Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 6 - Names

Most of the characters in Frozen Food Agent haven't been given names. This is kind of reflective of Japanese society as a whole, which doesn't put the same emphasis on a person's name as westerners do. Whereas an American may bond to their name, and find it a major disruption when it changes (such as when getting married), historically the Japanese often went by two, three or even more names throughout their lives depending on their professions and hobbies. For example, sumo wrestlers are given a ring name when they start wrestling, and get a new name when they hit the upper ranks of the sport (making 3 names right there). So, names aren't as important in Japan; they're more like titles. And, in Japan, it's a sign of respect to call someone by their title instead of their name (i.e. - Sensei for a teacher or doctor; Bucho for a company manager; and Nee-san for an older sister).

Which presents us with a challenge when trying to translate manga. What do we do with major characters that don't get names, or with minor characters that aren't even referred to by a title? The old fallback is to use "cop 1", "thief 1", etc. for minor characters. Unfortunately, in English always using a title is boring and unnatural (like always saying "sister" (if the character is not a nun), "customer" or "you".) Americans prefer to see the character's name, at least occasionally, while Japanese feel that using a title is more friendly (i.e. - nee-san, "sister").

Our hero is never given a name. He's either just called "officer" or "icicle yarou". Now, "yarou" is a fairly rude form of "you" or "that person". So, it's just as correct to use "icicle bastard" as it is to use "icicle guy". However, "bastard" is a fairly loaded word in English, and "guy" doesn't have the same impact as the original. The person doing the insulting just wants to be derogatory without starting a fight. So, "icicle boy" is a reasonable choice. In all other situations, I'll stick with "officer" for our hero even though I just said that this usage is not natural English.

There are two people in this manga that get names - the hero's friend, Mushu; and the hero's rival, Captain Balloon. Otherwise, Mushu's wife is either just "girlfriend" or "her"; the dirty cop is "dirty cop"; and the smuggler is "smuggler". The exception is the "Medical Examiner", who is at least given a title. And the "Examination Robot", of course.

To be continued...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 5 - Nitty Gritty

Ok, we're now at the point that I really wanted to start from - figuring out a complex sentence. It's no longer possible to simply look up the words one at a time and be able to figure out what's being said. We now need to go from "translating into English" to "thinking in Japanese". The reason I say this is because if you try talking to someone in Japanese, they're going to have a hard time understanding you if you just use the Japanese versions of English words. That is, wanting to say "this is a pencil" and turning it into "kore desu wa empitsu" doesn't work. Saying "kore wa empitsu desu" works, but isn't very complicated. (kore = this, empitsu = pencil, wa = subject marker, desu = is)

It gets harder if you want to say something complicated like "I went to the store to buy a pendant for my sister, and ended up getting a dress for myself as well" (assuming the speaker is female). "Watashi wa depaato ni ite, oneesan ni pendento wo kaite, to watashi no sei wa duresu mo kaimashita" is a reasonably close match for the English concept using Japanese words. But, a native Japanese speaker won't understand you because that's not how they normally talk.

So, what I'm going to do over the next few blog entries is to take a manga that uses very typical Japanese conversations and break it up into bite-sized pieces, to kill three birds with one stone. First, I'm doing this to help understand it myself (I'm in no way a fluent speaker); second, to show how a Japanese speaker thinks when they talk; and third, to illustrate the process of translating manga into English.

The manga I'll be working from is "Frozen Food Agent", a gag series from Tori Miki. The story: About 50 years from now, a Food Regulation law will be passed that outlaws the consumption of natural foods. So, all food is processed synthetics. This results in a black market for frozen foods. Our hero is a member of the Agricultural Ministry, tasked with enforcing the Food Regulation by bringing the eaters of frozen foods to justice.

I was surprised to learn that Tori Miki has already created a name for himself as a manga artist, as well as having written the screenplay for the third Patlabor movie. (I hadn't heard of him before this.)

To be continued...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 4 - Structure and politeness

A polite sentence has more content to it, but tends to be vague. Instead of saying "Who are you?", we have the ultra polite "sochira-gata wa?" ("that individual is?" = "who are you") As the politeness level goes down, and the conversation becomes more casual, we also lose particles, so that the sentence gets shorter.


Sochira-gata wa donata desu ka?
Sochira-gata wa?
Anata wa dare desu ka?
Anata wa?

All of these phrases mean "who are you?", but they descend from most polite to least; and, from least direct to most. The last line requires that the listener also has to infer from some external context to convert "kimi" ("you")?" to "and you are?"

The point here is that to understand spoken or written Japanese, we have to understand the context as well as the politeness level. In fact, during casual speech, up to half of the meaning can be given to us indirectly from context, rather than being spoken directly. Of course, the same thing can happen in English, but it happens more often in spoken Japanese.

To be continued...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 3 - Basics

First, Japanese text generally doesn't have spaces between words, or markers to show the end of a sentence (some writers will use "." "," and "?" But not everyone does.) So, the question becomes, how do we know how to parse a sentence? I don't think there's a clear rule for this. After practice, I just eventually learned how to tell where one word ends and another begins. The ending of sentences tends to be a little more obvious in that the next sentence often starts on a new line.

Second, verbal punctuation. While many writers now use "?" at the end of a sentence, it's still common to see "ka", which is the sentence-ending question particle. "ka" is also used in spoken Japanese to indicate a question. Additionally, a small "tsu" (っ) may be used to indicate emphasis or surprise, such as in "na-ni--!!" (なああにいいっっっっ) (nani = what). The "tsu" acts like an exclamation point, but isn't actually verbalized in conversations. Notice also here that the vowels in "nani" are being stretched out as well.

Third, verbs. In Japanese, verbs generally consist of one or two kanji followed by some hiragana. The hiragana is used to show tense and passive/active voice. The problem here is being able to tell when a string of hiragana is used for a verb, or if they include a handful of standalone particles. Again, you pick this up through practice.

食べる - Dictionary form of "to eat"
食べます- Polite form of "to eat"
食べました - Polite form of "ate"
食べません - Polite form of "won't eat"
食べなかった - Polite form of "didn't eat"
食べなかったが - "didn't eat" followed by the particle "ga", meaning "didn't eat, but..."

The last example should be parsed as two words, as "食べなかった が,..."

Fourth, politeness. Japanese culture is tightly intertwined with the concept of being polite to strangers and to people of higher social ranking than yourself. That is, there is a set of words to be used when talking to a stranger, a customer, your boss, or your seniors at work; and a different set for speaking with close friends and family. These words have the same meaning ("de gozaimasu" and "desu" both mean "is") but one is more polite than the other. This just means that you have to be able to recognize when a character is being more polite or not, which can be a great insight to the relationship between characters, but it adds to the number of words you need to study.

Fifth, sentence structure. The verb-noun format is generally reversed between English and Japanese (not always, though). "This is a pencil" becomes "kore wa empitsu desu" ("this a pencil is"). In more adult speech, sentence structures can get really convoluted, which is why I'm writing these blog entries.

To be continued...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 2a - Looking up Kanji

ACSiren raised a good question to my last entry. What to do about kanji that have different readings according to context?

A very simple example is "yama", or "mountain". 山 can be read as "yama" by itself, or "sen" or "san" when in combination with other kanji (such as 富士山 for Fuji-san, as in Mount Fuji). The question then becomes, when do we use "sen" and when do we use "san" in determining the reading for this kanji? It's easy enough to decide when to use "yama" and "san" - "yama" is "mountain", so when you're just talking about mountains, 山 will be by itself and you'll always read it as "yama". "san" is closer to "Mt." so 山 will occur along with the other kanji for the name of a mountain, and in these cases, we'll pronounce 山 as "san", in terms of "Mount Rushmore" (Rushmore山) and "Mount Fuji".

So, what do we do about "sen"? Turns out that while "sen" does show up in the dictionaries as one of the pronunciations for 山, it's used very, very rarely in real life. In general, we can say that it's just a regional variant on "san", and we have to be told by someone else when it's to be used.

Which brings us to family names. Generally, family names are very straight forward - 山本 is always read as "Yamamoto" (not Sanpon). Through common usage and experience, we eventually get "trained" to expect a specific pronunciation for each kanji when it's used for a person's name. But, even Japanese natives can get confused when faced with a rarely-used kanji or reading. In these situations, the speaker needs to tell us the answer directly. In manga, this is done by putting the hiragana reading alongside the kanji (i.e. - furigana).

What general rules can we follow to get a specific reading for a specific kanji? First, check if the kanji is isolated from other kanji while also being followed by hiragana. If it is, it's probably being used as a verb, and the hiragana will tell you the reading to use (行きません is read as "ikimasen", or "to not go", meaning that 行 is being treated as a verb here). If it is used in combination with other kanji, the reading will be forced on you because it's basically a spelling issue (although it doesn't look like it, in 1行おき書いた ("I wrote on every other line"), the 行 character is to be pronounced as "kou" here, because it's in combination with "1", a westernized version of "一行" ("1 line"), which is either read as "ikkou" or "ichigyou" depending on which you prefer. And here, if the author wanted you to use "ichigyou", they'd put the furigana next to the kanji; ikkou is probably the more commonly-used pronunciation.)

