English to French IT Translator Blog

The Anthony Teixeira Scholarship

Renewed for 2021!

A quality education is important for all people. Sadly, not everyone cannot afford one. Daunting expenses mean thousands of students can’t pursue their educational goals every year. We value education and want to help people with the finances for their higher studies.

We are pleased to announce our very first scholarship “Anthony Teixeira Scholarship Program” to help students achieve their educational goals. The $500 yearly scholarship will be awarded to one student for their education expenses. Further, our aim is to double this amount for next year’s program.

Scholarship Amount

The scholarship amount is $500 and it will be awarded to one student for their education expenses.

Who is Eligible for the Scholarship?

We want to help a student who is really in need of funds for their studies. Both Undergraduate Students and Graduate Students can apply for the scholarship program, provided they are enrolled in a full-time degree program in an accredited college or graduate school.

How to Apply for the Scholarship?

Applying for the scholarship is easy. We have intentionally made the application process very simple so that a maximum number of students can apply for it. Only one winner will be selected.

Here are the steps to apply for the scholarship program:

  • Write an essay of 1200+ words on the topic “A Better Way to Learn Foreign Languages, Translation Skills”
  • You must submit your essay on or before December 31st, 2021.
  • All applications should be sent to scholarship@at-it-translator.com in Word format only. PDFs or links to Google Docs will not be accepted.
  • You should mention your full name, your university name, phone number, and email address in the scholarship application.
  • Make sure your essay is unique and creative.
  • Plagiarism will not be tolerated, and if we have found that you have copied the article from some other source then your application will be immediately rejected.
  • You should not provide any other information other than that mentioned above.
  • After the application deadline has passed, our team will judge your essay on creativity, the value you have provided, and its thoughtfulness.
  • The winners will be announced on January 15th, 2022 and the winner will be notified by email.

How will applications be reviewed?

We will manually review each article/application submitted and list the winners on this page after the deadline date.

Privacy Policy for Scholarship

NOTE: Anthony Teixeira’s Privacy Policy for all scholarship applicants’ submissions ensures that personal information will not be shared and is for our own internal use only. No information collected during this process will be given to 3rd parties, but we reserve the right to use the submitted articles as we wish.




6 Ways Good Translation Agencies Can Be Better Than Direct Clients

Translation Agencies vs. Direct Clients - Which is best?

Direct translation clients seem to be the Holy Grail to many of my freelancer colleagues. Better rates, more direct communication, increased likeliness to be credited… There are many apparent advantages in working without a middleman. In reality, there are all sorts of direct clients, just like there are all sorts of agencies, and in some cases the latter may be your best option.

What makes a good agency?

Very good question, one that would deserve an article of its own. To keep things simple for the needs of this one, we will consider here that a good agency is one that:

  • Generally sends you projects related to your specialization fields
  • Accepts to pay rates one judges decent
  • Pays on time
  • Sends file ready for translation (or is willing to pay extra for the conversion)
  • Has your translation checked
  • Handles basic end client requests
  • Offers manageable deadlines
  • Lets you work with the tools of your choice
  • Ideally uses your services on a regular basis (let’s say once a month or more on average)

You could add more I guess, but that doesn’t sound too bad for a start, right?

The majority of LSPs for whom all the above apply generally fall into one the following two categories:

  • “Boutique” agencies, relatively small but very focused on a specialization or a language pair
  • Very large agencies, receiving enough work to have specialization-based departments, or just large-enough volumes to keep you busy

The greater part of my income comes from translation companies meeting the criteria above, so nothing unrealistic here.

The number of direct clients I translate for is slowly increasing every year, but I don’t feel any need to rush things. There’s a lot I love about the providers I work with:

1. Negotiations are much simpler

One reality of our industry is that many of the prospects you will meet have no idea about how translation works. I receive a lot of inquiries for projects that don’t even cover my language pairs or that are definitely not a match for my specializations.

When their requests are relevant, they won’t always be sure of what they want exactly. You get a lot of “We’re pondering…”, “We haven’t defined the scope yet”, “We just want to know”, “At some point we may send you…”. Sometimes they will decide they don’t need translation services after all, for all sorts of reasons – price naturally being the most common pain point, as your average prospect also doesn’t know how much translation can possibly cost.

Once I exchanged a long series of e-mails with a prospect for about 2 hours until she finally sent me a quotable file. I had told her my per-word rates in my first message, but it’s only when I applied it to the document that she realized that… well, let me quote “Im sorry its just too expensive. I have another 3 batches like that.” To whom shall I bill my time?

Don’t get me wrong, rejected quotes are part of the game. But with agencies, you get a final answer much quicker. They know what they want and the profile they’re looking for. Which means the rejection rate also tends to be significantly lower, at least in my case. In the end, even if you get a lot of quote requests, it takes a lot of time to find a good end client.

2. The files you get are ready to go

A good agency knows that PDFs aren’t an ideal format to work with. If both of you are using a common CAT tool, they will prepare and send you a file you can start working on right away. If they can’t, they will be open to price negotiation.

On the other hand, direct clients will rather send what is convenient to them. It can take time for them to understand you’re not overly excited about working with their exotic file format, and they may me surprised when you suddenly start talking about changing your rates. I’m an IT guy, I can work around most file types, but it still occasionally takes me an awful lot of time to have something workable. I can imagine the pain for non-technical people when they suddenly have to translate a website directly from random PHP or JSON files.

3. You don’t get (too many) unnecessary queries

A serious agency will act as a buffer or filter between you and the end client. They will be able to answer basic questions and queries for you, so that you don’t have to explain why your translation doesn’t look like Google Translation’s, or why it says your text back-translates to something nasty. They’ll often have someone in-house to handle small edit requests. And they will kindly let their customer know that “my cousin who studied French in high school and says your translation sucks” is most likely not in a position to judge your work.

More seriously, people who think they know about languages better than they really do can quickly give you headaches. I’m happy for agencies to take their cut if they handle such persons for me.

