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Old 05-24-2006, 12:27 AM   #5
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 138
Re: Article: A Re-transliteration of Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" by "The Grindstone"


You are right, I was playing with the word "transliteration," but I was purposefully rejecting the word "translation." The reason: I was not working with the original Japanese text. It is not at my disposal. So I could not call what I did a translation (even though much of the English translation left key Japanese terms in romanized versions of Japanese). Additionally, the text I was working from was already an English text. I chose the word "re-transliteration" because I was simply trying to take it from an English text to a more readable English text. I was simply re-writing it.
The problem (if you see this as a problem) is that the word 'transliteration' already has a meaning in the English language, and it does not mean what you have done. Since your intention is to rectify the assignment of English language words to Japanese language terms, the reader might be inspired to greater confidence in your choices if you displayed a greater resistance to displacing the existing definitions of the words you choose. I think 'reinterpretation' is a more accurate word for this rendition.

In the history of spiritual discourse, this is something that has been done throughout time - re-transcribing things.
There you go again. I realize you're not trying to be rigorous about the language you are using here, but it almost sounds like you are intentionally choosing words which would obscure the actual provenance of your text. To your credit, you are being open about what you have done, but consider that eventually this context may be lost; and some future reader will be puzzling over 'the Way of God'.

I saw no reason why not to do it here, while I saw good reason to do it.
I would feel more comfortable if the body of the text contained the information quoted above. Specifically, that this text was not based on a Japanese original, but is an interpretation of an English translation with some embedded Japanese; and that you were inspired to reorganize and reword it because you objected to the translation of those embedded phrases.

Additionally, I wanted to add some context to the piece so that the reader could see how "readability" is always going to go hand in hand with (any) translation. Meaning, even the original translator who brought the text from Japanese to English had to do some "re-transliteration" - he had to filter things through several times, through two languages, several times, to determine what is "literal" and what is not, etc. (e.g. the way he translates Osensei's understanding of certain phrases to be in line with certain fascist thinking of the times, etc.)
David, do you not see that you've done it yet again? When you write 'original translator', you suggest that your text is also a translation - even though you have just told me that you rejected the word 'translation' to describe the process.

I do not particularly mean to quibble over trivialities. I brought this up because:

1) You are playing light and loose with the meaning of words *while in the process of tinkering with a translator's choices* and admittedly without access to the primary source.

2) You present yourself publicly as a scholar, and therefore the attachment of your name to this text - particularly without further explanation - may lead readers to believe the document represents something other than what it does.

At least the clarifications you have provided in this exchange will make clear your process for readers here, but it would be intellectually honest to acknowledge the nature of the internet. Inevitably this document will appear somewhere else without these explanatory remarks, and it *will not* be entirely clear that this is not an independent translation (or 'transliteration' or 'transcription' or whatever). For that reason, I think it would be an admirable gesture if you amended the title of your article and included (either in a footnote or as an introductory explanation) a description of the actual process by which you wrote this text: i.e., it is a reinterpretation of an English translation inspired by your dissatisfaction with that translation - based in part on the Japanese phrases left remaining in it, in part on the organization of the text itself, and perhaps on some other factors.

I hate to be such a spoil-sport, but if your motivation is based on a perception of the 'original' translation as confusing, you owe it to your readers not to add to the confusion with your own text.

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