映画やドラマなど、日本のコンテンツに英語字幕を付ける映像翻訳者は、何がきっかけでこの道を選んだのか？ また映像翻訳の魅力とは何なのか？ 日英の映像翻訳者としてデビューを果たしたマット・ヘンリーさんにインタビューをしました。
◆How did you hear about the JVTA Japanese-to-English translation course, and why did you decide to take it?
I’d always been interested in getting involved with Japanese-to-English translation, but until I heard about JVTA I couldn’t picture myself actually enjoying the work. Visual media translation sounded perfect for me: I’m a huge fan of Japanese film and have been involved with video production for over 10 years. I decided that there would never be a better chance to learn about translation.
◆What was your impression of the JVTA classes and homework?
JVTA links you up with an impressive array of translation professionals actively working in the industry. Every class follows a similar structure, but the personalities of the teachers give them all a different character. Likewise, the homework had us engaged in a wide variety of genres, and made us consider interesting decisions in translation. As a class, we grappled with striking the right tone in period film subtitles, communicating complex concepts concisely, letting story structure inform our word choice, deciding when the visual image is better left alone, and interpreting seemingly untranslatable concepts for the audience.
◆What opportunities has studying at JVTA given you?
I just passed my trial this month which means I can begin to get actual translating jobs. But more than the opportunity for extra income, I’m most excited about having a connection with Japanese that I can retain after moving back to the United States. Even after living in Japan for six years, I was worried that by losing that daily connection with Japanese my skills would get rusty. Now I know I’ll be getting a steady stream of new challenges to stretch my Japanese ability, and an opportunity to stay connected to the popular culture of Japan.
◆Who would you recommend the course to?
I was surprised by how few native English speakers were in my class. Being fluent in English means you have instincts for natural-sounding English which affects your work in many ways. The disadvantage is that you need to be extra diligent on making sure you comprehend all nuances of the source Japanese. But the nice thing about translation (compared to interpretation) is that you can take your time to research and look at lines from every angle before making a decision. So I would recommend this course to native or fluent English speakers who have solid Japanese skills but haven’t yet tested those skills in a professional setting.
◆Did you have any previous translation experience before taking the course?
I’ve had to make English subtitles for Japanese videos in the past, but there wasn’t much theory guiding my decisions. Now I cringe at my old subtitles from before JVTA!
◆What is it like working on projects for JVTA while also having a full-time job?
It wasn’t difficult to juggle the extra work with my full-time job, although I have the luxury of a job with consistent, predictable hours. Each week I would preview the assignment to estimate how much time was required. Depending on the complexity, I would block off one, two, or three one-hour slots during my week to devote to projects. Initially I found myself spending excessive amounts of time on a single line, trying to get it perfect. Over time, I learned to identify when time was being wasted trying to bridge the gap from high quality to perfect. This helped get the time spent on each project down to a sustainable level. This also ended up also fixing one of my major flaws at the beginning – trying too hard for a clever translation when a sensible option would work. More importantly, it prevented me from burning out with the sheer amount of projects!
◆Are you thinking of a future career in translation?
Translation is one of my many interests in life. JVTA allows me to take translation jobs alongside my current full-time job, which is what I like about it the most. Despite not having a lot of time per week to devote to translation, I hope I can make up for that by staying involved for many years to come.