Nov 14

Translation Break: “Risk averse” and “Risk taker”

Last night I was having dinner with a Japanese friend and an American friend (both members of the Writers Interpreters Translators (WIT) Group), and when the term “risk averse” came up in conversation, my Japanese friend hadn’t heard the word “averse.”  After we explained it to him, I asked how he would translate that into Japanese.  He struggled with it for a moment, and then shared a kotowaza (石橋をたたいて渡る – ishibashi wo tataite wataru) that translates as “Knock on a stone bridge and cross it,” implying someone who test every step on a stone bridge, which implies excessive caution.

I wondered if there is a more direct translation for “risk averse” and also for “risk taker,” and so I put the question out to the WIT Group this morning, just for fun, which resulted in the below responses.  (Thanks to professional interpreters/translators George Rose, Joel Dechant, Stacy Smith and Jamie Graves for their responses.)

risk averse: リスク嫌い or リスクを嫌う人 (risukugirai or risuku o kirau hito)

risk taker: リスクを恐れない人 (risuku o osorenai hito)

リスク嫌い for “risk-averse”

Although I think something more colloquial might be more suitable. i.e.

And to get nice and Japanese for “risk taker,” I say

The yomikata is “risk girai no” (someone who hates risks)/”kiken wo saketagaru you na” (someone who tends to avoid risks) and “risk wo ou hito” (someone who accepts the burden of risks (on his/her back))/”bouken suru hito” (an adventurer)/”risk wo osorenai” (someone who doesn’t fear risks).

Two people also both strongly recommended, the definitive Japanese-English online dictionary, from a translation company, constantly being updated and supplemented by completed translations from their company.

“Risk Averse”:

And for “Risk Taker”:


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