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なるほど!英訳塾 ~ビギナー編~

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こんにちは!塾長のソーキンです。

イルミネーションで街が輝くクリスマスシーズン真っ只中ですね。クリスマスの楽しい思い出を作る前に、今日も英訳塾でちょっと勉強をしておきましょう。

今年最後の英訳塾が少しでもみなさんの学習の役に立って、来年もより良い翻訳ライフを始められるようにお手伝いできれば嬉しいです。

さて、今日のレッスンに入る前に、前回出題した練習問題の解説をしておきましょう。

THANK YOU for writing in to share your answers! I shall repeat the translation example from the last session below:

通話明細書の発行及び通話内容に関するお問い合わせはお受けできません。予めご了承ください。

Requests for an itemized call invoice, or the provision of call contents are not accepted. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

I find 通話内容 problematic or rather the use of 内容 in various contexts in Japanese business writing difficult to translate. It is usually translated directly as “contents” as in “call contents” above, which sounds unnatural. One of you suggested “call details” which I think is good.

Now I would like to share my version:

Ver1. Please note that we do not entertain requests for itemized call invoices or provide information on calls.

Ver2. Please note that we do not issue itemized call invoices or provide information on calls.

Of course there are other possible variations. The important thing is to avoid the passive and use the first person pronoun “we”.


練習問題に回答を寄せてくださったみなさん、本当にありがとうございます。 このレッスンを読むだけではなくて、実際に書いてみることでもっと実力がつくようになると思います。ぜひ機会があればチャレンジしてくださいね。

今日のレッスンでは、この人称代名詞の使い方について、さらに詳しく見ていくことにします。

In the last session, I suggested using more personal pronouns in business translation to make your message sound more personal so that potential customers will feel that they are being addressed directly. This week, I am going to discuss improper usage of personal pronouns in a different context. I found the following examples on the website of the Immigration Bureau of Japan in a section explaining the format to be used when submitting visa applications.

申 請 書 様 式 (申請書へのダウンロード)

(1a) (注1)日本工業規格A列4番の用紙に印刷してお使いになれます。

(1b) (注2)縮小して印刷される場合がありますので,印刷ダイアログボックスの「用紙サイズに合わせてページを縮小(K)」のチェックをはずしてから印刷してください。

Format (Name of application form in PDF format)

(2a) (Note 1) The immigration bureau accepts this format if you print it out on Japanese Industrial Standards A4 format.

(2b) (Note 2) You sometimes print it out on a smaller format than A4. To avoid it, please turn off "Shrink Oversized Pages to Paper Size (K)" in the print dialogue box.

Let’s look at (2b) first, which is the more problematic one. There are no grammar errors in the first sentence, but it is completely inappropriate. Foreigners who don’t understand any Japanese will be wondering why they are being accused of printing in the wrong format!

“Sometimes” is acceptable as a translation for ~場合があります. But the use of “you” in this context is not appropriate as it accuses every single reader of printing in the wrong format. To soften the tone, we can say, “Sometimes, we get applications printed in a smaller format.” This is causal spoken language, which will be appropriate for example if the immigration bureau is doing a briefing session to explain to foreigners how to fill in the application form.

A more formal translation for ~場合があります is “There have been cases ~.” So the first sentence in (2b) can be translated as “There have been cases where some applicants submitted forms printed in a smaller format.” I think it is best to avoid using “you” in this context as it sounds too direct and rather impolite.

The second sentence in (2b) needs a few minor changes to make it sound better: “To avoid this, please remove the check mark beside “shrink page to paper size” in the print dialogue box before printing.

This is a fairly close translation of the Japanese original. It sounds okay as it is, but we can make it short and sweet by combining the two sentences as shown in (2c):

(2c) To avoid printing in a smaller format, please remove the check mark beside “shrink page to paper size” in the print dialogue box before printing.

Next, let’s go back and look at (2a). There are no major grammar errors except for a slight confusion between the use of “format” and “paper”. “A4” is a standard term used to refer to the size of paper, not the format. Thus, the last word should be changed to “paper” to reflect the Japanese original, 用紙, more accurately. (2a) can be slightly changed as shown in (3a) to be consistent and retain the same style as (2d).

(2d) The immigration bureau accepts this format if it is printed out on JIS A4 size paper.

I have 3 more examples below showing the formal and authoritative tone in which the entire explanation section was originally written. Note that there is no direct reference to “you”. Applicants are referred to in the third person as his/her as shown in (4b) below. Getting rid of “you” in (2a) and (2b) above will help these two sentences to fit in with the general tone of the rest of the document.

(3a) 現に退去強制手続中の者でないこと。

(3b) 現に有する在留資格に対応する活動を終了し,又は継続する見込みのないことが明らかな者でないこと。

(3c) その他再入国許可することが適当でないと認められる者でないこと。

(4a) The applicant is not subject to the deportation procedures.

(4b) The applicant is not apparently the one who completes the activities authorized under his/her residence of status or has no chance to continue his/her activities.

(4c) The applicant is not regarded as improper as re-entering Japan due to any other reason.

However, the translation in (4a-c) can be improved further as shown below.

(5a) The applicant is not one who is being subjected to deportation procedures.

(5b) The applicant is not one who has completed the activities authorized under his/her status of residence or who has no chance to continue his/her activities.

(5c) The applicant is not one whose re-entry into Japan is regarded as inappropriate for any reason.

All the sentences in (5a-c) follow the original in (3a-c) fairly closely. They can be simplified further as in (6):

(6a) The applicant is not being subjected to deportation.

(6b) The applicant has not completed the activities authorized under his/her status of residence or has a chance to continue his/her activities.

(6c) The applicant’s re-entry into Japan is not regarded as inappropriate for any reason.

That’s all for today’s session. Do be careful in how you use personal pronouns and try to avoid the mistakes in today’s examples. If you have questions or translation examples you would like to share, please write in.


これで、2008年の英訳塾レッスンは終了です。みなさん、お疲れさまでした!

読者のみなさんの中には、年末年始に9連休のお休みとなる方もいらっしゃると思います。ぜひゆっくりお休みを満喫していただいて、また来年からの英訳塾にご参加いただければ嬉しいです。来年もみなさんの英訳お悩みを少しでも解消できるように、私もエネルギーチャージをしたいと思います。

こんな英訳で困っている、ということがありましたら、いつでもメール こちらまでお知らせくださいね。

それではどうぞ良いお年を!

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ンー・ソーキン

ンー・ソーキンさん:Ng Soh King
シンガポール出身。シンガポール大学で日本語を専攻した後、ハワイ、日本、オーストラリアの大学に通い言語学博士号を取得。その間、シンガポール大学の教壇に立ち、日本語や翻訳を教える。2005年よりフリーランス翻訳者として活躍。幅広い分野の翻訳をこなすが、今後、金融・医薬分野での翻訳に力を入れていきたいと希望。香港在住。