21 March 2009

Translation Exercise: "Wolf Totem" (2)

Here's part two of my translation of Wolf Totem (狼图腾) by Jiang Rong (姜戎). This time, to make it a little bit more readable, I mixed in the source text (the English) with my Japanese translation. And like last time, please feel free to point out any errors, irregularities or suggestions.

英和翻訳:

神なるオオカミ (Wolf Totem・狼图腾)

夜に、狼が狩りに出かける時に、陳が浅く眠る。彼はガスマイに交代する時に狼が囲いに侵入したら呼ぼうと言って、動物を退却させるのを助けて、必要に応じ て真っ向から戦うと約束した。ビルギーはやぎひげをしごき、微笑し、そんなに狼に執着している中国人と会ったことがないと言った。北京の学生が表した異常 な興味の程度に満足そうだった。

At night, when the wolves came out to hunt, Chen would sleep lightly. He had told Gasmai to call him if a wolf ever broke into the pen when she was on guard duty, assuring her that he would help drive the animal away, fight it head-on if necessary. Bilgee would stroke his goatee, smile and say he'd never seen a Chinese so fixated on wolves. He seemed pleased with the unusual degree of interest displayed by the student from Beijing.

最初の冬の間、ある雪の降る夜に陳は懐中電灯を持って、狼と犬と女の接近戦を目撃した。

Late one snowy night during his first winter, Chen, flashlight in hand, witnessed at close quarters a battle between a wolf, a dog and a woman.

「チェンチェン!チェンチェン!」

"Chenchen! Chenchen!"

陳はガスマイの逆上した泣き声と犬たちの荒っぽい吠える声で目が覚めた。彼はフェルトのブーツを穿いてデールのモンゴル風のローブのボタンを掛けてから、懐中電灯と羊飼いの棒を持って外に出た。懐中電灯の光が雪を切るように進んで、詰め込んだ羊たちから力ずく離しているため狼の尻尾を握ているガスマイを見 せられた。狼が必死になってガスマイを噛んでみていた。同時に馬鹿な太っている羊は狼にぞっとしてほとんど凍死して密集し、風除けに後退りし、雪片が 蒸気になったほどぎっしり詰め込んだ。狼は前部が動けなくされた、ガスマイと綱引きをしながら地面を足で掻き、羊に噛み付くことだけできた。陳は助ける ためよろよろ歩いて行ったが何をすべきか分からなかった。ガスマイの二匹の犬は羊にがんじがらめにされた。大きいな狼に行けないから、荒っぽい無力な吠える羽目 になった。同時にビルギーの五・六匹の猟犬が隣人の犬たちと一緒に、囲いの西に他の狼を戦っていた。吠える声と遠ぼえと苦しんでいる泣き声は天地を揺さ ぶった。陳はガスマイを助けたかったのに足が動けないほど不安定だった。生きている狼を触るという監房が身がすくむような恐怖で消えた。

Chen was awakened by Gasmai's frantic cries and the wild barking of dogs. After pulling on his felt boots and buttoning up his Mongol robe, his deel, he ran out of the yurt on shaky legs, flashlight and herding club in hand. The beam of the light sliced through the snow to reveal Gasmai holding on to the tail of a wolf, trying to turn it's fangs on her. Meanwhile, the stupid, fat sheep, petrified by the wolf and nearly frozen by the wind, huddled together and kept backing up against the windbreak, packed so tightly the snowflakes between their bodies turned to steam. The front half of the wolf was immobilized; it could only paw at the ground and snap at the sheep in front of it, all the while engaged in a tug-of-war with Gasmai. Chen staggered over to help but didn't know what to do. Gasmai's two dogs were hemmed in by the huddled sheep. Unable to get to the big wolf, they were reduced to wild, impotent barking. At the same time, Bilgee's five or six hunting dogs, together with their neighbor's dogs, were fighting other wolves east of the pen. The barks, the howls and the agonizing cries of the dogs shook heaven and earth. Chen wanted to help Gasmai, but his legs were so rubbery he could barely move. His desire to touch a living wolf had vanished, replaced by paralyzing fear.

Okay! That's it for now.

My question this time is the difference between saying "何々
して" and "何々し". I know the "て" form is sometimes used to show a direct connection between cause and effect, and the stem form of a verb is often used in a list of events, but here I perhaps inappropriately mixed and matched where I saw fit. Any comments about this?

I also wanted to thank Kozo, a friend of mine from university and easily one of the nicest people I know, who gave me heaps of good suggestions. He's been doing translations as well, but rather than doing them are grammar-vocabulary exercises, he's refining his already-excellent written Japanese. He also asked if he could give a shot at his own translation, and needless to say, his is a lot more accurate. But interestingly, there are a few places where mine's not necessarily wrong, or at least not completely wrong, but our choice of words is quite different. I also saw a version his parents did, which was again quite different. Maybe he'll let me post them in some sort of translation exposé.

