Untranslatability and Japanese Pragmatics

Translating words, phrases and sentences into another language is an interesting endeavour. It’s not just a case of getting the words right (I mean, if he is talking about a duck, you don’t want to use the word for a dog, or cat) but you also have to get the “gist” right.

I mean, what if you are translating a romantic book, and someone says “I never loved you”. Maybe they said it out of anger, and they didn’t mean it. Maybe they secretly were in love with their husband’s brother and they meant “I never loved you, I loved your brother”.

How would the translators handle this nuance? It’s completely up to the translator, and the language. Translating stuff is a very interesting challenge. I have done some translating myself, and you have to be very careful to make sure you get across just the right nuance. It’s tough, but can be very rewarding.

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