Thursday, December 24, 2015

Don't Spare the Rod on the Translator! -- More on Dialect Translation

Today is Christmas Eve, so I thought it would be fitting to share one of the comments that appeared on this blog with the readers who don't speak Polish.

In the previous post, I described my dilemma about how to translate Kitaru's Kansai dialect into Polish and explained my decision to use the Poznan dialect. I was hesitant, since I knew that while this experiment would be acceptable to some readers, it was also bound to cause objections.

A reader (anksu) posted a comment a couple of days ago criticizing my decision. I am going to translate it here for the sake of fairness (I quoted a positive reader comment in the last post) and also for its humor and Christmas-related element. Readers not familiar with Polish culture need to know that, in Poland, instead of a lump of coal, naughty children get a rod (or switch) from Santa to be beaten with.  Looks like I deserve a beating!

"I had to stop reading in the middle because I am too angry to continue. Your decision to make Kitaru speak Poznan dialect was the worst you could have possibly made! It is unreadable. You didn't even bother to make footnotes! You are not translating books only for people from the Poznan area. Providing information that Kitaru speaks in a dialect or introducing SEVERAL phrases would have been more than enough. I hope that next time you won't get such ideas, because otherwise I will send you a Christmas rod next year!!!"

As you can imagine, I feel duly chastised.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

More on Dialect in "Yesterday"

My Polish translation of Onna no inai otokotachi, titled Mężczyźni bez kobietcame out several weeks ago from Muza S.A. 

I'm happy to say that the reviews are good -- critics seem to like this short-story anthology more than Tsukuru Tazaki. There are also a lot of readers' comments on reading blogs. One of the things that often gets mentioned is my experimental treatment of Kansai dialect in the story "Yesterday." 

I had hesitated for a long time about how to render Kitaru's dialect in Polish. The best thing would have been to have created a new dialect, but that would have taken a long time, time I did not have due to the publisher's deadline. And I wasn't sure whether I had the ability to do it in the first place. 

In the end, I decided to stylize Kitaru's speeches to make him speak the way people speak in Poznan, in Western Poland. Somehow the intonation and the melody of the language there reminded me of Osaka dialect: it seemed a little more direct, a little louder.  

So I began by changing Kitaru's lines a bit. I added a "nie" ("no?") at the end of sentences (which is reminiscent of the "ja?" Usula Gräfe added at the end of some Kitaru's lines in the German version quoted in the previous post), but I still felt that my Kitaru did not sound different enough. So I sent the story to my cousin, a born-and-bread Poznanian and asked his opinion. A scholar and a historian, my cousin approached the task methodically and changed Kitaru's speeches so that he started sounding like a working-class kid from Poznan. I was pleased with the results, but I still needed help with a few phrases and with the final polishing (Polishing?) of the dialect. I asked around and somebody put me in touch with a writer from Poznan, who made a few additional changes and carefully reviewed things to make Kitaru's language more uniform. 

At that point, though, I started feeling a little anxious: Was I even on the right track? 

Let me explain my dilemma briefly: there are many differences between Kansai dialect and standard Japanese, but the most noticeable ones have to do with different verb and adjectival endings, different intonation and some differences in vocabulary. Poznan dialect, on the other hand, is a working-class dialect containing a great deal of distinct vocabulary, partly due to the influence of German. As a result, a sentence written in the Poznan dialect may sometimes include a number of words that a speaker of standard Polish will simply not understand, though usually one can figure the meaning out just fine. Here are some pictures showing the Poznan dialect word in capital letters, and the standard Polish one below. The difference is striking.,2186032,artgal,8417960,t,id,tm,zid.html

Fortunately, the way the story is written, the reader can always understand (with one exception, where I had to repeat a word in standard Polish) what Kitaru is saying, if he or she reads what comes before or after. Below is the first exchange between Kitaru and the narrator quoted in the previous post runs as follows: 

   「ああ、あれな、うちとは関係ないねん。あんまりない名前やから、まあどっかで ちょこっと繋がってるのかもしれんけどな」(p.68)

      “Kitaru is an unusual last name,” I said one day.
      “Yeah, for sure,” Kitaru replied in his heavy Kansai accent.
      “The Lotte baseball team had a pitcher with the same name.”      
      “The two of us aren’t related. Not so common a name, though, so who knows? Maybe there’s a connection somewhere.” 
("Yesterday," tr. Philip Gabriel, The New Yorker, June 9, 2014) 

In Polish, I translated the passage like this:

    – Kitaru to rzadkie nazwisko – powiedziałem.