Ok, all of the above suggestions revolve around two assumptions: first, that you're trying to figure out the readings while looking at the text itself; second, that you're not using the tools that I described in the previous post. If you have a Casio electronic dictionary, you can try writing in an entire kanji string using the stylus, and the Casio will tell you how the kanji is pronounced along with it's meaning in that context. But, often the Casio can't figure out what you're writing, or it doesn't have an entry for the tense of the verb you're trying to look up, so it's time to go to NJStar. NJStar has a feature that lets you select the different elements of the kanji you're looking for (the radicals) and then select your kanji from the list of those that use those radicals. Once you've picked that kanji and typed in the sentence the kanji is used in, the pop-up dictionary will offer suggested readings for the entire string. While NJStar is lousy at anticipating the kanji you want as you enter it, it is good at looking up entire strings in the dictionary afterwards.

Occasionally, there is the oddball case where more than one reading (and therefore, more than one definition) can be used in a specific sentence. Fortunately, the readings do tend to vary based on the desired meaning, so if you look at the rest of the sentence in context, you can figure out what meaning the writer wanted to use, and that should also give you the reading that fits best at the same time. And, NJStar's pop-up dictionary is really helpful in this situation as well.

Now, what makes a really big difference here is the expected reading level of the document you're trying to translate. If you start out with something easy, like the Ranma 1/2 manga, most of the kanji will have furigana, telling you what the readings are supposed to be. So, if you're having trouble dealing with more complicated documents, try practicing with something simpler that uses lots of furigana and then work up from there. Keep in mind, though, that manga that uses furigana will also use very simple syntax and concepts. And the entire point of this blog series is to be able to understand how the Japanese think by analyzing more difficult sentences, and of course difficult sentences are never accompanied by furigana.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 2a - Tools

I'm going to assume that you're already familiar with the concepts of hiragana, katakana and kanji. If not, please check out the wiki entries for them.

I also highly recommend downloading NJ Star. This is a shareware word processor that supports both Japanese and Chinese text. The best part is that NJ Star has an auto-dictionary that can pop up the English translation of words when you put your cursor over them. Eventually, buy it. NJ Star disables the auto-dictionary if you use the free version for more than 30 days. $99 may be a little steep, but it's still a great tool if you're serious about your studies.

You really don't need any other dictionaries if you have NJ Star and if the text is already in electronic format (such as grabbing text from an online PDF). Otherwise, consider getting something like the Casio handheld electronic dictionary, which lets you write in kanji using the stylus and touch pad. This will give you the reading of the kanji, which you can then type into NJ Star. It's also a great way to practice writing kanji at the same time.

Now, if you already have NJ Star and/or a Casio dictionary, looking up individual words will be easy. So, I can skip that part. What is worth explaining are a few major topics that can trip up a beginner.

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 1a - Intro

I mentioned before that the cards are stacked against you if you want to learn a new language. The textbooks don't teach the language the way it's actually used, and you're trying to come up to the same speed as a native speaker that's been using that language all their lives. Doesn't mean that you *shouldn't* bother learning that language, just that it's not going to be easy becoming fluent. Having a specific goal for doing the study helps a lot - it keeps you focused, and gives you a reason to keep practicing when things get tough.

I originally fell in love with anime when I saw "Akira". At the time, there was little in the way of subbed anime or translated manga. So, I started studying Japanese just to figure out what was going on in these stories. My goal, then, was to learn Japanese to the point where I could read any manga and understand it. Eventually, the culture embedded in the dialog became just as important as the words were, which presented a problem.

If you look at the translation industry, there are 3 issues that they struggle with: being true to the original content; being true to the original spirit; and not adding or subtracting anything. That is, how do you translate the phrase "neko ni koban"? Literally, it's "cat to gold coin". Cleaned up, it's "giving a gold coin to a cat". This is not something an American is going to immediately understand, so you either stay true to the content and use "giving a gold coin to a cat" while explaining it in a footnote; or, you stay true to the spirit and convert the phrase to something more familiar, such as "pearls before swine". In either case, the phrase means that you're giving something priceless to someone that can't recognize its value. However, "neko ni koban", is a cliche as is "pearls before swine", so you may be tempted to use "it's wasted on him" to punch up the translation. But now you're adding (or subtracting) something that hadn't been in the original text, so in effect you're lying to your readers because you may be presenting the writer as being better or worse than he/she really is.

There needs to be a balance between keeping the original cultural references and converting some phrases into more normal-sounding English, while still not completely rewriting the original story.

At first, I thought that being true to the original content by keeping the original cultural references was the best approach. I now recognize that not all readers want that. Instead, many want something easy to read that requires little thinking. I'm going to mostly ignore those people, and keep true to the original content as much as I can while still aiming for as natural-sounding sentences as I can get.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Current List of Japanese Learning Sites

I'm always on the look-out for Japanese learning links. If you have any worth using, please let me know and I'll add them here.

Rikaichan is an add-on that you can plug into Firefox that lets you choose to display pop-up translations from a dictionary when you browse websites.

Portal for interactive Japanese learning mailing lists. You can ask questions of the mailing list members, but the volume of replies may get tedious to wade through after a while.

This is another "life in Japan" blog that covers all kinds of topics, which may or may not include learning Japanese at any given moment.

Not one of the better learning tools (I can't stand the native-English speakers there; and the PDF's containing the lesson dialogs cost money and are often filled with spelling or grammatical errors) but it's the only long-running "learning Japanese" podcast I've been able to find. I'd love to find at least one competing podcast, but that hasn't happened so far. So, for the moment, this is the best "conversational Japanese" podcast around.

Tae Kim's Learning Japanese Guide
This is a hard text to work with, since it's 250 or so pages long, and I can't justify printing it out just so I can read it at a coffee shop. But it's also clean, logical, and one of the more approachable methods for learning kanji and written Japanese grammar. The home page is here.

Pera Pera Penguin
This is the Daily Yomiuri newspaper's once-every-8 weeks column describing various elements of conversational Japanese, including slang and idioms. (Note, the series has ended, but the .pdf files are still archived on the Yomiuri site.

Kanji Clinic
Another once-every-8 weeks column, this one from the Japan Times, that features different kinds of kanji, their meanings and examples of words that use them. The Dec. 16, 2008, column focused on the negating kanji, mi, fu, mu and hi (未, 不, 無, 非).

Monday, June 22, 2009

What's another word for "Oishii"?

After living in Japan for a while, reading manga, watching TV, going to restaurants, etc., I started wondering if the Japanese had any other words for describing good food beyond oishii (for women) and umai (mainly used by men, occasionally pronounced “umee”). Then, as I was about to ask this question, I found myself at MOS Burger for lunch. And there, printed on the menu was this little blurb: "We asked the staff at 28 of our shops around Japan to tell us how they say that food is “sugoku oishii” (really delicious) in their part of the country. Below are the answers". The first part of each line is the answer in a specific dialect, and the second part is the prefecture (or town) where that dialect is spoken.

Note that “e” is soft, as in “open”; “u” is hard, as in “you”; “o” is hard, as in “ghost”; “a” is soft, as in “ah”; and “i” sounds like a hard “e”, as in “see”. Combined vowels “ii” and “ee” are held twice as long; “ai” is pronounced like a hard “i”, as in “sigh”.

Buchi umaitcha --------- Yamaguchi
Mageni maizunee -------- Shimane
Bokkee umee ------------ Okayama
Tadda nmee ------------- Ishikawa
Nanmara umai ----------- Hokkaido
Ikkyona umakabai ------- Nagasaki
Gabai umakaa ----------- Saga
Gyaan oishiikaa -------- Fukuoka
Metcha oishiiyan ------- Hyogo
Do-i unmeimon datcha- -- Niigata
Nmai ------------------- Yamagata
Maanzu ume ------------- Akita
Mee -------------------- Aomori
Taigya umakaken -------- Kumamoto
Dogechi oishii --------- Oita
Mutcha umai ------------ Osaka
Umaini- ---------------- Mie
De-rya- umya- ---------- Aichi
Oishiijan -------------- Kanagawa
Iginari umee ----------- Miyagi
Ippe- ma-saibi-ndo- ---- Okinawa
Wazze umai ------------- Kagoshima
Deke umee -------------- Miyazaki
Kojanto umaizeyo ------- Kochi
Yaniko- umai ----------- Akiyama
Erai umaikke ----------- Shizuoka
Hanpanee umai ---------- Tokyo
Umakappe yo- ----------- Ibaragi

Note also that the majority of the word variations are on “sugoku” which means “a lot”, or “really”. Otherwise, the rest of the phrases are just modified pronunciations of “umai”. (So, to answer my original question, no (at least, not an alternate word that is in common usage). The primary words for describing good food are umai and oishii).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 2 - Resources

It's a lot easier to buy Japanese textbooks and dictionaries these days. Just jump on amazon.com and enter your credit card number. Further, you can watch Japanese TV shows if you have a satellite dish; visit Japanese websites if you have net access; watch subbed anime DVDs, and even converse with Japanese natives by using Skype or by spending time at a university campus. Additionally, you can visit the websites of the English versions of Japanese newspapers and check out their "Learning Japanese" articles.

And, naturally, none of these resources come close to the experience of growing up in Japan and learning the language as a native speaker. But, at least we do have access to these resources, anyway.

If you want to learn Japanese, you have to make a decision - are you going to focus on the written or spoken language? Written Japanese has certain conventions and rules that spoken Japanese does not. Further, in written Japanese you really have to know kanji, which is a completely different issue by itself. On the other hand, spoken Japanese is influenced by a series of etiquette rules that require that you know your relationship to the person you're talking with, and the pronunciation of words change based on the word just as in English ("I have read a book" versus "I will read a book"). I'm going to make a gross generalization here, but there's one form of Japanese for male speakers, another for female speakers, and the written language generally takes on the male form. On top of all this, Japanese history and culture have vastly influenced the present-day language, so if you're going to learn Japanese, you may need to study its history as well.

