Dr Shani Tobias

Template image Document Icon


I started learning Japanese at school in New Zealand, and spent Year 12 in Japan, which was a life-changing experience. I then went on to study Japanese and Law at university, during which time I spent a second year in Japan and grew to love the language and culture even more. After graduating, I again travelled to Japan where I worked as a translator  on the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme for 3 years.  This experience motivated me to explore the process of translation and cross-cultural communication in greater depth, and this brought me to Melbourne in 2005 to pursue postgraduate study.

My PhD research investigated Japanese-English literary translation strategies focussing on how metaphorical expressions are translated. During my candidacy I began teaching Japanese and translation/interpreting at Monash. I find my own experiences useful to draw upon when teaching, and I enjoy seeing students develop their skills and become enthusiastic about Japanese and translation.
After completing my PhD in 2009 I first took up a position with Translation and Interpreting Studies at Monash, where, as well as teaching translation, my primary role was to design curriculum and implement a program of professional development short courses for translation and interpreting practitioners in collaboration with the Victorian Multicultural Commission. I was also the Project Manager for courses in basic interpreter skills training that we offered in regional Victoria. Coordinating these programs was a very rewarding experience, as I was able to work with people from a wide variety of cultural, linguistic and professional backgrounds.

Since 2011 I have been employed full time with Japanese Studies, and I am currently also the Honours Coordinator for Asian Languages and Studies.


B.A. (Hons) (Victoria University of Wellington)
LLB (Victoria University of Wellington)
Ph.D. (Monash University)
NAATI-accredited Professional Translator (Japanese – English)


Japanese-English translation strategies, literary translation, translation of metaphor, cultural issues in translation, translation and interpreting pedagogy, curriculum design, legal translation and interpreting, Japanese literature, transnational and bilingual writers


Unpublished dissertations

  • Tobias, S. (2010). Traversing Textual Terrains: strategies for translating metaphor in Japanese-English literary translation. PhD Thesis, Monash University, VIC.

Refereed journal articles

  • Tobias, S. (2006). Culture-specific items in Japanese-English literary translation: comparing two translations of Kawabata’s ‘Izu no Odoriko’. Monash University Linguistics Papers, 5.1, 27-35.
  • Tobias, S. (2009). Untangling and Re-spinning the Web: Translations of metaphor in Tanizaki’s “Shisei”.  Translation & Interpreting, 1.1, 44-53. http://trans-int.org/index.php/transint/index

Conference papers

  • Tobias, S. (2007). Untangling and Re-spinning the Web:  Translations of metaphor in Tanizaki’s “Shisei”. Japanese Studies Association of Australia 15th Biennial Conference, Australian National University, Canberra, 1-4 July 2007
  • Tobias, S. (2007). Bridging the Cultural and Linguistic Divide: Translating metaphor from Japanese to English. Australian Association of Literary Translators (AALITRA) Symposium, Monash University, Melbourne, 27th October 2007.
  • Tobias, S. (2009) Culture and CreativityThe challenges of translating metaphor in Japanese-English literary translation. 3rd Conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, 8-10 July 2009.
  • Tobias, S. and Bramhill, L. (2010) Training Healthcare Interpreters. Diversity in Health Conference, Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health. Melbourne Convention Centre, 7-9 June 2010.
  • Tobias, S. (2010) The Profession meets the Academy: Curriculum design for an integrated CPD program. Critical Link 6: Interpreting in a Changing Landscape, Aston University, Birmingham, UK, 26-30 July 2010.
  • Tobias, S. (2010) Writing and Translation from the ‘Poetic Ravine’ – the Case of Yoko Tawada. Literary Translation and Community Conference, NZ Centre for Literary Translation, Victoria University of Wellington, NZ, 11-13 December 2010.


Subjects taught

  • In 2011 I am the Unit Coordinator for Japanese 3 (ATS1143/2143/APG4143/5143) and Japanese 4 (ATS1144/2144/APG4144/5144) and I also teach Japanese-English translation within the Masters of Interpreting and Translation Studies.
  • Prior to 2011, I was teaching mainly postgraduate units in the Translation and Interpreting Studies Program and was the coordinator of the Monash University Professional Development Short Courses (Translation & Interpreting).


Masters Translation Projects (Japanese to English)


  • The whaling debate in Japan (2010)
  • Japanese archaeology (2010)
  • Japanese car manufacturers in Australia (2010)
  • The Japanese aerospace industry (2010-11)