Tuesday, November 19, 2013
More Comments from Ming Chu Lai about the Taiwanese Translation
As any reader of Haruki Murakami's work will know, his book titles are always different and unique. For example 1Q84 is very short, but Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is very long.
The word "Colorless" reminds me of the writer’s strong will from the very beginning. He clearly intends to create his own style, and his own color. In his maiden work, "Hear the Wind Sing," Murakami even drew a T-shirt in the text. It stands out from the text and is very attractive. His books are so unique. I enjoy translating his works.
The "Tsukuru" つくる in the name Tsukuru Tazaki 多崎つくる can be translated many possible ways in Chinese [using different characters that correspond to the kanji used in Japanese for this sound]: 創、作、造. At first, some newspapers used 多崎造. But after reading the book, I realized that 多崎作 is the right choice.
As for the names of Tsukuru’s friends -- Ao, Aka, Shiro, and Kuro -- we have many choices. In Japanese, Ao, Aka, Shiro, and Kuro correspond to 青、赤、白、黒; in Chinese these characters mean the same thing, the same colors, but it’s more popular to use 藍、紅、白、and 黑 instead. But for a person's name, in Chinese it’s better to add a word like 阿 or 小 or 老 or 仔 for a boy, and 阿 or 妞 for a girl. So I chose 藍仔，紅仔，白妞，黑妞, which sound like nicknames for good friends. For cowboys we say 牛仔, and the nickname for movie star 劉德華 [Andy Lau] is 華仔.
[In relation to this blog's post of July 19th titled "Struggling with Suddenly"]
The Japanese words meaning “suddenly,” which Mr. Edward Seidensticker mentioned, reminded me of the Chinese words meaning “suddenly.” We have many words in common. For example, we also use 突然、 忽然、 俄然、驀地、驟然、唐突 in the same way as in Japanese. But sometimes the same characters have different meaning in Chinese and Japanese. We must be very careful in choosing words. For example, for “suddenly,” in everyday conversation we might choose 突然 or 忽然. But in literary writing, we might chose 突如其來 or 冷不防. If the writing was by an older person or in ancient times, we might chose 俄然 or 驀地.