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The Word Works

Ruth McCreery

Ruth South McCreery graduated from Reed College with a B.A. in sociology and then began a doctorate in sociology at Cornell University, where she met her spouse and was seduced into doing fieldwork in a market town in Taiwan and learning Asian languages (Amoy Hokkien and Japanese). She then returned to graduate school at Yale University to pursue an M.A. in East Asian Studies and a Ph.D. (currently ABD) in Japanese language and literature.

As a freelance translator and writer she discovered that language skills are necessary but not sufficient for successful translation. The act of translation consists of reading, thinking, and writing. In that process, the difference between a literal, barely digested translation and one that accurately communicates what the original document means in a style appropriate for the intended audience depends on the thinking phase.

As founder of The Word Works, she has also found that a productive working relationship with clients depends on listening well and asking the right questions, to deliver what the client really needs, on time and in an attractive format. These are the keys to customer?\and Word Worker?\satisfaction.

Ruth has been privileged to work closely with expert English-to-Japanese translators, both at The Word Works and during the launches of the Japanese editions of Newsweek and National Geographic magazines. Hired by those magazines to provide feedback on the accuracy and style of the Japanese text, she learned at least as much as the translators did about respecting the original text and strategies for achieving appropriate Japanese styles.

Original writing based on Japanese-language source materials is a natural extension of translation skills. Ruth has written a book on the seasons in Japanese culture, A Japanese Touch for the Seasons, and magazine articles on topics ranging from politics to the book trade. She has also written or translated scores of annual reports for Japanese corporations and been responsible for writing the Sharp Journal  (for Sharp Corporation), Electronic News from Fujitsu, Planet (for the ANA Hotel), and Envoy (for the Hotel New Otani).

In addition, Ruth has enjoyed a dozen years of designing and producing a monthly magazine, The Language Teacher (for the Japan Association for Language Teaching), during which she honed her design, layout, and project management skills. She has also been in charge of the JALT Journal and newsletters for Tokyo English Life Line, the Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators, the Cornell Club of Japan, and Democrats Abroad.

Ruth currently serves as a trustee of Inochi-no-Denwa, the Japanese telephone counseling service, a director of the Yokohama Country & Athletic Club, and communications coordinator for Democrats Abroad. She enjoys photography, gardening, Scottish country dancing, and following US politics from an East Asian perspective.

Societies and Associations
Japan Association of Translators (past president)
Society of Writers, Editors, and Translators
Forum for Corporate Communications
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Tokyo
Democrats Abroad (international communications coordinator; former DNC member and Asia-Pacific regional vice chair)
Tokyo English Life Line (past board chair)
Tokyo Inochi-no-Denwa Board of Trustees
Yokohama Country & Athletic Club (board of directors)

Selected Business Translations
Annual reports for Asahi Brewery, Monex, Norinchukin Zenkyo Asset Management, Sorun, Bandai, and many others.
i-mode ecosystem, by Natsuno Takeshi (Wiley, 2003).
i-mode Strategy, by Natsuno Takeshi (Wiley, 2002).
Japanese Economic Trends: 2005 in Review and Future Prospects (JETRO, 2006).
Japanese Economic Trends: 2004 in Review and Future Prospects (JETRO, 2005).
Barriers to Direct Investment (JETRO, 2000, 2001, 2002).
Start up: Founding a Foreign Company in Japan. (JETRO/FIND, 1996).
Nikkei Telecom Manual (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., 1988, 1994).
Business History of the Zaibatsu, by Morikawa Hidemasa (Tokyo University Press, 1992).
The Imperial Hotel (Imperial Hotel, 1990).
Strategies for M&A in Japan (Mitsubishi Corporation, 1989).

Selected Photography Translations
Absolutely Private (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2006).
Natural Enchantments: The World of Tabuchi Yukio (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2005).
The Documentary (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2005).
Nakaji Yasui, 1903-1942 (Shoto Museum of Art, 2004).
Celestial Residue—The Photographic World of Kikuji Kawada (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2003).
Italian Realism Japan (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 2001).
Visions of Japan (5 volumes) (Korinsha, 1998).
The Natural World (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1997).
The World of Watanabe Yoshio (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1996).
Modernism (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1995).
Snapshots of the City: Photographs of Modern Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1993).
The Paris of Eugene Atget, Man Ray, and Brassai: Photography 1920-1940 (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1992).
Pictorialism (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1992).
Family Albums (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1992).
Contemporary Japanese Photography (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, 1991).