4. The work stream is more consistent

Very large and boutique agencies will, in most cases, have several clients in your field, which helps maintain a healthy stream of work. In contrast, things tend to be more sporadic and unpredictable with end customers.

Another thing is volatility. Cost reductions, people moving to another company, creation of an internal translation team… there are many ways a client can stop working without any further notice. While this also applies to agencies to an extent -I can only speak from personal experience here-, my average relationship time is definitely higher with agencies.

5. Think about customer acquisition cost

When we talk about direct clients, the focus is always on how much we earn. Yet, I rarely hear about how much it costs to get a direct client.

How one finds direct clients? Conferences, associations? They’re rarely free and they can eat up quite a bit of your time. A well-optimized website? Hours and hours of SEO and content writing to get any results. Direct e-mails? You’ll spend a lot of time writing them if you want to do it right, for a low response rate. Social networks? Another time-consuming method.

It takes time, money, efforts and probably a bit of talent too. That’s why agencies have their own sales/marketing people, sometimes dedicated departments for the big players.

Agencies typically find me on translation portals or social networks, and it costs me virtually nothing, time and money-wise. I pay a small subscription fee for such websites, but I haven’t made any significant edits to my profiles in years. Compare that to the time spent maintaining a website + blog…

6. You can focus on what you like/are good at, and work faster as a result

If you start working on a large project for a direct customer, chances are that it won’t be 100% focused on your specialization. In the IT/software industry, for example, marketing texts, EULAs, etc. often get thrown in the mix besides purely technical content. A good agency will assign files to experts of their respective fields and keep a central TM/glossary.

If you work directly with the end client, you’ll either have to a. handle those parts yourself, which will take extra time if you want to translate properly, or b. spend time informing them about the situation, possibly recommending a colleague and helping them reorganize the content.

So what is really better? Is there an ideal direct client/agency ratio?

If you put all of these points together, you may start asking yourself: When all is said and done, will I really earn more with direct clients? Is it really worth spending so much time looking for them?

Spending time and money to get a deal done, explaining the process to your new customer, preparing the files, getting them to pay you, answering questions a good agency would not ask, dealing with parts that are out of your sphere of expertise… All these things will lower your average net hourly income.

Working directly with the actual customers offers other benefits than rates alone, of course, but the possibility of a better income is often what motivates people to chase them. As I wrote before, though, raw rates are not nearly as relevant as your income per time unit. Sometimes a good agency can be your best bet.

So what should you really be after? 100% direct clients, 100% agencies, 50/50, 75/25? Difficult to say. You will find extremely successful translators spread all the way between the two extremes.

In a perfect world, you would only work directly with awesome end customers who perfectly understand your job and have a ton of work for you. In the real world, translators will often find it easier to build an agency clientele and progressively try to replace them with quality end clients. Easier said than done.

In any case, and whatever path you choose to follow, try to keep these two points in mind: there’s nothing wrong working mostly with agencies if you are happy with them and direct client doesn’t equal quality client. If you build a clientele that gives you satisfaction, the rest shouldn’t matter. You shouldn’t overlook LSPs only because they get in the middle.

Starting a Small Business in Japan as a Kojin Jigyo

I originally wrote this article a few years ago, when I was only starting as a freelance translator myself. Long story short, kojin jigyo really helped me get started without any set up fees or administrative complexity. Since then, my business has grown and I have incorporated to enjoy the benefits of Japan’s social insurance, among other things. It works slightly better for me now that the dust has settled, but kojin jigyo remains an extremely attractive proposition for those in need of flexibility and simplicity.

Here you will find an updated version of the original article, with fresh information and previous comments left for reference.

The idea of starting a small business in a foreign country can sound intimidating. However, whether you are trying to run a restaurant, a small language school, or simply making a bit of cash as a freelancer, you will be happy to learn that there is an extremely simple form of business you can open in Japan.

It is called kojin jigyo (個人事業), or sole proprietorship as could be translated in English. It is possible to declare yourself as a kojin jigyo anytime, for free, and without any limitations of revenue.

What are the advantages of being a kojin jigyo?

  • No restrictions on income, and your losses can be deducted from your revenues when you fill your tax forms.
  • All you need to do then is to keep track of your earnings and expenses and declare them in your kakutei shinkoku once a year between February and March (you will have to use the blue form instead of the white one).

As a pain-free form of business, it is commonly used by small restaurants, language schools, import/export companies and people working as freelancers or consultants. The only risk as a kojin jigyo is that your liability is unlimited. That said, if you are in control of your expenses, that shouldn’t be a problem.

How do I declare myself as a kojin jigyo?

It is extremely simple! Just fill this form, print it out and send it to your closest tax office.

Once this is done, just make sure you keep all your payments on record, in case someone comes to ask.

A great thing about kojin jigyo is that your expenses, if relevant to your business at least to an extent, can be deducted from your revenues, which potentially means it can help you pay less in taxes.  For example, say you buy a new laptop. Whatever your industry is, chances are you will need to be work on a computer at some point. You can register this purchase as a business expense! This also works for things like transports (you need to go out and see clients, don’t you?) or even the coffee you drink if you work as a private teacher. Just make sure it’s relevant to your business and you can back your claims.

Of course, if your business takes off, that you start paying employees and want to limit your liability, you will need to consider incorporating yourself at some point and start a 株式会社 – kabushiki gaisha.

That said, the kojin jigyo is a great starting point and is still relevant to a number of not-that-small businesses. This is the form of business most teachers, translators, consultants I know work under.

Comments

Dayal Singh on August 4, 2011 at 5:44 pm
We are based in New Delhi India would like to know if we can (Kojin Jigvo)start sole proprietary firm in Japan with your given instructions.
Kindly advise documents required processing time and fees payable for
for the same.
Thanks and await your reply to direct email address

loic on August 24, 2011 at 9:08 am
Great article, I wish I had it when I opened my kojin jigyo a few months ago! I was wondering why you use blue form instead of the white (form B) to pay the taxes? As a freelancer, I don’t have so many expenses and was thinking that the easiest option is the white form. Would you have any advice for me? Thanks!

