We don't do translations, proofreading, character identification, or audio deciphering
We do not offer a direct translation service. Our resources page shows several dictionaries that could and should be used to look up individual words. Asking questions such as "What is X in Japanese/English?", "Can you help me identify this kanji/text?", or "What is this person saying in this clip?" are likely to be closed fairly quickly.
This can be somewhat nuanced however, since many questions on the site take the form of "I thought X meant Y, but that meaning doesn't fit in sentence Z". This is allowed, since these questions will usually reflect idiomatic or more complicated usages, and it's hard to describe them as "translation" questions at all.
At the phrase level, the community strongly frowns upon questions that can be summarized as "<long Japanese phrase here> What does it mean?" or "Please just check everything about this text". On the other hand, questions that display the asker understands most of the phrase, but is simply confused about how an individual word or grammatical structure fits into the sentence are encouraged. Sometimes the misunderstood part of the phrase will radically change the meaning, but that is not the asker's fault.
At the character/text level, we also take exception with questions like "What do these kanji on my shirt say?" or "What does this tattoo mean?" However, questions such as "I know this character is 喜, but it's written like 㐂... what the heck is going on here?", or "This kanji appears to be in cursive. What's the standard form it is derived from?" that indicate adequate research efforts will probably be acceptable.
Also note that context is vitally important any time you are veering close to a "translation question", and occasionally can redeem what is otherwise a close-worthy question.
Alternative Websites for Translations and Proofreading
Users who aren't interested in learning the Japanese language and simply want translations done for free may be interested in reddit's /r/translator site.
Users looking for proofreading or a check of the grammaticality of their constructed sentence(s) may be interested in Lang-8, or HiNative.
- Lang-8 allows you to post long journal-like entries and the community will review and correct your sentences. You can also receive feedback through comments and messages.
- HiNative allows question types such as "How do you say this?" and "Does this sound natural?". It is useful for asking about short sentences and phrases. For feedback on longer paragraphs you may want to consider Lang-8 instead.
italki is another language exchange website. After signing in, in the top bar you can access the
COMMUNITY tab. Under that tab you can select
Notebook and then
Write a notebook entry and get corrections from the community.
Other options are listed on our resources list under Websites->"Conversation Exchange"
Related Meta Discussions
meta discussion on translation
meta discussion on proofreading / translation checks