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03 May 2016 @ 03:15 pm
Translation nerdery  
As part of the LARP I'm taking part in, I'm playing a descendant of Izanagi, and since I already know some Japanese, I took it on myself to translate some important game speeches into Japanese for my character to recite. One of them I wrote myself, in a mishmash of modern and classical Japanese that would probably look awful to anyone who knows either version of the language, but another I translated from text provided to me and it brought to mind some of the choices translators have to make.

The whole text might be spoilers (for any other participants who read this), but here's a line where I had to make some decisions:
Should I break this oath may all my victories become as ashes in my mouth
And here is the Japanese I came up with:
Sensei wo yaburu to shouri ga ikotsu ni naru you ni de
The first part is fairly straightfoward--"To break an oath," but the と there after the statement indicates a natural consequence. Like, 雨が降ると濡れる--"If it rains, [you'll] get wet." It's a situation where the second part is an obvious result of the first part with no question. If you turn off the light, it gets dark. If I break an oath, my victories will become as ashes.

The second part I took a couple liberties. I'm not entirely sure how to express hopes and wishes in Japanese. " といいです" is the way in normal conversation--the same と as above, implying that if X happens it will be good--but that just a set phrase that's the equivalent of "I hope that [something positive]" and doesn't apply here. I ended up choosing a phrase from the wishes offered at shrines. "ように" is the way that ema usually end with, and so here it's implying the speaker's own desire. Not only is this a natural consequence, it's what the speaker wants as part of their devotion to fulfilling the oath.

Also, the usual word for ash is just 灰 (hai), meaning ash from a fire or cigarette or something similar, but I went with a different nuance. 遺骨 are specifically the ashes of the dead after the body has been cremated, so I wanted to imply here that breaking the oath would have a cost in lives. The victories turning to ash is literally others dying because of the oathbreaker.

I'm taking this to my Japanese tutor later today, so we'll see what she thinks of it. But I'm pretty proud of at least that part!
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Bonfireside Chat podcast
q99q99 on May 3rd, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
I like, very evocative!
dorchadasdorchadas on May 4th, 2016 07:58 pm (UTC)

It turned out to be almost entirely correct, too! Just don't need the で on the end.
q99q99 on May 4th, 2016 10:01 pm (UTC)
You could always add 'Nya,' at the end, to make it sound cuter ;)
Genamoonwych on May 6th, 2016 04:04 am (UTC)
This reminds me, my son (he's 21)is very interested in learning Japanese (he knows a little) and has mentioned that he'd eventually like to be a translator. I was wondering if you could answer some of his questions, give him an idea of just how in-depth it is, etc. If you don't mind doing so, just send him an email to conaby12atgmaildotcom. His name is Jory. If you do take the time to get in touch with him, many thanks. If not, it's cool.