Keith on September 29, 2011 at 4:39 am
Interesting. I am on a PR visa and want to start my own Kojin Jigyo.

Is it really as simple as one form? I would like more info or a chat about it.

siti on October 3, 2011 at 7:39 am
hye there…hajimemashite….konnichiwa…(know basic japan language a little bit)
I am very interested to know more on this ‘kojin jigyo’ thing….first of all,maybe i should introduce myself..my name is Siti and Im Malaysian…I am a fresh graduate student and have no experience at all in business directly…indirectly I used to sell clothes and scarf through facebook…and i found myself really interested to open up my own business…currently im taking International Master in Small Medium Enterprise in Universiti Malaya,Malaysia..next year I will be doing my practical study..and I found many articles on the SME industry in Japan and I really looking forward to my practical study in any SME company or known as ‘kojin jigyo’ in Japan…I have read all of your articles…its nice to know that you are one of the ‘kojin jigyo’ owner…could you give me any advices to get a place for my internship next year or any good advices to become one of the ‘kojin jigyo’??
looking forward for your response…
thank you very much…..

quest on January 25, 2012 at 7:06 am
Good article.I am planning to setup kojin jigyo as i have some freelance works related to my visa.I m under engineer visa status.do u have any idea ?kojin jigyo will create any problems related immigration.
can i start with engineer visa.?

admin
on January 25, 2012 at 7:19 am
Thanks for your comment, and absolutely, your can start your kojin jigyo with your current visa. As long as you have your gaijin card and that you declare your income to your local tax office, there shouldn’t be any trouble.

Nathan on June 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm
Hi. Thanks for your clear tips and knowledge.
My wife and I, she is japanese, live in australia but would like to start an online business in japan. Is kojin jigyo still possible? Also, what do you mean about unlimited liability? Can we take out insurance? Thanks.

Faisal Mamun on August 16, 2012 at 7:13 am
Hello, i am interested to know more details about Kojin Jigvo to setup small business in Japan and ready to pay for consultancy. You may directly contact –

I have more than 15 years experience in IT as Service Management in leading Multi national company..Currently i am working for japan but remotely..

Sophia on September 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm
Thanks for your great article!
I’m now employed by a japanese company but alsoI’m planning to start my small business such as events orgnanizing. Will it cause the immigration problems?
And will it be better if i register a company or just do it unoffically?
Thank you 🙂

admin
on September 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm
No, I don’t think immigration services would cause you any sort of trouble for that. Tax offices may if you make a lot of money and do not declare it.
If your small business is not generating too much profit (say below 1,000,000 yen a year), you can probably keep it unofficial.

Scott on September 6, 2012 at 3:08 pm
Hi,

Were you able to open a bank account in the name of your chosen Kojin Jigyo?
Is that even possible?

Thanks 🙂

admin
on September 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm
Apparently it used to be possible with Japan Post, but I recently opened an account with them and was told it wasn’t possible. So, short answer, no I guess, but you can still try and ask your local bank.

K on September 10, 2012 at 8:16 am
Thanks for the info. I have a question though. My partner and I want to start an Eikawa in Japan. Can two people be listed on the kojin jigyo or will they only except one person on the kojin jigyo application?

admin
on September 10, 2012 at 12:36 pm
You can only have one name on the application. What you can do is either have both of you register a kojin kigyo, or have one person register and then “hire” the other.

Alex on September 11, 2012 at 2:50 am
Hello! Thank you for this great article.

I am wondering – is it possible to run a kojin jigyo on a student visa, provided you work within the permitted number of hours a week? Arubaito is no problem, but I don’t know if running a small side-business would somehow be against the terms of the visa. Thanks again!

Alex

admin
on September 11, 2012 at 10:48 am
Hi Alex, excellent question! I guess that would be a bit against the spirit of the student visa…
If you’re providing services directly, like design or translation, you could maybe declare them as a baito? Otherwise, if the amount is not too big, you shouldn’t have much trouble. Just keep all your bills/invoices in case someone come ask you.

Alex on September 12, 2012 at 4:09 am
Thank you so much for the reply. The kojin jigyo I had in mind was selling an imported product from the US, on a relatively small scale. Do you have a sense of how much income it would have to provide to no longer be considered arubaito? Or would this sort of business simply not be permitted at all?

admin
on September 16, 2012 at 2:22 am
I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be allowed as it is against the concept of a student visa, but if you don’t make more than a couple of 10.000 yen a month I don’t think you’d have much trouble not declaring it.

Ca on October 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm
Hello! Thanks for the great information!
I was wondering if it is possible to receive a visa while working independently. As in, starting a business when you don’t already have a visa, and getting a working visa or something for it. Is this completely impossible? I’d like to work as a freelance translator in Japan, but I’m afraid that there is no way to do it.

admin
on October 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm
I’m afraid you don’t have too many options indeed. If you are eligible for a WH visa, you can always try to gain experience as a freelancer in Japan and find at least a part time job in a translation company that will get you a visa.

Zeeshan on October 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm
Hi,

I just found your website through Google.com.
And i m looking for some help here for open a “Kogin Jigyo” in japan i was a foreign national and just recently became a japanese citizen i wonder if that,s gonna change anything??
So far i have been out of job this year since march and soon i will be starting a new job somewhere close to 8 million yen a year and i will be a father pretty soon and so far the way i see i can get some tax off for my kid and wife if (Put them as a Fuyo) in my kakutei shinkoku but i still have a huge amount of tax to pay after having my family as a fuyo.
Mate do you think if i get in to kojin jigyo while working for a japanese company
what do you think which is better getting in to kojin jigyo or should i do my tax the way i do every year (having few members as a fuyo)
Mate can you please advise on this cause if it is worth having a job in japan and open a my own private kojin jigyo then i m on it.
i have kept every single receipt of this year and i believe the receipt i had so far they are more then 4 million yen.
Please advise .
I look forward to your reply.
Zeeshan

admin
on October 12, 2012 at 7:31 am
That’s a good question. If you work full time in a company for 8 millions a year with shakai hoken, I’d advise you to keep things the way they are. With kojin jigyo, you can’t have your family under fuyo and the rate of taxes will be higher (especially with consumption tax rising to 10% soon) so even if the taxable amount is smaller it will be the same in the end. If you do your kojin jigyo apart from your work, though, that’s another story and you should declare it as a kojin jigyo.

