Notable Japanese word: “Shikumi” (仕組み / しくみ) and some ways to translate it

When learning a foreign language you sometimes come across words that, while mostly translatable on a case-by-case basis, are hard to translate literally to your native language (English in my case) such that all its nuances are carried over. If you can understand the ins and outs of these words you can even make them… Read More »

The correct way to describe a negative state using そう (sou): “なさそう” vs. “なそう” (nasasou vs. nasou)

Sometimes in languages there are grammatical rules which are tricky or obscure such that even native speakers have difficulty with them. One example in English could be comma usage (although depending on who you ask, there is some subjectivity involved there). In this article, I’d like to go over an aspect of Japanese grammar that… Read More »

Japanese SF Novella translation: “Two of Six: A Captain’s Dilemma” by Tomohito Moriyama [Chapter 1, Part 1]

I’m always on the lookout for great Japanese works of fiction that I can translate in order for English-speakers to appreciate them as much as I did. The other day I came across one such work, the SF novella “Two of Six: A Captain’s Dilemma” (original title “6分の2”)by Tomohito Moriyama (森山智仁). I was fortunate enough… Read More »

The mystery of public domain, and getting rights to publish works

For those wanting to get their feet wet in translation, public domain works (those who copyright has expired) are great since they are not only legally, freely available, but translations of them can (potentially) be published without having to get permission from the work’s original author. For those translating from Japanese, Aozora Bunko (青空文庫) is… Read More »

Japanese Literature Review: 「猫を抱いて象と泳ぐ」 (Swim With an Elephant, Embracing a Cat) by 小川洋子 (Yoko Ogawa): A nostalgic ode to chess

Yoko Ogawa (小川洋子) is an award-winning Japanese author who has written over 30 works, with at least eight of them translated into English so far. She is perhaps most known for her novel “The Housekeeper and the Professor” (博士の愛した数式) which was also made into a movie. I read Ogawa’s book “Little Bird” (ことり) last year… Read More »

Japanese Site Review: audiobook.jp (Japanese audiobooks)

While I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving print books (including E-books), Japanese audiobooks have some significant advantages. For a non-native speaker, I get extra information on the nuances of the text, especially for dialogue when there is a good voice actor. I don’t have to look up unfamiliar or forgotten Kanji characters, and I… Read More »