Re: [gundam] Lost In The Translation


-Z- (Z@gundam.com)
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 19:22:54 -0800


At 11:12 3/15/99 -0500, you wrote:
>I don't know if there's a term for the word-for-word or sentence-for-
>sentence translation that you were talking about. I can only suggest you
>use 'bad translation' where you said 'translation' and 'good translation'
>where you said 'interpretation'.

When I only use one term, whether translation or interpretation, I
distinguish the verbatim renderings as "literal" translations and the
interpreted renderings as "figurative" translations.

>But then, could it be Japanese is just a tough language to translate?
>Many key things are left un-said, and words always seem to mean something
>else. Yes Chinese can be critized the same way, but it seems to me
>there's more success in translating Chinese than Japanese.

As with their artwork and architecture, where the unused or empty spaces
are as much a part of the whole as that which is used, Japanese language
leaves as much unsaid as otherwise. The story is not so much the lines
themselves, but what's left for the audience to read between the lines.
It's not what's said but what's implied by what's said.

I once saw a wonderful play about an American visiting Japan who gets into
a lot of trouble because he takes a Japanese woman at her word and she
reads too much into what he hasn't said. He's typically American: direct,
to the point and for the most part says exactly what he means. She's
typically Japanese: indirect, evasive and almost never coming out and
saying anything concrete.

I wish I could remember the name of this thing. It should be required
viewing for anyone involved in cross-cultural transactions.

-Z-

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