Zeeshan
on October 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm
Hello mate,
Many Thanks for your quick response .
Understood!! what you think about the receipts worth of 4million
can i use them for my tax off through kojin gigyo??because i was gonna use my house as a office and as you know rents are huge in japan. can i use my own house for my kojin gigyo(As a office) ??
Sorry for another question and once again thanks for your help.

Kind Regards,
Zeeshan

admin
on October 17, 2012 at 7:10 am
Hi Zeehan,
Absolutely, you can take your rents our of your revenue with a kojin jigyo, that’s absolutely fine.

CaMi on October 23, 2012 at 3:33 pm
Hello!
I was so happy to find your website on this information and also the comments other people have written and your responses to them. They are very helpful. I am also interested in this kojin jigyo. My question is also VISA related.

I currently have a working visa and am working for a small englsih school but I would like to start a small business. I believe you mentioned before that this ok. I was wondering about once my visa expires. If I quit working at my current job to focus solely on my small business can I then use my own business to sponsor a renewal of my visa?? I hope this question makes sense.

Thanks in advance!

admin
on October 27, 2012 at 4:32 am
That’s a good question. In theory, no. Now it depends what you do and how much you make once everything is running. What kind of business are you thinking of?

Axel on November 30, 2012 at 8:42 am
Hello, great information!, i have a question, a Japanese friend and i want to start a small company to design small electronics gadgets, if he declares himself as kojin gigyo and hire me, would it help me to get the working visa to go to Japan?…thanks a lot!!

Meigu on December 10, 2012 at 6:24 am
I have a question :]
What kind of visa would you need, for long term stay in Japan with the intent of starting a Kojin Jigyo? I heard that you needed specific ones, but it seems that you can only start a Kojin Jigyo if you are married to a Japanese person or are of Japanese decent….I read you can’t on a work visa or one for students. I’m a bit confused as to which visa I would need to just, rent an apartment in japan and work on an online business. Do you know anything about it? Thanks in advance :]

Jean Chris on January 7, 2013 at 5:52 pm
Thanks for your great article!

I’m currently running a small but, extremely promising business from Centre London. My many trusted friends are so convinced there is great opportunity for growth in Japan for my unique condiments.

I am curious as to how to set up my own kojin jigyo and crucially how to reach potential business partners for financial and practical reasons.
I was also told I needed to establish contacts for visa purpose.
Would you have any advice for me?

Thanks and await your reply to direct email address

JC

hazzy on February 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm
Hello,
I’m from Karachi,Pakistan. i manufacture my Product name Smart Cat ( Cat litter ), in which we use Bentonite. And My father’s business is to manufacture Humic Acid and SSP these are two Products which use as fertilizer, this was My Family background Now, i want to do my Cat litter business in Japan. In Japan there are many factories of Cat Litter and they all use Bentonite for there product, I’ve three types of Bentonite and I’ve many Tons in stock.
I visited your website, you make easy ways to do business. This is my business, and i’m hoping for your good response.

R S on February 26, 2013 at 1:16 am
Dear Sir,
Thank you very much for the article!
I’m interested in going this way but struggling with the Japanese…
What would you suggest please?
Thank you and best regards,
RS

05022 on March 12, 2013 at 3:54 pm
Hi ! Im a forex trader, studied in Japan for about 4 years, and already comeback to my country. Just a simple question, Im planning to go to Japan and make a living there, so can I declare trading forex as kojin-jigyo ?as I just trading from home (my office absolutely).

Give me some suggestion because im very serious about this.

Yoroshiku onegaishimas!

admin
on March 25, 2013 at 4:23 am
Kojin jigyo seems to be exactly what you need, it will definitely be the simpliest way to start out for you 🙂

Krishelle on April 22, 2013 at 11:02 am
Hi. I just saw this blog and it is extremely helpful. I was wondering if you know anything about starting an online business in Japan? I was thinking of starting an online t-shirt store (clothing). Do you know if I need to show a business plan or have a show money to start one? And do you know how much registration fees cost? I really hope you can help!

Ras on April 30, 2013 at 8:45 am
Hi there Admin,
Many thank for your article about starting a sole proprietorship. You indicated that “If you are struggling with Japanese, just let me know and I’ll give you a hand.” Well, I need to fill but I cant fill the form(s) and I’m asking for your help. Thank you in anticipation of that.

Krishelle on May 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm
Hi. Thank you for writing this, it really helped. Although I have a question. I’ve search a lot about starting a small business, but most are about schools, restaurants or stores. I am planning on opening a shopping site and start selling t-shirts. A Japanese friend of mine said, he doesn’t think It’s really necessary for me to register until I reach a certain amount of taxable income. Could you help?

Petros on July 1, 2013 at 4:09 am
Hi there and thank you for all the great information you are posting here!
I am working full time in a company but want to start a small business(gallery) as kojin jigyo and work as part timer as well at my current company. What will happen with the taxes?
I found a space to rent which will be contracted under my partner’s (Japanese) name. Will I be able to claim it under my taxes? Or do I have to make the contract under my name? Any suggestions?

Iqbal Muhammad on July 15, 2013 at 12:38 am
Hello sir,
I am interested to establish a small import and export business in Japan. Please let me know all details, time frame and tentative expenses to complete this process.
Regards,
Iqbal

Franck on July 21, 2013 at 9:27 am
Well, sorry to be a mood killer here but I hold an engineer visa in Japan and, since I’m an experienced web designer, I was planning to make extra money from a membership driven website of mine.

