Thursday, 31 January 2008

(Ir)responsible Person

Having spent the better part of the past two days working on translations for the museum, and facing spending the next two weeks working on a massive translation contract for another museum, my brain is about to come dribbling out of my ears. I am having trouble linking coherent thoughts one after another, especially when said thoughts involve anything above basic ideas in a single language.

I am currently procrastinating and avoiding two words in particular. They are not terribly scary words, and I understand what they mean in Japanese, the trouble is that when I try to translate them into English they come out meaning the same thing. In Japanese the words are tantōsha and sekininsha. My favourite Japanese online dictionary gives the exact same English translation for them, “responsible party.” Whether or not you speak/read Japanese, you may realize that both end in –sha, which is a suffix for a person. My trusty electronic dictionary doesn’t have the entire word, but defines sekinin as “responsibility, blame, fault, liability,” and the verb tantō as to “take charge of, work, cover.” I found an English language help site with a question by somebody evidently suffering from the same problem as me. (I’m not the only one – yay!) I didn’t find it much help, however, as I am still struggling on how to apply these two titles to two separate individuals involved with the setting up of a museum exhibit. The first term is the lower ranked position, and is basically the person who is in charge of doing the work, while the second term is the higher ranked position, and the person who is responsible for the work (not necessarily the actual doing). In some of the cases the two people are actually one and the same, but not all of the time. I suppose this would be easier if I had a museum-related vocabulary in English! Sigh…

Any ideas? Right now I’m using “Manager” and “Representative” but I don’t like those choices (hence the procrastination while I ostensibly think up better terms but really just procrastinate…) Suggestions please!


  1. Hmm, so one suggestion for the person who is responsible for the work (but not necessarily doing it) is 'director'. They have ultimate responsibility, right? And the word for the one who actually does the work could be 'executive director', meaning they execute the work.

  2. The thing is these are titles that relate only to one project, not to their job at large. Their job titles are of director or curator of a museum. If they had all been curators I was thinking of "Curator in Charge" or "Curatorial Manager" and "Executive Curator" or something like that. But the directors aren't curators (anymore). In any matter, the translation is done, handed in and has been sent out! But thanks for the suggestions!!!