In my case, I want to learn both.

I went to a language school in Shinjuku a while back to learn a little more about a free introductory lesson that they had offered. The school, the Japanese Language Center (JLC), gave me a 5-page quiz to fill out, which took the better part of 1 hour. The quiz consisted mainly of questions regarding specific pictures ("here" is a picture of a red pencil, "there" is a picture of a yellow cat; what is the color of that cat?; what is that thing "here"?) Then, I received a short intermediary level lesson on counting, using polite Japanese. JLC's assessment was that I'm firmly in the intermediary level, but that I have huge holes in my basic vocabulary. That is, I can handle the question "how many books are shown above and below the table", but I don't know how to pronounce the numbers when counting from 1 to 10 books (ippon, ni-hon, san-bon, etc., using the counters for bottles) I then took their 2-month series of free classes, and it was a lot of help. I just ran out of free time for moving on to the regular classes. I still need to fix that.

Resources for learning Japanese:

A lot depends on your needs. A small dictionary is easy to carry around in a backpack, but won't contain all possible definitions of a word, or contain more obscure words. A larger dictionary will be more complete but less portable. At least consider getting a small Japanese-English/ English-Japanese translation dictionary. Keep in mind that if you get a kanji dictionary, if you don't know how to pronounce the kanji you're going to have to look it up manually based on the stroke count. If you get a phonetic dictionary (hiragana or romaji spelling of words), you're not going to be able to find a specific kanji if you don't know how to pronounce it.

You may also want to get a verb book. Japanese verbs can be complex, irregular, and hard to figure out. There are whole books just dedicated to explaining how the verbs work.

Electronic Dictionaries:
I really like my Casio dictionary. I have the Japanese model XD-SW6400, but it looks the same as the U.S. version. I can enter romaji or hiragana through the keypad, or write the kanji on the touchpad. It's a very powerful tool for kanji look-up. It also has all kinds of specialized dictionaries that can be downloaded from a PC, but I haven't needed those. If you buy anything, buy something like this Casio.

There are all kinds of workbooks and practice books on the market. If you take formal Japanese lessons, the required textbooks will be specified for you. If you study on your own, pick something that meets your personal needs and tastes. As for myself, I don't like anything on the U.S. market. As I mentioned in Learning Japanese - Part 1, Japanese is not taught as it is actually used in practice. This places a limit on how useful any given western-published book or audio course will be. Personally, I'd save the money and use it to buy an electronic dictionary.

Audio Courses:
I've tried listening to a few of the audio tapes and CDs on the market, and none of them did much for me. My opinion is that audio tapes are fine for some people, but not others. I guess that here, I'm an "other".

So far, I've only found one podcast that issues episodes regularly - Japanesepod101.com. I have mixed emotions regarding Japanesepod (JP). First, JP does have some simple basic lessons that can help new learners. Second, if you get a basic subscription, you can read the dialog notes, get practice kanji sheets, and see more examples of specific grammar notes. Third, podcasts are really MP3 files that can be played in a car on any MP3 player, making them great when on long commutes. On the downside , I *hate* the main host - Peter. I can not stand him. His jokes tend to be stupid wastes of airspace, and when an episode runs long it's usually because he spent 5 minutes on a pointless digression. He over-explains simple grammar concepts, and often doesn't know about basic cultural things that even the newest fan to anime knows by heart. Another drawback to JP is that it doesn't stand on its own as a learning tool. You'll want to take night classes or buy some textbooks to build up a stronger starting vocabulary. Also, JP is aimed at the beginner to lower intermediate learner; they don't have an advanced learner course. Finally, the Japanese dialogs tend to be simple jokes. It's rare to have a dialog that is lifted straight from regular life. I don't really have a problem with the joke dialogs, since the humor makes the learning process more fun, but you're not being taught spoken Japanese that you can memorize and immediately use on the street or in the workplace. One thing that I do like a lot, though, are the audio blogs. Later episodes of Miki's blog were hosted by 2 Japanese natives, and the discussions as well as Miki's narrative were in all-Japanese. The more recent "Yuri's blog" is just the character "Yuri" talking in all-Japanese about fashion and pop culture (no co-hosts).

Japanese Textbooks:
"Nazo Pe" is not a textbook per se. Rather, it's a practice puzzle book aimed at Japanese school children. My wife gave me 2 books aimed at 3rd graders. Even at this level, they're almost too much for me. Lots of cultural references, and quotes from famous poetry and novels. I really like them, but they're not something a non-native speaker is going to be able to cope with without outside assistance. "Nazo Pe" is a shortened form of "Nazo Paper", or "Puzzle Paper", and the Nazo Pe books are designed so that a parent or older family member can study with you and help with questions or pronunciation problems.

Windows now comes with Japanese language support built-in. Just go into Control Panel and select the language you want to use. You'll want IME support to allow for entering hiragana or kanji. Beyond this, I recommend NJStar. NJStar is an Australian-based product that allows for Japanese wordprocessing. It has real-time kanji look-up, kanji selection based on radicals, and a separate dictionary feature. I like NJStar a lot, especially when it comes to finding kanji that I can't write by hand into my electronic dictionary. That is, if I find a kanji that I don't know how to pronounce, I'll first try writing it on the touchpad of the Casio. But, my handwriting is bad and the Casio will often convert it to the wrong kanji. When this happens, I'll go to NJStar and look for the kanji based on its radicals. Once I have the pronunciation of the kanji, I'll go back to the Casio and hand type it in romaji.

Language Schools:
I can't say anything about schools in the U.S. The extension night classes are usually too basic and shallow, and I've never studied Japanese in a university. I do know, though, that what's taught in the U.S. universities is not what's spoken in Japan, so keep that in mind. And the reason for this is that teachers want to be able to teach to a set of rules that they can then test you on for grading purposes. Unfortunately, spoken and written Japanese is very sloppy, and a lot gets sacrificed in order to shoehorn the language into a specific training format. Universities usually only teach polite Japanese, which is used only in moderation in real life.

As for language schools in Japan - I'm just starting to explore this myself. So far, there are about 10 schools that actively advertise in Tokyo. Most offer support for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT), most have small group or private lessons, and most are full-time or part-time lessons. Full-time lessons average $600 per course, and about half the schools charge $100 for registration, with maybe another $100 in operating fees. Textbooks aren't included in the price.

Right now, I've only contacted the Japanese Language Center branch in Shinjuku. The staff is very friendly, and they broke the 2-person minimum rule for group classes. The lessons are taught in Japanese only, so it's an immersive environment, but it is easy to get lost and frustrated if you can't follow the instructions.

There are about 4 English-language papers in Japan: Asahi Shimbun, Japan Times, Nikkei Weekly, and the Daily Yomiuri. Of these, Asahi, Japan Times and Yomiuri have online articles on learning Japanese. None of these articles really go into specific grammar concepts in depth, but if you're taking full-time classes, these articles are good for explaining slang terms and popular word usage. You can get subscriptions to all these papers, but they're difficult to find at the stores. Generally, Daily Yomiuri and Japan Times are available only at select kiosks within the train stations in Tokyo.

English Language Magazines:
So far, I've found two English-language magazines in Japan: J Select and Metropolis. J Select is more business oriented and costs 500 yen. Metropolis has more articles on pop culture (the July 18, 2008, issue had a cover article on Cos Play) and is free, but it's centered on activities in Tokyo only. Both have large listings of ads for language schools. I found copies of both magazines at the Japanese Language Center office. The Metropolis can also be found on the Foreign language books floor of Kinokuniya bookstores.


Final Recommendations:
These are the things that I use myself:

NJStar Word processor
Casio XD-SW6400 electronic dictionary
Nazo Pe, vol. 1 and 2, 3rd Grade level
Japan Times newspaper
Japanesepod101.com podcasts

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 1 - Incentives

One of the interesting things about learning a new language is that the deck is stacked against you from the beginning. Foreign language schools don't teach the language as it is actually used, night classes don't have the time to cover the vocabulary and grammar in detail, you can't learn conversational language from books, and conversational classes don't get into written structures. You can spend years trying to learn a language, yet when you get to a country that uses it, you discover that you can't understand anyone that talks to you. What this means is that there's no substitute for growing up in that country and practicing the language every day in real-life situations. Which isn't an option if you weren't born in that country to begin with.

I fell in love with anime after watching "Akira" in 1990, and I decided to learn nihon-go in order to understand what was going on in unsubbed TV shows.

I started out by driving to Chicago (8 hours from Minneapolis) to visit the Japanese import store there to buy a kanji dictionary and a book on verb forms (this was before Amazon.com). I also picked up a color comic of one of the Lupin III TV episodes. After returning home, I sat down and practiced reading and writing hiragana and katakana - spending an hour writing all 5 characters from a given row, then writing down from memory all of the other characters I'd learned up to that point. After finishing katakana, I started on the first 100 of the simplest kanji from the dictionary. After the hour of character practice, I'd move on to the manga. First, I copied the dialog from the book to a ruled note pad. Then, I converted the nihon-go into the equivalent English sounds. Next, I looked up each word in the dictionary (if I could find it), and finally I cleaned the English up to make it sound more natural. Because I didn't understand how verbs worked, I made a lot of mistakes. But, this approach at least allowed me to memorize the alphabet, and introduced me to the difference between Japanese readings and Chinese readings.

