To keep myself from watching any of the horrible programming that passes for daytime TV here, I’ve been doing sporadic J-E translation involving ironically documents from my former employer. Now in the latest batch, there was the word 改善, which I simply just romanized as Kaizen.
Come home last night, open up e-mail, and there’s an odd note to all translators from the project coordinator reminding us the final audience for our work does not speak Japanese and thus we the translators should not use words such as Kaizen or Genchi Genbutsu in our work as we assume too much in believing that will be understood.
Perhaps there’s a point about Genchi Genbutsu, but after all these years, I’ve been under the impression Kaizen is now a widely understood word, a word like many other words of foreign origin, that has worked its way into the English (and dare I say other languages??). So if the audience, whoever they are, doesn’t understand the concept of Kaizen, they what business do they have in dealing with the matter at hand?
Or do I need to have my coffee first?