Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Sad Red Ogre - 泣いた赤鬼

This a translation of just the first few pages of Naita Akaioni by Hirosuke Hamada. This is a children's story that's well known in Japan about a red oni (or ogre as I've translated it) who wants to be friends with humans but they're all scared of ogres. So one day his friend the blue oni suggests that he (the blue oni) chase the humans and the red oni come and save the day, then they'll be his friend. It's a very simple narrative although has a bit of a sad ending when the red oni finds out that the blue oni has left for good because if the humans see them together they'll never trust the red oni again!

I had a lot of fun translating this. I imagined I was sitting down with a group of children and reading this story out loud to them.

The Sad Red Ogre

Once upon a time there was a mountain. Where this mountain was I cannot say, but there was a mountain where a single house was built by a cliff.
You might think that a woodcutter lived there.
But no, there was no woodcutter.
Then perhaps it was the home of a bear?
No, there was no bear either.
It was the house of a young red ogre who lived all by himself.

This red ogre was very, very different from the ogres you might see in picture books.
But he had big eyes, which always looked all around him. And what looked like a single short stubby horn on top of his head.
You might think that he was a lazy, no good creature. But that is not true. He was actually a very kind, quiet ogre. Because he was so young he was very strong. But did not pick on any other ogres. And when the younger ogres misbehaved and threw pebbles around, the red ogre just smiled and laughed.

The red ogre also thought very different from the other ogres. “I was born an ogre, and so I must try my best and do only good things for my fellow ogres. Although, I also want to do what I can to become friends with humans.” The red ogre thought, and he kept these feelings inside him always.

One day the red ogre put up a wooden sign on the tree outside his house.
‘The home of a kind ogre.
Please come in.
Lots of tasty treats.
And hot tea.’
He wrote this clearly in neat writing and short words, and put it up for all to see.

The next day a woodcutter was walking by a house when a sign on a tree caught his eye.
“What’s this sign doing here…?” He said.
He looked at it he saw it was written in a way that anyone could read. As the woodcutter read it he thought that it was a very strange sign to have. He understood the words but still could not understand why an ogre would put up such a thing.
After scratching his head a few time, the woodcutter turned and dashed quickly down the narrow mountain path back to his village.

On his way back to the village at the bottom of the mountain he ran into a fellow woodcutter.
“I just saw something very strange”
“What’s that? A foxes wedding?”
“No, no, even stranger. It was something new on the path up the mountain.”
“Ohh? What was it?”
“An ogre has put up a sign.”
“What? Did you just say an ogre has put up a sign?”
“Yes I did! I have never heard of an ogre putting up a sign before.”
“What did the sign say?”
“It said ‘Please come in’. But you won’t believe me unless you see it for yourself.”

Monday, 13 July 2015

Translate in the City Summer School

I recently completed a week long summer school with City University London, called Translate in the City, which is a short literary translation course. The program offers the course to all kinds of language pairs translating into English, including Japanese.

I was fortunate to work with Angus Turvill, a freelance translator who also works at Durham University. One of his books, Tales from a Mountain Cave, tells various local legends from the town of Kamishi which was struck by the Tsunami in 2011. All royalties from the book go to education and sports charity in the area.

This was actually one of the texts we got to try translating (at least a small section of it). Along with exerpts from Summer Blanket by Ekuni Kaori, and Naita Akaoni by Hirosuke Hamada, and some poems. We also worked on the short story Kanata no Ko by Mitsuyo Kakuta, which we did everyday, getting about 2000 words done. Although we didn't finish any of the texts we were working with, they still gave us a taste for various writing styles and problems that arise in translation.

We were provided with the texts a few weeks before the school started and had to translate them in preparation for the classes. I was studying intensively for my JLPT N1 exam so I had no time during the 2 weeks to translate any of the texts. The summer school started the day after the exam as well!
But I felt like this worked out for the best. Studying for the JLPT N1 certainly gave my Japanese a big boost, and after discussing and engaging with the 4 other students on how they translated the texts became a real eye opener, and I felt like I learnt a lot from them which then improved my translations. I did the rest of the translations in the evening after the summer school, but after the JLPT I was exhausted!

The school was a lot of fun. I learnt a lot and have become even more inspired to pursue translation as a career.

My translations from the school will be uploaded shortly after during this week.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Update - By Jennifer

It has been incredibly hectic lately. Translations had been whittled down to just the essentials for University and freelance work. Both of which I cannot put onto the blog because the University one's are still unmarked essays, and the freelance ones are not my property to distribute. So although it seems like I haven't been doing much that really isn't the case.

