Crafting Natural English from Japanese - Episode 8

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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.

the user’s perspective

a third party’s standpoint

customer point of view

camera angle

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

From a realist’s perspective, the Korean Peninsula’s complete denuclearization is nothing but a fantasy.

Takada can see matters from the viewpoint of other departments.

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.

We take all three of these views into consideration while managing projects to support our clients.

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.”

In terms of disruption, established players in the market actually have greater power than startups.

Consideration was given to clarifying the permissible conditions for rational practices or steps in terms of ensuring predictability.

In terms of ensuring user convenience, we must consider clarifying the rules.

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.”

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.

To come up with solutions, we also roll out problem-solving approaches with a consumer-centric mindset.

Through proprietary diagnostic techniques that take a human science approach, we provide clients with the best solutions.

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.

Inbound travel may also hold potential.

International trading in energy also involves financial markets where people deal in derivatives.

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.


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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 →