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How to translate "wandering mind"?

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How to translate "wandering mind"?

Postby Asia » Mon 11.14.2011 3:00 pm

Im trying to figure out how to say "wandering mind" in Japanese/romaji (its for a youtube account). Im still just learning and I dont know enough to translate it myself, so Ive been having to use google translator ( :-| ) and a friend who knows a little Japanese. (Though I did use a couple other translators, but I got the same results)
Anyway, when I first translated it I got さまよう心 (Samayō kokoro). Said friend didnt know if Samayo was the correct word for "wandering", but she was pretty sure kokoro meant "mind". Except when I looked it up, and used the translator, it said kokoro actually meant "heart". :doh:
So then I decided to translate the words seperatly I got 放浪 (Hōrō) for "wandering" and 注意 (Chūi) for "mind" :wall:

Then theres the sentence structure. I know in Japanese the subject is at the beginning, the verb is at the end, and the object is in the middle. So in Japanese would it actually be "mind wandering"?

I probably sound like a total idiot, but any help would be appreciated! :pray:
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Re: How to translate "wandering mind"?

Postby Asia » Mon 11.14.2011 5:57 pm

I found an old Japanese to English dictionary that I had gotten from the library a while back, it says kokoro means "heart; mind; spirit; feeling". But for chui it says "attention; caution; warning". :?
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Re: How to translate "wandering mind"?

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Mon 11.14.2011 6:52 pm

Yes, こころ means 'heart', but it means the heart that you think and feel with.
しんぞう is the beating organ in your chest.

さまよっているこころ would be the word for 'wandering' (with さまよう conjugated into a state of continuing action), being used to directly modify a noun like that to make a phrase like 'wandering mind'.

However, I don't think it's a natural phrase and if it was understood at all I have no idea whether it would be thought to mean anything like the phrase in English.

注意 (ちゅうい) is the word that starts the part in the microwave manual where it tells you not to put your grandmother's gold-rimmed teacup in the microwave or it might break the cup and set the microwave on fire.
As a verb in a sentence it means 'to pay attention', but it's often used by itself where we would use 'CAUTION' or 'WARNING'.

I looked around on ALC, but the closest thing I could find was
My mind just keeps wandering.
どうも集中できない。
http://eow.alc.co.jp/wandering+mind/UTF-8/

Unfortunately, if you translate that back into English, it is more literally 'I'm just not able to concentrate.'
Same idea as 'my mind keeps wandering', of course...

Anyway, I don't think you can get the translation that you want into Japanese, ever.
Quite simply, 'my mind is wandering' means 'I'm not mentally focused'. But 'wandering mind' steps just a little away from the set meaning and sounds more like a mind wandering down the roads of the imagination. In no small part, it sounds that way because it is so phonetically close to a 'wondering mind'. It's a nice turn of phrase but it's deeply connected to nuances of the English language.

And of course, you can't really say 'mind' in Japanese, you have to choose between words that have meanings closer to 'brain' or 'thoughts' or 'imagination', or else go with こころ ... which has a much stronger 'heart' sense to it than 'mind' does.
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Re: How to translate "wandering mind"?

Postby SomeCallMeChris » Mon 11.14.2011 7:00 pm

Actually, thinking about what I just said, I might suggest you find a native speaker of Japanese and see how they feel about さまよってる想像 = 'wandering imagination'.

Sounds clumsy in English, but I -think- it sounds good in Japanese. I'm not a native speaker though and have never tried the phrase.
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Re: How to translate "wandering mind"?

Postby Hyperworm » Mon 11.14.2011 8:16 pm

さまよう心 feels quite natural to me, although it does have more of a "feelings" nuance rather than a "thoughts" nuance. I don't feel that it needs to be in ている form. (warning, not a native speaker...)

Perhaps さまよう意思 is closer to "mind"... but it somehow feels less meaningful / more arbitrarily stuck together, to me, than さまよう心. It's not idiomatic in Japanese, so it sounds random.

Other Japanese ways to say "his mind is wandering" might include..
ボーっとしている (he's spaced out)
心ここにあらず (his mind is not here [=is elsewhere])
注意が散漫(です・になっている) (attention is all over the place [=not focused])
白昼夢を見ている (he's daydreaming) (<- not sure you can use this one metaphorically like this)

EDIT: Incidentally, "samayō" is an incorrect romanization of さまよう. It has to be "samayou", even in modified Hepburn romanization with macrons. This is because the う is the final conjugating part of a verb. In these cases you don't use macrons.
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