Although I got quite excited after I read this article, I decided to give a call to the immigration bureau in Tokyo just to make sure everything is legal …. but I was told a very different story :

Basically, even for a side business (which means you don’t leave your current job), you need to ask the permission to the immigration bureau because the secondary activity isn’t one requested by an employer. So, your activity being the same isn’t enough. The type of contract must be the same : if you got your visa as an employee, you must start your extra activity as an employee.

If it’s not the case, you must ask the permission via the form downloadable here : http://www.moj.go.jp/content/000099659.pdf

You also have to produce a business plan that will explain in detail the kind of activity you want to start as an entrepreneur.

Then, you must wait one month or more to know if you got the permission or not.

Well, that’s what I’ve been told by the immigration bureau but if you guys know something I don’t, feel free to fire 🙂

admin
on July 22, 2013 at 1:43 am
Well, for kojin jigyo you don’t have a contract or anything like that. I have personnally been working this way with a WH, a work visa and a spouse visa and never got any sort of trouble. Maybe they thought you were creating an actual company (GK or KK)?

Franck on July 28, 2013 at 12:46 pm
Sorry for the late reply.
Well, I know there is no contract involved with koujin jigyou and my interlocutors at the immigration bureau fully understood what it was about.
The thing is, you can do it under a spouse visa since this visa allows you do do any activity you want.
The problems start with specific visas such as Engineer, Specialist in Humanities, etc. Under theses visas, you have been granted the right to work under very specific conditions : as an employee, in a certain field of expertise and for a predefined minimum salary. If your current activity or you new activity doesn’t fulfill all of these, you can be deported. Of course it happens only if the immigration discovers it.
If you are not convinced : http://www.japanprobe.com/2011/11/24/japanese-police-arrest-french-tv-personality/
If people want to avoid this, they have to ask the permission for each new activity they plan to undertake.

Game Localization Link Roundup – December 2016 & January 2017

Video Game Localization Link Roundup

First things first, my apologies for sharing December’s links only now! The start of the year was pretty hectic for me, with very happy news on the personal side and more than work that I could hope for. Things are a *little* more relaxed now, so let me catch up.

We have lot of great links this time, from very formal material (thesis) to comical content (the MT experiment!), interviews, interesting facts and essays.

With LocJAM4 around the corner, you can expect a great flow of stories in the upcoming months, so watch this space!

Student Speak: Using MT for Game Localization – Giulia Mattoni, an Italian Translation Technology student from DCU talks about her experience using Machine Translation for evaluating player support content localization.

Funky Fantasy IV: a Machine-Translated Video Game Experiment – MT may be gradually improving, but it still has a long way to go, as illustrated here

The history of hit points

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns – Localization Blog #2

Dark Conflict (EU) and Days Of Ruin (US) – An interesting video comparison of the EU and US localizations

Square Enix on why Dragon Quest hasn’t been as popular as Final Fantasy in the west

Imagined Commodities: Video Game Localization and Mythologies of Cultural Difference – If you’re in for a thesis

Interview: Localizing Yakuza with Scott Strichart

What Are These Japanese WarioWare Moves All About? – More great stuff from Clyde Mandelin

Localizing Video Games for Different Markets Is a Minefield

And to conclude, a list of links related to LocJAM Japan that you may find interesting ahead of LocJAM4: How to Localize the Package (the process will be the same for LocJAM4), the Kyoto Workshop Presentation, and a more technical article about Internationalizing LocJAM Japan’s game, if you’re curious about what goes into organizing these events.

7 Points you MUST Check Before Accepting Translation Projects

Accepting translation projects

“Hi, I have a document for translation, can you help me?”

We freelance translators all know at least one client who keeps checking our availability that way. I had one such customer. They would send me that very sentence every single time. And every single time I would reply with the same answers before accepting or refusing their translation projects. And I’m glad I did, as some were definitely not meant for me.

Fortunately, not all clients are that vague in their communications. But that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. As professional translators, it is very much our job to clear ambiguities. Here is a quick checklist you can use as a reference.

 

1. Never accept an assignment before seeing the actual file(s)

Some clients are very protective about the information they share. They will tell you a lot about the kind of text they want to send you, yet strictly refuse to show a source file. The problem is that, all too often, they will omit (knowingly or not) important details, or give a misleading description of the content. At a minimum level, try to see an extract of the source file(s), and explicitly state you will only give your final confirmation once you have access to the whole package.

 

2. Make sure you can handle the format

First of all, you will want to make sure you can a. open the file and b. edit it. Is it a file format you are comfortable with? If not, check if you can have a different version. Else, adjust your rates if the extra work involved is significant.

If you are using a CAT tool, try to create a project with the source files AND export pseudo-translated target documents. Sometimes, our favorite tools seem to perfectly handle what we’re feeding them with, until they need to generate the final file… Yes, my dear “Object reference not set to an instance of an object”, I’m talking about you and your little friends. And naturally, these issues tend to occur when deadlines are looming.

If you find out about such problems early on, your client may be able to send you another version that will work, or find some technical workaround. Better safe than sorry.

 

3. Only accept if you are 100% confident about the deadline

Don’t accept a project if you’re not certain you can comfortably make it by the deadline.

Life is full of surprises, good and nasty ones. So many things can happen during a project. You may get the flu, your hard drive could decide to suddenly give up on you, or an exciting prospect may appear out of nowhere with an urgent but highly interesting and/or lucrative project.

Say you can translate up to 3k words a day. That’s on an ordinary day, spread over the different projects you’re currently translating. But how can you be sure tomorrow is going to be just another day?

I try to only accept projects for which I would have at least twice the actual time needed to perform the translation.

People tend to focus on rate negotiations and forget about deadlines. Often rather than not, you will be able to get a bit of extra time simply by asking. It costs nothing to try. Aim at the most generous deadlines possible. You will have an extra cushion for unexpected events, and more room to accept other projects in parallel.

