Finding the right word

Finding the right word

<The following are tips borrowed from 英日日英プロが教える基礎からの翻訳スキルby 光藤 京子 and 田辺 希久子. It is an excellent book and I definitely recommend it for any new translators. >

When you are translating E>J or J>E, you will come across words that you don’t know. It is critical that you find an appropriate equivalent in the target language AND use that word appropriately. This is a guide on how to do that.

1. Look it up

The most basic step probably doesn’t even need to be said. Look up the word in a dictionary or glossary. Where you look it up is important though. Some words will take on a completely different meaning in a science book vs. a novel. So, if you can find an appropriate 専門用語集・辞典 that is the first place you should start.

* Its important to note that, if you are just starting out, you may find words that are basic but you just don’t know them. It never hurts to start in a regular dictionary and then cross reference in a glossary.

2. Reverse look up

Once you have chosen a word that you think is correct, it is always important to cross reference it. So, if you just looked E>J, reverse look up J>E to make sure it still means what you think it means. Remember different words mean different things in different contexts.

3. Google it for meaning

If you can’t find the word you are looking for, google it! Sometimes it is an abbreviation or a combination of two words or a new word that has only come about in the last few years. Reading and understanding the context in which that word is used in other writing may help you understand it’s meaning.

4. Google a picture of it

This can help with words that don’t have a set translation. Sometimes if you see a picture of the word, you can associate it with an acceptable target term or know which words to search to find out what that item is called in the target language.

5. Google for usage

Once you have the word, you then have to learn how to use it. Weblio and ALC both have tons of example sentences that can help you. But for less common words, you will have to go to google. Try googling the noun and the verb that will follow it to see if native speakers actually use them together. Then adjust the sentence accordingly.