    – Nie za czynste, co nie? – odpowiedział Kitaru.  [Ain't so common, I reckun, eh?]
    – W drużynie Lotte był pitcher o takim nazwisku.
    – Łe, to żadna famuła, tej. Ino mało wiary sie tak nazywo, może dzieś dalij jest jakaś krewność, nie. [Nah, they hain't no kin. 'Course, not too many folks usin' that name, so I s'pose way back mebbe we got some o' the same rellies.] (p.62)

The above passage is fully understandable to a speaker of standard Polish, but a more difficult phrase was "wyćpnąć bejmy w glajdę" (lit. throw money in the mud, as in "throw money away"), which has little in common with the standard Polish equivalent, "wyrzucić pieniądze w błoto." For the English reader wondering what this effect might be like, the Poznan phrase "wyćpnąć bejmy w glajdę" might sound something like "hench welties in the flumber."  Given the right context, you could probably figure this out!

Overall, I felt pleased that this operation has achieved a result somewhat similar to the Japanese original: when Kitaru opens his mouth for the first time (and throughout the story) the reader is surprised and continues to feel somewhat alienated. But I was a little worried how Polish readers would react and decided to write a short introduction to explain my choice of Poznan dialect, something I have never done before. 

When the book came out, I was interviewed by the Poznan edition of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's biggest daily newspaper. The interviewer was very interested in why I chose that particular dialect. When I asked her how the story read, she said that to her it "felt weird." I am hoping that this was because she was from Poznan and the dialect felt too familiar. I also got an e-mail from a reader who wrote, "The idea of using Poznan dialect in the story 'Yesterday' was great. The piece became so funny and whimsical in its feel that it is unforgettable."

Maybe that whimsy is captured in this rather pretty view of Poznan's Old Town. 

photograph from:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

More About Dialect and the Chinese Translation by Lai Ming Chu

Lai Ming Chu kindly sent in her comments elaborating on dialect-use-related matters in the Chinese (Taiwan) version of "Yesterday." She wrote:

"To translate a dialect into any other language is not easy — it is, in fact, a challenge. I tried to do it in different ways, but did not get a satisfying result.  In Chinese, dialect is too complicated.  The difference between Peking speech and Nanking speech is not similar to the difference between Tokyo speech and Osaka speech, in Japanese.
In the Chinese language, we can use different dialects to read the same simple sentence; magically it will sound very different, because each character’s pronunciation and accent are different in different dialects.  So finally, I realized that there was no need to translate it [i.e. it was enough to say that Kitaru is speaking in Kansai dialect for the reader to read it differently].

I agree with the opinion of Edward Seidensticker and I also admire the translation of Philip Gabriel:
 “Yeah, for sure,” Kitaru replied in his heavy Kansai accent."

Friday, October 9, 2015

More on Dialect Translation

In the previous post I wrote about my doubts as how to translate kansai-ben (Kansai dialect) in Murakami's story, "Yesterday."

After looking at other language versions, I discovered a range of choices made by other translators:  some did not differentiate between Kitaru's and Tanimura's speech, others differentiated somewhat, and then there were those who decided either to use an existing dialect or invent one. 

Clearly, there is no correct answer here! 

On the one hand, one can argue that a dialect (or some form of differentiation) should be used in order to reflect the impossible-to-miss difference in Kitaru's kansai-ben speech; on the other hand, one can also make the case that using an existing dialect ends up localizing the translation in a way that readers may find hard to accept.  

Let's look at a few examples to see how different people have handled this difficult challenge.