After about 6 months of working on my own, I attended a couple of night classes offered by the extended learning department of the local community college. You've probably seen catalogs for these classes - 60 minutes per night, 1 night per week, for 6 weeks, for $45. All that was offered were two very basic beginner's courses, in which I learned the words for various colors, and various simple verbs (i.e. - "to see", "to walk" and "to run"). The only really useful thing to come from these classes was having access to a native Japanese speaker to ask her for help on translating the "Dragon Half" manga.

By now, I'd spent about 1.5 years trying to read manga on my own. The time had come to travel to Japan and try to get a job. I left as a tourist, sent out resumes cold to 150 companies, and got one job offer. The job was at a small video game company with 8 employees, and the president spoke English. It was too easy to survive without knowing Japanese, so my skill level didn't change. After 4 months of this, I left the company due to poor health, and then got a 9-month contract with Hitachi to write their user manuals in English. I had to interact with about 20 people, almost none of whom spoke English, so I ended up learning Japanese really fast just to be able to do my job. The problem here is that I only learned engineering Japanese. I could describe a bug I'd found in a menu system, but couldn't talk about the weather to strangers on the street.

But, I have learned one thing that has nothing to do with nihon-go itself. And that is the importance of incentive when tackling something new. Most people go into a new venture with a wide-eyed sense of innocence. There's a happy glee while learning all these new and wonderful things. But then, reality sets in. Learning becomes a chore, practice never seems to end, and no matter what you do, you never really seem to master everything like the person next to you does. This is the point where most people drop out and move on to something else. What causes the remaining group to plow on through the tough spots is that they have either an ultimate goal, or a larger incentive to keep at it. That is, they're not learning something simply for the sake of learning, but because they either love what they're doing, or they're doing something to achieve a larger goal. In my case, I was learning nihon-go in order to read manga in the original language. And now, I'm moving on to passing the JLPT level 2 test so that I can stay in Japan and continue reading manga as I like. In other words, I have a reason to keep studying that will carry me through the tough spots.

Continued in Part 2.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tezuka Exhibit Brochure

Ok, I wasn't really sure how to handle this one. Basically, I've got the Sound Warriors series wrapping up one week from when I'm actually writing this (about 6 days from ago). Then I've got Frozen Food Agent, which I want to move over to Nihongo Hunter from TSOJ, one day per section, but there's 57 sections, and I want to put the Tezuka brochure up before the exhibit ends at the end of June. Doushio, doushio.

This is my answer. I'm going to upload this thing all at once as soon as I'm done with Sound Warriors, and not worry about explaining myself. If you have any questions about the decisions made behind some specific phrase or word, please ask. Otherwise, I'm going to just move ahead with FFA right after this.

Some explanation is needed, though.
At the beginning of June, I went to the 80th Anniversary Memorial exhibit for Osamu Tezuka, at the Edo-Tokyo museum. One of the complaints raised about the exhibit was that none of the Japanese descriptions were translated to English, and when I was there, I counted at least 20 foreign visitors, all non-Japanese speakers. So, having English explanations would have been a good thing. Anyway, I picked up the June issue of the museum's newsletter, and it too was all in Japanese. There was a 2-page write up from the curator describing the upcoming Tezuka exhibit, and I figured that if I translated that and sent the translation in as an example that maybe I'd get a reply, possibly cause the next major exhibit to have English descriptions, and (I'm really dreaming here) that perhaps this could turn into a possible future translation contract.

So, that's what I did. I completed the translation of the museum's newsletter article on the Tezuka exhibit, e-mailed it to the contact address given on the website, and nothing came of it. So I figure that I might as well use this to help anyone else trying to learn Japanese. Some of the grammar is really tricky, and I needed outside assistance in correcting my mistakes. I still don't understand why they were mistakes, but I could tell going into this that there were things that I was missing.

Enough talking. Here's the text.


Special Exhibit
80th Anniversary Memorial Special Exhibit
Tezuka Osamu Exhibit
~ A Message to the Future ~


Osamu Tezuka is one of Japan's pioneers of story manga and animation. His influence lies not only within the world of manga, but also across modern culture, and the arts and sciences. This exhibition is a memorial for the 80th anniversary of Tezuka's birth, bringing together a collection of his works and personal experiences as never before, in both quantity and quality, to present the total image of the man from all available aspects. "A Message to the Future" is the perfect opportunity to receive his message by directly encountering the beliefs embedded in his works, such as "a wish for peace", "the dignity of life", "human nature" and "adventure creates dreams".

総合展示ゾーン 人間?手塚治虫

Collage Display Zone - Osamu Tezuka as a human
Tezuka was not only a story manga pioneer, but also produced the country's first televised 30-minute anime and color anime series. He experimented to face new challenges, and his style constantly developed through all of this. This zone presents the man from his birth through his insect-chasing boyhood, his direct experiences of war as a junior high student, his debut and career buildup in Kansai (western Japan) and as it flourished from Tokiwa-sou, his aspect as a family man, hopes for animation, his slumps and anguish, his unfinished dreams, devotion to work, as he struggled with disease, and up to Tezuka's immortal spirit that we now appreciate. These articles, photos and artwork in "the 80-year from birth collection" show the changes in his technique and form as well as uncovering his previously unknown human side.


Display-by-Theme Zone

This zone is comprised of three spaces, each of which has a specific theme with its straightforward representation: "Atom Boy", "Black Jack" and "The Phoenix". The handwritten manuscripts and other materials from these works introduce the visions and messages Tezuka wanted the world to see.

夢、鉄腕アトム(仮称) - 科学への夢と憧れ
十万馬力で正義の味方の鉄腕アトム。 子どもたちのヒーローのアトムですが、実は、天才科学者の息子の代替品として作られました。手塚はこの作品の中で、単なる科学礼讃ではなく、科学技術への過信が、人間性や社会にとっていかに危険なものであるかという問題を提起しています。子どもたちに託したかった夢や憧れとともに、社会不安を原因とする戦争勃発や自然破壊への危機感といった未来への警鐘が、手塚のメッセージとした作品にこめれているのです。

Dream to Come True, "Atom Boy" (tentative title) - Dream and Aspiration towards Science
The 100,000 HP of justice "Iron-Arm Atom". Atom Boy is a hero to all children, but the truth is that he was created by a scientific genius to replace his lost son. Tezuka created this work not only to glorify science, but also to present the claim that trusting in technology too much would endanger both humanity and society. Along with entrusting our children with our dreams and aspirations, he raised alarms about the outbreak of war due to social anxiety, the destruction of nature and other future crises.

生と死の本質、ブラック?ジャック (仮称) - 生命の尊厳 -
天才的な技術を持ちながらも、法外な治療費を取る無免許の外科医、ブラック?ジャック。そんな彼の繰り返す自問自答が『医者は何のためにあるんだ!』。生と死をテーマに描いたこの作品は、生けることの喜びと大切さ、生命の尊厳を語っています。かけがえのない命。人生はたった一度しかなく、死によってすべてが失われること。人間と同じ生命が自然界には満ち、それらが密接な相互関係を保ちながら地球に存在すること。そして地球は我々が住める唯一無二の天体であること。人間にとって永遠のテーマである『生命の尊厳』についての "手塚哲学" が、これらの作品で語られています。

Essence of Life and Death, "Black Jack" (Tentative title) - Sanctity of Life
Notwithstanding his extraordinary skills, the unlicensed surgeon charging outrageous fees - Black Jack - repeatedly asked himself "For what do doctors exist!" This work paints the themes of life and death, the joy and value of being alive, and the dignity of life. Money can't buy life. We only live once, and everything ends with our death. Nature is filled with countless lives having the same value as ours, and those lives, including ours, exist on the earth in a closely, mutually-related network. The Earth is the sole home within the cosmos we can live in. These works describe Tezuka's philosophy of "the sanctity of life” -- the eternal theme for human beings.

人間とは何か、火の鳥(仮称) - 宇宙の中の人間 -
人間の生と死、輪廻転生をテーマに描かれた火の鳥。壮大なスケールの中で、交差する時間軸(遥かなる未来と過去)。 そしてその中に見られる宇宙観、生命観。手塚が作品を通じて常に問いかけているのは『人間性とは何か』です。時代の移り変わりとともに失われていく人間性と日本人としての姿。本来の人間の姿とは、本質とは、いったい何なのか? 未来へ向けた手塚のメッセージをあなたも受け取ってみませんか。

What is Mankind?, "The Phoenix" (Tentative title) ? Humanity in the Universe -
Life, death and the great circle of reincarnation are told in The Phoenix, on the grand scale of the intersecting temporal axis across the far reaches from distant future and misty past. With his unique view of the universe and life, Tezuka uses this work to continue to ask the question, "just what is this thing called humanity?" As times change, do we lose our humanity and our Japanese roots? What is the true essence of being human? Won't you also join Tezuka in those quests for the future?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sound Warriors Recap

I'll post the Japanese and English versions of the scans here for comparison.  I'll also include the links for each of the blog entries, since it's kind of a pain trying to step backwards through the blog index to see them in sequence from beginning to end.  The main thing is that I took on this project for my own education, so if there are mistakes, I apologize in advance.  If you find any, please let me know.  Otherwise, I hope that at least a little bit of this will be useful to someone out there.  Of course, all artwork is reproduced for educational purposes only and all copyrights belong to their respective holders.

Page 1: Part 1, Part 2
Page 2: Part 1, Part 2
Page 3: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Page 4: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Page 5: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Page 6: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Page 7: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Page 8: Part 1, Part 2

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 24, Page 8

The last of page 8.

