I am working with some Japanese authors and doing translations of their works, and in communicating with them I have frequently run into the need to ask them to review my translation if they have sufficient English skills.

The issue here is that I think the average Japanese person has some English skills, but I am not sure each author can comprehend enough to be of any use in the review process. I want to say this in a polite (probably indirect way), without upsetting them.

My first crack at this would be the below:


However I think this is not necessarily the most natural phrasing, and may be also considered rude. Another more indirect way could be:


Also, probably unnatural. One more that is even less direct:


I am guessing that it will be hard for me to find a polite expression if I choose to explicitly say "if you know English well enough".

If anyone can offer any suggestions on whether it would be safe to use the above phrases, or can offer any more appropriate ones, I'd appreciate it.

  • 3
    「〜さんの英語力はよく分かりませんが、~~」 sounds SO rude. Are you kidding? I wonder what your 日本語力 is really like to come up with that kind of phrase.
    – user4032
    Mar 7, 2017 at 0:41
  • On what sort of basis are you working with them? (If you don't mind answering.) Is it strictly one-on-one, between just you and the author alone? Also, will they be remunerated for their service?
    – goldbrick
    Mar 7, 2017 at 1:11
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    @l'électeur: Yes, I aware it is can be seen as rude, but was giving it as a bad example. Hence me asking the post.
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 7, 2017 at 1:43
  • @goldbrick: In this case it is free of charge, but in the future that may change. It is one-on-one.
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 7, 2017 at 1:44
  • @l'électeur: one other comment, in English if I said "I'm not sure about your English ability, but if you are interested please check out..." I don't think it would be considered "SO" rude. Maybe slightly such. In Japanese honestly I didn't know how rude it would be which is why I am asking.
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 7, 2017 at 1:46

2 Answers 2


I don't think there is any language in which these kind of sentences would not be very rude.

It's like if I told you in English :

I don't know if you are good enough, but....

You are translating their work, they want it to look good.
So just ask them if they want to review it or not.
If they say no, it is because they don't believe it will do any good with their level of understanding of the English language.
If they are confident in their capabilities, they will accept... Most likely.

If you are not getting paid, I don't think you should worry too much but if you are getting paid, asking them to review your translation might in some cases gives the image that you cannot do what you were paid for properly.
The end result is in English and you are the best placed to know if it is good or not. If you have a doubt, it means that you think you didn't comprehend the Japanese text properly.
You should note these down, and clarify these part only with them(They don't need English skills for that).
Be careful not to ask them about doubts that only rely on Japanese skills, you should search about these yourself. Only ask to clarify complicated things relating to their work, company or very advanced area of expertise.(No shame in wanting to properly understand how to explain about rocket propulsion system work etc...).

I did do some translating jobs for a traveling company for about a year, but stopped because of all the headaches. Translating bus stop names from the country side that cannot be googled and that none of my Japanese co-workers could read was killing me.

  • Thanks for the comment. I thought that if I just asked them neutrally, they might feel some responsibility or pressure to review something even though their English abilities may not be up to it. So I was hoping to find some way to phrase it to incorporate that. To me, at least in English, making a request to do something can carry with it a connotation of some pressure, unless it is carefully phrased.
    – Locksleyu
    Mar 7, 2017 at 1:40
  • @Locksleyu added some info, Hope it can be of help to you. Mar 7, 2017 at 2:18

I came across this and, while I agree with stack reader's answer, there is an alternative here: Why not ask them to suggest someone to perform the review?

If worded carefully, it can contain the invitation to perform the review themselves if they feel up to it, without pushing them to decide on it. It also opens the opportunity for them to choose a party they feel is well-versed enough in both languages and is trustworthy in producing a pleasing result. I believe your expectation is to have a Japanese native-level speaker review an English translation, provided their English skill is sufficient to determine that the translation could be accurate.

Since you're the one doing the translation, you may open the question suggesting that the reason you are doing this is for the benefit and confirmation of the person for whom you're performing the translation, and not because you feel the translation is of dubious quality. So then, why not try:


...or something to this effect. I realize my Japanese is also poor to properly construct an efficient sentence for this specific case, but I hope the basic idea permeates.

  • 1
    英訳は「~」さんや他の日本語と英語がよく分かります方々を証明するのがご興味があれば、ぜひその方々を進めてお願いいたします。 <-- ごめん、わかんないです・・ makes little sense to me, I'm afraid...
    – chocolate
    Jan 9, 2019 at 1:36
  • @Chocolate Yeah, I tried. I know I have the right idea, but I think my ability might not be here yet.
    – psosuna
    Jan 10, 2019 at 0:55

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