A Sense of Wonder

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I happened to be "talking" with another friend in the translation business the other day (I say "talking" because we were actually emailing each other as time permitted, so a "conversation" might take half a day...), and we mentioned the words awe and wonder.

Tigers and Cheerios

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Translation is all about getting the idea across in another language, but it's not as simple as picking one word from column A and one to match it from column B. Many words are just packed full of cultural goodies that make it difficult to translate them smoothly. And especially if you're trapped in a situation like literature, where you can't get away with footnotes, or (even worse) in movie subtitles where you have only a few lines and five seconds to read them, you have to make some tough choices.

Harvest Moons and Rabbits

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The right word can make such a difference in writing. Or in translation, of course. There's rather a big difference between "Four score and seven years ago" and "Eighty-seven years ago," isn't there? True, "score" was no doubt more commonly used then than it is now, but when we read that today we get quite a bit of peripheral baggage along with the number of years. The word "score" is relatively unused in this sense in modern English and imparts a heavier, more formal tone, as does the fact that the number is given as a "quantity and quantity" rather than the more prosaic "eighty-seven."

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Kurodahan Press

Kurodahan Press
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3-9-10-403 Tenjin
Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
810-0001 JAPAN

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