I mentioned last week that the Japanese language is based on written expression, while English is based on verbal expression. Since both languages are obviously both spoken and written, I suspect I'll have to explain myself a bit. After living more than half my life in Japan, though, I have come to feel that this is a crucial difference not only between two cultures, but between two different ways of looking at the world. And the worldview, obviously, forms a significant but not always clearly visible part of any literature.
Before I start lecturing again, I just thought I'd mention that finally, after far too long, The Red Star of Cadiz was sent to the printers last week. With any luck (translation: if we don't discover that we really screwed up somewhere) it will be available via Amazon and US/UK book wholesalers before the end of the year. Having read it and reread it about fifty times over the last few years, I still have to say it is a heck of a fun book.
OK, down to business. Last week I mentioned Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotiation and that I wanted to discuss why Japanese has two different ways to write uncle (and aunt, for that matter, not to be sexist). To simplify things, though, it's a lot easier to just talk about one, and I've arbitrarily chosen uncle.
After literally decades of translating, and thinking (as customers and other obligations permitted) about why this translation was better than that, reading on the subject, and slowly developing my own criteria for what constitutes an acceptable translation and what does not, last week I finally received a copy of Umberto Eco's Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotiation. It has been on my list of books to read for quite some time, but for reasons not terribly relevant sat moldering in the United States for several years until finally making its way to me.
Having read it, I am simultaneously in ecstasy and despair.