Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Visualizing Translation: What Does Ao (Blue?) Look Like?

Anna Zielinska-Eliott who is currently working on the Polish translation writes:

When translating we often try to visualize people and places the author describes.  Having an image in one's mind can somehow help find the right words.  Or at least it helps me.  Yesterday, I talked on Skype to my Japanese friend, K. I asked her a few questions about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki, since K. has just started reading the book. I wanted to know what exactly does a dosshiri shita nose look like.  This is how the nose of  Ao (Blue?) is described on page 9.  My friend said that when reading about Ao, she imagined him looking like Atsushi Ōyagi, a famous Japanese rugby player, who later became a sports commentator, a TV personality and an educator.  So I looked again at the description of Ao in the book: Ao also is  rugby player, has broad shoulders, a massive chest, a wide forehead, a big mouth and a dosshiri shita nose.  He is a very enthusiastic player, who knows how to get the team pumped.  He always plays aggressively and often gets hurt.  

This is what Atsushi Ōyagi looks like now, and what he looked like as a young man. In his mid-thirties Ao is a Lexus salesman.  Can you imagine the man in the picture below as a luxury car salesman? Of course, Ao would have been much younger, since Atsushi Ōyagi is now 52, but still the contrast between a former rugby player and a Lexus salesman in a nice suit (but still with short hair) seems to work in these two pictures the same way as it does in the book.

Next I asked K. about the size of iwa (rock, crag) in a description of a "mental landscape" on page 41, where we read" "Mawari o mimawasu kagiri, arabureta iwa darake no tochi datta." I wanted to know how big the iwa were in her mind, when reading this sentence. Was it a "rocky" place? Or were there big boulders? K. said: "Oh, it sounds like Onioshidashi." Onioshidashi is a nature park in Gunma prefecture. (鬼押出し園). Here is what it looks like:
Granted, these are K.'s images, but since I didn't have any clear ones in my own head, I am going to go with hers for now. 

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