Saturday, July 18, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 24, Page 4

Now we're getting into the really tricky Japanese that caused me to start this entire Learning Japanese thread. Just to help you out, the cop here is discussing the history that led up to the present-day state of this city. He doesn't actually come out and say it, but the setting is a future Japan, maybe 50-some years from now. We know it's Japan at least because of the station name on the subway exit on a later page (Gemba Station, which seems to be on the western coast). As for the cop himself - this is one of Tori Miki's most-used recurring characters, and the featured character in "Anywhere but Here". This character doesn't have a name that I'm aware of, and he's not given one in this story.

First panel:

今世紀始めの食料統制以来味で勝負できる店はなくなった ある通人はコラムでそ

こんせいき はじめの しょくりょう とうせい いらい あじ で しょうぶ できる
みせ はなくなった あるつうじん はコラムでそうなげ いていた

kon seiki - this century
hajime no - at the beginning
shokuryuo - food
tousei - regulation
irai - since
aji - taste
de - from
shoubu - match, compete
dekiru - be able to
mise - shop
wa - subject marker
nakunatta - past tense of "to disappear"

aru - to exist
tsuujin - well-informed person
wa - subject marker
koramu - column
de - of, from
sou - that
nageite ita - past verb form of nageki - sorrow, despair

this century . at the beginning . food . regulation . since . taste . from . compete . able to . shop . (subject) disappeared

"After the passing of the food regulations at the beginning of the century, shops that could only compete on taste disappeared."

This is a really big leap from the literal Japanese to the basic English version. The keys are "irai" (since) that is setting a timeline for the sentence, and "wa" (subject marker) that states that the author is talking about shops that competed on taste.

Then we get:

to exist . well-informed person . (subject) . column . of . that . sorrow

"There were well-informed people that complained about this in their (written) columns."

To get to proper English, we have to make another huge leap. First, that the "well-informed people" are the ones that understand the taste of shops that serve food - either food critics, or gourmets. Second, that the complaining was about the loss of places with tasty food, and the complaining was done in written media (i.e. - in newspaper columns). To keep the informal nature of the cop's speech, as well as to keep it understandable, I went with:

"At the turn of this century, since the food laws were passed, shops that only competed on taste closed up. Gourmets wrote up reams of columns about it."

This is almost nothing like the original literal Japanese, but it is exactly the same in terms of the author's intent. So, I had to face the translator's choice of form versus content, and I chose "content" this time.

To be continued.

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