on May 15, 2015 Common problems and Tags: , with 0 comments

Why do all the titles in my translation have “about” in them?

If you’re taking the word “about” out of all the titles in your Japanese to English translation, they do come from somewhere.

Japanese has a convention of identifying headings using a set phrase which equates to “about”, whereas in English titles are normally picked out by formatting such as larger font, bold or underline.

Japanese: バックアップについて
Romaji: bakkuappu ni tsuite
Literal translation: About backing up
English: Backing up

Japanese: オーダーメイド医療について
Romaji: o-da-meido igaku ni tsuite
Literal translation: About order-made medicine
English: Personalised medicine

An experienced translator will leave out the “about” and suggest another way of emphasising the title if necessary.

There is always a tension between remaining true to the source text and producing a natural translation. Languages do not have a neat one-to-one correspondence between words or concepts, so the translator has to choose when to stay close to the source and when to move away from it to produce a more idiomatic translation. If you’re finding “about” all about, try asking your translator to be a bit less literal.