11 May 2009

Translation Exercise: "God Hates Japan" (2)

The second page I translated wasn't neeeeeeeearly as hard as the first one. It was actually pretty readable. Anyway, if you're into this nerdy stuff, take a look and give me your opinion.

Original Japanese Translation

逆に、カナダ人に典型的なブロンド髪のスコットは、クールなスケーター風にも拘わらず、彼もまたマヌケな感じがした。彼はモルモンの教団から支給されたダサい自転車でトリックもキメられ、キミコがはじめて彼に憑依したampmコンビニの前で、それをいつも披露していた。たぶん、そんな彼の陳腐な虚勢と完璧な歯並びが、後に宗教を見つけたキミコにウケたわけで、彼女の影響下にあったリエコとカオルも取り込んでしまったのだろう。

僕には、そんな噂がクラスで飛び交い始めたことが、とても信じられなかった。どうして彼女たちでなければならないのか?でもまず頭に浮かんできたのは、モルモン教が宣教師として、マヌケな連中ばかりを先進国へ送り込みながら、優秀な人間たちをシエフ・レオネやニュー・デリーといった僻地へ流していたことによる安堵感だった。

というか、宗教って一体ナンだろう……。そもそも宗教って本当に何なんだろう?いや、マジで……。僕だって別にイヤミな人間になりたくないけど……、さすがにキミコの目を見れば分かるさ。リエコにしてって、カオルにしたってそうだ。空っぽで死んだようなその目は、道路や廊下を歩いているときでさえ、ラーメン屋の看板や近づく人や車など、近くのものにまるで焦点が合ってないかのようだった。その目は地平線を見やり、夜空に浮かんだ一番星を見つけようとでもしているようだった。

スコットは僕らの世界から3人を奪った。人としての本質を消し去ってしまい、人間消臭剤に変身させてしまったのだ。

My Translation

Conversely, Scott, the typical blonde Canadian, regardless of his kakkou-ii skater style, also had an idiotic feeling about him. He'd always announce how he met Kimiko for the first time in front of the AMPM convenience store where he was performing tricks on his clunky Mormon Church supplied bicycle. Probably, that guy's hackneyed bravado and perfect teeth were the reason Kimiko found religion, and under her influence, Rieko and Eriko were also introduced.

When the rumours started flying around class, I didn't believe it at all. Why did it have to be them? But what came to mind first was, as Mormon missionaries, while they send no one but this stupid lot to the advanced countries, there's a flow of excellent people to remote places like Sierra Leone or New Deli.

Perhaps I should say, what the hell is religion? What's religion really in the first place? No, seriously. I don't especially want to become a sarcastic person, but, as might be expected, Kimiko's eyes speak for themselves. It seems she got both Rieko and then Kaoru. Those dead, empty-looking eyes, even when walking down the street or through the halls, when looking at ramen shop signs approaching people, cars, or with close objects, didn't change focus. It was like she stared at the horizon and was searching in the night's sky for the first star to appear.

Scott stole three people from our world. He erased their essence as people and transformed them with human-deodorant.

Thoughts

I'm not sure about the last two sentences of the third paragraph. One of those awkard situations where I knew what he was trying to say, but wasn't sure how to put it.

8 May 2009

Translation Exercise: "God Hates Japan" (1)

In 2001, Canadian author Douglas Coupland released a book in Japan strangely titled, "God Hates Japan" (神は日本を憎んでいる). I don't know that much about the book itself, but he wrote it in English, it was translated into Japanese, and published by a manga studio of some sort.

Anyway, I bought a copy off of the Japanese Amazon site a few years ago, and it ended up in one of many boxes with all my other books when I left for Japan. I'm home on vacation right now and was going through my stuff and thought I'd translate a couple of pages of this mouse-gnawed book since the Japanese Proficiency Test is coming up and I need some practice.

First here's the annotated first page of the original Japanese (for educational purposes only), then my English translation below.

