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Something about me ...

After studying philosophy at the University of Chicago (B.A.) and Yale University (Ph.D.), I studied Japanese in Tokyo and began translating in the early 1980s. My first work as a translator involved translating research papers on pesticide chemicals for a project assigned to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia by the Environmental Protection agency.

These papers required that I do my own research on organic chemistry, crops, and crop pests. In those pre-internet days, it required hunting down references in libraries, typing on paper with a typewriter, and turning in the completed work from hand to hand or through snail mail. 


Today, translation technology has of course been revolutionized by computers and the internet, which has brought advantages and disadvantages: the writing and research parts of the work have been greatly speeded up, using constant changes such as machine translations and large language models (often called "chatbots"). But none of these mechanisms can translate reliably by themselves; I, as a human translator, must always be in charge of the final product.

I joined the American Translators Association in 1993 and have been greatly assisted by that membership, including working relationships with its Japanese Language Division and serving a term as the division administrator, as well as earning certification in Japanese-to-English translation. ATA certification is evidence that a translator has demonstrated exceptional competence in working with a certain pair of languages.

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Photo of Jon Johanning

Over the years, I have expanded my areas of specialization to patents in chemistry and related fields, pharmacological documents such as study protocols and package inserts, and medical documents, including research papers and case reports.





• “Translating Japanese Patents ‘For Information’,” in      

    Morita, Yoriko, ed., Japanese Patent Translation         

    Handbook, published by the American Translators    

    Association, Japanese Language Division,        
    Alexandra, VA, 1997 

• “Taming the Dragon: Handling Complex Sentences  
    in Japanese Patents, The ATA Chronicle,
    September 2000

• “Where is Machine Translation Now? A Human
   Translator’s View,” The JLD Times, Fall 2018, p. 4        



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