three different resolutions: draft quality, standard quality (which matches exactly the screen display), and high quality, which has about twice as many dots as the screen display. However, it uses a 9-wire printhead, and even the high-resolution print quality probably would not be suitable for a translator's final draft. I can't imagine what kanji would look like if printed on such a printer. The better Japanese kanji printers use 24x24 dot matrix structures, and some use even 32x32. A laser printer is definitely a desideratum.

Conclusion: Hardly the new industry standard, but an amusing plaything with many nice features which, if massive memory and a high-resolution printer were added, could be developed into something superb. We need a real multilingual word processor. Maybe the Lisa 2 would do the job. Or perhaps a miracle will occur and the Xerox Star will become affordable. An interim solution might be to use Fujitsu's My OASYS Japanese word processor with Wordstar English-language software. (See the ad from the Nihon keizai shimbun, April 11, 1984 below on this page.)

The American merger mania has finally hit the translation industry. A small California agency, Agnew Tech-Tran, has been acquired by Macmillan, a large publisher which owns the Berlitz language schools. The new agency is called Berlitz/Agnew Tech-Tran and is headquartered at 6415 Independence Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA 91367. The combined agency has offices in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and Toronto.

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[Scanned Image No. 4]

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Send in your tidbits, etc., and I will incorporate them in the next issue. Don't forget to write if you want your name to be included in the Directory in the next issue. Those who send in lists from now on should provide the kanji for the Japanese words. I will type them in Japanese if necessary.

May 1, 1984

Donald L. Philippi
715 Tenth Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 752-7735

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