Selected Ceramics Translations
Shoji Hamada and Okinawa (Yamazen, 2005).
The Modern Revival of Momoyama Ceramics (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2002).
White Porcelain, a Vocabulary: The Work of Taizo Kuroda (Book Cellar Amus, 2001).
Thoughts on Contemporary Vessels: “Utsuwa.” (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2000).
Contemporary Japanese Potters: The Renaissance (Kyoto: Dohosha, 1997).
100 Contemporary Japanese Potters (Kyoto Shoin, 1992-93) (100-volume set).
Ceramics of the Tohoku Region (Tohoku Ceramic Museum, 1987).
Chinese Ceramics, by Mikami Jiro, et al., (John Weatherhill, forthcoming).

Selected Translations in Art, Architecture, and Traditional Crafts
‘20s Kimono (BNN, 2006).
Japan Blue (BNN, 2006).
Hokusai (Tokyo National Museum, 2005).
Artists’ Gardens: Botanical Recollections (Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 2005).
Art Nouveau in Japan (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2005).
A History of Modern Crafts (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2005).
Toshihiko Isa: Beauty of Stencil Dyeing (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2005).
Grain (BNN, 2005).
Japanese Yuzen Papers (BNN, 2005).
Japanese Traditional Stencil Designs (BNN, 2005).
Extraordinary Objects (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2004).
Contemporary Japanese Crafts (Japan Foundation, 2002).
Endo Shuhei: Paramodern (Amus Art Press, 2002).
Kingyo, by Tanaami Keiichi (Amus Art Press, 2002).
Twelve Tokyo Crafts (International Society for Educational Information, 2002).
Tadanori Yokoo: Selected Posters (Amus Art Press, 2001).
Textiles as Form (Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2001).
Yokohama Triennale (Japan Foundation, 2001).
Echigo-Tsumari Triennale (2001, 2004).
Nambata Retrospective (Tokyo Opera City Gallery, 1999).
Opening Exhibition (Tokyo Opera City Gallery, 1999).
Kawaguchi Tatsuo Retrospective (Iwaki City Art Museum, 1998).
Art/Ecosystem: The Contemporary Japanese Art Scene (Utsunomiya Museum of Art, 1998).
Eisen and Utamaro (Hayashi Yoshikazu and Richard Lane, The Complete Ukiyoe Shunga, vol. 13, 15) (Tokyo: Kawade, 1997).
Meiji Nishiki-e from the Gas Museum Collection (Urban Communications, 1996).
Kain Perada: The Hirayama Collection, by Shinobu Yoshimoto, 1988.
Seikado Treasures (Mitsubishi, 1987).

Literature
Old Japanese Love Letters (translations of poems from the Kokinshu and Shin-kokinshu) (Sony Magazines, 2005).
Shiki and Matsuyama (Matsuyama City Shiki Kinen Museum, 1986).
A Little Country No One Knows, by Sato Satoru (Kodansha International, 1988).

Selected Original Writing
Annual Reports for
Amada, Avon, KDD, Nihon DEC, NSK, Sanyo, Sharp, Sumitomo Rubber, Tokyu Hotel Group, Topcon, Toyota, and many others . . .
Copywriting for
ANA, Canon, Citizen, Continental Airlines, Chromatek, DEC Japan, Denso, FIND, Hotel New Otani, JAL, KDD, NEC, Nikkei Telecom, Panasonic, Sharp, Star Seimitsu, Sumitomo Rubber, Shiseido, Tokyo English Life Line, Tokyo Forum, Tokyu Hotel Group, Toshiba Medical Equipment, Wacom, and many others . . .

Books, Articles, Magazine-style Copy
“Japan,” People and Cultures of Asia (Pearson Prentice-Hall, 2006).
“Four More Years?” No. 1 Shimbun (FCCJ), July, 2004.
“Yokohama,” Encyclopedia of Urban Cultures (Grolier), 2002.
Envoy (quarterly), New Otani Hotel, 1994-1998.
Planet (bimonthly), ANA Hotel, 1993-present.
Electronics News from Fujitsu, half of each issue, April, 1987, through February, 1992.
Sharp Journal, complete contents, 1984-85.
A Japanese Touch for the Seasons, Kodansha International, 1987, reprinted as Japanese Crafts and Customs: A Seasonal Approach.
“Even Foreigners Can Be Human, Even in Japan,” PHP, 1982.
“The Group in Miniature: Kindergarten Japanese Style,” The Imperial, 1982.
“Petticoat Pilot,” PHP, 1983.
“Filling the Bookshelves,” PHP, 1983.
“Yokohama,” Journal of Japanese Trade and Industry, 1987.

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