Translations 翻訳例

Below are three short examples of my Japanese to English translation work.

One is a newspaper story about fate that caught my attention soon after the March 11, 2011 earthquake. Another is a segment of a talk given by the Kyoto sculptor Yo Akiyama at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the last is a humorous story about a fast-living Buddhist priest.

In reality much of the translation I do is technical, primarily of patents. With some pride I can say that one of Japan’s largest patent firms entrusts me with a significant portion of their translation for new US filings. They value the technical fidelity, but also the clear readability of my translations, which should contribute to a positive disposition before the patent examiner.

The experience of translating several million words of scientific and engineering documents underpins my vocabulary and fluidity as a technical interpreter, and the experience of interpreting at so many patent litigations, which may hinge on single words or phrases in a patent-at-suit, in turn heightens my awareness of the importance of precision in translation.

私の和英翻訳のサンプルを三つご覧いただきましょう 。

一つは3.11.2011の地震直後に目にしたある漁師の運命の分かれ道に関する新聞記事で す 。その次は、京都の彫刻家、秋山陽さんのボストン美術館での講演の台本のいちぶです。そして最後はお酒が好きなお坊さんを取り上げたユ–モアのある新聞記事です。

実際私が翻訳する多くは技術的内容の濃い特許です 。日本屈指の特許事務所から米国出願用の英訳を数多くご依頼頂いていることは翻訳者として誇りに 思います 。その事務所には私の翻訳の技術内容への忠実さのみならず、文章の読みやすさも評価していただいております 。米国特許商標局の審査官にとって もその透明性は喜ばれることであろうと思われます 。

数百万語もの科学や工学の文章の翻訳の経験が私の技術通訳としての語彙力や流暢性の基盤となっています 。また逆に、特許の中の細かい文言の解釈に 左右される特許訴訟における豊富な通訳の経験が、翻訳をする際に求められる正確さの重要性を—層私に認識させてくれています 。

“To Sea” or “To Land” – Some Fishermen Made a Split Second Life or Death Decision – Ofunato

March 17, 2011, 4:19 am
The fishing port of Yoshihama Bay, Ofunato City, Iwate Prefecture was destroyed by the tsunami. Fishing nets and buoys are flung everywhere. Photo credit: Endo, 3.15.11

This fishing port in the northern section of Ofunato City, known for its farm-raised awabi (abalone) and wakame (seaweed) took a decimating blow from the tsunami. Almost every facility of the 300 member Yoshihama Fishing Cooperative was destroyed. But the majority of the fisherman at work that day in Yoshihama Bay escaped the worst. What saved them was a split second decision.

On March 11th at 2:46 pm, the tsunami swallowed up ten fishing boats at work thinning out wakame seaweed [beds].

“It was different from the usual earthquakes,” said Hisashi Kashiwazaki, 59. A loud rattling sound rose from the bottom of the ship. From the trees on the cape surrounding the bay he could see cedar pollen leap into the air like sparks in a forest fire.

With him on the boat were his wife Hisami, 54, and his second son Koji (26). Kashiwazaki-san stopped what he was doing and hurried out to sea, anchoring at a depth of about 70 (230 ft). The tsunami rushed in about 15 minutes later. “All that happened [to us] was that the whole boat rose with the water level. We didn’t shake at all.”

The three ton fishing vessel carrying Takahito Michishita, 47 and his father Yoshio (76) was greatly shaken by the earthquake. What flashed through Takahito’s mind at that instant was some wisdom he’d heard from long ago: “tsunamis aren’t as high in deep water.”

His father Yoshio had also heard from older fishermen that they “had been saved during the Sanriku Great Tsunami of 1933 by going out to sea.”

They ran their engine full throttle and headed for a location several kilometers out to sea. They had no sense of the boat passing over the tidal wave. But looking back on it, they could see the rising wave in the port and white foam of the wave breaking.

Many boats in harbor at the time of the tsunami in Chile last year were also able to ride through by heading out to sea.

The Fisheries Agency published a guideline after the Fukuoka western offshore earthquake of 2005 recommending that in cases where escape to a marine area is faster than going to land, “evacuation should be to an area with a depth of 50 meters or above, and to an even greater depth when a major tsunami warning is issued.”

