Updated: Jun 8, 2020
"Temporarily Misplaced in Translation
When I first began learning Japanese I was struck by how beautifully it can express certain things in a way that’s different from how they might be expressed in English, and by how things that aren’t normally expressed in English can be expressed in Japanese. My idol was the Columbia University professor Burton Watson, whose translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry and fiction were the best. My dream was to have a career like his. That was before I learned that he had quit teaching to become a taxi driver. Also before I ever attempted to seriously translate anything.
Translating from Japanese to English or from English to Japanese is very hard. For a lot of reasons the two languages simply don’t line up right. Even the best translators are often performing a metaphysical leap of faith. Japanese is very vague. And English, a Germanic language, is more precise."
Read the full excerpt here.
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