 

4. Ensure you’re comfortable with the whole content

Obvious, right? On paper yes, but this one can get a little tricky. Reading a complete manual before accepting to translate it might be a little excessive, but so would be only checking the front page. There are things that are not necessarily obvious at a glance. Occasionally, a document will look straightforward… until you realize it was written by a non-native speaker or that there are 10 pages of legal notices hidden at the middle.

As a general rule, scan through every source document, carefully read a paragraph here and there, and make sure nothing falls out of your expertise. Again, as a professional, it is your duty to make sure you are in control.

 

5. More on formats: is design/DTP work expected from you? Are you sure?

Clients will probably tell you clearly what file format they want for your translations in, but they can be quite ambiguous about what they want you to do with the layout.

“It doesn’t have to look perfect, as long as the layout remains roughly the same” – sounds familiar?

The problem here is that your client may mean one of two things, and you need to be absolutely sure of what is expected from you:

  1. The final document will be created from scratch by a designer/DTP specialist, and they really just want to know what goes where
  2. They don’t mind doing small adjustments in-house, but they’re expecting your file to be almost ready for production and easy to edit. It can be a huge issue if you are working on files processed with OCR software. You will typically have the right layout, but the resulting file will be horrendously hard to edit and polish visually. Your client might get upset when they realize they need to find and pay someone else to finish the job, so clarify this point as early as you can.

 

6. Expectations should be perfectly clear

Let me conclude with a general reminder and a few extra ideas. One of the keys of good communication with your clients is to spot and clear any ambiguities before the project starts. It would be difficult to give an exhaustive list here, but here are a few examples:

– Imagine someone is asking you for “translation + proofreading” services. Do they mean they want you to proofread your own translations (in my case, this is a given), or are they expecting you to also ask a 3rd party to check your texts? Depending on the answer, the pricing and deadline will be very different.

  1. Character limitations. Whenever possible, try to get a hard limit, rather than “roughly the same length as source text”. If that’s not a possibility, clearly state you will try to keep length under a certain limit. And that they will need to pay extra if they later come back to you with a million requests to shorten your translation.
  2. If you’re localizing websites and are asked to produce a copy “optimized for SEO [sic]”. Are there any specific keywords they want you to target? Do they want you to take care of the keyword research? Again, adapt your rates if necessary.

 

7. When unsure, follow your intuition

Do you have a bad feeling about a project? It happens from time to time. There’s no deal-breaker you could single out, but a combination of small things: the deadline is a little tight, the format is not the simplest one, and the client seems to have very specific demands… If you feel somewhat uncomfortable with job description, it is properly wise to politely decline it.

 

Wordfast Pro 4 Review: A Huge Step Backward

Although CAT tools love making us upset in various ways, you have to admit they’re generally getting better with time. Take Trados, it’s far less buggy than it used to be, much faster at processing files and its plugins add tons of useful features.

So when news broke that Wordfast Pro 4 was out, I was curious to see where improvements were made. How disappointed was I to find out that the software had completely changed, in a terrible, terrible way.

It’s painfully unresponsive

When you open a piece of software and see a bunch of Java threads show up in your task manager, you know you’re in for a bad day. 2002 all over again. You know, those web apps that took forever to load with the coffee cup icon – and barely faster after that? It’s exactly the same thing. Really, Wordfast Pro 4 actually uses a browser plugin to render its interface, so the combination is the same, and the experience is very comparable. Slow as hell.

I understand they’re trying to push their online version of the tool, but it doesn’t excuse the unresponsiveness. Some web-based solutions like Memcloud Cloud have shown that’s it’s possible to have a fast and clean-looking app online, and not something that reminds me of the cheap and buggy shareware of the early 00’s. The thing just feels heavy. It lags all the time, again and again.

File processing is even slower

Now, what about processing speed? I ran a small experiment on a 20k project I was working on. The original files were in Wordfast’s txlf format, but I’ve been using them in Trados thanks to the xliff filter.

So, numbers.

File opening is where Wordfast seemed to suffer the least. It took it 27 seconds to chain the files and present me with the result. The same process took only 12 seconds in Trados. So that’s more than twice the time for WFP4, but it’s nothing compared to some of the other features.

The next thing I tried to do was to run a file analysis with an empty TM. Shouldn’t take very long, right? Trados needed 6 seconds to do that. Wordfast 6… minutes! OK, not quite, 5 minutes and 54 seconds (yes, I timed it). That’s 59 times slower than SDL’s product.

Even such a thing as the “Find” feature seems to take ages. Still in the 20k word project mentioned above, I compared how fast Trados and WFP4 could find a string located towards the end of the chained file, with the cursor placed in the first segment. No regular expressions or anything complex, just a good old plain text search. The result was almost instant with Trados (as in too fast to be timed), while Wordfast needed a full 6 seconds.

The interface is a disaster

Besides the general slowness of its functionalities,  Wordfast also suffers from a catastrophic interface. Every single action is tedious and far more complicated than it should be. You want to switch from a project to another? You’ll need to close the former one first (which does… nothing at all besides wasting your time). Need to run an analysis on a file? Make sure it’s closed first. If it’s not, you’ll need to close the error message, click the Wordfast tab, go back to the editor interface, close the file, then go back to the project interface and finally be able to run your analysis. Trados does that automatically for you and even offers to reopen files afterwards.

Time to export your finished project! You’ll need to manually choose an export path. Each and every time. Can’t just the software offer some default option, like the path you’ve used the previous time?

Oh, and the ribbon, wonderful. If you fold it, you’ll still see the tabs. But if you click on one of them, the ribbon won’t unfold automatically. What’s the point? Why do you need two steps for that? Even that good old Office 2007 is able to handle that for you.

You may say all these are fairly minor inconveniences, which is true. The problem is that they add up to the point anything you try to do ends up in frustration. You keep clicking around, hoping that you didn’t forget to do something the software expects you to – because it won’t do it for you, and it won’t let you know until the very last moment.