Essay deadlines are in a week and after that begins studying for the translation exams, which means a lot more short translations between English and Japanese for practice!

I'm also hoping to start translating a novel I've been wanting to work on for a while now called まおゆう魔王勇者 (Maoyuu Maou Yuusha aka Maouyuu the Demon Lord and the Hero). This is a very unique fantasy novel for a number of reasons:
1. All the characters are named after their titles, i.e Demon Lord, Hero, Maid, etc.
2. The book has also no descriptive text and is told through the characters just talking to each other.

As a quick synopsis it's set in a fantasy world where the demons and humans have been at war for centuries. The Hero goes to end the war by slaying the Demon Lord, who turns out to be a beautiful woman. Not only that but she convinces him to work with her to end the war by teaming up and improving the world through economics!

I would like to at least translate chapter one. And fingers crossed all five volumes in the future!!!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Bunraku - Academic Translation

This was a short academic translation of part of a longer Japanese essay following an academic style sheet.

Goto Shizuo

 The public entertainment we know today as bunraku was originally known as ningyō jōruri or jōruri.
 It is a performance of Japanese styled musical narrative called gidayū jōruri, accompanied by puppeteering in a traditional puppet show.
 Jōruri reportedly began in the Mikawa region (Aichi prefecture) around the sixteenth century, when blind monks would tell the love story of Ushiwakamura (Minamoto no Yoshitsune) and the Jōruri Princess with the musical accompaniments of biwa (four‐stringed Japanese lutes) and ōgi byōshi (hitting a fan to a beat), which soon became popular. It spread from the Mikawa region to other areas as various fairy-tales and other stories were told in this way with the use of a tune, and it became the musical performance known as jōruri.
Around the mid sixteenth century the music was spread via the Ryūkyū kingdom (Okinawa) with the use of sanshin, which was improved by the blind monks and developed into the Japanese styled shamisen. The adoption of this expressive instrument made it even more popular in a short span of time. As well as the shiamisen, jōruri began to enhance its performance with the use of tayū (narrators), and through seperating the shamisen playing, made it more musical and expressive.
At the same time, there were entertainers (puppeteers) who were using puppets which were said to be of a genealogy introduced from China in the early ages of Japan. These were used in each region, but one sect from Owajima from a group belonging to the Nishinomiya shrine in Hyogo prefecture, had a lot of influence, and were able to show off their skills as puppeteers at the courts in the capital, obtaining a high reputation.

The Beginning of Jōruri Puppets (Ningyō Jōruri)

It is believed that the practice of jōruri and puppeteers first joined together in Kyoto to make the puppet plays between the end of the sixteenth century and the start of the seventeenth century.
This was around the same time kabuki started in Kyoto. Jōruri and kabuki were created as a new form of entertainment in the early modern period for a number of people in the city of Kyoto, and had very different characteristics compared to gagaku and noh.
In jōruri, which had spread to Edo and Osaka, each tayū would come up with their own story telling to make first class schools. Fairy tales, kōwakamai, noh chants, and poetry were all used, each competing with one another.
Satsuma Joun was very active in the developing city of Edo, but it was his brother Edo Izumi Tayu who was really popular with his stories of the legendry strongman Sakata Kinpira called "Kinpira Jōruri". Kinpira was very different from the typical heroic main character that had been around until then, and it opened the way to a new kind of early modern jōruri dramas.
In 1657 during the Great Fire of Meireki on the border of Kyoto and Osaka was to once again become the centre of jōruri. Even in Osaka, Inoue Harimanojō's stories containing excitement and sorrow were becoming popular, which was to have a great impact on Takemoto Gidayū later.  At the same time in Kyoto Uji Kaganojo was conducting dazzling performances.   The goal of his own recitals was to improve the quality of jōruri, and to perfect the old jōruri of previous gidayū.

