So you want to be a Japanese translator…

So you want to be a Japanese translator, eh? Is your dream to move to Japan and get a job translating video games/manga/anime – or, better yet, doing interpretation for businessmen? Then you should check the flowchart below to see if you can handle it.

Look, I’m going to be honest. The grim reality is that you will almost certainly never be a Japanese translator. For one, your Japanese isn’t good enough, and it probably won’t be. It requires a truly immense amount of studying, and you have to be nearly fluent both in terms of grammar and incredibly obscure vocabulary. And passing the JLPT doesn’t matter, unless you pass 2kyuu (actually, probably 1kyuu) or higher – and even then you’re probably not going to get it. The fact is that, unfortunately, being Japanese is really the main way to be a translator. There are nuances of Japanese culture that they don’t teach you in class, and having them be innate is a huge leg up.

I was at a talk tonight, and they had a Japanese interpreter. She did a really great job, in terms of speed, efficiency and accuracy. But – and here’s the thing – she was Japanese. I mean, my guess is that she was Japanese-American, and that basically puts her ahead of all the other non-Japanese vying for that position.

So… sorry. Maybe you can do translations for your manga group on the Internet, but that won’t help you in the real world. It’ll earn you some weeaboo credibility, but that’s about it.

Monday, October 25th, 2010 11:04 pm - essays, japanese

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