The editor is a pain to work with. It apparently needs to load something for each of your actions. For example, let’s say you want to get back to a previous string to make a correction. You try to scroll, but the editor won’t show any text while you do it, so you just hope to get lucky and find the piece of text in question by trial and error. When you’re done scrolling, you have to wait a couple of seconds until the text actually loads and displays (this is a desktop app, just keep the text in memory!). Then, when you click the cell you want to edit, wait again! The editor will need a moment to load whatever it needs until it lets you edit anything.

Didn’t someone test the software and realized how absurdly user-unfriendly it was?

Is this even a finished product?

Wordfast Pro 4 feels very amateurish overall. The interface is not only difficult to use, but also filled with buttons that do nothing or that are enabled when they shouldn’t be. Just an example: when you click an online TM in the Project TM tab, the Export button is enabled. You can’t export an online TM, but it makes it look so. But if you press the button, a window opens and offers you to select a TM… from an empty list, because you can’t export online TMs. Don’t you think an error message would be less confusing? Or even better, can’t you just disable the button in the first place?

Again, that’s just one example among others. You’ll often find yourself puzzled by such dead ends.

Above all, it has lost its direction

I used to recommend Wordfast to beginners for its relative simplicity. Up to version 3, it had a simple, clean and reactive interface, and all the basic features you would expect from a CAT tool. No fancy productivity hacks or project management features (that we translators don’t need anyway), but more than enough to work efficiently on most projects.

Whether that was intentional, I don’t know, but Wordfast had its place on the market as an easy-to-learn tool.

In contrast, Wordfast Pro 4 doesn’t seem to have a clear positioning. It tries to mimic both rival desktop and cloud solutions, but fails spectacularly by only offering the worst of both worlds. It doesn’t have the features and processing speed of Trados, nor the simplicity and reactivity of Memcloud. Instead of focusing on its strengths, it is vainly trying to chase competitors, years later. And still, I don’t remember Trados Studio 2009 being that bad.

Conclusion

I’m baffled by how much of a step backward Wordfast Pro 4 is compared to its predecessor. I don’t see much to save there. Some of the interface flaws can be fixed fairly easily, but it will still be slow and awkward. And in terms of features and processing speed, it’s so far behind its rivals that I just can’t see it getting its head out of the water anytime soon.

By trying to mimic the competition, Wordfast lost its soul, the speed and ease of use that made it an interesting entry point into the CAT world. And it gained nothing in the process. It’s become a slow, buggy, incoherent software headed nowhere.

I have stopped accepting projects involving WFP4. In theory, you can only use Wordfast to check TMs/TBs and edit .txlf files in Trados or MemoQ, but some of the custom fields won’t get updated, which apparently causes issues with some of Wordfast features. Yet another area where WFP3 was better, and a fatal flaw for me. Goodbye, Wordfast.

Internationalizing Ikinari Maou for LocJAM Japan

Introducing Ikinari Maou

Simply put, Ikinari Maou is a puzzle-solving game disguised as an 8-bit RPG.

It was created during the Tyrano Game Fes JAPAN 2016, a jam where the goal was to create short games with TyranoBuilder (or using the TyranoScript language), a visual novel creation tool.

The game won the 2nd prize, and was praised for its originality, the quality of the challenge and its clever use of TyranoScript’s capabilities.

As a parodic RPG, the game ticked all the boxes for the LocJAM’s needs: reasonably short, diverse (lines from different characters, menus, system messages) and using a vocabulary typical of video games.

The Localization Tool

For the purposes of the contest, Shikemoku-MK, the creator of TyranoBuilder, kindly wrote a localization tool that reads scenario files and extract localizable strings, with the possibility of previewing and generating the game in the target language.

Technical Challenges

Most of the technical obstacles we met during the internationalization process were due to the nature of tool. TyranoBuilder is originally designed for novel games. You will typically have the scenario read in a windows, with the occasional selection to make through textual buttons.

Ikinari Maou, however, isn’t your typical novel game. As mentioned earlier, it could be described an RPG/puzzle-solving game, albeit a very scripted one. And to keep that old school RPG feel, the developers had to push the tool to its limits and use its features in creative ways. Long story short, we also had to find ways to accommodate the specifics of the game to make it localization-friendly.

  • In terms of volume, the main task was to convert graphical buttons in text buttons to make them localizable without the need to produce new image files. Remember, the contest is aimed at translators, many of whom aren’t familiar with advanced image editing tools, so everything had to be plain text.So we went over the script files and converted image buttons (“button”) to text buttons (“glink”), switching the image attribute of the former to the text attribute of the latter. We also tweaked TyranoScript’s CSS files to render these links a little more nicely, as options were a bit limited inside TyranoBuilderThis part went fairly smoothly as text and image links essentially work the same way… for the most part.
  • On the name entry screen, switching the graphical confirmation button to a text version had the game crash and it took us a while to figure out why. As it turns out, graphical buttons and text ones work a little differently in the background. The way TyranoScript was designed, clicking on a text button would actually kill the name entry field before any extra code can be applied, effectively making it impossible to save the name entered (and making the script crash by calling an element that has been deleted). The solution here was to dig a bit deeper and make a couple of edits to TyranoScript’s JavaScript files, the core of the tool that converts script (scenario) files into the HTML your browser displays.
  • This time we had to prepare not only the game but also the localization tool, and so we had to debugging on both fronts. One issue that appeared is that the tool originally didn’t extract strings under the “ptext” tag, which allows you to place text anywhere on the screen (outside the space reserved to the “story”) and was used in a couple of places in the game’s scenario files.
  • Another challenge was to find a good format to make strings easy to translate in a broad range of software. We decided to go for a tab-delimited .CSV file using UCS-2 Little Endian encoding – a format that can easily be opened in spreadsheet editing software and most computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools. It is flexible, universal and allows for instant implementation of translated strings.
  • Finally, we had to adjust the original text at a number of places, because of the limitations of our localization tool and TyranoScript. For example, variables were not localizable, so we had to remove a number of things, such as the default character name. We also had to make sure there would not be strings concatenated on a single line. Otherwise the options were to either automatically add a space every time, which would have made punctuation non-compliant in certain cases, or ask translators to add line-breaks manually every time. Obviously the latter option would have been a little tedious, so we just opted to move the text around to avoid issues.
  • As for the font, we used Atari Small, which we carried over from the very first edition of the LocJAM. It covered all of our needs and matched the game’s feel.

