So I've done a number of proofreading jobs here on Gengo and something that comes up rather often is what appears to me to be "untranslated" punctuation and symbols. Here's one I see a lot:

"3日~5日" becomes "3rd~5th"

While the tilde is used to show a range in Japanese, I don't think it has the same usage in English. I always feel this should be changed to a hyphen (specifically the en dash, if I'm reading the Gengo style-guide right.)

Sometimes I'll also see Japanese parentheses like 【 】 appear unaltered. If I'm not mistaken, these are not normal English characters and could cause issues with encoding in systems that don't support Japanese.

Japanese makes use of a lot of fun bullet marks like the ■ and some arrows and stuff that I don't have handy now. I've gotten into the habit of replacing them with the ALT + 0149 bullet (•), which again is an encoding concern.

I also often see are full-width Japanese input spaces (often as indents) that haven't been replaced with half-width English input spaces (or I suppose in English, just "normal width.") I have a feeling this could cause weird formatting issues on English-only systems.

Any thoughts, other translators? Am I worrying about nothing with encoding issues? Does anybody care (can anybody even see) the difference between a full-width and half-width space? Am I'm just being too nit-picky?


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    You've raised a good point and it is sometimes something I wonder myself while I'm translating!
    My belief is that the Gengo style guide would want all of those symbols "translated" into something else unless the customer specifies otherwise (that they want those specific marks left in the text.)
    I always get ride of the tilde and use a dash, and change 【 】 for regular brackets or [] depending on the use, but all the others ■, arrows, etc... I usually have trouble with. There is not anything like that in English, and sometimes they use different symbols for different paragraphs to "emphasize" them, so I come across ■、 ▲、○ 、etc within the same text, with no possible way of "translating" them. Because if I do they would all probably become the same symbol in English (ALT + 0149 bullet (•) which defeats the emphasis purpose... 

    I am really interested to hear about how others deal with this!

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    How do you type the ALT+0149? I thought maybe it was by holding down the ALT key while typing the numbers, but that doesn't seem to work...

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    I believe ALT+0149 only works if you use the number pad keys to input the numbers, but I might be wrong on that.

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    In my opinion often such things should not or cannot be "translated". In English non-ASCII characters may get used from time to time at the beginning of a phrase or sentence if they are bullets, but never at the end. Yet in Japanese they are used often, even at the end, and usually not as bullets but as indicators of headings, and typically within a given document their use to indicate heading level is quite consistent. But in English the heading level is not indicated by the use of a funny symbol before or funny brackets before or after, but by boldface, italic, underlining, character size, font, color, hanging indent, capitalization, centering, or more than one of these. Just look at the default heading formats in MS Word, or open any PDF or PPT presentation by a major corporation or organization. (In recent years in the snazziest presentations there has even been a tendency to indicate heading levels more and more using font color to give the presentation a less formal feeling.) Unfortunately in the default cut-and-paste translation window on Gengo (unlike the window where I am entering this comment here) there is no formatting allowed, so none of the usual ways of indicating a heading level in English can be used in that window except perhaps capitalization.

    What should be done depends perhaps on the use to which the customer wishes to put the translation. If the customer is a foreigner who has the Japanese original in front of him and simply wants a _roadmap_ in English so that he can follow exactly what is written in the Japanese original, then reproducing those Japanese stars and brackets with something equivalent that is available on your computer (such as from Character Map) might be useful to him so that he doesn't get lost in navigating the original. But if it is a Japanese customer who wants to translate a presentation into English in order to generate the same _effect_ on the foreign reader as the Japanese presentation had on the Japanese reader, then I think the most helpful thing for the customer would be to point out to him that in an English _version_ (not the same thing as a _translation_) such symbols should be replaced by heading formatting. Not long ago I had to translate a Japanese website into English, in an XLSX file, and here is a comment that I wrote to the customer to explain this:


    If the customer wishes to see examples of what an attractive presentation looks like in English (and in truth the layout and appearance are _very_ different from what is customary in Japanese) then you could direct him or her to some PDF presentation on the website of one of the Big 4 accounting firms, or an annual report, proxy statement, or CSR report of any major corporation, or a country report from the website of the IMF, or maybe something governmental such as an SEC filing or a Federal Register filing. Below are some examples:

    KPMG Corporate and Indirect Tax Rate Survey 2014: http://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/corporate-indirect-tax-rate-survey-2014.pdf

    JPMorgan Chase & Co. Annual Report and Proxy Statement, 2014: http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ONE/330447480x0x820066/f831cad9-f0d8-4efc-9b68-f18ea184a1e8/JPMC-2014-AnnualReport.pdf

    Walmart Global Responsibility Report, 2015: http://cdn.corporate.walmart.com/f2/b0/5b8e63024998a74b5514e078a4fe/2015-global-responsibility-report.pdf

    IMF Country Report for Japan, 2014: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2014/cr14236.pdf

    A 10-K report from the SEC's "EDGAR" database (General Mills, Inc., 2014): http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/40704/000119312514260716/d749341d10k.htm

    A proposed rule from the Federal Register: Department of Health and Human Services: Medical Examination of Aliens—Revisions to Medical Screening
    Process (2015): http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-06-23/pdf/2015-15236.pdf

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