In cases where the original wording of a quotation sounds strange, and thus the Japanese translation of it sounds unnatural, my advisor says I need to add a note each time in my academic paper to tell the reader that the quote is literally translated to Japanese from unusual wording in the original.

Is there a standard format for this in Japanese academic writing? Or how can I indicate this to the reader so he/she doesn't assume I mis-translated?

For example, my translation:


from the English original wording:

When Miyabe received a cablegram notifying him that his wife was feeling better, he confessed that “it gave me an electric shock, intimating you had been once perhaps very seriously ill,”

"It gave me a shock" sounds normal in English but Miyabe's extra-dramatic "electric shock" is not common, so how can I let the reader know that 「電撃」 is a translation of his specific word choice? Should I put a brief note in parentheses inside of the quotation, like this:


  • @Yang Muye Is this a standardized set phrase or your suggestion? – seijitsu Jul 14 '15 at 16:18
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    My suggestion, though 原文ママ is a set phrase. But I just thought my suggestion is logically imposible. – Yang Muye Jul 14 '15 at 16:20
  • @Yang Muye: 原文ママ does stand for "sic," but I doubt everybody understands the expression. It is proofreader's jargon. BTW does everybody (I mean a layman) understand "sic?" – eltonjohn Jul 15 '15 at 6:41
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    I think pretty much everyone who's literate recognizes sic, but not everyone is clear on exactly what it means. Many people believe its purpose is specifically to mark an error rather than simply to indicate that the original is reproduced intact. – snailboat Jul 17 '15 at 1:22

I think 電撃 is not so strange as a translated material, but anyway...

I'm afraid I don't know the standard way to assert your translation of a certain expression is correct without disclosing the original English phrase. Something like (この部分は原文を直訳したもの) might work, but that's annoying and uncommon.

In general, it's a common practice to specify the original English wording using 訳注 (translator's note) like this:

「……危篤状態だったのかもと思い、電撃(訳注:原文はelectric shock)を受けた」

If you really need to add a long comment about a certain phrase, do so in a footnote:

訳注1: 原文はelectric shock

or at least outside the quotation to preserve readability, depending on the style guideline you have to follow.

「……危篤状態だったのかもと思い、電撃を受けた」と述べ(注:「電撃」は原文のelectric shockを直訳したもの)、……

  • This is extremely helpful! Thank you so much. I appreciate your offering a couple of suggestions on how to format it to preserve readability. – seijitsu Jul 15 '15 at 14:14

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