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Company refuses to give its English name
Thread poster: casey

casey
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member
Japanese to English
Sep 28, 2007

I called a company just now and asked them to tell me their official company name in English. The operator told me she wasn't at liberty to divulge the information!!! What on earth? She asked me who I was and I told her I was a translator. I told her I was translating a document for one of the company's employees and she asked who. I told her that was personal information and I couldn't say, but could she please just tell me what the name of the company is? She simply refused. Is that bizarre or what?

Just in case you're wondering, no, I did not call the wrong number. They answered the phone with the Japanese company name.

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:37]

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:52]


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KathyT  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 10:04
Japanese to English
Maybe your dulcet tones are suspicious-sounding?? :-) Sep 28, 2007

Aaah, Casey, I sympathize.

But objectively, I could see why she might think it was a little suss.
You (understandably) didn't want to reveal which employee you were doing the translation for ( - can you not ask that person directly, btw?) and she might have panicked to hear that a translation "about the company" (for all she knows, even if in reality it's just a mention) was taking place without her/their knowledge.

I assume you already checked the bottom of their webpage (if they have one) to see if there were any hints there(?)
Is there a reliable PM or someone else that you could ask?
Failing that, how about just romanizing the name and adding KK or whatever on the end.

Kathy in beautiful, sunny spring Sydney


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casey
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
No website Sep 28, 2007

KathyT wrote:

Aaah, Casey, I sympathize.

But objectively, I could see why she might think it was a little suss.
You (understandably) didn't want to reveal which employee you were doing the translation for ( - can you not ask that person directly, btw?) and she might have panicked to hear that a translation "about the company" (for all she knows, even if in reality it's just a mention) was taking place without her/their knowledge.

I assume you already checked the bottom of their webpage (if they have one) to see if there were any hints there(?)
Is there a reliable PM or someone else that you could ask?
Failing that, how about just romanizing the name and adding KK or whatever on the end.

Kathy in beautiful, sunny spring Sydney


Although they are a KK, they don't have a website. The job is through an agency, so I can't ask the person directly. I can leave a note for the agency to ask, but I figured it would be a simple thing for the company to tell me its official name, so I tried calling. Why would the name of the company be a secret?


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Drozjp  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:04
English to Japanese
It happens Sep 28, 2007

The company must not have an English name

[Edited at 2007-09-28 03:21]

[Edited at 2007-09-28 03:24]


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casey
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe not Sep 28, 2007

Droz wrote:

The company must not have an English name

[Edited at 2007-09-28 03:21]

[Edited at 2007-09-28 03:24]


Maybe not. I thought they all did, but if not it would have been much easier just to tell me that than to act so secretive about something that should be a matter of public record.

Oh, well. No skin off my back.


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 08:04
English to Japanese
+ ...
looks like strange Sep 28, 2007

casey wrote:

I called a company just now and asked them to tell me their official company name in English. The operator told me she wasn't at liberty to divulge the information!!! What on earth? She asked me who I was and I told her I was a translator. I told her I was translating a document for one of the company's employees and she asked who. I told her that was personal information and I couldn't say, but could she please just tell me what the name of the company is? She simply refused. Is that bizarre or what?

Just in case you're wondering, no, I did not call the wrong number. They answered the phone with the Japanese company name.

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:37]

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:52]


Bizarre, bizarre. I don't guess what kind of situation you are in just by reading your post. If they don't have an English name, they should have instantly told you the fact. There must not be a reason for the operator to make it a secret. At the same time, I really don't guess why you should make the assigner's name a secret over the conversation. If you asked her to page him/her, it was just a simple matter, wasn't it? A few factors I think of are: their size (how big is the agency personnel?), organization (who is the real person/people in charge?), operator (what's her responsibility anyway? she's a new comer or a long-term 'responsible' project manager?) and so forth.

As far as I'm concerned in a similar situation, I once needed to negotiate a delayed-payment term with a domestic agency many years ago already, when one of their employees answered my phone, but she did not apparently belong to the core personnel in charge of the matter, and also seemingly she was not in the proper position to answer my questions correctly. She only vaguely (and yes, with reluctant voice tone) explained the project manager was not available and my payment would be 'possibly' settled in a short time. After hanging up, a sense of doubt naturally came over me, while later I realized it was needless fear when the payment arrived well within the time from their end. But after that, I have never accepted a new job from them to date.

