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Old 05-24-2006, 08:36 PM   #15
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Re: Article: A Re-transliteration of Osensei's "Kannagara no Jutsu" by "The Grindstone"


Again, thanks for posting.

I am still working on the reply that will let you know exactly why I used the word "re-transliteration." Please forgive my delay. In the meantime...

(Let us note here that you have two main points to your posts: 1) That the word "re-transliteration" makes no sense, is wrongly used, etc; and 2) That folks are going to be misled into believing they are hearing Osensei's thoughts when they are not. It is in my later post that I will address your first criticism. In that post, you will see that you are right, there are ulterior motives regarding the title of my column. I will bring those to light, as those are my only reasons for writing this piece. Here, in this post, I will address your second criticism.)

I agree with what Erick said - true. I do think he is addressing some of your points - the ones you are openly mentioning. That is to say, he is able to understand the exercise right on the money - without any of the difficulties you say are present, etc. Specifically, he is right when he says:

"In my view what he has done is neither a translation nor a 'transliteration' but a constructive criticism of the English translation he used as his reference point, with additional reference to some portions of romaji provided in the original translated text. His point is that that the existing translation in English leaves something to be desired, and he critically approaches those questions with his suggested changes."

While I will be hoping to take this thread in a different direction (via my other reply), explaining why I used the word "re-transliteration" (which is no word at all), I do see here that Erick has understood the "how" of what I was doing. As I said, this he has done perfectly. In understanding the "how" of what I was doing, I do think he has addressed your "concern" over translations. In short, while you have rightly expressed or hinted at the great risk toward ignorance that could come from poorly researched translations, such a risk is not relevant here.

It is not relevant here because, first, this is not a translation (i.e. Erick's point), and, second, (and this is most important for those that wish to "protect" the "sanctity" of Osensei's words) this text says nothing different than what the English translation says. All of the key ideas are present -- none have been omitted; no new ideas have been added; etc. The main points are all the same. This is how Osensei DID understand his practice and how he attempted to explain it to others that openly asked him, "What is your practice like?"

The key words I translated differently are the only real differences and all they do is bring consistency to the lecture. They do not change the meaning of the lecture. Moreover, the new translations of these key words that I proposed are by far more accurate than what was offered in the first translation of these terms. In all but one of these cases, the kanji do not need to be seen because the words in question are very commonly known. In these cases, it is the English translation (the one at that has made the extra effort to misunderstand Osensei (and to lead others astray).

Additionally, we have to note that this was a lecture given by Osensei. In all likelihood, the source of the translation was not a text written by Osensei at all. The tone and rhythm of the text strongly suggests that Osensei was speaking this lecture with no notes, or at most from only casual notes. It hardly points toward Osensei reading a lecture. Thus, the text to be translated was most likely a transcription written by someone else -- someone set to note Osensei's discussion for the sake of posterity. In that case, the translator did not did not have Osensei's kanji at his disposal either. (This is particularly important for the remaining term I offered to translate: "saniwa.")

"Saniwa" is the only translation that might prove to be different -- and this might is a very small "might." I discuss this in a footnote. Additionally, to play it safe, I chose an English word that is both close to the word in the translation and my own possible suggestion. This "might" gets smaller still. The only reason I am saying "might" at all is that the translator is obviously referring to a part of the early founding myths of Japan. In all likelihood, the "saniwa" of "medium" is simply an extension of the "saniwa" of these myths. However, because these founding myths are ancient in their transcription, there is a small chance that some evolution in the kanji has taken place. This does not mean the meaning has changed, or even that the transcription in question would be able to show such change, but a good translation is always going to mark such possible evolutions. This "might" gets smaller still. Remember, this was a lecture, and, most likely, the translator was working with a transcription. Meaning, it is very unlikely that Osensei wrote the word out for his audience, saying, "This is the ‘saniwa' I mean." Thus, in all likelihood, even if there was some sort of evolution in the kanji of Japan's ancient myths, Osensei did mean "medium" when he said "saniwa" -- for he certainly did not mean to literally point to some extraordinary realm thought to exist between Heaven and Earth. Thus, even in this case, I still would opt for my translation of "saniwa" over the one offered in the English translation of the lecture.

So, while you suggest there is a chance here to "mislead" folks, etc., it is not only not relevant, it is not present. It is not present because for the most part my text is saying nothing different than what the English translation is saying. You can see that for yourself by reading the translation over at Additionally, if there is a chance to mislead folks, it lies only with the English translation, which has made use of obviously poor translations regarding key terms. In other words, if you want to read my effort as a translation, you would have to read it as a better translation than the one currently in use and claiming to be the words of Osensei. The dangers you claim to be heading off lie in the translation, not in my work.

Again, please be patient, I should have that reply posted by tomorrow. It will explain why I used the non-word "re-transliterate" in such an odd manner. Again, thank you.


David M. Valadez
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