Crafting Natural English from Japanese - Episode 8

Screenshot 2020-05-01 09.37.54.png

Welcome back to our series on creative J>E translation, where we translate the idea behind Japanese words, not merely the words themselves. If you’d like to go back to the first episode, click here. For the full episode list, click here.

Today our words are 視点 and 観点, which both have pretty much the same meaning, although 観点 tends to appear more in formal contexts. But first:

A Note Before Continuing
The examples below come from actual projects that I have worked on for my customers, although I have modified the text to some degree in order to maintain confidentiality. Also, keep in mind that when it comes to translation, especially creative translation, there is usually more than one right answer. You may have different ideas for how to render these examples into English that could be just as valid or even better than mine. Much like writing, I’ve always thought of translation as an art, not a science. Of course, it also helps to have a good editor, so I’ve only selected examples from translations that were checked by a second pair of eyes.

Let’s get to it!

視点 (shiten)・観点 (kanten)

Overly common translations: perspective; standpoint; view; viewpoint
Suggested alternatives: in terms of; whatever else fits the context

While these two words do not seem to me to undergo egregious abuse in translation like some other Japanese terms (魅力, ものづくり, 現場, and イメージ in particular spring to mind), awkward renditions of 視点 and 観点 are common enough to warrant a place in this series of articles. But first, let’s a take a brief look at how the literal approach can work especially well with 視点.

ユーザーの視点
the user’s perspective

第三者の視点
a third party’s standpoint

観客視点
customer point of view

カメラの視点
camera angle

Here are some examples with full sentences. The last one includes 観点.

現実主義者の視点からは、朝鮮半島の完全な非核化はただの幻想である。
From a realist’s perspective, the Korean Peninsula’s complete denuclearization is nothing but a fantasy.

高田さんは他部署の視点から物事を捉えることがある。
Takada can see matters from the viewpoint of other departments.

事業運営・創造の視点から、発想の幅を広げ、合意形成を促す場をマネジメントし、参考になれる資料を定義します。
From a business operation and creation standpoint, we manage settings to encourage a wider range of idea-generation and consensus-making and we identify potentially useful information.

これら3の観点でプロジェクトをマネジメントし、お客さまを支援しています。
We take all three of these views into consideration while managing projects to support our clients.

あなたの視点は?
What’s your take?

Now that we have the literal translations out of the way, let’s examine how we can be more creative when a direct translation feels clunky or otherwise inadequate.

One of my go-to solutions for translating Japanese phrases such as 観点では and 観点から is “in terms of.”

破壊力という観点では、市場における名だたる企業の方がスタートアップ企業以上に大きな力を持っています。
In terms of disruption, established players in the market actually have greater power than startups.

予見性を確保する観点から、合理的な慣行又は措置として許容される要件等を明確することに対しての検討を行った。
Consideration was given to clarifying the permissible conditions for rational practices or steps in terms of ensuring predictability.

利用者の利便性確保の観点から、ルールの明確化を検討する必要がある。
In terms of ensuring user convenience, we must consider clarifying the rules.

コスト負担の観点から予算作成の考え方の見直しが必要ではないか。
In terms of the cost burden, perhaps we need to rethink how we formulate the budget.

A good phrase for 観点 that carries a similar air of formality is “in light of.”

規制や採算性などの観点から新増設が難しいことが背景にある。
In light of regulations and profitability issues, further construction of facilities would be difficult.

At times I feel the need to be a little more creative. Here are three examples involving 視点.

解決手法は、消費者中心の視点からも課題解決を図る手法へと展開します。
To come up with solutions, we also roll out problem-solving approaches with a consumer-centric mindset.

人間科学の視点での独自の診断技術により、顧客に最適なソリューションを提供します。
Through proprietary diagnostic techniques that take a human science approach, we provide clients with the best solutions.

私たちの会社はマクロとミクロの視点から人材市場にアプローチします。
Our firm approaches the market for talent on both the macro and micro levels.

And of course, sometimes it feels fine to just ignore 視点 and 観点.

インバウンドの視点でもポテンシャルがあるかもしれません。
Inbound travel may also hold potential.

国際エネルギーの取引には、デリバティブといった観点で取引を行う金融市場も存在する。
International trading in energy also involves financial markets where people deal in derivatives.

この大変換という観点から見た将来とは?
What does this grand transformation portend for the future?

That wraps up my take/perspective/views on translating 視点 and 観点. Thanks for reading!



For other episodes in the series “Crafting Natural English from Japanese,” click here.


Click here for the full archive of The Kyoto Linguist. You could also read the randomly selected article below.

 
6
Kudos
 
6
Kudos

Now read this

Crafting Natural English from Japanese - Episode 7

Welcome back to our series on creative J>E translation, where we translate the idea behind Japanese words, not merely the words themselves. If you’d like to go back to the first episode, click here. For the full episode list, click... Continue →