Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Alfresco Whispers

Post-move, I’ve been cleaning out some old papers, and found this. I’ve decided to type it up and post it online for the benefit of future generations. This was originally typed up (and orchestrated) by Chris Poole. Although I’ve tried very hard to reproduce this in exactly the same form as Chris typed it up, it’s quite possible that I’ve introduced a few typos.

I don’t remember exactly which one of these I translated, but it was somewhere in the late 30s/early 40s.

At the closing luncheon of IJET-4 an exercise in consecutive translating was conducted, drawing on the expertise of the assembled translators and interpreters. A simple phrase in English was chosen as the starting point and a Japanese speaker was asked to translate it. This in turn was translated back into English, and then back into Japanese again and so on. People were asked to translate into their own language and were given sixty seconds to do so. No one saw anything but the previous version, and were therefore unaware of the subtle changes that were taking place.

It should be noted here that some difficulty was encountered due to people’s handwriting, but as the participants became aware of the overall objective, a guarantee of anonymity seemed to become more important. In deference to these numerous requests I therefore present the results typed up, with annotation where appropriate.

  1. Bridges between cultures are built on foundations of tolerance.
  2. 文化のかけ橋、忍耐を土台となる。
  3. Patience, indeed, is the foundation of bridges between cultures.
  4. 文化のかけ橋になるのは、忍耐しかありません。 “Foundation” component of metaphor disappears.
  5. The only cultural bridge is forbearance 忍耐 alternatively translated as “tolerance,” “patience” and “forbearance”. The latter perhaps confusing the translator, who finds refuge in an ambiguous use of the word 理解 which then of course becomes “understanding”. A very durable concept which lasts until 21.
  6. 文化は他を理解することで結ばれる。 “Bridge” metaphor disappears via 結び and “link”.
  7. Cultures are linked by understanding others.
  8. 他の人たちを理解することにより文化交流がなされる。 “People” are introduced through the ambiguity of 他.
  9. Cultural exchange is done by evaluating other people.
  10. 文化交流は、外国の人を理解することから始まる。
  11. International understanding begins with an understanding of foreign people.
  12. 国際理解は外国の人を理解するから始まる。
  13. International understanding begins with an understanding of foreign people.
  14. 国際理解は外国人を理解するから始まる。
  15. International understanding begins with the act of understading foreigners.
  16. 会得する、理解、始めに、その行動は外国人の行動を理解すること。
  17. Understand first that behavior is to understand the behavior of foreigners. Statement becomes rather incoherent imperative due to confusing layout of 16.
  18. 外国人の行動であるとまず理解すること。 Does not read 17 as imperative.
  19. To understand from the outset that this is the way foreigners behave. Seems to become conditional clause here.
  20. 外国の方はこういうふうに行動するものだと初めから理解すること。
  21. You must understand that this is how foreigners behave. Back to the imperative.
  22. 外国の方はこうなさいます。 Then back again to descriptive statement.
  23. This is the way foreigners would do it. “would do it” if what? Do what?
  24. これは外国人がよくするやり方です。 Solves above problem, but introduces question of frequency.
  25. This is what foreigners often do.
  26. 外国がどんあことをよく行いますか? Inexplicably becomes question. Also omits 人, leaving sentence to mean “what sort of things do foreign countries often do?”
  27. What kind of things do they like to do in foreign countries? In order to make sense of the above, invents identity/ies, not necessarily native to the countries, who now have a choice about “what they do”.
  28. その人たちは(かれらは)外国にいったときどんなことをしたいのでしょうか。 Good, if cumbersome, translation that makes it plain that “they” are visitors.
  29. What do you think they might want to do when they go overseas?
  30. 太りすぎたらどう対処すると思いますか。 Handwriting problem. Misreads “overseas” as “overeats”.
  31. If you are too fat, how do you handle the problem? Introduces value judgment on obesity.
  32. 太りすぎていたら、どうそれに対応しますか。 Female translator said she would rather not translate something like this. I emphasised that it was only a game so she obliged (but didn’t see obesity as a problem).
  33. If you were too fat, what would you do?
  34. ふとり過ぎていたら貴方はどうなさいますか。 Renders “you” as 貴方
  35. What will the lord do when he gets too fat? Mistakes 貴方 for 貴族 and renders it as “lord”.
  36. 神は肥りすぎたらどうするか? Reads “lord” as “God”.
  37. What do you do if God is too fat? 37, 39, 43, 47 all manage without a personal pronoun in Japanese. Personal pronounds cause problems on both occasions they appear in 34 and 40.
  38. 神様があまり太っていたらどうしますか。
  39. What would you do if god was too fat?
  40. 神が肥満過多だったら貴方は… Bases vague, open-ended question on condition that God were too fat.
  41. If God were too fat, what would you be? Good logical translation that deduces remainder of question.
  42. 肥りすぎの神様がいったらどう思いますか? Raises question of attitude rather than “being”.
  43. If there is an overweight God, what do you think?
  44. 太りすぎの神様がいるとすればどう思いますか。
  45. What would you think of a fat God.
  46. 太った神様をどう思もいますか。 Rumoured fat God lives!
  47. What do you think of the fat God.
  48. 神様太ったでしょう? Renders simple question as traditional Japanese greeting addressed to God.
  49. You look well God! Good translation.
  50. やあ、元気そうじゃないか! Supreme being departs as “God” is read simply as exclamatory component of greeting.
  51. Hello my lover. You’m be lookin’ fine today (Devonshire) Very ably translated into equivalent dialect.

1 Comment

  1. His comment in #18 (“Does not read 17 as imperative”) is imo incorrect. The 理解すること endings in numbers 16 and 18 are actually imperatives.

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