16 March 2009

Translation Exercise: "Wolf Totem" (1)

Classes are over and I'm starving for something to do. I've been translating pretty much anything I can get my hands on, just for the practice, but unfortunately most of the English language literature I have is itself a translation -- either from Russian or Chinese or Japanese -- or is written in post-modern vernacular and is almost impossible to render in another language.

A few weeks ago, I tried to translate a few paragraphs of "Wolf Totem", a famous modern Chinese model by Jiang Rong. Here's the broken-Japanese result:

英和翻訳:

神なるオオカミ (Wolf Totem・狼图腾)

(甚だしい誤りを見たら、教えて下さい。)

ビルギーと一緒にいるのは慰められる。陳は頭がすっきりするように目をこすり、静かにビルギーにまばたきし、そしてガゼルと狼を眺めるように望遠鏡を上げる。

陳は先の狼と遭遇してから、草地の住民―遊牧民―はいつも狼に囲まれるまでは長くないと理解するようになった。ほぼ毎晩幽霊のような狼の姿を見つける―特にひどく寒い冬に。一、二――あるいは五、六――それとも、十二もの明るい緑の目組が放牧地の周囲に動くのが見える。百里以上。ある夜には陳とビルギーの嫁のガスマイが懐中電灯で二十五匹まで数える。

ゲリラ軍のように遊牧民が簡単のために努力する。冬の間に羊小屋は防風柵として役立つ大きいなフェツトじゅうたんが付けている荷馬車によって移動垣根となった半円だ。しかし狼を防げない。広い南部の通路は犬の一群と当番の女に守られる。時折狼が羊小屋に侵入し、犬と戦う。体がユルトの壁にドサッとぶつかって、内にいる人に目を覚めさせる。陳陣に二回起こって、寝台に落ちるのを防ぐのはその壁じかなかった。しばしば遊牧民は狼から二枚のフェルトじゅうたんだけで分離する。

注: 陳陣=チェン・ジェン

質問:

日本語の小説は一般的に現在形で書かれるながら、英語の小説はよく過去形で書かれる。日本語では、聞き伝えとかあるキャラクターの過去の経験について話すときに、過去形は適当でしょうか。

Source text: Wolf Totem (狼图腾) by Jiang Rong (姜戎)

Having Bilgee beside him was comforting. Chen rubbed his eyes to clear away the mist and blinked calmly at Bilgee, then raised his telescope again to watch the gazelles and the wolves.

Since his earlier encounter with the wolves, he had come to understand that the inhabitants of the grassland, the nomads, were never far from being surrounded by wolves. Nearly every night he spotted ghostly wolf outlines, especially during the frigid winter; two or three, perhaps five or six, and as many as many as ten pairs of glittering green eyes moving around the perimeter of the grazing land, as far as a hundred li or more distant. One night he and Bilgee’s daughter-in-law Gasmai, aided by flashlights, counted twenty-five of them.

Like guerrilla fighters, nomads strive for simplicity. During the winter, sheep pens are semicircles formed by wagons and mobile fencing, with large felt rugs that serve as a windbreak but cannot keep out the wolves. The wide southern openings are guarded by packs of dogs and women on watch shifts. From time to time, wolves break into the pens and fight the dogs. Bodies often thud into yurt walls, waking people on the other side; twice that had happened to Chen Zhen, and all that had kept a wolf from landing beside him was that wall. Frequently, nomads are separated from wolves by no more than a couple of felt rugs.


Question:

Japanese novels are generally written in present tense, while English novels are frequently written in past tense. In Japanese, when talking about hearsay or a character’s past experiences, is past tense appropriate?

10 March 2009

Tarzan-ben Japanese

Or, "Condescension: how pidgin languages are born"

Some people here seem to immediately assume Westerners can't speak a word of Japanese and will use oversimplified Tarzan-like Japanese (ie. me... *points to chest* frrriend!), lacking grammar or appropriate politeness levels and reinforced with inane grunts, redundant hand gestures and with whatever bits and pieces of English vocabulary they remember from high school in order to try to accommodate the hapless manchild foreigners. For example, as I was writing this, a member of the main office staff at Ichikoko came in an had an Tarzan-ben conversation with me.


Free you say?


And of course, the badly pronounced basic English vocabulary just happens to correspond to the simple Japanese vocabulary that all the foreigners in this country know already, and it ruins the rhythm of the conversation making it a lot harder to understand than if they just used one language or the other in the first place, and makes whoever it is trying to talk to you sound condescending as hell.