「沖へ」「陸へ」漁師の生死分けた一瞬の判断 — 大船渡

津波で破壊された岩手県大船渡市・吉浜湾の漁港 。漁網やブイが散乱していた=15日、遠藤写す
東日本大震災の大津波で、アワビやワカメの養殖で知られる岩手県大船渡市北部の漁港も壊滅的な打撃を受けた 。約300人が加盟する吉浜漁協も施設のほとんどが破壊された。だが、吉浜湾内で操業中だった漁師の大半は難を逃れた 。命を守ったのは、一瞬の判断だった 。 11日午後2時46分、ワカメの間引きをしていた漁船約10隻を、地震が襲った 。 「いつもの地震と違った」と柏崎寿さん(59) 。船底からガタガタと大きな音がした 。湾を囲む岬の森から、スギ花粉が山火事の火の粉のように舞い上がるのが見えた 。 船上には、妻の久美さん(54)、次男の紘治さん(26)もいた 。柏崎さんは作業を中断し、沖へ急いだ 。水深約70メートル地点で停泊 。津波が押し寄せたのは約15分後だった 。「水面の上昇に合わせて船全体が浮き上がっただけ 。全く揺れなかった」 道下孝人さん(47)と父の芳男さん(76)が乗っていた3トンの漁船も地震で大きく揺れた 。孝人さんの頭をよぎったのは、昔から聞かされていた知恵だ 。「水深の深い沖なら津波は高くならない」 芳男さんも、先輩漁師から「昭和8(1933)年の三陸大津波で、沖に出て助かった」と聞いたことがあった 。 エンジンを全開にして数キロ先の沖をめざした 。船が津波を越えていった感覚はなかった 。だが、振り返ると、漁港の方で波が盛り上がり、白波が立つのが見えた 。 昨年のチリ地震で津波が届いた際も、湾内の多くの船が沖に出て乗り切った 。 水産庁は、05年の福岡県西方沖地震を受 け、ガイドラインを策定。漁船などが陸上よりも避難海域に逃げる方が早い場合は「水深50メートル以深の海域へ避難し、大津波警報が出された場合は、更に水深の深い海 域へ避難する」としている 。
Whirlpool created by Tsunami

Whirlpool created by the tsunami

Yo Akiyama

Akiyama Yo is a celebrated Kyoto sculptor. Before the pandemic, I interpreted a talk he gave at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where I have also interpreted for other Japanese artists, including superstar Takashi Murakami, whose packed talk I interpreted simultaneously through headphones.

On that occasion my younger daughter was in the audience. Afterward she informed me that she and everyone else could hear me snorting through her headphone every time he told a joke . . . Mr. Murakami noted with evident satisfaction that he was getting more laughs than usual, and thanked the invisible interpreter, but my daughter’s criticism was precise, if stinging, and ever since I have taken more care about the sounds I direct to the microphone.

CF with Akiyama Yo

CF with Yo Akiyama

My eyes never left the computer screen…


My embarrassment with Mr. Akiyama took a different form. Prior to the talk I received a pdf containing a script in Japanese. I read it, of course, but somehow decided his talk would be extemporaneous, not a literal reading of what looked like an intellectually dense manuscript. I thought so because that’s the way practically every other talk has been in my experience, and I’ve gotten used to the dynamic of watching a Japanese speaker and trying my best to communicate content, emotion, and humor to the audience in real time, leading if possible to a rich Q and A session.

Fortunately I was able to speak to Mr. Akiyama and observe some of his wonderful work for an hour or two before the talk. I questioned him carefully about concepts in his manuscript, which I learned he intended to read verbatim. I was obliged to produce what interpreters call a sight translation, reading the Japanese manuscript as I went. I have been in this situation many times in technical depositions, where I am suddenly asked to render a translation of patent language or perhaps lines from an email, but not an entire talk! “Why not just listen to him read and translate what he says?” you ask. The reason is density. Written language packs in more conceptual complexity than speech, making it very challenging to interpret with full accuracy. Here’s an example from his talk:

“…As I mentioned before, earth [clay] is a special presence which stimulates my imaginative powers, but for a long time I had been unable to discover any particular meaning to firing. To begin with, the medium of ceramics inherently contains the element of transformation. The creator is present at the many transformations during the various stages of production, paying scrupulous attention to qualitative changes in the clay as it dries and controlling its transformation from earth to ceramic.  In my production, too, I was always repeating [the process] of making one thing happen while killing off something [else]. This influenced my sculpting consciousness, and I tried to fold in the elements of transformation and time into my works. However, the atmosphere after this major transformation from earth to ceramic seemed divorced from the endless flow of time, and this made me uneasy.”