LocJAM Japan Presentation – Kyoto Study Group (December 2016)

Here are the slides for the presentation I gave for the Kyoto Study Group organized during LocJAM Japan. You will find a quick introduction to LocJAM Japan (what it is, reasons to participate, etc.), basic information about the tools we are using this time (TyranoBuilder-based games, and Tyrano Translator to localize them) and an overview of the game localization process applied to Ikinari Maou, the game we are offering for localization.
The idea is to have a grasp of how a typical game localization project works. Although we’re taking Ikinari Maou as an example, the whole process can be applied almost identically to most games, including analog ones.
Speaking of which, the presentation is based on the one I gave in March for LocJAM3, with a full text version available here.

LocJAM Japan Unofficial FAQ and Notes

This year I had the chance to be closely involved with LocJAM Japan‘s (Japanese to English game localization contest) organization. Anticipating some of the questions and comments that are likely to arise, I decided to put together a quick, unofficial FAQ. I will do my best to update it during the contest, but once again please note that this is a personal initiative and I can’t guarantee all questions will be answered.

Known issue: Under certain circumstances, the text can overflow a bit in the main message window

The frame width is set to a slightly too small value in the .css file of the game. Depending on the text used, it might overflow a bit as on the picture below shared by Thomas Bruckert.

15369016_1204549326299024_3192057755960753697_oSince the issue is on the game side, it is absolutely fine if it happens with your translation. More generally, minor display issues won’t be taken into consideration by the jury. If you are still worried, you may use non-breakable spaces to force a line return – for example, that would be between “big” and “threat” in the example above.

Known issue (typo): “ファイラ” >  “ファイア”

There is a small typo in the list of “じゅもん”: “ファイラ” should read  “ファイア”, as spelled in other parts of the game. The jury has been informed and won’t penalize the brave translators who tried to translate this exotic name.

typo

Known issue: unlocalizable brackets

15304544_10154122201018193_5287771767486086972_oThe Japanese brackets on the screen above can’t be localized – this one is on us, sincere apologies! Technically the issue can be fixed within the .csv file, but it won’t be taken into account by the jury.

The game won’t start when I click on “Preview localized game”

This is a known issue with the first package we shared. To fix it, you can either:

 

  • Download the latest package on locjam.org
  • Open transrator.csv in Excel and save it as it is

So what is this CSV file? How do I open it?

The translatable file is using the CSV (tab-delimited) format, with UCS-2 Little Endian encoding. It needs to be strictly preserved for the translation to be correctly updated.

You can use spreadsheet software (Excel, OpenOffice Calc, etc.), text editors (I personally recommend Notepad++) or your favorite CAT tool to open and translate it. Specific instructions for Trados/MemoQ, and Excel are available here.

My text isn’t aligned properly, am I going to be penalized for it?

The goal of the tool is to give you a preview of your localized game, rather than to generate a final product. Accordingly, you will not be penalized for cosmetic issues you have no control over, such as text alignment. You should however try to avoid overflows and text encoding issues.

transrator.csv, seriously?

Yes, the translatable file is named “transrator.csv”, not “translator.csv”. This is an innocent mistake from the tool’s developer. He is not an English native speaker (nor a language professional) and unfortunately didn’t have time to fix this small typo. In no way is this meant to make fun of our profession/non-native speakers.

I want to add spaces to my translation but I can only display one at a time

If necessary, you may use HTML entities in your translation (for example, “ ” for a non-breakable space)

What should I do with lines starting with ScenarioName?

Do not edit “ScenarioName    XXXX.ks” lines, or your translation won’t be read properly. If you’re using a CAT tool, it could be a good idea to lock these segments at the beginning of the project

I translated the file, but the old strings are displayed when I run the game

– If the translated strings are not updated after you edited the file:
1. Make sure the file was saved at the right location with the original name and encoding (UCS-2 Little Endian). Also make sure you didn’t add tabulations as plain text (if necessary you can add extra spaces with “ ”)
2. Delete the following:
– “maou/trans.json” file
– “trans/IkinariMaou” folder
Restart the app. Select the project again (maoh/index.html), and the tool should read everything from zero again.

I played the original version of Ikinari Maou and the graphics/text/layout are different

Yes they are. The game was edited in different ways and for different reasons to make it more easily localizable. For LocJAM Japan, the version shared on locjam.org is the only one that matters. But you are very welcome to try the game in its original format and enjoy the better visuals.

Some text is missing from the translatable file/I can’t seem to find a string of the translatable file in the game itself

While we did our best to include only relevant strings without forgetting any, we’re not excluding the possibility  we missed or added some by mistake. Please feel free to report such issues, but don’t worry, the official file shared on the LocJAM website is the only one that counts. You do not need to fix it and we will not edit the official file during the contest.

Ikinari Maou Walkthrough: How to Beat the Game (LocJAM JP)

1) After the introduction, don’t answer “こうさんしますか?” and click on どうぐ > エーテル > ゆうしゃ instead
2) Click on じゅもん > チェンジ(MP30) > まおう(1ぴき)
3) Click on どうぐ > エーテル > まおう
4) Click on じゅもん > タイムリープ(MP100)
5) Click on じゅもん >エーテル > (White arrow) > ゆうしゃ(1り)
6) Don’t answer “こうさんしますか?” and click on どうぐ > エーテル > ゆうしゃ instead
7) Click on じゅもん > チェンジ(MP30) > まおう(1ぴき)
8) Click on じゅもん >エーテル > (White arrow) > ゆうしゃ(1り)
9) Let the magic work!