Here is the fragment (quoted in the previous post) translated into German by Ursula Gräfe (hers is I believe the first European translation - Dumont 2014):

 »Kitaru iste ein seltener Name«, sagte ich.
 »Ja, ziemlich selten«, erwiderte er.
 »In der Baseballmannschaft von Lotte gibt es einen Werfer, der so heißt.«
 »Ach ja, der. Wir sind nicht verwandt. Aber bei einem so seltenen Namen könnte es doch trotzdem sein, dass es da irgendwo eine Verbindung gibt, was?«
(Von Männern, die keine Frauen haben, p. 50)

Ursula used a gentle touch here. She showed the difference between the two styles of speech by adding was? at the end of Kitaru's second line.  To further highlight Kitaru's idiosyncratic speech habits, she also used ja? at the end of many of Kitaru's sentences in the rest of the story. She explained: 
"I intended to give Kitaru's speech an emotional quality, which relates stronger to the person he is talking to than it generally would be the case. Also "ja?" und "was?" create a rising intonation. This in combination with the use of so-called "modal particles" (like "doch" - blue in the last sentence of the quote) would give - or so I hoped - the impression of a casual politeness. German modal particles - like sentence-final particles - mark the speaker’s mood or attitude towards the statement expressed. Also they create a common basis for continuing a conversation by the speaker’s appraisal of the mutual knowledge. Both features are characteristics of spoken German and seldomly used in written language."

Next, let's look at the Spanish translation by Gabriel Álvarez Martínez (Tusquets 2015):

—Vaya apellido más raro, Kitaru, ¿no? —dije.
—Sí, la verdad es que es bastante raro —dijo Kitaru.
—Había un lanzador en el Lotte Orions que se apellidaba igual.  
—Ah, sí, lo recuedo. No, no tiene nada que ver conmigo. Aunque es un apellido tan poco común que quizás estemos emparentados. (Hombres sin mujeres, p.56)

My friend Noemí Martín Santo, a scholar of Spanish literature who also knows Japanese, tells me that Kitaru does not use any dialect here. She also suggested that, had the translator chosen to use a dialect, it would have been possible to have used Andalusian, though she acknowledged that doing so would have caused other kinds of complications and potential misunderstandings. 

Here is a quote from the Taiwanese translation by Lai Ming Chu (Reading Times, 2014):


(《沒有女人的男人們》, p. 62)

Lai Ming Chu told me that she decided not to make Kitaru's speech different in any way, but to simply rely on the explanation in the narrative that he speaks in a "perfect Kansai dialect."  

Now, for the Danish version. Mette Holm (Klim 2015) translated these four lines like this: 

“Kitaru er da ikke noget almindeligt navn,” sagde jeg.
“Nej, det’ det ik’,” svarede han med kraftig kansai-dialekt.
“Baseballholdet Lotte har en pitcher, der hedder Kitaru.”
“Ja, men vi er ik’ i familie. Eller hvem ved, der’ ik’ mange
med det navn, så måske er der en forbindelse.”

Mette said she was inspired by the way Mr. Gamfield spoke in Oliver Twist! Apparently her editor had suggested that she consult the Dickens work, although her Kitaru dialect is "less exaggerated." 

She wrote to me: "I invented my ‘accent’ – and I did it with a lot of abbreviations … using apostrophes instead of letters. And I left out the verb in several places. At first I did more – but then I simplified it and did it very consistently."
The two lines Kitaru says in the above exchange would look like this in standard Danish (the syllables marked in blue were shortened).
“Nej, det er det ikke,” svarede han med kraftig kansai-dialekt.
 “Ja, men vi er ikke i familie. Eller hvem ved, der er ikke mange
med det navn så måske er der en forbindelse."(Mænd uden kvinder, p. 42)

Mette tells me that critics' were divided on this. 
One critic, Søren Kassebeer, liked the book very much, but wrote this about "Mette's dialect": 
En tekst, som han i øvrigt har forfattet på den japanske dialekt kansai-ben, som han har lært sig selv og konstant ævler løs på (og hvis den dialekt lyder meget specielt på japansk, så er det ikke rigtig lykkedes den dygtige oversætter at få den oversat til noget overbevisende dansk, men det er måske også umuligt, for man kan jo ikke lade en japaner tale jysk, vel?) [Berlingske, 7 September 2015]
In the translation kindly provided by Mette: "Part of Murakami's text is written in the Japanese dialect kansai-benwhich Kitaru has taught himself and he is always always blabbering in that manner.  If the dialect sounds very characteristic in Japanese, the skilled translator did not manage to translate it into convincing Danishbut perhaps it is also impossible, because you cannot let a Japanese speak Jutlandish (a Danish dialect), can you?"  
He did give the book 5 out of 6 possible stars though.
However, another critic, Christian Møgeltoft, wrote:
(in Mette's translation)
"I never get tired of praising Mette Holm’s faithful way of transferring Murakami’s imaginative prose into Danish. There is no doubt that the guy is good in his own language, but in Danish he is unequalled. The writer would be happy to see his ideas incarnated so convincingly. As a translator, Mette Holm is living proof that male writers without a mediation of a wise woman are an unfulfilled race." (Jyllands-Posten, 8 September 2015

(Note the nice word-play on the title of the book!) 
Møgeltoft also gave the book 5 out of 6 possible stars.

