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first draft translation

Questions, discussions and translations on Murakami's Yoru no kumozaru

first draft translation

Postby keith712 » Tue 04.25.2006 12:01 am

やあ、みんなさん

warning - this post is a spoiler!!!

well, maybe not. it's my first draft translation of ホルン from 夜のくもざる. all comments, corrections and suggestions for a second draft are welcome. thanks to everybody in this forum for all your help. all the good stuff below is due to you. all the ackward English and errors are mine alone. special thanks to Mukadesan for suggesting this book.

to make reference to the text easier I label each sentence with page/line for the beginning of each sentence. examples: 12/T is the title on page 12, 15/3 is the sentence beginning in the third line of page 15.

words inside ( ) are me trying to fill in Murakami's ellipses

words inside [ ] are my comments

12/T Horn

12/1 For example there is a musical instrument called a horn.

12/1 Now let's assume that there are people whose profession is to play this horn.

12/2 This may seem to be the natural way of the world but when (I) begin to think earnestly about how this sort of thing comes about my head (enters a state) of complete confusion like (being in) a three dimensional maze.

12/5 Why must it have been a horn?

12/6 Why did he become a horn player and not me?

13/1 It seems to me that the so-called act of a certain human being becoming a horn player is a much deeper mystery to bear in mind then a certain human being becoming a novelist.

13/2 If that mystery was explained all the mysteries of human life would come to be understood like the pitter-patter (of raindrops falling to the ground).

13/3 But in the final analysis maybe I'm a novelist because I'm not a horn player.

13/4 Supposing I had become a horn player maybe that would appear strange to a CERTAIN human being who had gone through the so-called act of becoming a novelist.

13/7 I imagine he comes across a horn one afternoon in the interior of a deep forest.

13/8 Then (they) come to a complete mutual understanding while chit-chatting or doing something and then he becomes a professional horn player.

14/1 Or maybe the horn went to the extreme of telling him the story of a horn's plight.

14/2 (Maybe the horn told him) such things as (his) painful childhood period and (his) complicated family circumstance and (his) complex over (his) personal appearance and such or (his) sexual anguish.

14/4 "I know nothing about violins and flutes," the horn might tell (him) while grubbing the dirt with the branch of a tree.

14/5 "But speaking of me I've been a horn ever since I was born.

14/6 Things like me never go to foreign countries and furthermore (we) never ski..." or words to that effect.

14/7 Then that afternoon (like crossing) a border the horn and the horn player would become a 良き [=good?] combination striking a fast friendship.

14/8 Staying together through more then the usual adversity like in "Flash Dance" the horn and the horn player now standing hand-in-hand alone on a stage would play the opening strain of Brahm's piano concerto.

15/3 I suddenly imagined all this on a seat in a concert hall.

15/4 Since then a tuba or some (other horn) in the interior of another forest may be waiting for someone to come along.
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RE: first draft

Postby Paul De Stefano » Tue 04.25.2006 5:40 am

Keith-san Thanks for your help on the vocabulary.
Here is my first draft of the first page.

Consider the case of the musical instrument called a horn. Consider also that there are people whose special vocation is to play this horn. The way things come to be is probably a natural event but when I start to think seriously about them, my mind becomes completely confused like an impenetrable maze.
Why is there a thing such as a horn?
Why did they become horn players and I did not?
I think that one can believe that a profound riddle is contained in the fact that it happens that a given individual becomes a horn player rather than a novelist. If one were to solve this riddle, then the riddle of life and whatever else would yield gently to his understanding. However, at long last, I am probably a novelist because I am not a horn player. Supposing I were a horn player, it would probably appear thoroughly odd that a given individual becomes a novelist.
Last edited by Paul De Stefano on Tue 04.25.2006 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby keith712 » Wed 04.26.2006 12:15 am

you're welcome, Paulsan... Kenkyusha's New Japanese to English dictionary has over 2000 pages and many example sentences for each entry... I was surprised to discover that all its entries are romanized so you get no practice with Japanese script... the main disadvantage of it are its large size (10"x7"x3") and almost incredible cost(more then $600 new)... I bought mine used...

I think you're much better at reading Japanese then me... your first draft reads better then my third or maybe even my final draft... going to put an hour or two on the second story tonight... Shirleysan is already reading it...

later, Keith
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RE: first draft translation

Postby richvh » Wed 04.26.2006 11:48 am

This is my translation.