Original Japanese translation

パート1

高校生活最後の年に、クラスでかわかった3人の女子が宗教を見つけた。物語を始めるには妙な場所かもしれないが、(1) それが結構そうでもなかったりする。何かの役に立つかは分からないが、そんなキミコとカオルとエリコの3人は、(2) クラスの中でも背の高い方だった。そんな彼女たちの身のこなしは見事と言うしかなく、(3) 生物教師のウエダをして、第二次世界大戦争の国民の食生活における乳製品の大量導入が、結果的に、日本人をより優れた民族にしたごとの生きた証だと言わしめたほどだった。なんて気味の悪いファシストなんだろう。とにかく、3人は現実に存在した。クラスでも有数の美人で、喩えるなら、タンポポやオヒシバの僕らと較べたら、薔薇や牡丹の3人は、正統派美人の確たる例として、僕らの前に叩きつけられた。

でも彼女たちが、偶然に宗教を発見したわけではない。それは、モルモン教宣教師のスコットとカービーが、僕の家から6軒先にあったキミコの家の隣にホームステイし始めてからのことだ。カービーのやつは、(4) いかにもアメリカのテレビドラマに登場する、カリフォルニアの砂漠の真ん中に取り残されたトレーラーを改造したクリスタル・メタアンフェタミン精製所に収入を試みそうなやつだった。(5) どこかマヌケな怠け者といった感じで、あの滑稽なモルモン教徒の定番(ユニフォーム)であるシャツとネクタイでさえ、その下品さをカモフラージュしきれなかった。しかも、教会が髪を切ってしまうまでは、きっと角刈りだったに違いない。

Notes:

(1) それが結構そうでもなかったりする
Bad way to start. I'm not sure what this is referring to exactly, which is a bit problematic. I found three hits for this phrase on Google so it is Japanese. If anyone has ideas, please let me know.
(2) の中でも
This phrase is used as "among" or "above".
(3) をして ... 言わしめた
My friend Kaori helped me with this one, and I finally found a entry in Yahoo辞典 with a translation of this phrase into standard, modern Japanese, which says something. The final verb is reflexive, stretching waaaay back to the を particle, which is used after a name to mean "make someone say".
(4) 登場する、... 収入を試みそう
Here too the final verb seems to modify the proceeding verbs. I'm also not 100% sure about this, but it seems to be "try to ... and ...".
(5) といった感じ
This phrase means "a typical ...". I don't know it's relation to the many other phrases that mean basically the same thing.


My translation back into English

Part 1

In their last year of high school life, three cute girls in my class found religion. This might be a weird place to start a story but, sometimes that doesn't seem to be enough. I don't know if this is going to help in some way, but that trio of Kimiko, Kaoru and Eriko were even the tallest in class. I won't say anything about them other than the way they carried themselves was splendid, to the point that they made the bio teacher Ueda say that they were living proof that the abundant introduction of milk products into the citizens' diet during World War 2 created a race that had surpassed the Japanese. What a creepy fascist. Anyway, these three actually existed. As the leading beauty queens in the class -- if you were to make an analogy, when you compare to us dandelions and wiregrasses, these three roses and peonies -- as definite examples of the orthodox beautiful girls -- slapped us in the face.

But these girls, they didn't just accidentally find religion. That is, the Mormon missionaries Scott and Kirby were on their first home stay trip in Kimiko's house six doors down from mine. This guy Kirby was the kind of guy that would try to make it onto an American TV drama or try to make a living in a trailer in the middle of the California desert modded into a crystal meth lab. He was a typical idiot punk and even in those funny prerequisite Mormon shirts and ties, it was impossible to camouflage that kind of vulgarity. In addition, as far as the church cutting his hair, it was no doubt a proper buzz cut.

Thoughts

So this was incredibly hard to translate. I would be surprised if my version is 70% accurate in terms of grammar, and not just because my Japanese is atrocious, but because a lot of the phrases are obscure and the sentences are really surprisingly complex. This is probably appropriate for ikyu-test takers.

If you have any comments, suggestions or translation ideas, I'm all ears, folks.