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  • Christina Theodorakis

What Kind of Limitation Is It?



This was spotted by our team at a famous landmark in Tokyo, and the first word might be the most confusing to many people. “Hign Limitation.” What they were trying to say was “Maximum Height” or “Low Clearance,” directed at the people who are pulling into this parking garage.

In the Japanese text (高さ制限), the words directly translate to “Height Limit,” but the words “limit” and “limitation” are the same word – 制限 (seigen) in Japanese, so the writer here couldn’t distinguish between the two different English meanings.

The first word in the Japanese text – 高さ (takasa) -- means “height,” but the writer was trying to write “high” since they mixed up the noun form and adjective form. On top of using the wrong form of the word, they wrote the word “high” with a spelling mistake.

One of the biggest reasons for these avoidable spelling mistakes that we’ve found throughout Japan is a lack of spellchecking or having a reliable writer from an English-speaking country to edit the English phrasing as a whole. The same level of care and accuracy that Japanese people use to write and print Japanese text is typically an afterthought when it comes to English. Also, Japanese text can be understood even if it’s vague because of the way sentences are strung together, so Japanese writers don’t come across the same issues that exist in English when writing.

This is why finding and hiring foreign talent in Japan is often a struggle for many Japanese companies who don’t know how to find the right foreign talent for their companies, and the same goes for foreign companies who are seeking talented Japanese nationals to join their international team. We’ve helped companies in Japan and in the West in the past with our cultural knowledge of expectations held by foreign companies and those held by Japanese employees who have been raised with a Japanese work mentality which may lead to communication differences while they’re working at a foreign company. If you’re interested in expanding your business or helping your failing business in Japan, contact us today.

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