Is that translation appropriate?

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May 16, 2018 11:47
Hello everyone. How’s it going?


When we write an entry in a foreign language, we often translate a common word into the common counterpart. But sometimes, the original word has a comprehensive meaning compared to the translated word you chose. As a result, it can turn out to be inappropriate or misleading. I imagine you’ve experienced that before. That’s why, I’d like to show you some misleading translations I came across so far. I’ll give you both typical Japanese/English and English/Japanese translations.


- Japanese/English -


1.説明する -> describe / explain

describe = to verbalize a feeling, situation, or impression.
e.g. Bob described me what his new car is like.

explain = to say a reason, meaning, or intention.
e.g. Bob explained why the car accident happened.


2.ニュアンス -> nuance / connotation

nuance = a subtle difference between meanings.
e.g. There’s a different nuance between victory and triumph.

connotation = to have an implied meaning.
e.g. The word “elite” has a negative connotation.


3.皮肉 -> irony / sarcasm

irony = an undesirable situation that happens contrary to an expectation. Involuntary.
e.g. It’s an irony that he is being squeezed by citizens although he devoted himself to them.

sarcasm = to say something acid or humorous despite the undesirable situation. Voluntary.
e.g. She didn’t think it was a sarcasm that he said her dishes were beyond description.


- English/Japanese -

by the way -> ところで / ちなみに

ところで = when you change a whole topic.
e.g.「この書類の確認をお願いします。ところで、課長はまだ出社していませんか?」

ちなみに = when you make a supplimentary statement.
e.g.「この書類の確認をお願いします。ちなみに、付箋がついているものは未完成です。」


commemorate -> 記念する / 追悼する

記念する = to memorialize a special event. Positive.
e.g.「今日は、私たちの結婚記念日なんです。」

追悼する = to mourn or express one’s sympathy. Negative.
e.g.「日本では、人が亡くなった後、定期的に追悼する日を設ける慣習があります。」


believe -> 思う / 信じる

思う = to think (strongly).
e.g.「彼はそんなことはしてないと思います。」

信じる = to trust, buy, or believe in.
e.g.「彼のいうことを信じるとロクな目に合わない。」


There are other translations I came across so far, but I’ll stop for now because I can’t come up with good examples. If you want to know further explanations or have any good examples, let me know.



Thank you for reading my entry.