My advice to you:
1. You may better mention the name of the first contact person with the operator to call for him/her.
2. Don't upset, but you may ask the operator about her position in the agency, and if you find she's not the right person to address your problem, you ask her whether or not there is any other one available to answer your questions.
3. Why not using email directly contacting the project manager instead of calling if he/she is not quickly available on the phone?

Well, good luck, casey.

Minoru

[Edited at 2007-09-28 14:35]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Just use the romanized name Sep 28, 2007

I would suggest to use the romanized name of the company and put KK after it, as Kathy suggested. You did not say what the translation was, but if it is a resume, this may be enough, especially if the job description says something about what kind of company that is. This is what is important for the person you are doing the resume for.

As for your phonecall, I have a slightly different view than some of the others responded here.
First of all, I don't think it was a very good idea for you to call the company, because you are probably in breach of your confidentiality agreement with the agency, which normally prohibits the translator to directly contact the client. Now, in this case, as it was only about the company name, this may be hard to prove, but you made it worse by telling them that you are working on a translation for one of their employees. It sounds like it is a small company (as they don't even have a website) so they may easily find out whom you are doing the work for, and the person can get into all sorts of (justified or unjustified) trouble.

I also assume, when you called on the phone, even if your Japanese is perfectly correct in terms of grammar, you probably still sounded like a "gaijin", which frankly, freaks out many people, especially receptionists who are not used to dealing with non-Japanese callers. She simply panicked, because you asked something that she has never heard before, was not in her employee training, and because she was probably told to be careful about divulging information about the company. They may also want to avoid getting all sorts of junkmail, or other solicitation from non-Japanese companies (this would be another reason why somebody would want to know the company's name in English, so they could print labels and address envelopes without Japanese printing/writing capabilities).

I remember when I started working for a company in Japan, and the company was still small, but growing fast, sometimes we would get calls from people whose purpose was to find out certain things like how many engineers we have for tech support and such. Many of them were probably competitors, or their hired "researchers", and sometimes posed as somebody in need, so after we solved their technical problems (which may have been fictitious to begin with) they started asking these questions, or just posed them while we were working on their problems, casually, as part of the conversation. Some of these were obvious right away, but some of the "techniques" were more subtle. Later, when I was doing my MBA, I learned about these in great detail in my Business Intelligence class.

So, anyway, your seemingly innocent question probably triggered an overreaction on the part of the receptionist.


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casey
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Company is not the client Sep 28, 2007

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

I would suggest to use the romanized name of the company and put KK after it, as Kathy suggested. You did not say what the translation was, but if it is a resume, this may be enough, especially if the job description says something about what kind of company that is. This is what is important for the person you are doing the resume for.

As for your phonecall, I have a slightly different view than some of the others responded here.
First of all, I don't think it was a very good idea for you to call the company, because you are probably in breach of your confidentiality agreement with the agency, which normally prohibits the translator to directly contact the client. Now, in this case, as it was only about the company name, this may be hard to prove, but you made it worse by telling them that you are working on a translation for one of their employees. It sounds like it is a small company (as they don't even have a website) so they may easily find out whom you are doing the work for, and the person can get into all sorts of (justified or unjustified) trouble.

I also assume, when you called on the phone, even if your Japanese is perfectly correct in terms of grammar, you probably still sounded like a "gaijin", which frankly, freaks out many people, especially receptionists who are not used to dealing with non-Japanese callers. She simply panicked, because you asked something that she has never heard before, was not in her employee training, and because she was probably told to be careful about divulging information about the company. They may also want to avoid getting all sorts of junkmail, or other solicitation from non-Japanese companies (this would be another reason why somebody would want to know the company's name in English, so they could print labels and address envelopes without Japanese printing/writing capabilities).

I remember when I started working for a company in Japan, and the company was still small, but growing fast, sometimes we would get calls from people whose purpose was to find out certain things like how many engineers we have for tech support and such. Many of them were probably competitors, or their hired "researchers", and sometimes posed as somebody in need, so after we solved their technical problems (which may have been fictitious to begin with) they started asking these questions, or just posed them while we were working on their problems, casually, as part of the conversation. Some of these were obvious right away, but some of the "techniques" were more subtle. Later, when I was doing my MBA, I learned about these in great detail in my Business Intelligence class.

So, anyway, your seemingly innocent question probably triggered an overreaction on the part of the receptionist.


I wouldn't think there'd be anything wrong, seeing as the company is not the one ordering the translation. I probably did freak the receptionist out. Oh, well. Live and learn, I guess.


