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Iv'e got a new house I'm looking at building for what seems to be a very nice Japanese couple. They are relatively new to the country (1 year) and there is somewhat of a language barrier. I am able to communicate with either of them in person but over the phone is difficult, and if the topic is technical in nature or unfamiliar to them it can also be difficult...not impossible, we both just have to repeat ourselves a few times.

I am pretty patient and willing to do what it takes to work with them, though I will probably add a little extra for what will be a little more trouble than the same house built for people that are native English speakers.

It will be a good size, nice house for me. I think they are worried about being taken advantage of and we seem to get along ok, so I think its probably my job to take or turn down.

It has occurred to me that if we go forward it may be a good idea to find a translator just in case we run into a situation where I can't seem to explain something...or maybe to explain the contract and payment terms just so I know we're crystal clear.

I'm guessing some of you guys who live in more multicultural areas have experience with this type of thing. Should I find a translator and move forward with it (is they're maybe a way to do that by phone?)...or is it maybe one of those jobs that is more trouble than its worth.
 

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It is very difficult to gain the trust of traditional Japanese people.

Once they learn they can trust you are good as gold unless you break that trust. They are very honorable people.

By all means find a translator. Explain to them that it is very beneficial to both of you so their new house will be built as they want. Also that you would like them to understand the contract & how it works and what it does.

Definitely move forward if you are so inclined.

Good Luck...:thumbsup:

PS- If you take the job you may want to look in to the Rosetta Stone language program.

PS2- Communicate in person until you get to know them.
 

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Head Grunt
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3,270 Posts
I agree on finding a translator and instead of using a phone can you contact them by e-mail? As hard as it is to express ones feelings or ask the right question in the right way in print for now this may be the easiest way to communicate. Learning their language? Sure, why not. Knowing the basics like hello and good bye and even knowing the proper postures or gestures will help you gain their trust. It will at least break the ice and create some laughter, as long as you do not offend them.

Learning their traditions may be the word i am looking for here. Just how old school are they? Something to remember when building for them, you may end up sock footed the whole job? I have seen this before in a home where the owners were neat freaks. They bought all contractors their own indoor slippers, no shoes were worn in the house. If you were caught wearing shoes in the home you were fired. Upon entry of the home you removed your shoes and put on your slippers and inward you went. I swear i spent more time changing shoes than working but the owners tipped us well at the end of the job and was thankful to us for the inconvenience.
 

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Smarter than the brick...
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I have a translator app for my phone, works very well. While I speak a little bit of spanish, I use it when I want to make sure that whomever understands fully what I am trying to say, works great for texting.

It has numerous different languages including Japanese.
 

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Kniggit said:
I have a translator app for my phone, works very well. While I speak a little bit of spanish, I use it when I want to make sure that whomever understands fully what I am trying to say, works great for texting.

It has numerous different languages including Japanese.
What app is it?
 

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spazman
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I downloaded an app to my phone called google translate. It has a lot of languages including Japanese. It not only speaks the language but it also writes it on the screen in the language or alphabet of the language you are translating to. It is a free app at the Google play store. It helped me to speak with the maid when I was on vacation.
 

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I think it's a really good idea for you to take the initiative to arrange for this for a meeting early on so as to establish that you really want them to understand the process and contract responsibilities of client and builder both. That's a smart gesture showing integrity on your part that can win their trust. A local university with an international studies program or Japanese language courses could probably put you in touch with someone to periodically assist you in the communication process. If you've got FaceTime on your phone or tablet, they might not even have to be there in person past some initial visits for introductions. While a phone app might help with something minor, an actual translator is a better choice for the important issues. There's a subtlety to word choices that a sometimes too literal translation program misses. Especially in Japanese. It's a language of nuances.
 

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google translator is way to literal in it's translations and makes coversations ridiculous at best and sometimes rude at it's worst. Unless they've made huge improvements in the last year or so
 
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