Takemoto Gidayū

As a commoner from Tennōji, Osaka, Gorōbei idolized jōruri of Harimanojō, and dedicated himself to studying it, but at the same time, poured all his strength into understanding the performances of Kyoto's Kaganojō.
While he devoted himself to his studies for many years, Gorōbei (Kyōmizu-dayū) incorporated not only Harima and Kaga's narrations, but also greedily included a great many of the good parts from older jōruri, as well as various performances (poems etc), popular songs, fairy tales etc.
In 1684 (originally Jokyo era) he took the name Takemoto Gidayū and founded the ningyō jōruri theatre Takemoto-za in Dontonbori, Osaka.
Gidayū's jōruri captured the hearts of the people of Osaka during a time of economic development, gaining popularity his reputation eventually reached Kaganojō in Kyoto where it had originated. 
 Close to his Takemoto-za theatre in Dontonburi, the Uji-za theatre was set-up and began to give performances in direct competition to Gidayū.
Kaganojō requested a new jōruri from Ihara Saikaku who was a famous for haikai poet of the time in Osaka.
Gidayū performed an adaptation of Harimanojō's jōruri  "Kenjo no Te Nara Inarabi ni Shingo Yomi", which the Osaka audience preferred.
Kaganojō continued to perform another new piece by Saikaku called "Kaijin Yashima", while Gidayū competed with another new jōruri from Harimanojō, "Chikamatsu Monzaemon". This time Kaganojō was superior, however, there was a fire in his theatre and it burnt down. Kaganojō return to Kyoto in despair, and never returned to Osaka again. It cannot be said that Kaganojō's jōruri is inferior to Gidayū's, but after this incident Gidayū's jōruri became even more popular, making it a trend of the time.
After that Gidayū had a close relationship with Chikamatsu, while Chikamatsu live in Kyoto he provided a number of jōruri to Gidayū.

The value of gidayū-bushi (jōruri) was growing to the point where people were humming verses in the streets. Takemoto-za's management was strict as Gidayū often did performances in Kyoto, Sakai, Nagoya, Ise, etc. Thanks to this Gidayū and (new) jōruri's fame was spreading. As a result, around 1697 he received the name of Chikugonojo (from the Imperial Court for outstanding performances/accomplishments) (All jōruri before this point were then known as old jōruri.)

Monday, 23 February 2015

Tokyo Tower - Short Literary Translation

This was a short literary translation of the start of the novel Tokyo Tower (which was also turned into a film and a TV series in the 90s). The assignment was not to translate all seven pages, but I've added them to the bottom of the translation. 

Tokyo Tower

                Like the needle of a spinning top it pierces precisely in the centre. The centre of Tokyo. The centre of Japan. The centre of our aspirations.
                As if transmitted through centrifugal force it extends beautifully from its precise location.
                Now and again when boredom becomes too much for them, the gods reach down their hands from the heavens and twist it around and around like the key on a wind-up toy.
                We too are spun around and around, tighter and tighter.
                We seek a light we’ve never seen before, and are drawn by it. Finally we go to it, just like moths attracted by a flame. We ride on shaking trains from our hometowns, our hearts swaying too, as we are pulled towards it.
                It holds a number of fates, that power which draws you towards it, but which no one can reach. People who are sent flying by it. People who are inhaled by it. People who are thrown out by it. People who are bewildered.
                Even if you’re so sad it tears you apart; or it’s so tough your stomach becomes twisted. Even if you don’t understand, you cannot oppose it, it will keep turning.
                Around and around and around and around and around.
                And then we burn out. Every time we are dragged towards it we are driven out by it.
                We fall apart.
                As someone said in May.
                “It looks so lonely when you gaze at it”, they said.
                “It just seems lonely decorating the day and then illuminate the nights in isolation”, they said.
                It was for this reason that, when I heard them say this, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of longing. I thought how beautiful and strong its shining figure is, standing straight and clear in this empty city. While we flow, herd, collude, betray, deceiving ourselves to carry on. My heart is attracted by its beautiful lonesome.
                Then people set their eyes on this place. They turn their backs on the places they were born, and finally come to Tokyo looking for something.
                This story is a short one about my father, drawn to tokyo chasing visions of splendor before being spurned and returning to his home town; myself, who came in a similar fashion and lacked a place to return to; and my mother, who despite never holding such illusions was brought to Tokyo and, unable to return home or leave, passed away at the foot of Tokyo Tower.

                One day, in that in that small apartment from which you could see Tokyo Tower, the three of us were asleep together.
                This was a memory from when I was a kid. I don’t remember the big people from that time very well, but a lot of other memories have remained. This isn’t even an ambiguous vague memory. I can still recall, even now, things from the smell of the air to the small details of the scenery.
                I think that, perhaps, I remember more than what most people should.
                A memory from when I was three years old. Me, mum and dad. A memory of when the three of us lived in that one house together.
                I think that because there was nothing else to write over that three year period we lived as a family, I can continue to remember that not-so-small episode.

