Saturday, June 18, 2011

Adding 'Colour' to Conversation

English below.






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One of Asano's trademarks, and also one of the things I find hardest to translate is her script-like run-ons of dialogue. With Japanese, just the tone of the conversation itself is enough for the reader to be able to distinguish who's talking in what tone of voice, with what sort of emotion. With English, it's not so easy. I feel like we make up for the emotion we can't convey between the quotation marks with what comes after. That would be the "he said"s, "he exclaimed"s... etc. I do get the impression that English has a wider variation of those kind of expressions.

Take the word "reply", for example. Even just a couple at a glance: replied, answered, retorted, remarked, conceded, and so on. All have slightly different nuances. The biggest dilemma for me is what kind of expression to use, and how often to use them. I prefer to think of the role of the translator as the "shadow" behind the author. It's inevitable that whatever the translator translates becomes a product of their own interpretation, but I at least try my hardest not to let it show. I try to stay as faithful to the original, but sometimes that takes away from its English reading. To what degree should I use these "helper" expressions? When does it cross the line from "assisting the reader" to "pushing a certain interpretation onto him"?

Being a huge fan of Rowling, I loved and often find myself emulating her liberal use of "expression" words. But maybe some people would prefer the dialogue by themselves, leaving them to ponder on their own. Tough choices.