Volume 4 of I Really Don’t Notice is Done


A digression you may or may not find interesting, I recently- as in this morning- attended a lecture by Jay Rubin which hit real close to home. It was a lecture titled ‘Whatever Works’ on the difficulty of translating from Japanese to English. Professor Rubin is THE (a) translator of Murakami Haruki, and Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Harvard, and of whose book ‘Making Sense of Japanese: What the Textbooks Don’t Tell You’ I have had on my shelf for a long while. The lecture was named after the response he often gets from Murakami Haruki after asking him which way he should translate certain portions: ‘適当に(Tekitouni)’, just do whatever works. There, he said something to the effect of the following (I am paraphrasing, I took notes, not quotes).

I don’t even try to be bound by grammar or sentence structure. I translate it whatever way works best in the target language.
I am not writing from his page to my page, I am writing from my fevered brain, as it processes the story.  The main thing is imagination. A translator must be conscious of what happens in the imagination, and get down in his native language something as close as possible as to what’s happening. The translator must take maximum enjoyment of the literary text, enjoy that imaginative experience, then bring that as nearly as possible into the target language.

(Though he concedes this is subjective)

I’m not trying to make a point, I’m just bringing it up. You think I prattled? You want to complain that doesn’t concern you? Hey, you got all the information you needed from the title. But so be it, I’ll say it again. I Really Don’t Notice Volume 4 is completed.


You can access it from the table of contents

This volume is a bit of a peculiar one, but an enjoyable read nonetheless (personal opinion). It is slightly longer than the volumes thus far, but only by 20 pages or so. They average around 300. This volume focuses on Kagurai Monyumi, while the one after focusses on Kurisu, and the final one on Orino.


About Yoraikun

A college student who really should be doing something more productive with his time. Also, he can read a bit of Japanese.
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8 Responses to Volume 4 of I Really Don’t Notice is Done

  1. RageEnder says:

    You don’t really notice that a volume is done


  2. KairoEuno says:

    Yoraikun Thank you for another Traslation, been a lurker since shield bro and enjoyed every translation. Especially seven and now this one.
    This one really hit home, I think this is the best volume so far. Man I knew Monyumi is the BEST Grill.


  3. iokjhfssff says:

    While not always observed, it generally is recommended for professional translators to translate from their secondary language into their native language iirc, because that entire notion you mentioned (“A translator must be conscious of what happens in the imagination, and get down in his native language something as close as possible as to what’s happening”) usually only works in one direction. This is probably especially the case with English/Japanese d/t how different the languages are, fundamentally.

    I think in academic circles Rubin’s translations are essentially viewed as “his interpretations of Murakami,” not in a derogatory way, but rather are lauded as the “right” way to handle JP/E literary translations as well, though I think I remember Rubin expanding on his methods somewhat in an essays/intros he did in one of his translations.

    There’s probably a level of respect that needs to be afforded to the potential readers of your work too. Like I think about some of the wild west days of “professional” manga translation (we’re going to disregard the “translations” done by people with no understanding of Japanese, leading to hilarious misassignment of gender pronouns to characters, oh Tokyopop) and the level of liberties taken wrt adapting or straight up changing shit for western readers (see: Keith Giffen rewrites)

    I feel like 適当 is particularly dangerous mentality because of Dunning-Krugers who assume their understanding is enough/correct. You see it particularly often in the fan “translation” environment with people whose machine translations (or “machine assisted translations” lel) are effectively just them untangling machine word salad and applying proper (sometimes) English grammar and sentence structure.

    Like you can translate 適当 as “whatever is arbitrarily most suitable” but I don’t think just anyone is always capable of doing the original work justice with their “適当”.

    That said, I also think one needs to have a fairly intimate understanding of the culture for 適当 to really work. Like in all fairness m8, given your personal history and actual history with the country and culture, the concept of translating 適当に is fine for you because you spent a fundamental portion of your developmental years in Japan. You /are/ an authority because your circumstances are relatively unique and give you a level of understanding that a lot of translators with only technical understanding might lack.

    Like I knew plenty of people who got their JLPT 1kyuu and had lived in Japan for 5+ years while I worked there and yet while their understanding was enough for doing general bureaucratic translation work, they were lacking in understanding in other areas that would make me think literary translations would be beyond them. (But maybe that’s just me being a snob as someone born to Japanese parents in NA because I was privileged enough to be shuttled back and forth between the countries dozens of times as a kid, idk.)

    tl;dr I’m pretty sure you’re like me in that when you think/read shit, you don’t consciously “translate” from one language to another in an active two stage process, so much your brain automatically just processes and churns out whatever you think is contextually appropriate and you go from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • iokjhfssff says:

      Didn’t mean to turn your comment section into an editorial, soz. I found your aside interesting enough to comment on though, you should write more shit instead of only translating!


  4. zekkendo says:

    This may be slightly tangential, but your recollection reminded me about a haiku book I got from a thrift store some time ago. It was a collection of haiku (haikus? can’t remember if plural or not) in the original Japaneses, Romaji, an accompanying English translation (sometimes two or three slightly different translations), and footnotes to explain the context. (I have since misplaced it,but hopefully it how up eventually)

    What stuck with me the most was that many of the translations still had the same number of syllables in each line. Especially since, even in English, poetry can be much deeper than just the words being used.

    Of course, me being me, I have no idea how much of the original is lost in the process, nor how impressive (or not) the feat actually is.


  5. Thank for the food!!


  6. asadlinguist says:

    This is cool trivia to know. Though I might not ever use this, I enjoyed the reading this small post on translation. Thank you!


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