Of Essence & Appreciation

Of Essence & Appreciation

Or why a vast amount is lost in translation

(This article will primarily focus on creative works translated from English to Japanese)

A video version of this review can be found HERE.

I have recently begun exploring the world of critiquing creative works on YouTube (a dangerous pastime, I know… ) and I came across a video analyzing Hayao Miyazaki’s marvelous film,「 千と千尋の神隠し」, or, as it is known in English, “Spirited Away”.

The YouTubers who analyzed the work, Daniel Greene and Merphy Napier, are both excellent and have a wealth of interesting content in their channels, but a few points arose from their analysis that I felt were inherent issues when a non-native speaker attempts to analyze a translated work. The video can be found here, and I feel it is well worth a watch.

I will state at the outset that I have no idea how knowledgeable either of these reviewers are of Japanese language or culture. Further, please understand that what I present here is in no way an issue unique to these two reviewers. I feel their analysis was very well thought out and presented. The issues lie in understanding the fundamental difficulties in transferring a creative work from one language to another, and it is my contention that distance, method of expression, and cultural factors all play a part in why quite a bit is lost in the translation.

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Daily Post: The Road Less Traveled

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. Write about that other alternate life that could have unfolded.

The day was March 11th, 2011.  I was living in a small town, teaching English to junior high school students.  It was their graduation day that day, a whole class of children were moving on to high school in a week.  Many cried, many laughed.  To be honest, up until 2:45 that day, it had been a really good day. 

The graduation finished at around noon and the teachers all headed back to the staff room to pretend to work.  I sat at my desk, typing away as always.  I was trying to put the last touches on the novel I was writing. 

Then it hit.  I heard it coming up through the ground before I felt it, and every sense in my mind told me to run.  I shot up from my desk, slammed my computer shut, and bolted for the door.  The other teachers actually laughed at me. 

They wouldn’t be laughing long… Continue reading