8/28/2007

Let me tell you a tale you've already heard

A post! but whats this....

昔々、光がありませんでした。毎日はずっと暗かったです。森や川や山や空も見えませんでした。その時に小川のとなりに小屋がありました。おじいさんと娘はその小屋で住んでいました。おじいさんがわがままでした。宇宙(ゆちゅう)の光がわがままなおじいさんの箱中に入られていました。その同時にワタリガラス(カラス)がいました。いつも、真っ黒から、カラスさんはよく物がドシンと当たりました。暗闇を飛ぶことがすっかりいやになってしまいました。もし、小屋に入って、光を盗んだったら、見えるんだと思いました。その時にいい考えがありました。

ある日、おじいさんの娘は小川に水を取りに行きました。カラスさんは魅惑的な(みわくてき)、狡猾な(こうかつ)カラスでした。女の子は小川で水を飲むあいだにカラスさんは松葉(松針(まつはり))に変身(へんしん)しました。気がつかなくて  女の子はカラスさんを飲み込んでしまいました。

カラスさんは女の子の中にまた、変化していました。来る日も来る日も女の子のお腹が 大きくなりました。ついに赤ちゃんができました。カラスさんが人間の子供に変身しました! おじいさんは本当にびくりしました。カラスさんが大きすぎる鼻がいって、ちょっと変な子供なのに おじいさんが嬉しいでした。毎日、おじいさんは孫(まご)と一緒にあそびました。カラスさんと言う赤ちゃんが箱で遊びたかったです。しかし、おじいさんはそのことを禁止しました。カラスさんが泣き叫びました。カラスさんはめそめそように泣いて、おじいさんが屈服(くっぷく)しました。「さ、その時だけですよ」と言いました。カラスさんは箱を開けて、きれいな光が出て来ました。すぐにカラスさんはカラスにの変形して、嘴(くちばし)で光の玉をひったくって、煙突(えんとつ)から出ました。カラスさんが光の玉を空に投げました。森や川や山や空もきれいに見えます。そして、太陽があったわけです。

The above for those who can't read Japanese or whose computers don't display the characters correctly is a basic translation of the Native American myth of "How the Raven stole the Sun." For those who can read Japanese (and better yet those who also know the myth) feel free to read it and leave your thoughts, criticism, etc.

It isn't meant to be esoteric, I just wanted to show one of the things I've worked on in the past few months. For those who don't know the myth I apologize because I can not find a single decent telling of it as it seems many have been taken down since I last checked. Here is a watered down version. The translation was for some friends, a professor from the college and his wife. The project got me thinking about a lot of things and to reflect on the work I've been doing for the past year or so.

First for the unaware, I have been considering a career in translation for a couple of years. The plan has wavered now and then but I keep telling myself I should be getting myself into this field. The idea is to translate from Japanese to English. That's about as far as I can think out my plan and usually about where I loose confidence in making it a reality and where the wavering part comes in. So my baby step goal for this next quarter is to get a little work experience doing language related work. Coming up in a couple of weeks will be a teacher assistant job, teaching English and correcting papers. Anyways, it will be a launching pad to productivity seeing as I've been feeling like a waste of space recently.

The translation project itself was an interesting experience that reflected a lot of what I've learned in the past about translation but I began to realize it almost immediately. One of the things you'll hear a lot in the world of translation is the idea of a faithful translation, an abstract concept that can be taken as quantifiable . First off, there's no standard for measuring faithfulness. If faithfulness is defined as accurately interpreting the authors words, meanings, etc. wouldn't that require being inside the authors head? Faithful seems to be used to deny and undermine the fact that the final piece is another work in a different language. I'm not saying there's no such thing as a good translation or one that seems to be a dead on interpretation of the original but different languages are not the same. However, this word, faithful cannot be buried so easily as you will soon see...

What made things interesting while translating this myth is that the myth itself comes from oral tradition. Trying to track down an original version of this story is near impossible. Each version I came across varied greatly and not only that they are written versions of the myth. Part of oral tradition is the presentation and how it is told. Its as if I were translating the plot outline of a play, SOMETHING is going to end up missing in the end. So I set about translating a story that has no official text. I remembered back to when I had first heard the myth and piecing together the most important bits from my memory and themes that reoccurred in most of the different versions. Making the language I used simple, I tried to make it as easy to understand as possible sacrificing on voice for correct grammar and well, using Japanese I know. All in all, it felt like I was writing my own work or telling my version of the myth. However giving ones interpretation of the story takes up a huge part of oral story telling, which was not recorded with written language but memorized from story teller to story teller. Pacing, themes, and the story were more important to memorize then words.

So from here I've been thinking about what the relation between oral story telling, interpretation, and translation of text have to do with each other. I hate to use the word but I wonder if its possible to have a faithful retelling of an oral story? Here I have to mention that faithful has become synonymous with good. In common language when someone has translated something you'll here phrases like "I've translated it as faithfully as I could" which to me sounds like "with this impossible task, I've done the best that I could" or "this is MY idea of what faithful means" Anyways, back to the question is it possible? Yeah I guess, just as possible or impossible as it is to translate a novel faithfully. Again I arrive at the problem of the word faithful having several meanings from good to transcribing the word of the lord into x language . There was a time when people believed that there was only one possible right translation for anything.

Its a little abrupt and lack of background information and sources makes me thing I need to dig up some of the work I did last year but I'll stop here. Soon to come are more photos and what I've been up to on this seemingly silent past month.

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