Swet Columns

Japanese and English express ideas in different ways, as every translator is regularly reminded, and ensuring natural output sometimes requires a little reflection. This column offers a record of grapples with thorny words and phrases.

Word Wise: Why Can’t We All Just Get On?

By Richard Medhurst


Look up 共生 in a J-E dictionary and you might find “symbiosis” or “coexistence,” but these rarely fit when I translate Japanese sentences. The former describes a mutual biological dependence, while the latter suggests a grudging acceptance. Take 自然と人類の共生; the ideal relationship between humanity and... more