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How I passed the NIPTA examination for patent translators – part 4

In October 2017, the NIPTA (Nippon Intellectual Property Translation Association) translation test for translators of patent texts (more information here) took place in Japan. Five of our translators passed the exam. Four of them passed the English exam and one passed the German exam.

In December 2018, we presented you Ms. Nodoka Yagura’s report on her experience with the exam.

Today we present Ms. Haruyo Oya’s report. She works as a translation checker for transeuro. She has passed the exam for translators from German to Japanese. Unlike the English exam, which is divided into several technical fields and levels, there is currently only one general exam for German. Ms. Oya has been studying under our CEO Yuki Kato since he started teaching a course on German patent translation at the Japanese-German Society Tokyo. She is the only participant in all over Japan to have passed the German exam.

My first contact with patent translation

After I studied German at university I worked for 5 years at the Japanese-German Society Tokyo. Later, I moved and registered with various translation agencies as a freelance translator. For over 20 years I have mainly translated projects from German into Japanese. I have translated all kinds of documents: newspapers, magazines, annual and financial reports, medical study reports, equipment manuals, prescription books, etc. I always researched the area of my current project and noted down important terminology. However, I could hardly use this knowledge in future projects. It felt pretty inefficient.

I also received very little feedback from translation agencies. So I didn’t have the opportunity to check my current skill level as a translator. That was also something I was worried about. One day I received a translation project for an old patent specification. Before that, I didn’t even know that such documents existed. At that time, thanks to the help of a friend, I was barely able to complete the translation in time. But I realized that I lacked the knowledge to translate such texts. Looking for a way to learn patent translation, I came across the German patent translation course of the Japanese-German Society Tokyo.

I wasn’t alone with my worries

I attended the course once a month for 5 years. It started by explaining the basic vocabulary and slowly we started to translate patent documents ourselves, which were then corrected by the teacher.

I learned how to translate the special wordings of patent specifications, how to use punctuation marks correctly, etc. We also learned technical concepts such as the difference between petrol and diesel engines. The students came from all social backgrounds. There were university students, civil servants, in-house and freelance translators, patent examiners and even musicians. I was able to discuss all kinds of topics with my fellow students, which was very exciting for me as I had been working alone as a freelance translator for a long time.

I realized that I was not the only one worried about her translation skills. Freelance and in-house translators also shared the problem that they had no one to discuss questions they had about their German translation assignments.

Science was not my strength, but through this course, I learned more about the structure and functions of technical devices. It was fascinating that even very complex concepts can be defined with just words. I wanted to continue working on this subject until I could take on patent translation assignments from my clients.

How I decided to take the NIPTA exam

In my 5th year in the translation course, I was hired as a translation checker at transeuro. I thought that reading the translations of professional patent translators would be the best way to learn. I was right.

At transeuro, I had the opportunity to read many beautiful translations. Of course, difficult technical concepts were translated precisely. In addition, the texts were easy for readers to understand and worded in a way that it was hardly possible to misinterpret them. The more patent specifications I read with the corresponding translations, the more I learned.

In an internal mail, I read that the NIPTA examination for patent translators now also offers an examination for German. I looked at some old English exam questions and realized that it was a lot of text that needed to be translated in a limited time. I was about to give up, but the exam guide said that the German and Chinese exam candidates would receive feedback to help them with their further studies. During my studies at the Japanese-German Society, the teacher’s corrections always helped me a lot to understand my weaknesses. Therefore, I had to use this opportunity for an objective evaluation of my translation skills.

The pressure of the time limit

Within the framework of the course of the Japanese-German Society, it was okay to submit only a part of the homework, if one could not do everything in time. Therefore, I was not used to a time limit as you have it in exams. I had my glossary, which I had created during the course, and did not have to research basic vocabulary. However, once I had translated all exam questions, I only had enough time to check for typographical errors. Although it was my first time to translate patent documents in the field of chemistry and mechanics, I had no problems. This is thanks to me working as a translation checker for documents in these fields.

In the end, I had a few translation errors and that made me a little disappointed. But the feedback I received later really helped me with my further studies. I had achieved the goal I had set myself for the exam.

Still a long way to go

After the exam, I continued to work as a translation checker for transeuro, but I also started working on German patent translations step by step. When I look at the feedback I get, I realize that I still have a long way to go. The know-how I acquired during the course still helps me today.

As a translation checker, I read translations from many different fields, but I never thought that one day I would have so much fun with a patent specification for chemistry.

I am deeply impressed that there are so many enormous texts behind our everyday things. The work of a translation checker is directly related to the task of making texts easy for the reader to understand. I want to further refine my skills as a checker with the help of all those who support me.

How did you like Ms. Oya’s report? Leave us a comment.

Here you find previous reports about the NIPTA exam from other translators.

Part 1 – Hiroyuki Omata

Part 2 – Chieko Matsumoto

Part 3 – Nodoka Yagura


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2 response to “How I passed the NIPTA examination for patent translators – part 4”

  1. william says:

    So did she pass the test? She seemed disappointed in the end…

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