English wRIting Consultant (ERIC)
Awkward technical phrases due to Japanese language quirks
By Karen Xu
April 4, 2017
The Japanese and English language each has its own style of writing. Because of this difference, sometimes the translation between the languages sound a bit awkward, though they may be grammatically correct.
Here are some examples of some awkward English phrases that are used based on the Japanese writing style.
Needs for X/ There is a need for X
Awkward: Needs for the periodic orbit around celestial bodies
Better: Requirements for a periodic orbit around celestial bodies
Why? Requirements sound more technical, and the phrase “need for” is not common.
It is desirable to X – want vs need Xが必要
Awkward: It is desirable to continuously carry out the observation of the target.
Better: It is necessary to continuously carry out the observation of the target.
Necessary = need = 必要
Desirable = want = 欲しい/望ましい
X based on Y
Awkward: This thesis is written based on many supports and advices.
Better: This thesis is written with the help of other’s support and advice.
Why? “Based on” implies that you used others’ ideas instead of coming up with your own idea. “With the help of” means you use other’s ideas for reference to help you with your idea.
X in terms of Y
Awkward: He was always ready for listening student’s concern, including mine, in terms of both scientific and private matters.
Better: He was always ready to listen to students’ concerns, including mine, for both scientific and private matters.
Why? “In terms of” implies conditions 条件. For example “In terms of meat, I like chicken” – this limits the category of what you like: 「肉の種類の中で、鶏肉が好き。」のように条件があります。
As to the X Xについて・Xに関して
Awkward: As to the result, it was a success.
Better: The result was a success.
Why? “As to the X” is the equivalent of Xについて・Xに関して, but this is not really used in the English language. Rather, it is better to just right directly about what your point is (the next part of the sentence, like how it was a success). There is a phrase “As for the result/method/experiment”, but because it is usually redundant, it is not used often.