Japanese translation (usually from English to Japanese or Japanese to English) is a common request we see at Verbio.
We provide Japanese translation of all types of documents, including marketing, technical, import/export, legal, employee handbooks, catalogs, insurance, financial and personal documents and vital records for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and more.
When translating from English to Japanese, you can expect the Japanese text to take up about 20% – 60% more space when compared to the original English text, depending on the subject matter. Alternatively, when translating from Japanese to English, the text is contracted by about 10% – 55%. This is heavily determined by whether or not there are pre-existing sinographic compound equivalents to the English text. In the case that there are pre-existing sinographs (or kanji), the text in Japanese may be shorter than in English. On the other hand, if there is not a pre-existing Japanese equivalent sinograph (or kanji), the word may be expressed using the alphabet for borrowed words, known as katakana. The reason for additional space being used is due to each syllable being included as a representation of the word, rather than a character or two which represents the word already.
What is Kanji?
Kanji is a Japanese writing system tracing back to Chinese in the 4th or 5th century AD, during the expansion of Buddhism into Japan. It was introduced at a singular trade port in Dejima when very few foreigner merchants were admitted into Japan. The majority of foreign merchants allowed at the trading port were the Dutch and Chinese merchants, inspiring architecture, arts, and language most of all. At this time, Japan had established its own spoken language, but had not established a writing system. Buddhist monks and their books were a great influencer to the early Japanese language. The Chinese characters were adapted to the existing spoken language in Japan. During this adaptation, many Chinese pronunciations were also adapted, causing a large variety of written words in Japanese to consist of both a Japanese and a Chinese-derived pronunciation, known as kunyomi and onyomi respectively. Due to the linguistic differences between Chinese and Japanese, kanji was later used to create the Japanese alphabet which is not used in Chinese.
The Japanese Alphabet (Kana)
Following the adaptation of kanji characters into the Japanese language, the written alphabet (or syllabic script) was eventually created. The use of cursive calligraphy and annotation allowed Japanese speakers to more readily understand the written Chinese-derived characters which were introduced into their language. The Japanese alphabet (or kana) came to consist of two separate sound sets, known as hiragana and katakana. Hiragana and katakana are based on the same sound sets, with their use differed by whether the word is of Japanese origin. Hiragana is used for Japanese words, while katakana is used for borrowed words, such as those adapted from English or Portuguese. You may notice the difference between hiragana and katakana by their writing style. Hiragana is of a cursive script, while katakana tends to be more angular. Each kana character directly corresponds with one sound in the Japanese language. There are a total of 46 common sounds/equivalent characters between hiragana and katakana, plus two additional sounds in katakana for use in adapting borrowed words.
Interesting facts about Japanese
- Japanese is the 8th most common language spoken by internet users according to Internet World Stats (data from 2017).
- Over the last 18 years, the number of Japanese speakers on the internet has increased by 152% according to Internet World Stats (data from 2017).
- According to data from the 2011 American Community Survey from the United States Census Bureau, more than 436, 000 Americans speak Japanese in their home.
- There are 127 million native Japanese speakers around the world.
Why people translate to or from Japanese
- Improved business relations with Japanese companies
- Marketing, import/export, catalogs or manuals
- Advanced technology market
- Web, game and app localization
- Animations and comics (such as anime and manga)
- Training materials
- Personal documents or citizenship
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