Throughout the talk, the audience remained disturbingly silent, compounding my worry, so I was surprised to hear a burst of applause at the end. Later one attendee even wrote that I had done a “superb job,” but I know how much better it might have been. This talk deserved careful reading over and over, practically memorizing my own translation. I re-learned an important lesson: for good results, prepare, prepare, prepare.


Yo Akiyama

秋山陽は京都の著名な彫刻家です。パンデミック の前に、私はボストン美術館で秋山氏の講演を通 訳させていただきました。

その前にも村上隆な ど、何名か日本のアーティストの講演やデモンス トレーションの通訳を手がけました。村上氏の 時は、娘が観衆に入り、私の同時通訳 をイヤホンで聴いていました。通訳が終わったわ後に、 「村上さんがジョークを漏らすたびにパパの鼻息が全員のイヤホンで大きく聞こえてきたよ」と指摘してくれました。

村上氏本人は「いつ もより観客はよく笑っていますね」と隠れた場所で通訳する私に感謝してくれましたが、娘の指摘は 鋭いと思い、以来、マイクに向かって喋る際に細心の注意を払うことにしています。

Takashi Murakami

Takashi Murakami

秋山先生の講演の際には、忸怩たる思いにかられました。事前に和文の原稿をいただいていたのですが、自分の頭の中で秋山さんは 難しい概念に満ちた原稿を読み上げられるのでは なく、きっと即興的にお話されるだろうと勝手に想像していました。今まで皆さんそうだったからきっとそうなるだろうという固定概念に捉われて いました。演者をよく観察して、その表現、ユーモア、感情、ストーリー等をなるべく受けの良い形でオーディエンスに伝える努力をすればうまくいくだろうと。最後に活発な 質疑応答ができれば 通訳者としての仕事冥利につきます。

幸い、事前に秋山先生の力強い作品を見ながらご 本人に疑問点などを確認する機会がありました。 原稿をそのまま読みあげるつもりでいらしゃることをそこで初めて知りました。裁判などで、特許 の文言や問題発言を含む電子メールなどをその場 で翻訳することには慣れているものの、60分の講 演を最初から最後まで和文の原稿を見ながら通訳する(通訳者の間では sight translation と言いま す)のは初めてのことでした。「ただ単に話しているのを聴いてそのまま訳せばいいんじゃない の?」思われるかもしれませんが、会話調ではな く、密度の濃い内容の文面を耳で聴くだけで正確に通訳 するのは容易なことではありません。秋山先生の講演の例


講演の最中は部屋中が厳かな空気に包まれていた ので心配になりましたが、終わった途端に大きな 拍手を受け、驚きました。後で称賛の手紙もいただいたのですが、自分の心の中では決して満足できる仕事の質ではありませんでした。今回のような豊富な語彙や話し手の意図を正しく通訳するなら、原稿をほぼ暗記をしないと無理だろうと反省しました。通訳という業務は準備に準備を重ねなければ ならない仕事だなと改めて痛感しました。


Citing operation of a vehicle under the influence and ignoring a traffic signal, the Kashihara Precinct of the Nara Police announced on the 24th their arrest of Sairenji Temple Chief Priest Masateru Hasumoto (age 49) of Matsuzuka, Yamato Takada City on suspicion of traffic violations (drunk driving, ignoring a traffic signal).

At first he denied [the charges], saying “I was eating Nara pickles,” but in a subsequent investigation admitted that he had been drinking whiskey at a bar in Kashiba City.

According to the police announcement, suspect Hasumoto is believed to have been driving a passenger vehicle in an intoxicated state on National Route 24 in Soga-cho, Kashihara at about 1:20 am on the 24th, and to have made a right turn at an intersection on a red light. An officer from the Nara police noticed [Hasumoto] during his patrol and asked him to stop, but [the suspect] fled approximately 1 kilometer.

( 10:20 am, Jan 25, 2011, Yomiuri Shimbun )


奈良県警橿原署は24日、酒を飲んで車を運転し、信号無視をしたとして、大和高田市松塚、西蓮寺住職蓮本正照容疑者(49)を、道交法違反(酒気帯び、信号無視)の疑いで現行犯逮捕したと発表した 。

当初は「奈良漬を食べた」と否認していたが、その後の調べで、香芝市内のスナックでウイスキーを飲んだと認めている 。

同署の発表では、蓮本容疑者は24日午前1時20分頃、橿原市曽我町の国道24号で、酒気を帯びた状態で乗用車を運転し、赤信号の交差点を右折した疑い 。パトロール中の同署員が発見し、停止を求めたが、約1キロ逃走した 。

(2011年1月25日10時20分 読売新聞 )

Nara pickles

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