TJC Global Serving Since 1985
TJC Global: Doing Business in
If you require translation or interpreting assistance of any kind in Japan or anywhere else, please use the FREE QUOTE SYSTEM on the right-hand side of the page or contact us
The Japanese Language
The Japanese Language is very different to most European languages or even other Asian Languages. It has a verb-final construction – the verb comes at the end of the sentence – unlike English, which is mostly verb-second. This makes things complicated for Simultaneous Interpreters, as they have to wait until the end of the sentence in Japanese before they can start speaking in English and vice versa.
Japanese has no definite or indefinite articles such as the English “a”, “an” or “the”. One must be very careful that your listener knows whether you are talking about “the document” or “a document”. There are also no plural forms in Japanese so shiryou could mean either “document” or “documents”.
Because of these things a lot of Japanese communication relies on context. But not just because of that. The same word can have any number of meanings depending on the context it is used in. For example, hai, can mean “Yes”, “thank you”, “I understand”, “I agree” and many more, simply by the situation which in which it is used.
The Japanese alphabet is made up of characters for syllables rather than letters for individual phonemes like English and they do not just use one, they use two. These contain 46 individual characters each, as opposed to the 26 letters of English. In addition to this there are around 8000 Pictographs or kanji in use which have multiple pronunciations and often only subtle differences between them. Contrary to popular belief these kanji are not just pictures, or even stylised pictorial representations of what they mean, but a complex system of radicals that must be mastered and learnt off by heart.
Japanese is so unique that you need an interpreter or translator with experience and able to deal with a wide range of specialist terminology, not to mention the general complexities of the language.
Japanese Business Etiquette
The Japanese business practice of today has been westernised to a large extent but still retains some traditionally Japanese practices which are often misunderstood or mistaken by their non-Japanese business partners.
Meishi (名刺 pronounced mei-she) are the Japanese equivalent of business cards. They have a special meaning and to receive a business card without due care and attention can be seen as a personal rudeness. The correct way to present meishi is held at the top corners with the lettering facing the person receiving the card. The receiver should then take the card by both lower corners, read it carefully and place it somewhere safe. When exchanging meishi the individual of lower status will pass their card first, and the individual of higher status will pass their card second. Meishi are usually given after bowing.
Keigo (敬語 pronounced kay-go) is a polite style of Japanese used frequently in business when talking to superiors. Keigo (literally “respectful speech”) is used to show respect or humility in the face of people you are unfamiliar with. It is often not taught in schools or at home so many businessmen receive lessons when they enter a company.
Uchi/soto means, roughly, Inner/Outer and refers to your relationship with a particular group. In
When conducting trade relations with Japanese companies, one cannot underestimate the value of having in-depth knowledge of cultural etiquette. Our interpreters will act as mediators for you, ensuring that everyone is satisfied.
Hints and tips when visiting Japan
When doing business in
Bowing is something that also has its own intricacies. The depth and length of the bow both show your attitude to the person you’re bowing to, bowing is usually done in various standardised increments, depending on how you treat the person opposite. A good rule of thumb is to bow to the same degree as the person you’re meeting, with your eyes down and hands by your sides. If you are unsure of yourself, do not attempt it. It may be embarrassing or, worse, be seen as mockery. Non-Japanese should feel free to just acknowledge a bow and hold out a hand to be shaken, rather than attempting to bow yourself.
Europe, USA, Asia, Africa, Middle East, South America, North America, Oceania, London, UK
© TJC Global Ltd Professional Translation and Interpreting Company All Rights Reserved - Members of ATC , ITI and ATA