So here's the story. I was looking for a new Japanese-language mystery novel to read last night when I decided to check out 十角館の殺人 by Yukito Ayatsuji (1987) because I found the first few pages intriguing. That's when I discovered that it has an English translation (The Decagon House Murders), so naturally, being a native English speaker AND a huge nerd for translation, I was curious how the part I read was adapted. And let me tell you I was greatly disappointed! Enough to want to make a post complaining about it!
Don't misunderstand, it's not a wrong translation. Each sentence has its meaning correctly interpreted with no important details left out. It's just kind of poorly written. So, since I love reading and writing and translating, I think it'll be a fun exercise to put my money where my mouth is and try writing my own version.
So, okay, I'm not making this post to be all high and mighty about my translation skills and saying that I'm better than professionals (in this case Mr. Ho-Ling Wong). I fully acknowledge that there's probably a whole slew of external factors contributing to his writing not being the best: deadlines, company style guidelines, lack of proper editing process, etc and all the other reasons I don't want to translate professionally. But if we judge based solely on the quality of the writing, and most importantly judge it as its own work and NOT in the context of a translation (which I personally think is essential), then I think it's quite mediocre. Which is a shame, considering how much I like Ayatsuji's writing style so far. I could easily have forgiven all of this if I saw a clear reason for phrasing things a certain way, or choosing certain words over another based on the raw text. HOWEVER most of the small changes I noticed reflect more of a focus on portraying the cut-and-dry meaning of the sentence, without much thought put behind how it was written in the original. That's probably all well and good for a mystery novel, by which I mean perfectly functional, but I still can't help but be disappointed when I compare the two.
To be honest, it reminds me of this thing called "No Fear Shakespeare." I'm not sure how widely known it is, but they "translate" Shakespeare plays line by line into standard modern English. They'll summarize entire beautiful poetic diatribes as just the bare meaning of what it was meant to say to progress the story. The" translation" is technically readable and you will be reading the same story, but the experience is way different. That's what some of this translation feels like.
If any of y'all are interested in comparing two different retellings of the same passage, feel free to comment or whatever. Please also feel free to roast me if you think I'm bad and shouldn't have made this post.
PS: I'm reading the "revised edition" from like 2006, so I have no way of knowing whether these changes reflect that or not, but since this translation was published in 2015, I'm willing to bet they were using the revised text too.
PSS: I haven't read any more of this novel yet, so in the event that a TL decision was made in light of later events, I won't have a clue.
ORIGINAL PUBLISHED TRANSLATION
The sea at night. A time of quietude.
RETRANSLATION BY ME (draft)
The night sea. A time of quiet.
-I made sure to add as few embellishments as possible, and to keep as closely as possible to the words and ideas presented in the raw text. For example, I didn't add any "therefore" or "however" or other logical-type words that weren't present in the raw, so any additions you notice were likely either removed by the initial translation, or are parts that were revised (for clarity?) in the edition I'm reading.
-The "how many months" part was indeed not phrased like questions in the raw text. They are a type of sentence that can be used interrogatively, though mostly I just think it works way better like this dramatically.
-I kept the thoughts in parentheses just because that's how the author chose to show it, but I have nothing against changing them to italics.
-At the 2nd "a time of silence" part, there is indeed a more specific word used for "night" and a stronger word for quiet which I'm pretty sure the pro TL overlooked since he translated the line exactly the same.
-"He slowly shook his head..." --> this line in the raw is the most metaphorical sentence in the whole prologue, because it personifies the sea in a weird way, so I don't blame Mr. Wong for basically just winging it. Unfortunately, he failed to bring ANY descriptive writing to the table. Well okay, he called the sea "roiling" so there was an attempt. To be honest, I kind of guessed at how to interpret that line too, but at least I still personified the sea!
Mr. Steak fucked around with this message at Jan 31, 2019 around 04:50
|# ? Jan 31, 2019 04:46|
|# ? Apr 18, 2019 22:34|
i fixed this translation. i didn't read it beforehand i just went line by line, but i think i got the gist of it.
The water is dark but makes so sounds.
Nevermind, the waves are making sounds. The sounds they are making come up from endless obscurity, only to disappear again before anybody can question what that means.
A dude sat down on the thingy that jutted out into the ocean--he didn't know what it was called--and bravely looked out into the darkness where there could be monsters. His breath condensing in the air meant there were at least a few ghosts nearby.