You can't please everybody all the time, but as long as we manage to please some people some of the time .... 

More posts on translating dialect to follow!

Friday, September 25, 2015

How to Translate Dialect

In the newest anthology of short stories by Haruki Murakami, there is a story titled "Yesterday." It tells of two friends.  One, originally from Kansai, moves to Tokyo to go to a university there and within a few weeks starts speaking like somebody born and raised in Tokyo. His friend, Kitaru, born and raised in Tokyo, speaks in Osaka dialect, and a pretty rough version of it (kanari diipu na) at that. It turns out that Kitaru is an avid fan of the Hanshin Tigers, a Kansai baseball team and that he had studied and learned the dialect not to feel out of place when he went to games and, surrounded by fans from Osaka, wanted to join them in cheering on his favorite team.

The fact that he speaks the Osaka dialect is an important part of the story and has an alienating effect. Kitaru is rather short, small-boned, and has noble features, so when he opens his mouth the contrast is really striking. I wasn't sure how to handle this in translation.

The usual wisdom in translation studies is to not even try translating a dialect, because one ends up localizing it in the wrong place and the effect can be comical.

Edward Seidensticker referred to this issue in remarks he made years ago about his translation of Sasameyuki (The Makioka Sisters):

"I did try to differentiate between Tokyo speech and Osaka speech. I think it was not a good solution. I rendered Osaka speech in a formal kind of English, without contractions, without any "don'ts" and "wasn'ts," and to emphasize the contrast I introduced more contractions than necessary in Tokyo speech. Someone from Osaka -- it was quite a while after the translation came out -- told me I should have done just the opposite. He said that Osaka speech is a speech of abbreviation and Tokyo speech is not. That had not occurred to me, but it is true. In standard Tokyo speech, all of the markers, the the-ni-o-ha, the postpositions, are there. They may be only vestigially there, but they are there in a Tokyo sentence. A lot of them are left out in an Osaka sentence. Therefore I should have had the exaggerated contractions in the Osaka part. But the experiment was a complete and utter failure for the simple reason that nobody even noticed what I have done." (Cited in Donald Richie, Words, Ideas, and Ambiguities:  Four Perspectives on Translating, pp. 76-77.)

Having read the above, I felt a little disheartened not knowing what to do about translating Kitaru.

Let's look at the first conversation between the two male students appearing in the story:

It is clear from the very first words that Kitaru "sounds different." This is how this conversation was rendered by Philip Gabriel:
“Kitaru is an unusual last name,” I said one day.
“Yeah, for sure,” Kitaru replied in his heavy Kansai accent.
“The Lotte baseball team had a pitcher with the same name.”
“The two of us aren’t related. Not so common a name, though, so who knows? Maybe there’s a connection somewhere.” ("Yesterday," The New Yorker, June 9, 2014)

From this short fragment, it seems that Gabriel did what Edward Seidensticker wished he had done: put more contractions in the Osaka speech. I did not have that option in Polish, since Polish doesn't really use contractions. I briefly considered making up a dialect, but did not feel equal to it. After a lot of hesitation and looking at some other translations, I decided to try an experiment, which I will describe in the following post.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Norwegian Translation of the First Two Murakami Novels

I have neglected to announce the appearance this year of the Norwegian translation of Kaze no uta o kike and 1973 nen no pinbōru. The translator was Yngve Johan Larsen and the publisher is Pax. Here is a picture of the cover along with a photo of the translator, who seems to be relatively new to the Norwegian translations of Murakami (a list of other works and translators can be found here).

I notice that, as in Polish and Dutch, the word for pinball (or pinball machine) seems to come from the word "flipper."

