Saturday, February 20, 2010

In the process of "jumping" between the two languages

I have started a new series in my twitter. The first two entries are:

Have you heard of the "flowers in the storm" metaphor? Life is all about saying goodbye.

Drink this wine and pretend that you're dead once you have drunk it. To our health! 

These two sentences are actually translations of famous sayings in Japanese.
It is interesting to consider what remains and what not in translation. If you compare the above two English expressions with the original Japanese ones, you notice that some elements of essence are preserved (otherwise what would be the use of translation?). On the other hand, some nuances are lost. It is true that particular impressions can only be invoked by the use of the Japanese language.

Interestingly, things are also added. In the process of "jumping" between two languages, something is attached to one's mind. These elements then sparkle and impress.

It is a general biological principle that crossing the border would generate new things. Here's to the joy of bridging two universes!


Tak said...

Dear Dr.Mogi-sensei,

Here is an English version of 'Kokoro'(Natsume Soseki) translated by Edwin McClellan(1957):

I said again:"Anyone who has no spiritual aspirations is an idiot." I watched K closely. I wanted to see how my words were affecting him.
"An idiot..."he said at last. "Yes, I'm an idiot."

I like this scene very much, though it is cruel in a sense.

Anonymous said...

Regarding two languages, I have just learned the following very impressive statement from a friend of mine last week.

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." From Nelson Mandela

r_yuzurin said...

I agree that crossing the border is difficult, that's why we have real joy.
And that's why I will keep working to reach my goal into a professional career of translating for someone who want to read.

Anonymous said...

I love both artist of Terayama Shuji and Okamoto Taro.(though it is not an original of Terayama)
Thank you for those wonderful words.

Anonymous said...

All very insightful and encouraging. Beyond the difference of the "native tongue", I believe human communication most always involves the effort of "translating" what is in our minds to a "common language" that is comprehensible and preferably reaches the "heart(as taken from Mandela's quote referenced in the comment above)" of others. In this regard I support with utmost respect and appreciation the outstanding effort made in this blog and Twitter to translate everything that goes through your mind (aka Japanese wisdom at its best) on a daily basis. I sincerely wish there were more prominent figures like you in our country who can take the time to maximize the true value of the internet through such "translation" efforts to help pave and lead the way for our people. Perhaps the "English language" remains an inevitable obstacle for much of the outstanding talent and wisdom here? Even Ibuse's lines are "translations" of an ancient Chinese poem originally written in Chinese letters, which should imply the universal significance of language, translation and now the internet.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

What? What happened? Dr.Mogi's literary revolution has just started?

Hey, My clumsy English and Japanese!
Are you OK? Yes,jump, jumping between the two! Anyway, let's go!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr.Mogi

Educational goal is to share moral values.Your advice made me think about my problem again.Your blog and tweets gives me some helpful words.
cause you are open-mined and sincere.
Have a great trip!

Anonymous said...

"Educational goal is to share moral values."

Thank you so much for your inspirational statement.

I am really moved, and then a question has been raised: Is marriage's goal to share moral values as well? This question makes sense? I have just been wondering whether both education and marriage can have the same goal? I often imagine how about being marrying with anyone else.

kirainet said...

The eternal question: does language determine thought or the other way around? Or are they both intertwined?

Meaning lost in translation or meaning added in translation? The more two cultures are different the more is lost in the translation? Does reading the same sentence in Japanese and English activated the same areas in my brain? I think culture does play a very important role in the interpretation of what is communicated through a language. Does a person who has lived in Japan for his whole live (And who can read English) interpret a Shakespeare play the same way as an English person would interpret it? How would you properly translate Japanese words such as 本音、反省 or 義理? Culture, collective society mind, language, tough, feelings, mood, personality, universal grammar... how is it all connected in how we interpret words?

I've read all Haruki Murakami books in English, Japanese, Spanish and Catalan. I enjoyed reading it in all languages but when I read it in Japanese I sometimes I had the feeling I was not getting it, or maybe I was interpreting things on my way. Sometimes when I finished reading a book in Spanish I had a different feeling about it than when I read it in English. The Spanish translations raised within my soul the most powerful melancholic and nostalgic feelings. Maybe because of the way it was translated, maybe because it is my mother tongue?