Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Learning Japanese, Part 7 - Getting Started

I'll start out easy, assuming that you either don't care about what I'm writing here and are just using this blog to kill time at work, or that you're already slightly familiar with the Japanese that is used in manga so I don't have to explain "this is a pencil"-level stuff. The hero is talking about the world now that the food laws have been passed and natural frozen foods have been banned. Law-abiding citizens only eat synthetic fast foods. However...


だが 気 に いらない ヤツ も 世 の 中 に は 存在する らしい (with spaces)

Daga ki ni iranai yatsu mo yo no naka ni wa sonzai-suru rashii

Daga = but
ki ni iranai = spirit not entered
yatsu = person
mo = also
yo no naka ni = in this world
wa = topic marker
sonzai = exist
suru = to do
rashii = it seems

Two points. First, "sonzai suru" literally translates to "exist do", or "does the act of existing". We can simplify this to "exists".

Second, "ki ni iranai yatsu" can translate to either "a person that doesn't care (about something)" (in this case, doesn't care about being a law-abiding citizen), or "someone that I don't like". In fact, both meanings are implied, in that frozen food junkies don't care about the law, and our hero is a cop that dislikes frozen food junkies. But, since he's in the middle of telling us how the future world works now, the first translation is more reasonable for us to pick.

So, the literal conversion to English is:
But, not like, people, also, in this world, exist do, it seems.

Now, there's a constraint being imposed on us when we translate manga - the size of the word balloons. If the text is too long it won't fit, and if you shrink the font too much it would be unreadable. Meaning that we may be forced to shorten the text for the word balloon, but we still want to be true to the original dialog.

Original statement: "It seems that there are also people in this world that don't care about it (the law)."
Translation 1: "There are people in this world that don't see it that way."
Translation 2: "There are people that don't care about the law.
Short version 1: "There are people that don't see it that way."
Short version 2: "Some people don't see it that way."
Short version 3: "Not everyone sees it that way."
Short version 4: "With exceptions."

The choice of which version to use now depends on which is the longest sentence that will fit and not be so tiny as to be hard to read. The meaning is still the same in all cases, but the feeling is starting to change, and the implied sense that the cop dislikes lawbreakers has been pretty much lost. There's also a challenge in deciding to use Translation 1 or Translation 2. 2 is closer to the original Japanese phrase, but is kind of stiff and boring in English. 1 is a little "peppier" in English but has drifted away from the Japanese original phrase a bit. The point, though, is that the speaker is a dedicated cop, and his speech is a bit casual and natural-sounding. I picked translation 1 to start with because it's closer to the way the hero talks in Japanese. The short version that I'll use will depend on the size of the word balloon.

To be continued...

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