The Horn

There is a type of musical instrument called the "horn". Also, there are people who play these horns for a living. The way in which these things came to be in the world may have been natural, but whenever I start to think seriously about things like these, my mind gets twisted into a pretzel.

Why must that be a horn?

Why did he become a horn player, while I did not?

It seems to me that the manner in which a person becomes a horn player rather than a writer is part of some deep mystery. If I could understand that, I would instantly be able to understand the mystery of Life, the Universe, and Everything. But, after all, that might just be because I am a writer and not a horn player. If I were a horn player, the manner in which someone became a writer might seem strange.

I guess that maybe he met a horn by chance one afternoon, deep in a thick forest. And then, through chatting or what not, they came to a mutual understanding and he became a horn player. Or, maybe the horn told him his very horn-like life story. His difficult childhood and complex family situation, his anxieties about his appearance and his sex life, or thinks like that.

Perhaps the horn says "I don't understand violins or flutes" while poking at the ground with a stick. "But personally, I've been a horn ever since I was born. I haven't been to foreign lands, I haven't skied..." or words to that effect. And so, as the afternoon draws to a close, the horn and the horn player have become fast friends. Soon, through unswerving determination like in a scene out of "Flashdance", the horn and the horn player are standing under the spotlights on stage, playing the opening stanza of Brahms' "Piano Concerto."

I was thinking of things like these while sitting in a concert hall. Meanwhile, in another thick forest, maybe a tuba is waiting for someone to pass by.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby Mukade » Wed 04.26.2006 9:35 pm

One note on this sentence:
それを解けば人生が何もかもぱらりとわかってしまうような謎が。

richvh and Paul - you have both translated this into pretty smooth English. If you are translating for meaning only, then this would be fine. But if you're trying to capture the 'feel' of the original, then I think it would be a little different. I mean, the original Japanese is very odd. Murakami is saying ぱらりとわかる - a phrase that just isn't said in Japanese. I think your average Japanese would do a double-take when they read this sentence.

I think Keith came a little closer to capturing the strangeness of this phrase with 'understood like a pitter-patter.'

This may seem piddling, but if you were the person hired to translate this book into English for ○○ Publication Company, I think this would be an important point. I mean, this sort of eccentric use of language is very indicative of Murakami's style.

There tends to be two schools of thought concerning translation. One says that you should be as faithful as possible to the author's original words. The other says that you should capture the author's intent as best as possible. I don't think either theory is necessarily better - I often try to translate a tough sentence like this both ways and see which one seems to work better:

If you could solve this riddle, then all the mysteries of life would be understood in a patter.

If you could solve this riddle, then all the mysteries of life would be unlocked with a soft click.

Anyone else have alternative translations?
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RE: first draft translation

Postby richvh » Wed 04.26.2006 10:07 pm

How about "If I could solve this riddle, then an understanding of all the mysteries of life would wrap around me like a gossamer cloak"?
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RE: Translation style

Postby Paul De Stefano » Wed 04.26.2006 10:43 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this last exchange between Rich-san and Mukade-san.

It made struggling with the kanji dictionary worthwhile.

These kinds of insights are what I like best about this site.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby keith712 » Sat 04.29.2006 4:38 am

Mukadesan, thanks for the encouragement... I really enjoyed puzzling over that sentence and thanks for the tip about comparing multiple translations to try to find what works best...

I have questions about 鉛筆削り:

in the sentence:

[url]渡辺昇は台所に入ってくると、すぐにテーブルの上にある僕のその古い鉛筆削りに目をとめた。[/url]


how can I tell whose eyes fixed on the pencil sharpener? when I first read it I thought it was 村上の目 but after I finished reading the whole story I changed my mind and decided it was 渡辺昇の!

I'm struggling with the sentence starting on the second line of page 19:

[url]でもそのときは...僕には見当もつかなかった。[/url]


知る由もない = had no reason to believe or didn't necessarily believe or ?

鋭い視線を走らせている =send (his) pointed line of sight?

my first translation: But at that moment I had no reason to believe that he was a maniacal collector of pencil sharpeners. I couldn't guess what on earth could hold (his) interest that (he kept) directing (his) (razor) sharp gaze to the table top.

this story made me laugh. Murakami is droll.