His toe hurt, and it made him sad. He though about his toe a lot, all the time no matter what he was doing. He thought about his toe when he was walking, when he was sitting, and even in the middle of sex. He came out to the dark ocean because he'd made up his mind and he was gonna do something about his hurt toe.
He had a notebook with little drawings and everything.
He had a backpack filled with various tubes of ointments and lotions, etc.
It was a good trap, and they would fall right into it and he wouldn't have to worry about his toe anymore.
He knew the plan was stupid, but gently caress, he just couldn't put up with this hurt toe anymroe. He'd come up with the plan in like 2 minutes and never really thought it through, but he made an excuse that made him feel better.
He thought about dumb poo poo unrelated to his hurt toe, like about how many always tries to fly in the sky like a bird, but he will always be just a man on the ground, never up in the clouds with the birds or god.
It was easy for him to think about being a bird, flying in the sky where he wouldn't have to worry about his hurt toe, but he didn't have wings. Even the smartest smarty pants at Harvard couldn't crispr themselves into a bird. Not yet anyway.
Birds never knew wtf was coming next. That's what made it so easy to catch them with a net. How could a bird understand that a man hopped up on redbull standing pantsless in the park would want to eat him?
They can't even play chess, they just poop on the board and get the pieces all covered in poop. They are very bad at chess. So this is why birds are not good at understanding things, because they're bad at chess. They may think they can eat a piece, but they'll just choke on it. That's real life, bird. Deal with it.
Nah, if you were gonna survive out there with no wings and a broken toe, you had to be willing to change things up, that's what he'd realized one day when he was high as fuuuuuuuuuck.
He thought "I can't like.... just let myself be constrained, man."
It wasn't so much that he had his bad plan, but that he'd mananged to actually follow through and get in his truck and drive down to the ocean. He felt real good about everything, he was makin good choices and poo poo.
But was he smart enough to pull it off? Probably not, but who needs smarts when you got luck, and he was pretty lucky.
He knew he'd never be an actual bird.
But in a way, he felt like one.
He was about to poo poo on everybody's chess board.
He was going to give them the what for, just how he wanted and nobody could stop him.
And he didn't even ask anybody's permission.
He was not a bird, and nobody would ever understand what he was gonna do, he knew it made him look weird as poo poo. The act would be technically be called "a crime" by his fellow men and, if found out, he was probably going to get locked up for a real long time.
Nevertheless, he was way too high to think about all that poo poo, now he ran on something else. Emotions? No, nothing as shallow as that. Absolutely not. It was his destiny, probably. Maybe. He really wanted to do it at least.
Oh yeah, the ocean is still there.
"God there's a lot of pollution," he thought, looking into the starless sky. No boats either. Good, he didn't want to think about boats, he wanted to think about his plan.
Had he forgotten to pack any of his tubes? Soon they, his sinful prey, would saunter into his trap. A trap that was like, totally beautiful and symmetrical.
And they weren't gonna know shiiiiiiiiiiit when that poo poo hit them. They'd just be like "whoa what's this pretty thing" then BAM! I'm the bird now.
I mean, i'm totally gonna poop on all them, that's pretty obvious.
And not just your standard turd. Chucking a steamer at them would be infinitely easier to aim, but he needed something more.
He had to get the poop in their eyes, one by one. Like that story by that limey bitch, nice and slow. They'd realize, oh they'd realize good, that they were gonna get pink eye.
Was it crazy to pretend to be a bird and poop on people? Maybe.
But whatevs, that's fine.
He looked at the pitch-black roiling sea and gave it the finger.
He put his hand in his hoodie and carressed one of his tubes. He took it out and held it up real close to his face cause it was dark and he couldn't see poo poo.
It was dark green.
It had one of those child proof caps, and he'd written a note and stuck it inside with a bunch of drawings of birds pooping on people. It was a bit of a confession, but also just kind of funny.
I know Man will never become a bird.
And precisely because we have been cursed by our non-bird DNA, he did not want to leave the pooping to any one human. It didn't matter where the bottle ended up. He just wanted to pose the question to the seagulls -- the source of all life -- whether, ultimately, he was right or not.
The wind blew harder.
A sharp coldness went down his spine and his whole body shivered.
He threw the bottle into the darkness.
|# ? Jan 31, 2019 12:28|