English to Japanese Translation: My Workflow

I use WordPress. I study Japanese.

And then one day, such a magnificent revelation came to me when I realized I could do both these things at the same time after having seen this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 1.35.06.png
Why I had not discovered this sooner is beyond me…

But, as the title of this article implies, I am here to share my experience of what I have learned while translating WordPress, specifically in the Japanese locale. I’ll mainly be addressing the personal workflow I use when translating.


Project Directory

Japanese Locale
https://translate.wordpress.org/locale/ja


Tools

Japanese Locale Glossary
https://translate.wordpress.org/locale/ja/default/glossary

Translation Consistency Checker
https://translate.wordpress.org/consistency

Jisho
http://jisho.org/

Google Translate
https://translate.google.co.jp/

Poedit
https://poedit.net/


Workflow

I’ll be working with strings from the Gutenberg plugin.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 12.38.50.png
Soon to be integrated in core, eh? Until then, let’s get to translatin’ this bad boy. 

First, I find a string of interest like this one here:

Resolve block conflicts when editing a block post in the classic editor. Gutenberg’s strict content validation has helped identify formatting incompatibilities, and continued improvements are planned for future releases.

And then I get to work!

Technically, this block of text contains two strings, three if I decide to split that last sentence (which I’ll actually do in a moment), so for these types of monstrous beasts, I usually like to break it down.

① Break Down The Block

String #1: Resolve block conflicts when editing a block post in the classic editor.

String #2: Gutenberg’s strict content validation has helped identify formatting incompatibilities.

String #3: Continued improvements are planned for future releases.

② Identify Glossary Terms, Word Pairs, Phrases & Other Unknown Words

String #1 String #2 String #3
解決する – resolve Gutenberg – Gutenberg * 継続的な – continue(d)
ブロック競合 – block conflict(s) * 厳格な – strict 改善 – improvement(s) *
編集する – edit(ing) コンテンツ検証 – content validation * 計画する – plan(ned)
ブロック投稿 – block post * 役立つ – to help/to be useful 将来のリリース – future releases
クラシックエディター – classic editor * 特定する – identify
書式設定 – formatting *
非互換性 – incompatibility(ies)

③ Check Translation Consistency

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 16.01.36.png
I always use the base form of any given word when searching for a term.

Even when I’m confident in the meaning of any given word, there is still always a small chance that a different term is used, so I always check it against the translation consistency tool first to see if there are prior translations.

As you can see in the table above, all the words marked with an asterisk (*) are words I found in the translation consistency database.

TIP: If you are translating a newer version of a plugin or theme for example, there will sometimes be a prior translation displayed in the translation history. In most cases, I just submit that very same translation.

④ Piecing It Together

For a non-Japanese individual doing English-to-Japanese translation (such as myself), this is when prior knowledge of the Japanese language really kicks into gear.

With Japanese, or any language for that matter, a person can simply just copy and paste a sentence into Google Translate and get a somewhat basic understanding of what the text might mean. But going vice versa will always result in a risky translation, especially if you don’t know the language.

That goes double for Japanese since it uses a completely different sentence structure than English. Know your basics, and translating will be much easier.

Anyways, now that I have all my vocabulary meanings, it’s time to put the sentence together. I start by looking for any identifiable clauses and change the grammar tenses where applicable.

String #1

  • resolve block conflicts – ブロック競合を解決する
  • when editing a block post – ブロック投稿を編集するときに
  • in the classic editor – クラシックエディターで

String #2

  • Gutenberg’s strict content validation – Gutenberg のコンテンツ検証
  • has helped identify – ~特定するのに役立つ
  • formatting incompatibilities – 書式設定の非互換性

String #3

  • Continued improvements – 継続的な改善は
  • planned for future releases – 将来のリリースで計画されています

⑤ Finalizing The Translation

At this point, depending on complexity of the sentence, it’ll either be fairly obvious on how to arrange the sentence and finish the translation, or it won’t. For me, one of my weak points in Japanese were always particles, so I usually double check with past translations or use Google Translate for that. If Google Translate doesn’t return my string as a crazy mess, then I submit the translation.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 15.57.19.png
It’s good!

String #1 Final Result

English: Resolve block conflicts when editing a block post in the classic editor.
Japanese: クラシックエディターでブロック投稿を編集するときにブロック競合を解決します。

String #2 Final Result

English: Gutenberg’s strict content validation has helped identify formatting incompatibilities.
Japanese: Gutenberg のコンテンツ検証は書式設定の非互換性を特定するのに役立ちました。

String #3 Final Result

English: Continued improvements are planned for future releases.
Japanese: 継続的な改善は将来のリリースで計画されています。

Full Text Block

クラシックエディターでブロック投稿を編集するときにブロック競合を解決します。Gutenberg のコンテンツ検証は書式設定の非互換性を特定するのに役立ちました。継続的な改善は将来のリリースで計画されています。

⑥ Validation

Now the translation simply awaits validation. Typically, I would do a certain number of strings in one sitting or whenever I decide to call it day, that’s when I’ll head over to Slack and request for my strings to be validated by any PTE (project translation editor).

WordSlack
https://wpja.slack.com/messages/translate/

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 15.50.56
STATUS: yellow = awaiting validation

When a translation is validated, the status color will change to green.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 16.30.24.png
Some strings I recently translated.

And that’s my workflow!


Poedit

Poedit is pretty sweet because it was made with WordPress translation in mind. It also supports any software that uses Gettext, but basically, there are a few neat things I really like about this app.

