Japanese to English
Japanese has possibly the most difficult writing system in the world. Hiragana, katakana
and kanji are mixed together, along with the English alphabet, to create written
Japanese. Subjects are often omitted, leaving computers unable to produce an English
sentence with the requisite subject, and vocabulary items are often shaded with subtle
nuance that have to be weighed carefully.
English to Japanese
Many decisions must be made when translating from English to Japanese that a computer
cannot compute. Should the verb have a polite ending, such as for a corporate webpage,
or a normal ending, such as for a patent? If two people are talking, how should their
relative social statuses be reflect in honorific and humble expressions in their speech?
Because English does have such features, the translator must use extensive cultural
knowledge to produce a natural-sounding Japanese text.
English to Chinese
Unrelated to Japanese, Chinese is in fact more similar to English at least in structure
as they both have SVO (subject-verb-object) style sentences. An important decision to
make for translating to Chinese is the target locale. Although mainland China, Hong
Kong, Singapore and Taiwan all use Chinese characters, there are significant differences
in vocabulary, and the simplified and traditional scripts are very different in
appearance, even though they are generally mutually undestandable.