8-1   1894年、ベルリナーは『ユナイテッド。ステーツ。グラモフォノ社』を設立、蓄音機とレコードの販売を開始した。大量生産が可能なレコードには音楽を録音し、大衆 に自由にどこでも音楽を聴く喜びを提供して.

1894ねん、ベルリナー は 『ユナイテッド。ステーツ。グラモフォノしゃ』 を せつりつ、ちくおんき と レコード の はんばい を かいしした。 たいりょうせいさん が かのうな レコード には おんがく を ろくおんし、たいしゅう に じゆう に どこ でも おんがく を きく よろこび を ていきょうして.

1894ねん - 1894 year
ベルリナー は - Berliner + topic
ユナイテッド。ステーツ。グラモフォノしゃ - U.S. Gramophone Company
を せつりつ - establish
ちくおんき と レコード の - phonograph and record's
はんばい を かいしした - selling started
たいりょうせいさん が - mass production
かのうな - possible
レコード - record
には - towards + topic
おんがく - music
を ろくおんし - record + among other things
たいしゅう に - general public towards
じゆう に - freely
どこ でも - anywhere
おんがく を きく - music listen
よろこび - delight, pleasure
を ていきょうして - offering, sponsor + do

1894 year . Berliner (topic) . U.S. Gramophone Company . establish . phonograph and record's . selling started
mass production . possible . record . towards (topic) . music . recording and other things . general public towards . freely . anywhere . music listen . pleasure . offering do

"1894, Berliner establishes the U.S. Gramophone Company to start selling records and phonographs. Because it's now possible to mass produce recorded music (among other things), the general public is able to enjoy listening to their music anywhere."

The translation gets a little confusing because "recoodo" refers to the flat disk record itself, and "rokuon suru" is a verb for "to record".  So, we end up with a machine translation of "record (topic) record do".  The key is that in Japanese these are two different words and I have to keep this in mind as I work with them.  The rough translation is pretty much usable as-is.  I went with:

"1894 - Berliner establishes the U.S. Gramophone Company and starts selling records and phonographs. Because it's now possible to mass produce the records, the general public is able to enjoy listening to their music anywhere."



『ろくおん できない ちくおんき など やくだ たずだ』 グラモフォンに むけた エジソン の ことば だが、じっさい は あんか で おんがく が たのしめる グラモフォン は ばくはつてき に うれた。グラモフォン は おんがく の れきし も かえた。ベルリナー は エジソン に かった のだ。

ろくおん できない - record can not
ちくおんき - phonograph
など - etc.
やくだ たず だ - useless + topic
グラモフォン に - gramophone towards
むけた - intended
エジソン の ことば - Edison's words
だ が - were + but
じっさい は - reality + topic
あんか で - low price from
おんがく が - music + topic
たのしめる - be able to enjoy
グラモフォン は - gramophone + subject
ばくはつてき に - explosively
うれた - sold
グラモフォン は - gramophone + topic
おんがく の れきし - music's history
も かえた - also changed
ベルリナー は - berliner + topic
エジソン に - Edison towards
かった のだ - win + possessive + is

record can not , phonograph . etc. useless (topic) . gramophone towards . intended . Edison's words . were . but
Reality (topic) . low price from . music (topic) . be able to enjoy . gramophone (subject) . explosively sold
gramophone (topic) . music's history . also changed
Berliner (topic) . Edison towards . win's is

"A phonograph that can not record is useless", Edison said of the gramophone, but... The reality is that being able to cheaply enjoy music caused gramophones to sell explosively. The gramophone also changed music history.  Berliner won over Edison."

I like the "'quote' Edison said toward the gramophone but" structure.  "muketa" works as "intended towards" or "said regarding the".  I went with:

""A phonograph that can't record is useless", Edison said regarding the gramophone, but inspite of this, being able to listen to music cheaply caused sales to explode. The gramophone changed the history of music, and Berliner had achieved his victory over Edison."


8-5   訃報を聞いたエジソンは、その死を悼んで十字を切った。  ベルリナーを敵視している思って研究所員たちはその姿に驚いた。

ふほう を きいた エジソン は、その しをいたん で じゅうじ を きった。  ベルリナーを てきし して いる おもって
けんきゅうじょいんたち はその すがた に おどろいた。

ふほう - news of a death
を きいた - heard
エジソン は - edison + topic
その し - that death
をいたん で - grieve over
じゅうじ を きった - cross drew
ベルリナー - Berliner
を てきし して - looking on someone as hostile did
いる おもって - exist + thought
けんきゅうじょいんたち - researchers
は その すがた に - topic + that appearance + towards
おどろいた - to be astonished

news of a death . heard . Edison (topic) . that death . grieve over . cross drew
Berliner . looking on someone as hostile did . exist thought . researchers (topic) . that appearance towards . to be astonished

"On hearing the news, Edison, in his grief over Berliner's death, drew the sign of a cross.  The researchers, thinking that Berliner was a hostile enemy, were stunned."

Used as-is.


8-6   わたしにはライバルを去った。同時にレコードを作る気力も無くなったよ。。。

わたし には ライバル を さった。どうじ に レコード を つくるき りょく も なくなったよ。。。

わたし には - me + in order to
ライバル - rival
を さった - passed away
どうじ に - simultaneously
レコード - record
を つくる きりょく - to make willpower
も なくなった よ - also disappeared + emphasizer

me . in order to . rival . passed away
simultaneously . record . to make . willpower . also disappeared

"My rival has passed away.  Simultaneously, so has my desire to work on the record player."

I wanted to clean this up a little, so I went with:

"My rival has gone, and with him so has my interest in the record player."



エジソン は あかじつづきだった えんとうレ コード の せいさく を、その ひ の うち に うちきった と いう。ひとつ のはつめい せんそう が ここ で ひとまず おわり を つげた。そして ベルリナー の し から やく 2ねんご の 1931ねん、いだい なる はつめいおお エジソン も また、その しょうがい を おえた。

エジソン は - edison + topic
あかじつづきだった - deficit continuation was
えんとうレ コード の - cylinder record's
せいさく を - production
その ひ の うち に - that day within towards
うちきった - (?) - cut?
と いう - was said
ひとつ の - one + possessive
はつめい せんそう が - invention war + subject
ここ で ひとまず - here from + outlined
おわり を つげた - end informed
そして ベルリナー の し から - then, Berliner's death from
やく 2ねんご - about 2 years later
の 1931ねん - possessive 1931 year
いだい なる - greatness became
はつめいおお エジソン - invention king Edison
も また - also still
その しょうがい を おえた - that lifetime finished

Edison (topic) . deficit continuation was . cylinder record's . production . that day within towards . cut . was said.
one's . invention war (subject) . from here outlined . end informed
Then . Berliner's death from  . about 2 years later's . 1931 . greatness became . invention king Edison . also still . that lifetime finished

"Edison's cylinder record production had continuously run in the red, and that day he's said to have disbanded it.  The invention war outlined here came to an end.  About 2 years later, in 1931, the great invention king himself left this mortal coil."

Used as-is.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 23, Page 8

The dialog for page 8.

8-1   1894年、ベルリナーは『ユナイテッド。ステーツ。グラモフォノ社』を設立、蓄音機とレコードの販売を開始した。大量生産が可能なレコードには音楽を録音し、大衆 に自由にどこでも音楽を聴く喜びを提供して.

1894ねん、ベルリナーは『ユナイテッド。ステーツ。グラモフォノしゃ』をせつりつ、ちくおんきとレコードのはんばいをかいしした。たいりょうせいさんがかのうなレコードにはおんがくをろくおんし、たいしゅう にじゆうにどこでもおんがくをきくよろこびをていきょうして.



8-2   時は流れ。。。   1922年 グラハ。ベル死去   そして1928 年8月蓄音機開発の英雄、エミール。ベルリナーがこの世を去った。その時。。。

ときはながれ。。。   1922ねん グラハ。ベルしきょ   そして1928 ねん8がつちくおんきかいはつのえいゆう、エミール。ベルリナーがこのよをさった。そのとき。。。

8-3   メンリーパークのエジソンの研究所


8-4   何!?  ベルリナーが。。。

8-5   訃報を聞いたエジソンは、その死を悼んで十字を切った。  ベルリナーを敵視している思って研究所員たちはその姿に驚いた。

ふほうをきいたエジソンは、そのしをいたんでじゅうじをきった。  ベルリナーをてきししているおもってけんきゅうじょいんたちはそのすがたにおどろいた。


8-6   わたしにはライバルを去った。同時にレコードを作る気力も無くなったよ。。。





First, the easy balloons.

時は流れ。。。   1922年 グラハ。ベル死去   そして1928 年8月蓄音機開発の英雄、エミール。ベルリナーがこの世を去った。その時。。。

とき は ながれ。。。   1922ねん グラハ。ベルしきょ   そして1928 ねん8がつ ちくおんき かいはつ の えいゆう、エミール。ベルリナー が この よ を さった 。その とき。。。

とき は ながれ - time flows
1922ねん グラハ。ベルしきょ - 1922, Graham Bell passes on
そして1928 ねん8がつ - then, 1928, August
ちくおんき かいはつ の - phonograph development's
えいゆう、エミール。ベルリナー が - hero Emile Berliner + subject
この よ を さった - this world left
その とき - that time

time flows
1922, Graham Bell passes on
then . 1928 . August . phonograph development's . hero . Emile Berliner (subject) . this world left . that time

"Time flows by...  1922, Graham Bell passes on.  August 1928, Emile Berliner, hero of phonograph development, leaves this world..."

