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Personal letter, email, fan letter, invitation letter...


Letter, motivation letter, activity plan, letter of introduction, letter of recommendation, letter of reason for invitation, syllabus, article (magazine)...


Business letter, report, manual, internal newsletter, press release, power of attorney, letter of agreement, sales contract, license agreement, written statement, articles of incorporation, minutes of annual meeting of shareholders, financial statements...

B / C

Website (homepage), pamphlet, catalog, advertisement, tourist brochure, travel guide...

B / C

Specialized document, academic essay, article (specialized magazine)...

B / C

Official document, certificate, notarial certificate, medical certificate, diagnosis, will, marriage contract, prenuptial agreement, divorce agreement, judgment, declaration, affidavit, sales contract, lease contract, non-disclosure agreement...





Particularities of translation from English to Japanese: specify without specifying too much

Grammatically, Japanese is designated as an agglutinative language. Therefore, when compiling a sentence, one adds the subject, the object, and lastly, the verb. In addition, the qualifying adjective always comes before the noun. Despite those practices, it is noteworthy that no element is mandatory for the utterance: the omission of the subject (personal pronoun or other) and the omission of the complement are frequent if they are easily guessed in the context and a sentence can consist of only one verb. There is therefore no rigorous form to be observed when constructing a sentence; in other words, it is difficult to know the extent to which something must be specified. One must master the art of relevant omission!

In addition, Japanese has no articles. In other words, no distinction is made between feminine and masculine, nor between singular and plural. For example, in Japanese to say "I have dog" is absolutely not shocking. The listener can not know if there is one or more dogs belonging to the speaker. However, to say "I have a dog" is to make a sentence too precise, it is not natural. One must therefore master the art of vagueness!

Particularities of translation from Japanese to English: specify that which is not specified

Conversely, producing a translation from Japanese to English involves constructing a grammatically correct sentence while highlighting items that are deliberately omitted from Japanese, while also expressing unspecified items purposely in Japanese. Therefore, an essential task in translation is understanding or ascertaining the true will or intention of the author of a Japanese text. Moreover, even more at the level of polite language of in Japanese, it is fundamentally important not to interpret everything verbatim. Indeed, translating polite formulas (and mainly those of Kenjogo) from Japanese into English would amount to too much paraphrasing. Moreover, such Japanese expressions are used in different specific situations or in different specific Japanese cultural contexts: some phrases are defined and appropriate to such and such a circumstance. For those reasons and others, translating such Japanese expressions in their literal sense in English amounts to moving away from what they evoke, irrespective of their meaning. In other words, to move away from their connotation or their secondary meanings.


Japanese writing system

To write in Japanese, one uses both Kanji (ideograms from Chinese characters) and Kana comprising Katakana and Hiragana, which are two phonetic lettering systems (representing sounds), each of 46 characters. Hiragana were inspired by Kanji. These characters have a cursive shape. They are used for grammatical particles as well as for the conjugation of verbs and verbal adjectives. They are also used instead of overly complex Kanji or immediately after these Kanji to indicate how they should be read. Katakana are often made up of an extract from part of a Kanji. Katakana are used mainly to write words (common names, proper names) of foreign origin.


Onomatopoeia, the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (such as buzz or hiss). Onomatopoeia may also refer to the use of words whose sound suggests the sense.

People who use Japanese very often use onomatopoeia both in conversation and in writing. Onomatopoeic words with a "hard" connotation, such as metallic noises, are written with Katakana. This practice might be related to the angular shape of the Katakana. As for onomatopoeic words written with Hiragana in cursive form, they have an implied "soft / soft" connotation.


A verb does not change based on person, number or gender. It therefore does not accord with the subject. Japanese language includes two main tenses: - the present, which can be translated as the present or the future in English (depending on the context), and - the past.


Japanese language uses adjectives of two types. Adjectival verbs or i-adjectives are treated grammatically as specialized verbs and are conjugated according to tense and politeness. Adjectival nouns or na-adjectives are invariable. They need a verb to express the tense and level of politeness. When modifying a noun, the particle -na is placed between the adjective and the noun it qualifies. When considered as a form of noun, one uses a verb (most often the verb to be) that is conjugated.

Languages of politeness

To express politeness in Japanese, a specific vocabulary, verb form or even a special sentence structure might be used. This feature of the language is more than a way of speaking; it is part of the culture of respect. Japanese language includes three forms of polite language:

1) Teineigo is the standard polished form. One uses this language when addressing a person who is not known well or when one wants to establish distance with another person.

2) Sonkeigo is the respectful language. It is used when addressing someone of higher status (hierarchical superior, older person, customer, etc.) or a person whom one admires. This language is never used to talk about oneself.

3) Kenjogo is the humble language. It is used to express modesty during a conversation with a person of higher social status than oneself (in other words, during a vertical relationship between two individuals or between two groups). These three languages are commonly mixed to be polite, respectful and modest simultaneously towards an interlocutor. Consequently, when listening to a conversation, one can ascertain not only the relationship between a speaker and an interlocutor and the relationship between the speaker and the third parties in question: one can discern the relationship between the third parties themselves!

Women's language

Japanese includes a language specific to women, used for conversation, for example. Women choose softer, more polite words and patterns whereas men use more rough and abrupt words and patterns. This difference is noticed through the use of specific personal pronouns (masculine or feminine), of special sentence ending particles with masculine or feminine connotation, of typically feminine polite prefixes, etc.

Marianne Translation

Translation of civils documents, certificates, etc.

Translation of Koseki Tohon/Shohon

Translation of Juminhyo

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