Saving the Environment


Every year, Mie Prefecture (三重県) puts out an environmental white paper (環境白書) in Japanese. They also create a summary in Japanese and hire someone to translate it into English. This year an associate’s company was hired for the job and I picked up a little contract to assist them. There were a few difficult points, but overall it was a good chance to exercise my language skills. Here is the top menu for all of the environmental white papers since 1998 (平成10年). Note: the document has only been translated since 2001, in which year they also translated to Chinese.

Our plan was to have the contracted company do most of the work. I bid my work at fixed price based on loose assumptions about the scope and the working relationship. Some of the assumptions proved false and extended the work, but it was a good chance to get my foot in the door.

One bad assumption was our ability to use identical text from the previous year for repeated portions. Based on a sampling of the text, the assumption seemed valid, but after winning the contract, a thorough examination showed a need for re-write.

Japanese can be very flowery, particularly when discussing official titles and programs. There is also a tendency to use nearly redundant verbs in the same sentence to reinforce a point. Since our work was officially “translating”, I was often torn about rewriting paragraphs or directly translating. Rewriting was outside of scope and would take more time, but direct translation in some cases would sound like Mojo Jojo from the Power Puff Girls. (“This is the laser weapon, which fires a focused beam of light, which I will make use of in executing my plan , of which I planned, to destroy the world and to annihilate it completely.”) Compromise was needed.

Since I was assisting the process, I was also torn between rewriting in my style. I opted in most cases to leave the original translator’s style intact, but you can definitely see my footprint: lots of semis and colons, to be sure.

Also, some formatting got changed between staging and deployment. I am hoping I can encourage the prefectural staff to fix a couple issues.

Here is the Introduction to the translated document. It has links at the top to all sections. The graphs and charts should all be links to the full size images.


4 Responses to “Saving the Environment”

  1. Stefanie Says:

    Very nice. Though I see nothing wrong with Power Puff Girls 😉

  2. びっくり Says:

    You should have said: I see nothing wrong with Power Puff Girls; that is to say when I look at the Power Puff girls, there is nothing apparent which would expose any fault they might have. 🙂

  3. Kelsey Hough Says:

    I like how you quoted Mojo Jojo. 🙂


  4. Sunday Soundcheck 18 « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] (すいい) came up repeatedly when I was translating the environmental white paper website. It means ‘change’, ‘transition’, ‘progress’, or […]

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