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Follow-Up Explanation About the New Essay Collection

James Westerhoven, the Dutch translator, confirms that apart from the six essays published in Monkey, one essay (#12,  『物語があるところ・河合隼雄先生の思い出』) was published in the 2013 Summer issue of Kangaeru Hito. The remaining five essays are brand new.

James also send me the following information, which might be helpful to translators who will be working on Kaze no uta o kike and 1973 nen no pinbōru:

"Murakami’s foreword to Listen/Pinball is an abbreviated and revised version of the second essay, 「小説家になった頃」.  “The contents are essentially the same, but in the foreword Murakami drops a few paragraphs. In the book he adds a few names for the benefit of Japanese readers, changes the name of a Hiroshima Carp player from Sotokoba to Takahashi (Satoshi) and doesn’t mention the title Pinball 1973 anywhere, but essentially the essay in the book is the same as the foreword, only a couple of pages longer.”

Thank you, James!

Friday, September 11, 2015

New Murakami Essay Collection Published Today

A collection of essays by Murakami Haruki titled Shokugyō to shite no shōsetsuka (A Novelist by Profession) hit the bookstores today under an arrangement aimed to combat the growing online sales figures by vendors like and to bring customers back to large and small neighborhood bookstores.

Kinokuniya, the large bookstore chain, apparently has bought 90,000 copies of the 100,000-copy first print run of the collection.  They plan to sell about half the books in their bookstores and distribute the rest to other bookstores, leaving few to be sold online. Kinokuniya is taking a risk, since under the current agreement it will not be able to return unsold copies to the publisher. However, given that the author is Murakami Haruki, they are probably not too concerned about possible losses.

You can read more about this story on the Japan Times page (in English) here or on the Mainichi Shinbun page here, or watch a video (in Japanese) here or here.

Some essays in the collection have been previously published in Shibata Motoyuki's literary magazine, Monkey, but the book also includes "150 pages" of new material. Here is the table of contents copied from the page of the publisher, Switch.


第一回 小説家は寛容な人種なのか
第二回 小説家になった頃
第三回 文学賞について
第四回 オリジナリティーについて
第五回 さて、何を書けばいいのか?
第六回 時間を味方につける──長編小説を書くこと
第七回 どこまでも個人的でフィジカルな営み
第八回 学校について
第九回 どんな人物を登場させようか?
第十回 誰のために書くのか?
第十一回 海外へ出て行く。新しいフロンティア
第十二回 物語があるところ・河合隼雄先生の思い出

I have just looked through my issues of Monkey and found the first six essays, which would mean that the remaining six are new, unless I am mistaken.

On the publisher's page, we also we find the following promise:





Which in free translation means:
"It contains all the topics that Haruki Murakami, the unique, universally loved writer, thinks about. This long-awaited essay collection, full of autobiographical episodes, has finally been published!"

As it is a book of essays, and not a novel, this collection will probably not cause a translation-rights-buying frenzy, but I am sure it will be published in many languages.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

More Translations of Men Without Women

Three new translations of Onna no inai otokotachi, Murakami's last year's short story anthology, will be coming out in the next few months. The first one, the Danish translation by Mette Holm will be published next week by Klim. Notice the beautiful golden bug on the cover! The reason for the bug is that the Danish version (as well as the two described above)  will include the story "Koi suru Zamuza" ("Samsa in Love"), which can be read as a a sequel to Kafka's The Metamophosis. (You can read it on The New Yorker page here.) 

The story was not included in the Japanese anthology Onna no inai otokotachi, but was written by Murakami for his book of translations of short stories about love, titled Koishikute (2013).

My Polish translation will be published by Muza in October. The cover design follows Muza's established design for the Murakami series, with the author's name written vertically, but seems to also play on the motif of the Japanese flag. I understand that Muza is considering redesigning the whole series though. 

The third translation that will appear soon will be James Westerhoven's translation into Dutch. The translation is being done in collaboration with Elbrich Fennema and will be published in February 2016 by Atlas Contact. James explained to me that the book will also be available in a limited deluxe edition at the cost of 100 euros. He also kindly translated the text announcing this edition on the publisher's page:
‘Limited, numbered deluxe edition. The seven stories of Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women as seven individual booklets in one slipcase, in a very special design. Each booklet has its own cover, created especially for this edition by internationally acclaimed designers and artists such as Joost Swarte, Floor Rieder, and Pieter Van Eenoge.’
The cost will be 100 euros. 