Translate On The Go

What I mean by that is, I can visit any project in the locale, download its .po file, and edit locally right on my computer.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 23.10.31.png
Export all current strings or just the strings that match your filter.

So instead of sifting through page by page, working on the site directly, I could easily scroll through an entire project in the app and see what strings are left to translate.

giphy
Using Poedit

Translation Memory

Another great thing about the app is its built-in translation memory. Translation is so much easier and faster when I’m already getting proper translation suggestions in the sidebar.

It remembers your past translations and uses them to make suggestions for similar texts. Over time, it learns enough to fill in frequently used strings for you.

Poedit Pro

The thing about translation, especially if you have been doing it for a while, is you begin to realize how crucial it is to work efficiently. Regardless of skill level, translation takes a lot of time.

At the end of the day, there will always be projects waiting in line to be translated so with that in mind, I recently invested in the Pro version of Poedit. I paid $30 for this version, and to be honest, I think that’s a fair and relatively small price to pay for this app.

With Poedit Pro, I can now rely on the app to pull translations from the online Translation Memory. This is so much more convenient than having to constantly double-check or even even triple-check my translations through the translation consistency tool.

I can now just blaze through a bunch of strings, save the file, import it right back into the main project, and any newly translated strings will be added automatically.

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 23.23.19.png
Importing the .po file is just as easy as exporting it.

Get Involved

For all those Japanese-language-learning-WordPress-users out there, how about helping out with translating WordPress?

I’ve been able to not only augment my Japanese studies through translation on a daily basis, but also contribute to an open source software that powers 28.7% of the web.

You’ll also be making WordPress software more accessible to the Japanese community. Did you know that Japan was actually one of the earliest adopters of WordPress? Their history runs a lot deeper than you may think.

I was first made aware of Japan’s history with WordPress when searching for articles online. The first, while not really an article, but more of a mention really, was on WordPress’ very own Matt Mullenweg’s blog.

WordPress + Japan
https://ma.tt/2015/05/wordpress-japan/

His aside leads to another article by WP Tavern.

Community, Translation, and Wapuu: How Japan is Shaping WordPress History
https://wptavern.com/community-translation-and-wapuu-how-japan-is-shaping-wordpress-history

Quite an inspirational read that I highly recommend checking out.

While there’s quite a strong foothold here in Japan in regards to its community and the adoption of WordPress itself, there’s still so much potential for growth. And a large part of that growth depends on accessibility.

Everyone knows how fast the WordPress ecosystem is growing. With new features, themes, and plugins constantly being released, there will never be a point when translation is 100% complete. Like I mentioned previously, there will always be new projects waiting to be translated.

So, I’d say give it a shot! You’ll be helping WordPress make the world better, even if it’s just one string at a time.

***UPDATE: Naoko Takano, a longstanding member of the Japanese WordPress community & Polyglots team, recently wrote a fantastic article about Global WordPress Translation. Be sure to also check that out here: https://naoko.blog/2017/10/06/global-wordpress-translation-day-in-tokyo/

***And for any ENG-JPN translators already out there, what’s your translation workflow? I’m very curious about what tools you use to make your translation life easier. Or the methods you use for translating strings more effectively. If you have something, please do share in the comment section! 

4 thoughts on “English to Japanese Translation: My Workflow

  1. Wow great post with a lot of useful technical detail, thanks!

    I’ve been studying Japanese for a long time now, and while I have started doing Japanese->English translations, I’d be hesitant to to English->Japanese because of my lack of what makes a sentence ‘natural’. Just curious, is the person verifying your translations a native speaker?

    But in any case its interesting to see how you improve your workflow with tools.

    Personally I don’t use too many tools (yet), I’ve feel that translation memories may not help for my fiction translations (though I haven’t really given them a fair try yet).

    Since you asked, I’ll give you a post I made last year about my process:

    http://selftaughtjapanese.com/2016/10/10/the-art-of-translation-my-process-for-translating-from-japanese-to-english/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your reply!

      I started out just the same by doing JPN-ENG translations in my current workplace, and then only recently did my interest in WordPress lead me to contributing to ENG-JPN projects.

      I’d be hesitant to to English->Japanese because of my lack of what makes a sentence ‘natural’.

      I think what can be considered natural really depends on the context in which we’re translating in. The natural terminology used, let’s say in your case for novels, will vastly differ from a translated conversation, news article, or in my case, technical documents.

      Just curious, is the person verifying your translations a native speaker?

      Yeah, I’d say all the members of the team are native Japanese living in Japan. And I’m also quite sure the majority of members actively contributing to the Japanese WordPress locale are Japanese. I was able to work with the team in person during the last couple WordCamps I attended here in Japan, and I didn’t see or meet any other non-native translators, so I might just be the only one here (at least in Japan). It also kind of adds to the reason why I wrote this article.

      Personally I don’t use too many tools (yet), I’ve feel that translation memories may not help for my fiction translations (though I haven’t really given them a fair try yet).

      Totally, agree. Basic knowledge should always remain as the foundation. In the case of translating WordPress, software is being released at a rapid pace. So while learning Japanese is definitely a plus while translating, I also regard completing projects quickly a high priority. Making the software accessible to the community as soon and as efficiently as possible, so that we could move on to new projects. This is when tools like Poedit come in handy 🙂

      Also, wonderful article and blog! I was able to pick up on some new resources and knowledge from a few of your pages. Looking forward to reading more.

      Liked by 1 person

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