じゃあね、 Keith
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RE: first draft translation

Postby richvh » Sat 04.29.2006 8:21 am

keith712 wrote:
Mukadesan, thanks for the encouragement... I really enjoyed puzzling over that sentence and thanks for the tip about comparing multiple translations to try to find what works best...

I have questions about 鉛筆削り:

in the sentence:

[url]渡辺昇は台所に入ってくると、すぐにテーブルの上にある僕のその古い鉛筆削りに目をとめた。[/url]


how can I tell whose eyes fixed on the pencil sharpener? when I first read it I thought it was 村上の目 but after I finished reading the whole story I changed my mind and decided it was 渡辺昇の!


Well, 渡辺昇 is the topic of the sentence, so of course it is his eyes; 僕の modifies 鉛筆削り, not 目:

As soon as Watanabe Noboru* entered the kitchen, his eyes immediately fastened on that old pencil sharpener of mine on top of the table.

(*Is that the most likely reading of 昇?)

I'm struggling with the sentence starting on the second line of page 19:

[url]でもそのときは...僕には見当もつかなかった。[/url]


知る由もない = had no reason to believe or didn't necessarily believe or ?

鋭い視線を走らせている =send (his) pointed line of sight?

my first translation: But at that moment I had no reason to believe that he was a maniacal collector of pencil sharpeners. I couldn't guess what on earth could hold (his) interest that (he kept) directing (his) (razor) sharp gaze to the table top.

But since at that time I had no reason to know that he was an avid collector of pencil sharpeners, I couldn't guess what exactly it was that held his interest and why his sharp glances kept racing to the tabletop.
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RE: Subtitle of Pencil Sharpener

Postby Paul De Stefano » Sun 04.30.2006 4:01 pm

I assume that the text in parentheses is a subtitle.
(あるいは幸運としての渡辺昇1)
What is the significance of the 1 in a circle?
I believe that として as a particle means "as an example."
So literally I woud translate this subtitle as:

Quite probably an example of Watanbe's good fortune.

or more colloquially as:

Watanabe lucks out

or maybe:

Watanabe's Lucky Day

Whenever I try to translate more naturally, I tend to stray from the meaning.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby richvh » Sun 04.30.2006 4:22 pm

Two stories later is タイムまチン(あるいは幸運としての渡辺昇?), so the ? just indicates that it's the first story about the good luck associated with Watanabe Noboru.

"The Pencil Sharpener (or, Lucky Watanabe part 1)" might be a better translation, especially since (from the narrator's viewpoint) the good luck came from Watanabe.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby keith712 » Sun 04.30.2006 4:39 pm

thanks Richard... it's so obvious who's doing the looking when you explain it... it's difficult to believe I didn't get it on the first reading... I really appreciate and envy your skill with English...

Paul... I think the circled 1 might mean that this chapter is the first installment of this story... something like:

The Pencil Sharpener (or Watanabe Nobo as good fortune 1)

I think Murakami-san is being humorous by emphasizing how fortunate he feels when it's obvious to us readers that only Watanabe-san has gained anything of value.

so here's how I think the story reads:

The Pencil Sharpener (or Watanabe Nobo as good fortune part 1)

If it was not for Watanabe Nobo no doubt I would still be using that worn out pencil sharpener to this day. Thanks to Watanabe Nobo this spanking new pencil sharpener came to be mine. Such good fortune is not something one meets with everyday.

When Watanabe Nobo entered my kitchen his eyes instantly fixed on my old pencil sharpener which was on top of the table. I was working at the kitchen table for a change of pace that day. So I had placed the pencil sharpener between the salt shaker and the shoyu dispenser.

While Watanabe Nobo repaired the drain pipe of my sink - his repair shop had an arrangement with the water works - he would cast side-long glances at the tabletop from time to time. But because I had no reason to know that he was a MANIACAL COLLECTOR of pencil sharpeners I couldn't guess just why he was so interested that his sharp gaze kept racing [keith - thanks Richard!] up to the tabletop. Various things were scattered randomly on the tabletop.

"That's a good pencil sharpener, sir," Watanabe Nobo said after he finished repairing the pipe.