                CRASH! The noise rang loudly. Mum and I were sleeping together in the futon when my eyes opened in surprise. Of course mum woke up with a start as well, bolt upright in bed. I think it was the middle of the night. Not just the time that children should be sleeping, but the time when adults, the entire neighbourhood should be.
                I heard my grandma’s shriek from the entranceway. Calling my mums name repeatedly. Mum jumped out into the corridor, and got as far as the entranceway before returning to the room.
Doing so she pulled me into her arms and like a rugby player, ran into the other room.
                Dad had returned home.
                I know it was his house so of course he would return home. I don’t know what he was thinking, but my dad who returned that day, instead of opening the front door with his hands, had come home kicking down the door.
                The glass that had once fitted in the wooden frame, as well as the lattice door, were completely broken. Ranting and raving he continued down the corridor shoeless, my grandma screamed as he knocked her out of the way, chasing after my fleeing mum. Even if the special unit police had dashed to this besiegement, I knew everything would return to normal soon. This kind of ‘homecoming’ was quite frequent.
                He creeped down the corridor after Mum who was fleeing in confusion, while grandma was screaming. But the pray for that day was not my mum, nor was it grandma. It was me.
                He peeled me forcibly away from mum, who had stuffed us in a corner, and pulled a piece of oil paper that had been folded with three corners out of his pocket. Inside the oil paper was a piece of yakitori that had gone completely cold. He forced me to eat it, leaving the skewer hanging from my mouth.
                It seemed like the piece of yakitori was supposed to be a gift for his son to eat. As soon as I got up, sooner or later, I would have eaten the yakitori, but that time was now.
                At that time dad was in a drunken frenzy. Drunk on alcohol he rampaged throughout the house.
                A number of days later and our entranceway became new again. It was a two part pull door but only one part which had had broken had been replaced. The wooden frame alone was white, making our entranceway strange.
                I was apparently a cry-baby when I was a kid. I once cried for a really long time. Dad hated those kinds of men. Even though I was only a three year old child.

                One time I went into the living room crying, dad was sitting in his underwear because of the heat, watching television. I don’t know how much I was crying, but in that instant I think dad shouted something; I was lifted up, struck and went flying. Out of the living room and across the corridor into the tatami room. 

Monday, 2 February 2015

The Steep Road of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger - Journalism Translation

This was an assignment for class looking at translating editorials from Japanese into English. The hardest part about this was the lack of knowledge on the subject. In particular the events and politics surrounding Ireland's 'Celtic Tiger', which I did not know was a thing until I worked on this translation. Other issues with a lack of background knowledge was the general terms for Irish political parties which are used differently in Japanese compared to English texts.

Things to be aware of in translating journalism to English:

  • Active voice instead of passive (i.e no "~~ were beat by ~~" but "~~ beat ~~"
  • Short sentences - the introduction is facts only (1-3) and short
  • If quoting use "said" and nothing else (unless relevant to the story)
  • No adjectives - they make the audience questions (i.e "how big?")
  • No jargon or foreign phrases - if you need to then explain them (unless it's the financial times)
  • Make a sentence positive, even if the subject is negative (i.e not "they did not pass the bill" but "they put the bill on hold")

(Editorial) The Steep Road of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger 
 There has been nothing like the splendour of the "Celtic Tiger" since Ireland’s economic growth between 1995 and 2000. Now all you can see is the deep shadow the recent economic globalization has brought.
 During the general election for Dáil Éireann (Ireland's House of Representatives which consists of 166 seats) the victory of the Fine Gael, the largest opposition party, meant that a change in government was guaranteed after 14 years.
 Fianna Fáil, which was in power with the majority of seat, experienced a historically crushing defeat. This is the first time a ruling party lost due to the economic crisis which stemmed from Greece.
 The economic growth from the attraction of foreign capital, which supported the low cooperate tax and caused the real estate bubble, unfortunately collapsed in the wake of the global finance crisis. Because the debt of the bankrupt banks was assured in full, the government's debt has expanded exponentially.
 It was natural that voters anger would be directed towards the ruling Republican Party, after being hit hard from the sudden change from exponential growth to a recession.
 A tax increase of sales tax from 21% to 23%, the dismissal of 25,000 civil servants, the reduction of child allowance... The list of things people have to endure goes on and on.
 Unemployment is now close to 14%. Ireland is only a small country of about 4.5 million, but every week thousands of young people are leaving by air and sea to look for work. Ireland has always been seen as a country with a large number of emigrants, but there is no mistaking the bitterness seen in the young people today.
 In November last year the European Union (EU), in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), promised the support of 85 billion euros. The condition was that the Irish government enforce austerity measures which must reduce the financial deficit to EU standards within 4 years.
 The new coalition, with Fine Gael at the centre, however, cannot avoid drinking this bitter medicine. The party leader Enda Kenny, who is to become the new Taioseach, set his eyes on further budget cuts, and aims to relax the repayment conditions the EU has enforced.
 The increasing distrust in the EU among Irish citizens is disturbing. Ireland has been a member of the EU for a long time, but the treaties made in 2001 and 2008 to strengthen the EU's institutions were rejected in referenda.
 In the current financial market there is a feeling of wariness towards larger countries with budget deficits such as Portugal and Spain. The Japanese government in January purchased jointly issued Euro Bonds in order to support Ireland.
 Within that situation Ireland's economic regrowth is shaking, their relationship with the EU is growing worse, and if confidence in the euro wavers Japan will eventually be affected as well.
 In Japan in the Meiji era (1868-1912), Yakumo Koizumi (Lafcadio Hearn) introduced Japanese literature, including ghost stories, to the world; and don't forget the clear voiced Irish singer Enya. Ireland has produced a large number of novels and theatre productions, as well as folk songs that Japanese people are familiar with.
 We hope that the smiling faces will return to the Irish one day soon.