Used as-is.  Note that both Japanese and English makes heavy use of euphimisms for "died".




Menlo Park's . Edison's Labs

"Edison's Lab, Menlo Park"

Used as-is.


何!?  ベルリナーが。。。

"What!?  Berliner is..."

This isn't really a good sentence in English on its own.  I prefer to just shorten it to:

"What, Berliner...!?

To Be Continued.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 22, Page 7

The rest of page 7.

そして1887年、試行錯誤の末、ベルリナー式蓄音機完成。 製品としたは、さらに改良され、デザインんなどを変えた数種類の商品が『グラモフォン』の名で発売された。

そして1887ねん、しこうさくご の すえ、ベルリナーしき ちくおんき かんせい。 せいひん としたは、さら に かいりょうされ、デザインんな ど を かえたか ずしゅるい の しょうひん が 『グラモフォン』 の な で はつばい された。

そして1887ねん - then 1887 year
しこうさくご の すえ - trial and error's end of
ベルリナーしき - Berliner-style
ちくおんき - phonograph
かんせい - complete
せいひん と した は - product + said done + topic
さら に - furthermore
かいりょう され - reform did
デザインん など - design + etc.
を かえたか - change
ずしゅるい の - numerous version's
しょうひん が - commodity + subject
『グラモフォン』 の - "gramophone"'s
な で - name from
はつばい された - offered for sale did

then 1887 year
trial and error's end of . Berliner-style . phonograph . complete
product . said done (topic) . furthermore . reform did . design and etc . change . numerous version's . commodity (subject) . "gramophone's" . name . from . offered for sale did

"Then, 1887.  After trial and error, the Berliner-style phonograph was complete.  Further, various changes were made to the design.  It was released for sale under the name "gramophone"."

I've been lazy and not really commenting much on the grammar used.  Here, I'll just add that "sareta" is a polite version of "suru", "to do" in the past tense.

I used:

"Then, in 1887, after much trial and error, the Berliner-style phonograph was ready.  It included a number of design enhancements, and went on sale as "the gramophone"."



ベルリなー は おもいきって ろくおんきのう を はいし、さいせいせんよう とした。そう われわれ が よくしる レコードばん と ちくおんき を はつめいした の は、この エミール。ベルリナー だった の で ある。

ベルリなー は - Berliner + topic
おもいきって - boldly
ろくおんきのう - tape recorder function
を はいし - abolish
さいせいせんよう - playback exclusively
とした - said did
そう - Yes
われわれ が - we + subject
よくしる - well know
レコードばん と - record and
ちくおんき - gramophone
を はつめいした - invention did
の は - possessive + topic
この エミール。ベルリナー - this Emile Berliner
だった の で ある - was + nom. + from exists

Berliner (topic) . boldly . tape recorder function . abolish . playback exclusively . said did
Yes . we (subject) . well know . record and gramophone . invention did's (topic) . this Emile Berliner . was from exists

"Berliner boldly eliminated the recording ability and went exclusively with playback.  Thus, the record and player that we all know so well was invented by this Emile Berliner."

Lots of grammar points here that I'm not qualified to discuss.  But, the rough translation is easy enough to pick up on.  I went with:

"Berliner boldly dropped the ability to record and went exclusively with playback only.  Thus, both the record and the player that we all know so well was invented by this Emile Berliner."

To Be Continued.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 21, Page 7

More of page 7.

1からやり直そう。。。 フランスのレオン。スコットが1857年に発明した『フォノトグラフ』という機械、あの技術を何とか活かせないだろうか。

1 から やり なおそう。。。 フランス の レオン。スコット が 1857ねん に はつめいした『フォノトグラフ』と いう きかい、あの ぎじゅつ を なんとか いかせない だろう か。

1 から - 1 from
やり なおそう - to do over
フランス の - France's
レオン。スコット が - Leon Scott + subject
1857ねん に - Year 1857 + towards
はつめいした - invented
『フォノトグラフ』 - phonautograph
と いう きかい - is called machine
あの ぎじゅつ - that technology
を なんとか - somehow
いかせない - to make use of
だろう か - possibly + (question)

1 from . to do over . France's . Leon Scott (subject) . 1857 year + towards . invented . phonautograph . is called machine . that technology . somehow . to make use of . possibly

"Start over from the beginning. France's Leon Scott invented a machine in 1857 that he called the "phonautograph". Maybe I can use that technology?"

Ok, this is where history and wikipedia really come to our aid. The person in question is Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, and in 1857 he created the phonautograph. This was a record-only machine intended to let people see what the human voice "looks" like. Rather than trying to guess the spelling of the katakana words, we can go to the original source language for them.

But, as the sentence stands right now, it's clunky. I prefer:

"Ok, start from scratch. France's Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville created his "phonautograph" in 1857. Maybe I can use that technology?"




フォノトグラフ は - phonautograph + topic
おと を きろくする きかい - sound recording machine
の がんそ だ - possessive + originator + is
けんきゅう する - study do
かち は - merit + topic
たかい - tall
エジソン の - edison's
ちくおんき は - phonograph + topic
ない なに か が - not + something + subject
ある はず なん だ が - that will take place what is + subject

phonautograph (topic) . sound recording machine's . originator is
study do . merit (topic) . tall
Edison's . phonograph (topic) . not something (subject) . that will take place what is (subject)

"The phonautograph is the original sound recording machine. There's great merit in studying it. If Edison's phonograph didn't exist, what possibilities would we have..."

I chose to use:

"The phonautograph is the progenitor of the sound recorders, and is really worth studying. If Edison's phonograph didn't exist, what would the possibilities be..."


そしてベルリナーはフォノトグラフ音波を水平に 描くということに着目した。この発見は横振動型蓄音機への第一歩となる。

そして ベルリナー は フォノトグラフ おんぱ を すいへい に かく という こと にちゃくもくした。この はっけん は よこしんどうけいちくおんき へ の だいいっぽ と なる。

そして - Therefore
ベルリナー は - Berliner + topic
フォノトグラフ - phonautograph
おんぱ - sound wave
を すいへい に - horizontally
かく - to sketch
という - thus called
こと に - thing towards
ちゃくもくした - gave attention
この はっけん は - this discovery + topic
よこしんどう けい - horizontal vibration style
ちくおんき - phonograph
へ の - towards + of
だいいっぽ - first step
と なる called to become

therefore . Berliner (topic) . phonautograph . sound wave . horizontally . to sketch . thus called . thing toward . gave attention
this discovery (topic) . horizontal vibration style . phonograph . towards of . first step . called to become

"Therefore, Berliner's attention was drawn to the horizontal drawing of the sound wave. This discovery was the first step leading to the so-called horizontal vibration-style phonograph."

I tried looking for the official name for "horizontal vibration-style phonograph" and didn't find anything right away. I did find "horizontal spring-powered drive". So, I'm going to use "horizontally-driven phonograph" for my version. I went with:

"Therefore, Berliner's attention was drawn to the horizontal lines of the sound wave. This discovery was the first step towards the so-called "horizontally-driven phonograph"."


そうだ!エジソンの蓄音機は音を上下の振動で記録する、縦振動型だ。 だから、これを横方向振動式にすれば彼の特許に触れすにすむはずだ。できる!

そう だ!エジソン の ちくおんき は おと を じょうげ の しんどう で きろくする、たてしんどうけい だ。 だから、これ を よこほうこうしんどうしき に すれば かれ の とっきょ に ふれす に すむ はず だ。できる!

そう だ - That's it
エジソン の ちくおんき は - Edison's phonograph + topic
おと - sound
を じょうげ の しんどう - up and down vibration
で きろくする - from record do
たてしんどうけい だ - vertical vibration type is
だから - therefore
これ を - this
よこほうこうしんどうしき - horizontal direction vibrate style
に すれば - towards + if do
かれ の とっきょ に - his patent towards
ふれす に - break towards
すむ はず だ - to finish chance is
できる - to be ready, to be complete, can do

that's it
edison's phonograph (topic) . sound . up and down vibration . from record do
vertical type is
therefore . this . horizontal vibrate style . towards if do . his patent towards . break towards . to finish chance is
can do

"That's it! Edison's phonograph records vibrations up and down, so it's a vertical movement type. If I use a horizontal style, I can have a chance to finally break his patents. I'm ready!"

I went with:

"That's it! Edison's phonograph records vibrations up and down, so it's vertically-driven. If I take a horizontal approach I can get around his patents. Got it!"

To Be Continued.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 20, Page 7

Dialog for page 7.

7-1   そして。。。

1からやり直そう。。。 フランスのレオン。スコットが1857年に発明した『フォノトグラフ』という機械、あの技術を何とか活かせないだろうか。

1からやりなおそう。。。 フランスのレオン。スコットが1857ねんにはつめいした『フォノトグラフ』というきかい、あのぎじゅつをなんとかいかせないだろうか。





そしてベルリナーはフォノトグラフ音波を水平に 描くということに着目した。この発見は横振動型蓄音機への第一歩となる。


7-2   そうだ!エジソンの蓄音機は音を上下の振動で記録する、縦振動型だ。 だから、これを横方向振動式にすれば彼の特許に触れすにすむはずだ。できる!

そうだ!エジソンのちくおんきはおとをじょうげのしんどうできろくする、たてしんどうけいだ。 だから、これをよこほうこうしんどうしきにすればかれのとっきょにふれすにすむはずだ。できる!