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casey
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, Minoru Sep 28, 2007

mulberryfield wrote:

casey wrote:

I called a company just now and asked them to tell me their official company name in English. The operator told me she wasn't at liberty to divulge the information!!! What on earth? She asked me who I was and I told her I was a translator. I told her I was translating a document for one of the company's employees and she asked who. I told her that was personal information and I couldn't say, but could she please just tell me what the name of the company is? She simply refused. Is that bizarre or what?

Just in case you're wondering, no, I did not call the wrong number. They answered the phone with the Japanese company name.

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:37]

[Edited at 2007-09-28 02:52]


Bizarre, bizarre. I don't guess what kind of situation you are in just by reading your post. If they don't have an English name, they should have instantly told you the fact. There must not be a reason for the operator to make it a secret. At the same time, I really don't guess why you should make the assigner's name a secret over the conversation. If you asked her to page him/her, it was just a simple matter, wasn't it? A few factors I think of are: their size (how big is the agency personnel?), organization (who is the real person/people in charge?), operator (what's her responsibility anyway? she's a new comer or a long-term 'responsible' project manager?) and so forth.

As far as I'm concerned in a similar situation, I once needed to negotiate a delayed-payment term with a domestic agency many years ago already, when one of their employees answered my phone, but she did not apparently belong to the core personnel in charge of the matter, and also seemingly she was not in the proper position to answer my questions correctly. She only vaguely (and yes, with reluctant voice tone) explained the project manager was not available and my payment would be 'possibly' settled in a short time. After hanging up, a sense of doubt naturally came over me, while later I realized it was needless fear when the payment arrived well within the time from their end. But after that, I have never accepted a new job from them to date.

My advice to you:
1. You may better mention the name of the first contact person with the operator to call for him/her.
2. Don't upset, but you may ask the operator about her position in the agency, and if you find she's not the right person to address your problem, you ask her whether or not there is any other one available to answer your questions.
3. Why not using email directly contacting the project manager instead of calling if he/she is not quickly available on the phone?

Well, good luck, casey.

Minoru

[Edited at 2007-09-28 14:35]


All is well. The agency is understanding. There's never a problem if I tell them that I couldn't find an official translation. They'll get it from their client, I'm sure. I was just shocked that a company would be so secretive about their name, which I would assume would be a matter of public record. I thought it would be a simple thing.
"Hi, can you tell me what the name of your company is in English?"
"Yes, it's blah, blah, blah."
"Thank you."
If I called a company in the US and asked them how to spell the company name I don't think they'd refuse to tell me.


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mrosin
Local time: 08:04
Japanese to English
Katalin's right Sep 28, 2007

Hello,

I'm based in Tokyo 16 years, "native fluent" FWIW and have a good deal of experience with Japanese companies. Katalin's right. You should not have called, if your client knew they would have been freaked out.

There could be a number of reasons why they used you and in fact it is likely they would get in trouble. Perhaps they are unsure of their English skill... but Japanese companies have also gotten much stricter regarding what kinds of information and documents can be divulged. So the person you called was being circumspect which is not bizarre, in fact her antennae popped up when you said you were doing something for the company (and not going through channels), and your client might actually not be supposed to be sending you the document you are working on.

Anyway, not all companies have English names, and if used in a contract or public document, just making something up could cause trouble. If you can't figure it out and your client doesn't know, just write the Romanized version of the company's full Japanese corporate name. Put the K.K. in the right place, before or after the name, if they are indeed a K.K. (the Corporation Law changed so there are a bunch of new ones too.) If you are not sure, why not provide a separate note with the delivery, that way the client won't have to tear out highlighter or other things from the document. The client won't bug you if you say you aren't sure about the proper names, but calling his company could get him fired!!


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 08:04
English to Japanese
+ ...
there is not enough information for us to know what's really happening Sep 28, 2007

Apparently Katalin-san may have referred me for those "some of the others responded here". Reading her comment, I understand she's very suggestive, but still a little too serious before casey spontaneously looks for solution.

About her mentioned "gaijin"-associated reaction, I really doubt if any one at the company does not deal with callers, Japanese or non-Japanese, professionally enough, especially when (and if ) we are aware they are a translation agency. It's simply because it's a daily matter for them to have communication with different translators with different language backgrounds plus nationalities. Now I'm confused whether or not the "company" casey called is a translation agency or else one of those which happened to appear in a material printed in Japanese, which she is translating and wants to know their English name for translation purpose. That manner would be regarded as a breach of agreement (if any) as Katalin-san clarified, but for that, we have no clue to know if it actually is the case.