"This?" I started and picked up the pencil sharpener from the top of the table. It was just an hand-operated sharpener that I had been using since the time I was in middle school more then twenty years ago. There was not a single blessed thing that was different about it compared with all the others. The metal parts were nearly rusted solid and furthermore the Atom Boy [keith - thanks Oracle!] sticker had been stuck on with a scrap of metal [keith - this is so old-fashioned that Murakami doesn't even know that it's called a rivet!]. In short it's old and worn out.

"It's a 1963 Max PSD. Quite rare," Watanabe Nobo said. "If I'm not mistaken the blade is a little more clogged up then the other types. So there is a difference in the delicacy and also the shape of the shavings."

"Huh," I said.

With that I received a brand new latest model pencil sharpener and Watanabe Nobo got the 1963 Max PSD (fitted with the Atom sticker). Watanabe Nobo always carried a bag with new pencil sharpeners in it to barter. I'm probably repeating myself but it's not many times in a life that one meets with such good fortune.

...or with such a silly writer for that matter!
Last edited by keith712 on Sun 04.30.2006 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: first draft

Postby Paul De Stefano » Fri 05.05.2006 11:50 pm

I decided to post this before I looked too carefully at my comrades' translations. The readers may find the variation in translations interesting and we all should be able to learn from each others mistakes

Pencil Sharpener
or
The First Example of Watanabe’s Good Luck

If there weren’t people like Noboro Watanabe, then it would make no difference to me and I would still keep using that grimy old pencil sharpener. Thanks to him I was able to get my hands on a shiny brand new one. This good fortune doesn’t happen every day.
As Watanabe entered the kitchen he immediately set eyes on that old pencil sharpener sitting atop the table. That day I was working at the kitchen table for a change of pace. I had set out the pencil sharpener among the salt and the soy sauce.
Watanabe cast intermittent side glances at the tabletop while he was fixing the drainpipe of the sink. He was the repairman from the local water company. I had no idea why he was driven to extend penetrating stares at the tabletop and what it could be that held his interest since at that time I did not know the significant fact that he was an avid collector of pencil sharpeners. There were various things strewn about the table.
“Sir? That’s a fine pencil sharpener you’ve got there.” said Watanabe after finishing the repair on the drainpipe.
“This?” I said with surprise as I took the sharpener into my hand. This was a quite ordinary hand-operated machine that I had used continuously for more than twenty years since my middle school days. Compared with other things it was nothing special. Not only were the metal parts fairly rusted but there was an Astro Boy sticker more or less plastered to the top. In short it was old and dirty.
“That there is what they call a MaxPSD 1963 model. It’s pretty rare.” said Watanabe. “The way the blades mesh is different from any other type. That’s why the shape of the pencil shavings are so different and delicate, you know.”
“Uh-huh...” said I.
That is how I got my hands on the latest model of pencil sharpener and how Watanabe got his hands on a MaxPSD 1963 model (Astro Boy sticker attached.) Watanabe always carried a brand new pencil sharpener in trade in his plumber's bag. At the risk of repeating myself, this kind of luck does not happen often during our lifetimes.

Edited for major blunder again in misread kana ビッグ for バッグ
Last edited by Paul De Stefano on Sat 05.06.2006 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: first draft translation

Postby richvh » Sat 05.06.2006 8:48 am

Grammar note on 僕はおそらくいまだにあの薄汚い鉛筆削りを使いつづけていたに違いない in the first paragraph:

I read おそらくいまだに as "perhaps until today" and 使いつづけていたに違いない as "certainly have continued to use it" 違いない is a phrase meaning "sure, no mistaking it, for certain"
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RE: first draft translation

Postby keith712 » Sat 05.06.2006 2:45 pm

Paul, I like how you handled the pencil shaving sentence!

Richard & Paul, two things:

1) Murakami mentions a scrap of metal in the first sentence about the Astro-Boy sticker... I think Murakami's describing a rivet but doesn't know what to call it... what do you think?

2) have you noticed that Murakami and other Japanese writers are sometimes reluctant to make to statements without qualifiers in places where an English reader doesn't expect it... おそらく (perhaps) and 違いない (without doubt) in the same sentence is a good example. if they did it all the time I would say that it's just the way they talk/write but because they only do it occasionally I guess it has a difficult or impossible to translate meaning.
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