Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Translation Thoughts

I don't think I'm a great translator. I "see" the words when I read a book. And "seeing" what the author/writer is trying to convey is worthless when I need to put what I see into words. Last week I bought myself a used Sony eReader and promptly started downloading books in PDF form to  stick on my SD card.

It's difficult to find books that I'd want to read, and that's of course even more of a problem in Japan. I did find a few and have been trying to read more. I used to read so much back home! What does this have to do with translation? Well, you see, living in Japan for so long hasn't helped my English abilities.

I talk in simple sentences to Japanese people who ask me for English lessons. Even with other English speakers our conversations are somewhat limited. It's not like anyone is taking online classes or something like that. So, my English ability has fallen, while my Japanese hasn't gotten that much better (at least in my mind).

I've taken on a translation task for the wife of a friend. It's an instruction manual. Tedious. Boring. And as I was translating a section, I was stuck on 静か. They wanted the user to close the door 静かに, but the only word I could think of was "nicely." "Quietly" wouldn't do here, because while 静か is quiet, they don't exactly mean "quiet." If that makes sense.

Suddenly, "gently" popped into my head. "That's it!"
It's the little joys that help me get through the day...night...1:18am right now to be exact.

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