Of course, I expect everyone knows my suggestions would not necessarily fit the case, depending on following evidence.

[Edited at 2007-09-28 16:03]


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:04
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Misunderstandings Sep 28, 2007

mulberryfield wrote:

Apprently Katalin-san may have referred me for those "some of the others responded here".


I did not refer to you, or anybody in particular, I was simply offering a different point of view that was not mentioned before.

About her mentioned "gaijin"-associated reaction, I really doubt if any one at the company does not deal with callers, Japanese or non-Japanese, professionally enough, especially when (and if ) we are aware they are a translation agency.


It seems that you are misunderstanding the whole situation.
Casey was NOT calling the translation agency.
He called the company, whose Japanese name is part of the document he is translating.
The document came from a person that works for the company, not directly, but through an agency.

It went like this:
Tanaka-san works for "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha". He has a document he wants to get translated into English, and he wants this to be done privately, not through the company (as it probably does not relate to his work). Therefore, Tanaka-san asked "Nandemo honyaku kabushikigaisha" to do the translation for him.
"Nandemo honyaku kabushikigaisha" assigned the task to Casey.
Casey found "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha" in the text and wanted to find out the official English translation, so he called "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha". What happened after, we know.


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 08:04
English to Japanese
+ ...
so it's "not" a translation agency Sep 28, 2007

casey wrote:

All is well. The agency is understanding. There's never a problem if I tell them that I couldn't find an official translation. They'll get it from their client, I'm sure. I was just shocked that a company would be so secretive about their name, which I would assume would be a matter of public record. I thought it would be a simple thing.
"Hi, can you tell me what the name of your company is in English?"
"Yes, it's blah, blah, blah."
"Thank you."
If I called a company in the US and asked them how to spell the company name I don't think they'd refuse to tell me.


It seems I was understanding your situation completely in a different view. I assumed you were contacting a translation agency. Now I knew you contacted a company of your original client who ordered translation of his document from Japanese to English, which you are currently working on. And you wanted to know his company name, but the receptionist did not give you a definite answer.........

Well, if so, that could be a situation really! First of all, some people here may not be necessarily well versed in English, business English, should I say. And then, there are the kinds of things other memebrs here mentioned, including breach of confidentiality agreement, the company's privacy policy, the receptionist's professionalism, etc.

At least, it's a good thing to hear all seems to be fine now.

Minoru

[Edited at 2007-09-29 10:12]


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Minoru Kuwahara
Japan
Local time: 08:04
English to Japanese
+ ...
it's clear now, thank you. Sep 28, 2007

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:

mulberryfield wrote:

Apprently Katalin-san may have referred me for those "some of the others responded here".


I did not refer to you, or anybody in particular, I was simply offering a different point of view that was not mentioned before.



Katalin-san, well, there were not other posters here, who commented to some extent, when I came across yours just arriving a while after I posted, so....I do understand you were trying to offer your view.


About her mentioned "gaijin"-associated reaction, I really doubt if any one at the company does not deal with callers, Japanese or non-Japanese, professionally enough, especially when (and if ) we are aware they are a translation agency.


It seems that you are misunderstanding the whole situation.
Casey was NOT calling the translation agency.
He called the company, whose Japanese name is part of the document he is translating.
The document came from a person that works for the company, not directly, but through an agency.

It went like this:
Tanaka-san works for "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha". He has a document he wants to get translated into English, and he wants this to be done privately, not through the company (as it probably does not relate to his work). Therefore, Tanaka-san asked "Nandemo honyaku kabushikigaisha" to do the translation for him.
"Nandemo honyaku kabushikigaisha" assigned the task to Casey.
Casey found "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha" in the text and wanted to find out the official English translation, so he called "Himitsu-gijutsu kabushikigaisha". What happened after, we know.



Thank you for correcting me about the situation. It's complicated, and I misunderstood as I have never done a similar thing before.

[Edited at 2007-09-29 10:11]


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conejo  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:04
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
That happened to me too. Sep 28, 2007

I know it's bizarre, Casey, but that happened to me too! I called a company in Japan and they didn't want to say the English company name either. I don't really have any more insight on it than that, but I just wanted to let you know you're not alone. (btw, Go Vols! lol)

(Just to clarify: In that particular case, it was a long list of company names in a document, so it wasn't like I was contacting the agency's end client.)

[Edited at 2007-09-28 16:48]


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