on July 22, 2015 Common problems and Tags: , with 0 comments

Japanese sounds do not map perfectly onto English ones, which is no real surprise with two such different languages.

This can lead to problems when Japanese words are rendered in English – especially personal and place names.

松本 Matsumoto Matumoto (pronounced Matsumoto)

The risk of sounds shifting is compounded when the word came from another language in the first place and was written in one of the Japanese phonetic alphabets and then turned back into English.

biochip baiochippu バイオチップ baiotippu biotip

This isn’t an academic example. I have edited a text where a Japanese native speaker helpfully wrote “biotip” in English, and the translators did not know enough about the area to realise it must be wrong. No matter how much it may cost, working with a subject matter expert is always worth it.