SOAS, University of London

Translating Articles from Japanese and Simplified Chinese for a book on Evidential Systems in Tibetan languagesWorking with 5 scripts for a book on Tibetan Linguistics funded by the European Council and British Museum

Project Summary

  • Client: SOAS, University of London
  • Service: Japanese to English and Simplified Chinese to English Translation
  • File Description: Articles of a book on Evidential Systems in Tibetan languages
  • Discipline: Humanities
  • Volume: 78,495 characters
  • Timeline: 83 business days
  • Translation Level: Translation + Review + Editing
  • Book is available - in 117 libraries across the world and increasing. The countries include Canada, USA, Germany, Malaysia, Australia, France, Netherlands, UK, Slovenia, Israel, HongKong, Spain etc.
    Click here to view the book
SOAS, University of London


A noted scholar in the field of Tibetan sociolinguistics and culture, Dr. Nathan W. Hill is a professor at SOAS, University of London. He currently teaches courses in Tibetan language and history, and has published several works on Old Tibetan descriptive linguistics, Tibetan corpus linguistics, Tibeto-Burman reconstruction and comparative linguistics, and the typology of evidential systems. For his next book on Tibetan linguistics, he required articles translated from Japanese and Chinese to English. With funding available from the European Council and British Museum, Dr. Hill was looking for a reliable translation partner with expertise in linguistics and International Phonetic Association (IPA) system, experience in Japanese and Chinese translation, and familiarity with Burmese and Tibetan scripts.

On contacting Ulatus, Dr. Nathan mentioned, “A colleague of mine in Japan recently used your services and I was most impressed with the outcome.” Explaining the project background, he added, “I am proposing a book to Mouton de Gruyter about evidential systems in Tibetan languages and want to include articles that I think are important.” Our translated files were extremely critical in laying an important ground for the book. They would be used to discuss the book with the publisher and obtain permissions from the original authors.


Ensuring accurate translation of Japanese and Chinese text as well as keeping intact interspersed symbols, Burmese text, and Tibetan text

  • Articles were on Evidential Systems, which is a very niche area of specialization. The project required high expertise in the area of linguistics as well as very high quality in Japanese and Traditional Chinese.
  • Accurate translation of the book was very critical as the end objective had national implications– the study of the book was well understood in Japan in 1970’s, however the learning had got lost. In late 80s, US again conducted the study but it was not well understood by readers and authors. So our client through this book’s translation wanted to explain these concepts again to the world.
  • The text had five scripts – Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Tibetan, and IPA symbols. The linguists and Project Managers (PMs) had to work with multiple scripts for a single project.
  • The files were available in an uneditable format as the original files were scanned PDFs. This restricts the scope of using any automated tools that support quick and more accurate translation.
  • The client requested that along with the translation, the IPA symbols as well as Burmese and Tibetan script be kept intact. Since the source files were scanned, these symbols and scripts could not be transferred by a simple copy-paste.
  • On the quality front, we faced an overall challenge to ensure no omission or mistranslation, as all quality assurance measures required manual intervention.

How Ulatus Overcame the Challenges?

Forming the right team with linguistic expertise

  • The PMs selected translators and checkers based on high-quality grade and our past work experience on other similar book projects.
  • The translators were well versed in Japanese, Chinese and English, and also had an understanding of Burmese and Tibetan. They understood the complexities involved and were able to translate around the different symbols and dialects.

Implementing Strict Quality Principles in the Project Management

  • We first typed out the entire paper carefully while retaining symbols and other scripts before proceeding with translation from Japanese and Chinese to English.
  • The dedicated PM team implemented a two-way checking strategy, i.e., the original PDF and typed-out MS Word files were used to check the final translation. This technique ensured that nothing was missed.
  • The in-house bilingual expert checked all the translated files, and immediate feedback was shared with the translators.


The key to the success of this translation was expert project management. By following the right strategy, we successfully translated all files to English while accommodating the client’s request to retain all IPA symbols as well as Burmese and Tibetan scripts. The PM team went out of its way to fulfill this request, which saved the client from the tedious task of adding symbols and text back into the translated files. Our client who is a well-known researcher in this area and familiar with all the scripts involved in the translation gave us the following comment:

Looking at the quality of the work that was produced, I could not have done any better. I know Japanese and I know linguistics, and looking at the quality of the work that was produced, I feel like I would not have done any better than this.

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