Yuya Kiuchi: Foreign Language Interpretation


Since this is my first entry, I would like to write about languages in business from an interpreter’s perspective. I have worked as an interpreter for Japanese and English for numerous companies, and in various industries. From M&A negotiations, to intellectual property violation cases, and to quarterly board of director meetings, I have been very fortunate to witness, and participate in, many different kinds of businesses. What I would like to share with you today is one of many thoughts on the value of languages I have had as an interpreter.

This is about sincerity. For formal and official discussions, it pays to have a professional interpreter. But before a meeting begins or during a break, successful business people are those who can establish a good personal rapport, and try to communicate with others, even in an unfamiliar foreign language. For example, one of the Japanese executives I often work for completely relies on me during a business meeting. But once a break starts, he tries his best to talk with the other executives in English. It is broken English with a heavy Japanese accent. But, his sincerity is clear. Everyone can see he genuinely wants to talk and discuss. He wants to know how you are doing. He wants to know how your last vacation trip went. I have seen a strong sense of trust build from these attempts and interactions.

You don’t need to be able to speak a foreign language fluently. When someone tries to speak to you in your language, it means a lot to you. If someone asks me to interpret during a break, of course I am available. But when possible, I encourage them to use me as a dictionary so they can remember words and expressions and to communicate in a foreign language. Breaks are not language school classes. You can make mistakes.

— Yuya Kiuchi




— 木内裕也


About Author

Yuya Kiuchi

Mr. Yuya Kiuchi received his Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University. His research interests include post-bellum African American culture and history, use of media for social change and community empowerment, history of memory production and consumption, and identity formation through media use and conten production. He is currently a fixed-term assistant professor of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. He has translated and published multiple books from English to Japanese, including Barack Obama’s first autobiography, Dreams from My Father.

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