Next year, the country of Japan will be hosting the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics Games. According to the tourism sector of the nation, they are requesting the help of the travel department to make signs that are in the English language. This is not surprising as a company that makes signs in Brisbane have noticed that the country goes by their “Japlish” when providing signs and directions locally. While their “Japlish” translations might be understood with a little guessing here and there, the government is determined to provide comprehensible signs for the international event.
In order to assess the true situation, the Japan Tourism Agency conducted an investigation that lasted for two months. They looked into the websites managed by a total of bus and train agencies all over the country and they have also checked the signage placed around different cities and towns. Unfortunately, the result turned out to be quite disappointing.
There are many signs found that needs corrections such as a transport company using the term dwarfs to mean children. The sign “The Toei Shinjuku and Toei Mita Lines can’t take it” can be seen in the subway station in Jimbocho located in central Tokyo. One of the country’s transport companies has posted an instruction that reads, “What happens to the children fare from what age?”
The director of a French language academy situated in Yokohama, Eric Fior, said that he found something wrong with the translations used by a museum so he tried calling them to point out the error. Instead of correcting their mistake, the management of the museum insisted that it was correct since the local Japanese people will be able to understand it.
A professor teaching at Niigata University who specializes in applied linguistics and Western cultural studies, Gregory Hadley, said that the problem with the signs is a socio-linguistic one. Japanese made the sign for the benefit of the locals to convey the message that their society is sophisticated and is in sync with other nations.
According to firms that print signs in Brisbane, despite Japan’s tourism sector’s effort, there might not be enough time to hire professional translators and replace all the signs. Not to mention the fact that companies will have to spend money for this to happen.