Always seeking the best solution

Matthew Young, Translation checker
Originally from New Zealand, he spent some time studying in Japan while at university. After graduating, he worked for five years as a translator and interpreter for the Saitama prefectural government, before returning to New Zealand and working on projects with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). He came back to Japan in 2019, and has been living here ever since. His birthplace, Wellington, is home to a forest which was used as a filming spot for the movie “The Lord of the Rings”. Sometimes, he finds himself missing the sight of sheep.

The role of a native checker

So you are in charge of checking translations as a native English speaker, right?

That’s right. Essentially, native English speakers take care of Japanese to English translations, and Japanese native speakers take care of English to Japanese translations. This is to ensure that translated texts are easily understood by native speakers of the target language. I mainly work as a translation checker, but I also sometimes work on translations.

I am guessing translation checkers must also have a high level of Japanese. Could you tell me more about the role of a native checker?

Both foreign English native checkers and Japanese checkers work in our company. I think that they are required to brush up the translated text to make it more natural for its intended use. For example, texts conveying a strong message or PR documents, such as communications from a company’s representative, attractions and facilities information for inbound tourism, or marketing documents—all these need to go through a process of translation, translation check, and native check before they’re considered complete. It is important to read the text again from a different perspective than that of a translator, looking at it from a wider point of view and polishing it to give it high appeal.

More specifically, what kind of projects have you been working on recently?

I was recently working on a communication from the President of an oil-related company that is expanding its business on a global scale. If we had simply transcribed the words from Japanese to English, the text could have potentially lost the feeling and nuance hidden between the lines. I had to constantly think about how to make the expressions sound more natural and engaging. Also, because the terminology used in management and marketing changes over time, I had to make sure we were using the latest terms.

Aren’t the style and characteristics of a company also reflected in such communications from representatives?

It is indeed. Obviously, I have to use the terms and expressions that each company value, but I also need to have background knowledge of things like their history and their business activities.

When looking at your job description, would you say it is closer to that of an “editor” rather than of a “checker”?

It’s certainly a job that requires a combination of editing and reviewing/proofreading. Our company’s approach to translation puts a strong emphasis on using expressions that seem natural to the reader and creating text that can be read without any sense of discomfort. In other words, we don’t want sentences to feel like a translation. This is also why native speakers of the target language do the translation. I myself place great importance on checking whether the translated content feels natural, meaning that I check whether the ease of reading from a native speaker’s point of view has properly been taken into consideration. The end result is a translated text that looks as if it was originally written in that language. This results in our job being very close to an “editing” one.

It must be a very difficult job unless you have a lot of experience…

That is true. It is a job that requires you to connect all the dots, and then know how to modify a translation based on that. Checkers’ translation skills must be of an equivalent level to that of translators. They need to constantly question themselves about words and be aware of them.

Matthew Young, Translation checker

Finding the best solution by pursuing quality

I heard that Interbooks has a very high customer repeat rate. What do you think the reason is behind this success?

I think it is because they trust the quality of our translations. Here at Interbooks, we thoroughly respect every step of the checking process. Also, I think it is because our company as a whole has adopted the philosophy of never becoming overconfident in our translations, and instead focusing on constantly seeking the best solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if this attitude comes across to our clients as well. As a translation company, I believe that our social mission is to go beyond language barriers and contribute to furthering true understanding.

Interbooks Co., Ltd.