7-3   それに円筒を使うのもやめよう。あれは複製ができない上に壊れやすいから。



7-4   そして1887年、試行錯誤の末、ベルリナー式蓄音機完成。 製品としたは、さらに改良され、デザインんなどを変えた数種類の商品が『グラモフォン』の名で発売された。

そして1887ねん、しこうさくごのすえ、ベルリナーしきちくおんきかんせい。 せいひんとしたは、さらにかいりょうされ、デザインんなどをかえたかずしゅるいのしょうひんが『グラモフォン』のなではつばいされた。


ベルリなーはおもいきってろ くおんきのうをはいし、さいせいせんようとした。そうわれわれがよくしるレコードばんとちくおんきをはつめいしたのは、このエミール。ベルリナーだったのである。


Just to get some of the shorter, easier phrases out of the way...

そして。。。 - "Then" (used as-is)

それ に は。。。 "Moreover is" - I'll treat this as "Thus..."



ベルリナーせい『フォノトグラフ』 - "Berliner's Phonautograph"



それ に えんとう を つかう の も やめ よう。あれ は ふくせい が できない うえ に こわれやすい から。

それ に - moreover
えんとう - cylinder
を つかう の も - use + nom. + also
やめ よう - to end, to stop
あれ は - that + topic
ふくせい が - reproduction + subject
できない - not able to do
うえ に - top at
こわれやすい - break easy
から - because

moreover . cylinder . use . also . to end (topic) . reproduction (subject) . not able to do . top at . break easy . because

"Additionally, I didn't use the cylinder.  We can't make copies because they break too easily."

"ue ni" can either mean "top towards" (the upper part) or "from the standpoint of".  In fact, both readings work here.  That is, the surface of the cylinder is easily breakable, and that the cylinder can't be reproduced because it breaks too easily.

I wanted a slightly different tone, so I went with:

"Additionally, I stopped using cylinders.  They break too easily, making them hard to reproduce."

To Be Continued.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 19, Page 6

The rest of page 6.


しかし、この できごと が かえった ベルリナー の とうし に ひ をつける こと に なった。あつい けんきゅうしゃ たましい が よびさまされた の で ある。

しかし、- but
この できごと が - this event (subject)
かえった - changed
ベルリナー の - Berliner's
とうし に - fighting spirit towards
ひ をつける - fire + attached
こと に なった - thing towards became
あつい - hot
けんきゅうしゃ - researcher
たましい が - spirit + subject
よびさまされた - called out
のである - nominalizer + from  exists

But . this event (subject) . changed . Berliner's . fighting spirit towards . fire . attached . thing towards became
hot . researcher . spirit (subject) . called out . from exists

"But this event changed Berliner's fighting spirit to attach it to fire.  His hot researcher spirit was called out."

Ok, this rough translation definitely can't be used as it stands.  There are two options here - the first is to keep the two sentences separate and to find another word for "spirit"; the second is to combine the two sentences.  I'll take the second choice.

"But, this event just fired Berliner up, making his researcher's spirit rage."



こんな プレッサー に まけてまる か!はつめい おう には どうどうと、はつめい で しょうぶ してやる!

こんな プレッサー に まけてまる か
You think this pressure will defeat me?

はつめい おう には
Towards the Invention King

どうどう と - without hesitation

はつめい で しょうぶ してやる
I'll give you an invention showdown

This one should be pretty recognizable to anyone that reads manga.  I used:

"You think I'll cave in to this pressure?  Invention King - I'll make this an invention showdown!"

組織同士の戦いはトラブルが起きやすいと感じたベルリナーはベルの研究所を辞めた。 組織をはなれ、自由に研究するためでもある。そして新しい独自の蓄音機の開発を初めた。

そしき どうし  の たたかい は トラブル が おきやすい と かんじた ベルリナー は ベル の けんきゅうじ を やめた。そしき を はなれ、じゆう に けんきゅうする ため でも ある。そして あたらしい どくじ の ちくおんき の かいはつ を はじめた。

そしき どうし の - organization comrades's
たたかい は - fight + topic
トラブル が - trouble + subject
おきやすい と - occur easily + thought
かんじた - felt
ベルリナー は - Berliner + topic
ベル の けんきゅうじ - Bell's lab
を やめた - stopped
そしき を はなれ - organization detached
じゆう に - freely
けんきゅうする - study do
ため でも ある - also exists
そして - then
あたらしい - new
ど のくじ ちくおんき の - original phonograph's
かいはつ を はじめた - research started

organization comrade's . fight (topic) . trouble (subject) . occur easily . though . felt . Berliner (topic) . Bell's lab . stopped
organization detached . freely . study do . also exists . then . new . original phonograph's . research started

"Thinking that the fight could easily cause trouble for the others, Berliner quit Bell's lab.  Unattached to a group, he could also freely start the development of an original phonograph."

Not a lot new here.  I went with:

"Thinking that this fight could easily involve the others, Berliner quit Bell's lab.  Thus freed up, he could also now start researching a completely original phonograph design."

To Be Continued.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 18, Page 6

More of page 6.


はつめいおう に - Invention King towards
たて つき - to show
やがって - contempt

Yagaru is a verb for showing disdain. The "ni" in "hatsumei ou ni" means "towards the hatsumei ou". That is, "you show contempt or disdain to the invention king".

I went with "You lack respect for the Invention King!" This is not the best fighting phrase in the world. I could use "You're dissing the Invention King", but this is modern slang and wouldn't have been used back in the 1800's.



Technically, "omoishire" is used here as one of the standard fighting words that means "we'll teach you our strength", as in "we'll show you how strong we are". I used:

"We'll show you!"

『ガス』『ドッ』『ドスッ』 - kick, bash, thud


この時代、研究所と闇社会 - いわゆるガングたちの結託は珍しいことではなかった。 発明とは大金を生みだす事業で、そういうところに黒い影はしのびよる。お互いの利害関係が一致したのだ。ベルリナーはこの事件を警察に訴えることはなかった。何の解決もできないことがわかっていたからだ。当時、エジソンは発明王であり、ベルリナーは一介の技師にすぎなかった。

この じだい、けんきゅうじょ と やみしゃかい - いわゆるガングたち の けったく は めずらしい こと ではなかった。 はつめい と は たいきん を うみだす じぎょう で、そう いう ところ に くろい かげ は しのびよる。おたがいのりがいかんけい が いっちした のだ。ベルリナー は この じけん を けいさつ に うったえる こと は なかった。なんの かいけつ も できない こと が わかって いた から だ。どうじ、エジソン は はつめいおう で あり、ベルリナーはいっかいのぎしにすぎなかった。

この じだい - this age
けんきゅうじょ と - research lab and
やみしゃかい - shady society
いわゆる - what is called
ガングたち - gang + plural
けったく は - collusion + topic
めずらしい こと ではなかった - not rare
はつめい と は - invention + called + topic
たいきん (also "oogane) - lots of money
うみだす - bring to production
じぎょう で - project from
そう いう ところ に - like in that case
くろい かげ は - dark shadow + topic
しのびよる - to sneak up
おたがい の - mutual's
りがいかんけい - interests + subject
いっちした のだ - agreement, contract + nominalizer + is
ベルリナー は - Berliner + topic
この じけん - this incident
を けいさつ に うったえる こと は なかった - did not complain to police
なんの - what
かいけつ も - resolution also
できない こと が - unable to do thing
わかって いた から だ - in the state of understanding because is
どうじ - in those days
エジソン ははつめい おう で あり - Edison invention king exists
ベルリナー は - Berliner + topic
いっかい の ぎし に - mere + possessive + engineer
すぎなかった - past tense of "too much, excessive"

this age . research lab and . shady society . what is called gangs . collusion (topic) . not rare
invention called (topic) . lots of money . bring to production . project from . like in that case . dark shadow . to sneak up.
mutual's . interest (subject) . contract . is
Berliner (topic) . this incident . did not complain to police
what . resolution also . unable to do thing . in the state of understanding because is
in those days . Edison invention king exists . Berliner (topic) . mere's engineer . excessive

"At this time, it was not rare for research labs and shady society (i.e. - gangs) to collude. Inventions brought in big money, which then caused dark shadows to sneak up. They had contracts in mutual interests. Berliner did not complain to the police over this incident. Because he knew that nothing would happen. In those days, Edison was the Invention King, and he was just an exceedingly lowly engineer."

Whew. Long paragraph.
But, the meaning is pretty clear. I went with:

"In this age, it was not rare for research labs to use shady means - that is, gangs. Inventions brought in big money, and that in turn attracted dark shadows. Berliner didn't complain to the police about this incident, because he knew that nothing would result from it. Back then, Edison was the "Invention King", and he was just a mere engineer."

To Be Continued.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 17, Page 6

The dialog for page 6

6-1   そんな競争が白熱していたある日のこと。不幸な出来事が起こってしまう。。。


6-2    待ちな兄ちゃん!


な、、、 なんですか?あなたたちは。。。

6-3   おまえ、ベル研のベルリナーって若造だろ!?



そっ そうでせけど。。。

6-4   目ザワリなんだよ!


『がっ』   ぐっ

6-5   発明王にたてつきやがって!