There are a few passages and words in this anthology that have created some difficulties for me and some of the fellow translators. I will discuss them on this blog in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reviews of the English Translation of Wind/Pinball Overlook the Translator

The appearance of the English translation by Ted Goossen of Murakami's first two novels Wind/Pinball was followed by many reviews in the American and British press. Here are a few quotes and links.


Last Sunday's NYT Book Review features a very positive review by Steve Erickson, first published online on August 12th.

The only passage indirectly referring to translation (or does it?) is this:
 "Crossing Kafka and the Beatles with Kenzaburo Oe (not an early Murakami fan), adding dashes of noir and science fantasy and creating an irresistible amalgam of East and West, Murakami sometimes has been odd man out to both: English-speaking readers may find it even less convincing than have the guardians of Murakami’s native culture when, for instance, he writes that something “blew my mind.” But authenticity is the enemy of audacity, and Murakami’s atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. Don’t tell the rest of the country, because it may blow their minds, but American fiction plays catch-up."

The Guardian published a review by Ian Sansom on August 13th.
Sansom clearly hasn't done his homework thoroughly, however, because he refers to the "40+years of the stellar career" (Murakami published his first book in 1979, which is 36 years ago). There is not a word about the translator or translation, except a brief mention of Ted Goossen's name.
Sansom calls the books "super-elliptical pop-noir" and praised them thus: 
What keeps the reader engaged are the Murakamian swerves, the long shots, the non sequiturs and the odd adjacencies. The books all read as if Raymond Chandler were writing scripts for David Lynch to direct with Yasujirō Ozu: super-elliptical pop-noir for the twentysomething well-to-do.

The Huffington Post published a review by Steven Petite on August 4th.

Petite seems to have liked the books, but he also does not find it necessary to refer to the translation. He praised the books saying:
With that, he delivers a reading experience that causes personal reflection, thoughts larger than ourselves, and consequently, the way we handle all of the big, external ideas within our 
                                 own, internal minds.  

And here is the link to the Publishers Weekly review.

The author (unnamed) likes the books and says:
Elegiac, ambient, and matter-of-fact in their strangeness, these two novels might leave casual readers wondering what all the fuss is about. But for the rest of us, this may be the ultimate bit of Murakami arcana, both elevating his other books (including A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance, the sequels) and serving as two excellent, though fragile, works in their own right. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Another Review of Wind/Pinball and the Italian Translation of Men without Women

In her July 23 review of Wind/Pinball, which appeared in the Independent online, Arifa Akbar calls the novellas, "appetisers from the kitchen table," referring to the fact that Murakami wrote them at home late at night after getting back from work (this was many years ago, when he ran a jazz bar). Akbar's opinion of the language of the books differs greatly from Matthew Adams's, quoted in the previous post. She writes: "What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners." Here is a link to the review.

In other Murakami translation news, the Italian translation of Men without Women, by Antonietta Pastore, appeared last week. The Italian title Uomini senza donne also uses "women" in plural -- I am referring here to an earlier discussion about singular vs. plural in this title (see the posts of March 29 and March 6).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Introduction to Wind/Pinball Already Available Online

The introduction written by Murakami for Wind/PinballTwo Novels, which is being released by Knopf on August 4, is already available online here:
In it, Murakami talks about how he became a writer and puts his two earliest novels in a broader context by explaining their inception -- an interesting read!

And here is an early review by Matthew Adams:
The reviewer mentions the name of the translator, Ted Goossen, and says that the books are "a great treat," but then -- as is so often the case in these situations -- proceeds to comment on the writing style, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the words he read were Ted Goossen's, not Murakami's: "But anyone expecting a high standard of writing from these books will be disappointed. Their dominant mode is that of cliché: characters “sweat like a pig”; have “time to kill”; gaze with “bleary eyes”; complain that they are “dead tired”; endure rain that is “freezing cold”; sit in cars that are “stifling hot.”  There may be clichés in the original, but if you are going to comment on the use of clichés in a review of a translation from a language as different from English as Japanese, wouldn't it make sense  to refer to the fact that one is commenting on the language of the translation?