Sunday, September 30, 2007


As I hinted at in my last post, Alethea and Athena Nibley responded to my translation notes on FB vol. 1 by defending some of the translations I had criticized, both in the comments to my notes and on their own live journal, which led to brief exchanges at both places until time pressure forced me to bow out. I still think I'm right on most of the contested points, including the "itterasshai" vs. "come home safe" issue, although on that score I don't have anything to add to what I've already said. But thinking over their responses made me realize that I shouldn't have implied that they were simply mistaken. Many of our differences are due to different approaches to translation. Their translations are freer than I would like, and sometimes they make explicit what they believe is implicit in Takaya's writing, as in "come home safe." My belief is that that if the author leaves something implicit, the translation should do the same; but the Nibleys' approach to translation is a legitimate one. Even if you agree with their approach, though, I think it's useful to compare their translations with the original Japanese, so that people who wouldn't necessarily interpret the original text the same way the Nibleys do have an opportunity to decide for themselves.

In our defense, in order to leave everything implicit, you'd have to translate every line as literally as possible (including leaving the zero pronoun as a zero pronoun), and so, for example, you'd end up with lines like, "Couldn't say 'go, come back.'"

We always thought that we do leave things implicit for the most part, so maybe it's not a matter of making more things explicit, but different things.
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