6-6   この時代、研究所と闇社会 - いわゆるガングたちの結託は珍しいことではなかった。 発明とは大金を生みだす事業で、そういうところに黒い影はしのびよる。お互いの利害関係が一致したのだ。ベルリナーはこの事件を警察に訴えることはなかった。何の解決もできないことがわかっていたからだ。当時、エジソンは発明王であり、ベルリナーは一介の技師にすぎなかった。

このじだい、けんきゅうじょとやみしゃかい - いわゆるガングたちのけったくはめずらしいことではなかった。 はつめいとはたいきんをうみだすじぎょうで、そういうところにくろいかげはしのびよる。おたがいのりがいかんけいがいっちしたのだ。ベルリナーはこのじけんをけいさつにうったえることはなかった。なんのかいけつもできないことがわかっていたからだ。どうじ、エジソンははつめいおうであり、ベルリナーはいっかいのぎしにすぎなかった。


しかし、この できごと が かえった ベルリナー の とうし に ひ をつける こと に なった。あつい けんきゅうしゃたましいがよびさまされたのである。





6-9   組織同士の戦いはトラブルが起きやすいと感じたベルリナーはベルの研究所を辞めた。 組織をはなれ、自由に研究するためでもある。そして新しい独自の蓄音機の開発を初めた。



This section is a bit longer than the other pages have been, but I'll still do a couple panels here.


そんな きょうそう が はくねつしていた ある ひの こと。ふこうな できごと が おこってしまう。

そんな - that
きょうそう が - competition + subject
はくねつしていた - in the state of climax
ある ひの こと - that day thing
ふこうな - misfortune
できごと が - incident + subject
おこってしまう - to happen

that . competition (subject) . in the state of climax . that day thing
misfortune . incident (subject) . to happen

"One day in the middle of the climax of the competition.  An unfortunate incident happened."

I need to find out how "shimau" is used.
I used:

"One day, at the height of the competition.  An unpleasant incident occurred."



まちな にいちゃん!

まちな - wait (as an order)
にいちゃん - older brother

wait . older brother

"Wait up, brother."

"machi-na" is a shorter form of "machinasai", an order to wait.  While "nii-chan" does usually refer to one's own older brother, it can also be used as a friendly title for anyone slightly older than you.  Here, it's used as a threat.  Since "brother" was a form of address a number of years ago in the U.S., I decided to use this phrase as-is.


な、、、 なんですか? あなたたちは。。。

"Wh, what is it?  You guys (topic)..."

Normally, someone would say "Y, yes?" in this situation, but I wanted to keep some of the original flavor. To make this read better in English, I went with:

"Wh, what do you guys want...?"


6-3   おまえ、ベル研のベルリナーって若造だろ!?

おまえ、ベルけん の ベルリナーって わかぞう だろ!?

おまえ - you
ベルけん の - Bell lab's
ベルリナーって - called Berliner
わかぞう - greenhorn
だろ - right?

you . Bell lab's . called Berliner . greenhorn . right?

"You're that greenhorn Berliner, from Bell's lab, right?"

Used-as is.





そっ そうでせけど。。。

"Yes, but..."


6-4   目ザワリなんだよ!

めザワリ なんだ よ!

めザワリ - eyesore
なんだ よ - can say + emphasis

eyesore . can say

"You're an eyesore!"

This is really not an easily translatable insult.  As is, it comes across as being fairly petty.  Something that means pretty much the same thing is "You're an irritating little pest."  This is still weak, from an English-speaking viewpoint, but it's close to the original version.  I'd be willing to punch it up, if I could find a phrase that doesn't deviate from the original too much.


『がっ』   ぐっ -  Ugh

To Be Continued.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Sound Warriors - Part 16, Page 5

The last of page 5.


こうなる と がんぜん はりきる エジソン は ちくおんき かいはつ を さいかい し、ひっし に とりくんだ。だが かんせい した ちくおんき は、ベル の とっきょ に ふれる に もの で しかなかった。

こうなる と - this to become said
がんぜん - abruptly
はりきる - to be eager
エジソン は - Edison + topic
ちくおんき - phonograph
かいはつ - development
を さいかい し - restarting
ひっし に - frantically
とりくんだ - tackled, wrestled with
だが - but
かんせいした - perfected
ちくおんき は - phonograph + subject
ベル の とっきょ に - Bell's patent towards
ふれる に - to violate towards
もの で - thing from
しかなかった - could not do.

this to become said . abruptly . to be eager . Edison (topic) . phonograph . development . restarting . frantically . tackled
But . perfected . phonograph (subject) . Bell's patent towards . to violate towards . thing from . could not do

"On saying this, Edison eagerly restarted tackling the development of the phonograph. But, with the perfected machine, he couldn't overcome Bell's patents".

The kanji 触 can be read as "fu" or "sawa" depending on the hiragana that follows it, giving the meanings of either "to touch" or to "to feel, or to violate a patent".  I may have used the wrong meaning earlier when Bell told Berliner to bypass Edison's patents.  In the sentence here, the reading "fureru" is pretty clear.  But, the meaning is obviously "couldn't get around (Bell's patents)", which isn't quite a literal translation.

I used:

"On saying this, Edison eagerly threw himself back into feverishly developing the phonograph. But he couldn't get around Bell's patents on the perfected machine."



あいつら も かんがえたことはいっしょというわけか。ベルにベルリナー。。。なかなかやるな。優秀だよ。確かに。。。

あいつら も - those guys also
かんがえた こと は - thought thing subject
いっしょ - together
と いう わけ か - it is said conclusion question
ベル に - Bell towards
ベルリナー - Berliner
なかなか やる な - very + did + hmm
優秀 だ よ - superior is + emphasis
確かに - certainly

Those guys also . thought thing (subject) . together . it is said conclusion?
Bell towards . Berliner . very did . hmm .
superior is

"Those guys also thought of this.  Bell's Berliner... is really good.  Superior even...  Certainly..."

"nakanaka yaru" can mean "to have done a really good job" as well as "to be very skilled".

I went with:

"They came up with this?  Berliner's really good...  Maybe even superior...  Definitely..."



でも ちくおんき は もともと わたし の はつめい なんだ!この さいわたしも ちくおんき を うりだすぞ!

でも - but
ちくおんき は - phonograph + topic
もともと - originally
わたし の - mine
はつめい - invention
なんだ - it is assuredly
この さい - this occasion
わたし も - I also
ちくおんき - phonograph
を うり だす ぞ - put on sale + emphasis

But . phonograph (topic) . originally . mine . invention . it is assuredly
this occasion . I also . phonograph . put on sale

"But the phonograph was my original invention!  I'll put my phonograph up for sale."

Repetition of specific words in English tends to be boring.  And "put on sale" can also be said as "market".  So I went with:

"But the original phonograph was my invention! I'll market mine, too!"


エジソンは『エジソンフォノグラフ社』を設立。(翌年モルガン財団の援助で『スピーキングフォノグラフ』と改名。) 自らの蓄音機を『スペクタクル』と名付け、売り出した。悩んでいた用途は、声を記録できることから『優秀な秘書』とした。負けじとベルも『アメリカングラフォフォン社』 を作った対抗したのである。

エジソン は 『エジソン フォノグラフ しゃ』 を せつりつ。 (よくねん モルガン ざいだん の えんじょ で 『スピーキング フォノグラフ』 と かいめい。)  みすから の ちくおんき を 『スペクタクル』 と なつけ、うりだした。 なやん でいた よう とは、こえ を きろく できる こと から 『ゆうしゅうな ひしょ』 と した。まけじ と ベル も『アメリカン グラフォフォン しゃ』 をつけった たいこう した の で ある。

エジソン は - Edison + topic
エジソンフォノグラフしゃ - Edison Phonograph Company
を せつりつ - incorporate
よく ねん - following year
モルガン ざいだん の - Morgan Foundation's
えんじょ で - support from
スピーキングフォノグラフ - Speaking Phonograph
と かいめい - it is said name change
みすから の - personally's
ちくおんき - phonograph
を スペクタクル となつけ - "spectacle" name used
うりだした - to market
なやんで いた - to be worried + in the state of
ようと は - usefulness + topic
こえ を きろく - voice record
できる こと - able to do + thing
から - because
ゆうしゅうな ひしょ - superior secretary
と した - and did
まけじ と - undauntedly said thing
ベル も - Bell also
アメリカン グラフォフォンしゃ - American Graphophone Company
を つけった - made
たいこう した - opposition
の で ある - because was

Edison (topic) . Edison Phonograph Company . incorporate.
following year . Morgan Foundation's . support from . Speaking Phonograph . it is said name change
Personally's phonograph . "spectacle" name used . to market
to be worried . in state of . usefulness (topic) . voice record . able to do thing . because . "superior secretary" . and did
Undauntedly said thing . Bell also . American Graphophone Company . made . opposition becase was

"Edison incorporated the "Edison Phonograph Company". (The following year, with support from the Morgan Foundation, the name was changed to "Speaking Phonograph", using the "Spectacle" brand).  Worried about it's usefulness, their phonograph was marketed as the "superior secretary" because of its ability to record voices.  Undaunted, Bell created the "American Graphophone Company" as direct competition."

Lots of stuff going on here.  But the translation's pretty straightforward.  Some of the names have been simplified from the original English (such as Bell's company name actually being "North American Graphophone Company".  But, the names are close enough for government work so I left them as-is (also because of space concerns in the word balloons).  I went with:

"Edison incorporated the "Edison Phonograph Company" (the following year, with Morgan's support the name changed to "Speaking Phonograph" under the private brand "Spectacle"). Needing a use, their phonograph was advertised as "the superior secretary" because of its ability to record voices.  Bell then created the "American Graphophone Company" as direct competition."

To Be Continued.