Japanese translations - Don't rely on them alone


After two months of being inactive, I'm back to writing. And I'm already back with an article about Japanese. In this article, I want to address a subject that almost no one bother to talk about: Translation. Not the broad translation, but the translations made from our language into Japanese.

Translation is a lot of work. for you to be a professional translator, you must have an advanced knowledge of the language in which you are translating. to give you an idea, translations from spanish to portuguese is already something that is sometimes complex because there are figurative expressions and the colloquial language is different from portuguese, although the language is similar.

English to Portuguese is more difficult for the same reason. However, English is a very different language from Portuguese. Even more so because some figures of English language do not have an exact translation.

And in Japanese? Well, in Japanese it's even worse. In Japanese, the grammar is much more complex and the figure of speech has no right translation. Some verbs work as adjectives in Japanese, the particles have several or a specific function and the translation into Portuguese or English is quite vague and can only be understood in literal translations.


An approximate translation or interpretation is used to understand what is being spoken / written in Japanese. To understand the syntax of phrases, you must use translation literally. Even a good tip for those starting out in Japanese: Translate everything literally.

At first, it will be strange. But, this is a matter of adaptation. Japanese works in a totally different way from Portuguese. It is not just the word order that changes. And it all. 

Japanese translations are sometimes a headache


To begin with, adjectives in Japanese work like verbs. Know the name of the site 好きです (Suki Desu)? Usually 好き is translated “like” and in fact, 好き is an adjective in Japanese. When a Japanese man says: “あなたが好き” (anata ga suki), the approximate translation would be "I like you" being that the 好き is being used to classify something or someone. 好き comes from 好きな (sukina) that would be “desirable” or “favorite” (there is also no exact translation) because the word 好き is an adjective な. 

Another situation would be the use of the word 起きる (okiru) that would be “Get up” (after waking up). That same word also means “Happen” (usually used in the context of unfavorable situations)立つ (tatsu) would be used for “Get up” (stand up).


That is why to understand the syntax behind the phrases, one should not rely too much on the Portuguese translation. Obviously, one must use the translation to know the meaning of the word. However, don't get too attached to that meaning as that may not be the only meaning. It is also good to study the true use of the word in Japanese.