(Asashi Newspaper 3rd March 2011 morning edition)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Zipangu Ch6 - Manga Translation

This was a class assignment on translating manga, looking at issues faced in certain subject specific texts. This one in particular was working on a manga about a Japanese navel ship that gets transported back in time to WWII called Zipangu.


Wake 6. Castaways.

27o 36’ North
171o 61’ East

At our present speed we’ll be another…5 minutes
until we reach the point of the anomaly.


What’s happening?

When we got here we had an encounter with that strange cyclone but…there seems to be no sign of it now.

But if we’ve entered some kind of space-time distortion...and if it still exists…we might be able to get back...

If we do…
What will happen to that fleet?

The one 200km in front of us, that’s returning to Japan like some kind of funeral procession?
I’d like to think that they will disappear off our radars
if we’re able to get out of here

Monday, 19 January 2015

How to Make Rice Bread - Technical Translation

An assignment for class translating technical instructions from the manual of a rice bread maker.

Things to be cautious of when translating instructions:

  • Needs to be clear - avoid jargon, pronouns (i.e "it")
  • Know the audience
  • Brief - efficient, not long winded
  • Active voice rather than passive

How to Made Rice Bread

If you have a gluten intolerance, please avoiding using gluten powder as it contains gluten. Instead of gluten powder you can use rice flour to make Wheat-free Rice Bread. 

The following instructions explain how to use this machine to make rice bread. For details on programs, recipes, and ingredients, please see pages 7-10 in the separate cook book, and set the oven based on each key.

Preparation and Adding Ingredients.

1.      Placing the Ingredients in the Dispenser.

·         Lock Button
·         See page 6 for instructions for the removal of the dispenser.

1.1   Press the lock button for the dispenser.
1.2   Pull forwards and remove it from the lid on the bread oven.

·         Weigh the flour
·         Weigh the dry yeast
o   Separate container

1.3   Open the dispenser and put in 50g of wheat and 3g of dry yeast.
·         Make certain that you measure these using a digital scale. When making gluten free rice flour bread, use non-glutinous rice flour instead of regular strong wheat flour. (See pages 9-10 in the separate cook book)
·         Rice flour can only be used in place of gluten powder in rice flour recipes only.

·         Lock lever
·         Do not insert into the bread oven if the lock is not in place. Details are on page 6 “Various Parts Names and How to Use them”.

1.4   Close the dispenser lid, and insert it into the lid of the bread oven.
·         Insert the case until a click sound can be heard.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Hada Labo ES! - Advertising Translation

A class project on translating advertisements from Japanese into English and the challenges that arise from this. A lot of the wording needed to be changed to sound not only more natural, but more appealing to an English speaking audience.

Other problems that may arrive in advertising translations:
  • Linguistic differences - puns/idioms etc, that are not translatable
  • Cultural differences - such as stereotypes of other cultures (i.e British image of Italian families used to sell Italian food)
  • Legal issues - copyright, political issues (such as showing skin or cigarettes)


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Sunday, 23 November 2014

You Know Nothing - Learning in Life

This is not a translation but something I felt needed to be shared.

The following is a video of a friend of mine at the University of Kent (where I graduated) talking about the importance of continuing to learn throughout our lives. Continuation of study after and outside of our regulated education systems can improve our jog prospects, ourselves, our society as a whole, and I think generally help us experience happier lives. And learning, Dave says, doesn't have to be in a classroom, it doesn't have to take a lot of time and money to learn something new thanks to the wondrous digital age that we all live in today.

That and lots of Game of Throne references. Enjoy!