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なるほど!英訳塾 ~ビギナー編~

日本語が“No”“No”“No”な場合~ 役員の職制上の地位の変更による改定 ~



「の」= "of" と単純に覚えているみなさん!その方法をそのまま当てはめるのは大きな落とし穴ですよ。


This week let's look at a common feature of writing in Japanese - a string of noun phrases linked by の. Take for example the noun phrase in (1) which is frequently found in legal documents:

(1)  特定建築物 建築 促進 に関する法律
  (N2)   (N3)  

If we translate the string of 'N1のN2のN3' directly as 'N3 of N2 of N1', it will look like this:

(1a)  Law concerning  the promotion  of  construction  of
  (N1)   (N2)  
special buildings

This is perfectly good English. But try reading it aloud. Don't you think that with two 'of' and all those '-tion' nouns in succession, it sounds very awkward and difficult to read? Compare (1a) with (1b) below:

(1b) Law to promote the construction of special buildings

The key here is to change one of the nouns to a verb. It is often pointed out in English writing guides that we should avoid '-tion' words and use the verb form if possible. This is a good tip that translators can apply when working from Japanese into English due to a tendency for a string of noun phrases to be used frequently in Japanese writing. Note also that dropping 'concerning' in this case does not change the intended meaning.

The next two examples (2) and (3) are found as part of a list describing various actions in a business report, the type of document that I am sure many translators come across frequently.

(2) 人事制度を含めた人材マネジメント基本方針策定

(3) RDとの短期的マーケティング計画追加

(2a) and (3a) below are the direct translation of (2) and (3) that retain the structure of the original noun phrases.

(2a) Formulation of basic policies of human resource management including the personnel system

(3a) Addition of short-term marketing plans with R&D

(2a) has two 'of' in succession while (3a) has one 'of' since との is translated as 'with'. But imagine when you are standing before an audience talking about your company's business performance, it is such a mouthful to have to rattle off a list of '-tion' words. Compare this with (2b) and (3b) below: :

(2b) Formulate(d) basic policies of human resource management including the personnel system

(3b) Add(ed) short-term marketing plans with R&D

Using the verb form makes it easier when reading aloud. It also projects a more direct, dynamic appeal. The verb may be in the past or present tense depending on whether the actions are in the past or future. If the context does not provide any hint, it is safer to go for the simple present.

Of course, 'の' need not always be translated as 'of'. Depending on the semantic relationship between the nouns connected by 'の', we can use other prepositions instead of 'of' and sometimes, it is not even necessary to take every single 'の' into consideration as we have seen with the translation of 'との' in (3) above. Let's look at (4) and its translation in (5).

(4) 役員職制上地位変更による改定

(5) Revision due to a change of rank in the director's office

The second 'の' connecting '役員の職制上' and '地位の変更' can be dropped and the focus placed on '上' by using 'in'. Note also that it is more efficient to translate '役員の職制' as 'director's office' rather 'the office of the director'.

Remember English is an action-based language, so when translating from Japanese into English, break up the chunks of noun phrases, avoid '-tion' and use the corresponding verb as far as possible.

今回のレッスンのポイントは、名詞を名詞のまま訳すことにこだわらないこと。動詞形を使うことで 'of' の羅列から脱出でき、かつストレートで簡潔な表現になる、ということです。ぜひ、今後の英訳の際に意識してみてください。
さて、次回はどんな“迷”英訳をご紹介しましょうか?読者のみなさんからのご質問やご意見を元に一緒に考えていきたいと思います。ぜひ こちらにメールをおよせください。お待ちしています!


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ンー・ソーキンさん:Ng Soh King