A Letter to E.L. KONIGSBURG
Examples of things needing revision from "Journey to an 800 Number."
The originalFAladdin Paperbacks 1999
The Iwanami paperback, the first edition 2000
Translated by Kiri Kojima
* 1. There is a very short synopsis on the back of book covers. It says," Max meets freaks, such as Lilly and Sabrina ..."
No way. It's an untruth. They are normal. Sabrina just takes interest in freaks. The cover and the book are contrary to each other.* 2. Grammatical errors and wrong expressions and usages.
* 3. Some omissions of subjects which make some sentences difficult to understand.
* 4. Trendy words, soon to be out of fashion.
* 5. Some words and phrases were made meaningless just like your 'breast-brisket.'
* 6. Simple, neutral sentences are translated into a kind of formal language that, when used, demands someone's gratitude. This tendency is seen throughout the book.
* 7. They keep their readers asking: "Who did that?" "What happened?" and "Why?"
(P.42)* 8. They leave out some sentences and words.
-- Father was cooing to Almed, ready to lead him out of the stall, when a carload of kids pulled into a booth two down from ours.
They translate 'kids' into 'kodomo' which usually means children under 12 years of age. So, no one understands who was driving the car to the end.
-- "I wonder if the Mongolians will have an idiot in their booth?" I asked. Father gave me a look that told me not to repeat that remark.
'Idiot' is changed into 'hena-choko' which means a cub. Readers cannot understand why the father reproved Max in that way.
-- There was no reason why my father, a man I hardly knew better than I knew F. Hugo Malatesta, should know what I was thinking. The fact that he did made me mad.
They translate the sentence "The fact that he did made me mad." into "I was very confused." Readers can't clearly know Max's anger. So, they don't understand why Max took a defiant attitude toward his father after that.
ex. (P.66)* 9. They often translate 'very' into the word 'kanari' which means considerably, rather, pretty. They make characters modest or moderate so much, even when it is needless, or rather should not be so.
-- When Manuelo offers to help Max, he says, "Don't worry, Max...."
In the Japanese version, there is no line which corresponds to "He thought a minute and then added."
I think they have left out an important part, as this short interval shows Manuelo's thoughtfulness and brightness.
* 10. In the Japanese version, the leading characters' behavior is very inconsistent. Each of them suddenly sprinkles dirty or childish words in their language. Or the reverse. I don't think the editors and the translators have any insight into human nature. They never understand the colloquialisms of both English and Japanese.
(P.135)They abuse some 'old's.
Trina Rose says to Max, "Know what, Love?" "Do you know that now, Love?"
Her every 'Love' is changed into 'O-bochan.'
Trina should never call Max 'O-bochan,' if she doesn't want to make fun of him, as it sounds distant or remote. No boy is happy when he is called "O-bochan" by his loved ones, except his father's or mother's employees.
(P.78)Torina's "bloody" is also abused.
Woody's friends say to Max:
That's some nice guy you have for a daddy. You take good care of that old man now, hear?
In Japanese, the line runs:
"You take good care of that feeble-minded aged man, hear?"
"Woodrow Stubbs, you bloody old fart," she said. "If I hadn't just had my second breakfast, I would eat you right up. How's that short-haired long-legged beast of yours? I'm referring to Ahmed of course. Nothing private intended."
The Japanese is:
"Woodrow Stubbs, you've aged considerably!" she said.
"that short-haired long-legged beast" is turned into "that sparsely-haired tottery, spindle-legged animal." And "Nothing private intended" is turned into "I didn't mean the important parts of a man."
I really hate to write these facts, because this scene is the one of my favorites. Old good, trustworthy friends meet again after a long time. They are full of love and respect for each other.
It's used to emphasize things in a slightly rude way. It just makes her way of talking very British. But, they translate most "bloody"s into the words-- "shimittare" and "kusottare"-- tinged with dirt.They don't realize delicate transitions of characters' feelings. They pretend to be frank and very understanding of children's minds, but they don't understand children. Never.
For instance, when Max wanted to introduce Scotty to Sabrina,
The following morning I told Scotty Devlin that I had a friend who wanted to meet him. I told him even before I put on my burnoose.
They changed "a friend" into "some people." I felt myself cheated.
They don't like Max doing something for a girl. They seem to want to even deny the slight love and affection between Sabrina and Max.
I am very sorry that there is this tremendous misunderstanding. I think it's our cultural problem. We have to have the solution.
Mrs. Konigsburg, please understand that the Japanese language in itself is deep and beautiful. I am proud of my mother tongue. We have the words which can do justice to your great works.
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