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Per Diem in Japanese

Started by Jim Kacian, May 28, 2011, 04:43:27 PM

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Jim Kacian

Sasanoha offers the following translation of today's Per Diem poem into Japanese:

fading blue sky—
insect voices
find their rhythm
   —Adelaide B. Shaw


It is possible we'll make a regular habit of this if interest is shown and conversation ensues. I look forward to your comments. Thanks.


May I make attempt at translating the Japanese back to English?


空 (sky)
の "'s" (shows possesive)
彼 (he - is this diminitive form?)
方 (side? or person?)
へ (fart)
消える (to vanish)
うち (inside)

虫の音 (insect(s)' sound)

拍子 (rhythm)
を (article indicating object)
みつけ (find)
出す (send out)

May I ask where is the "blue"?  Also, forgive my lack of skill to understand the Japanese fully in L1 of the translation.  Would the translator please care to kindly explain?

The second line I understood.

The third line matches well the English, although, the Japanese grammar requires a different word order than the English.  The Japanese "particles" are a challenge to translate, at times.

Recently, I have struggled with Japanese to English translations of poetry.  I think Robin D. Gill's idea of "paraverse" and multiple versions can work both ways, that is, English to several Japanese variations and Japanese to several English variations.

Thank you in advance.


Gabi Greve

Quotefading blue sky—
insect voices
find their rhythm
   —Adelaide B. Shaw

. tr. Sasanoha

I read the Japanese as an attempt to translate the meaning, with no attempt to keep the 5 7 5 of a Japanese haiku.
Without context, it might be difficult for a Japanese reader to identify this as a haiku.

There is also no kireji to reflect the - at the end of English line 1.
The comma at the end of Japanese line 2 looks strange to me.

blue sky ... maybe 青空 ?

By the way, Chibi san, I enjoyed your dissection of Line 1 ... but refrain from commenting on this for now.
hehehe ...




I have no Japanese, but will enjoy following what others say about this. It's a very good idea that we can all have the opportunity to see how an English haiku is translated and /or adapted into Japanese and hear what those with both languages make of it.

Thanks, Dennis, for my first lighthearted moment for today.  Also, though this is the first Japanese letter I'm not likely to forget in a hurry because of your efforts  8), I wonder if there's an alternative translation for へ ?

I wonder what Adelaide will make of it?

"The comma at the end of Japanese line 2 looks strange to me." - Gabi

Interesting, that the way a comma is rendered in Japanese? Now that you mention it, it does look a bit odd, but instinct tells me that it could be a typo made by anyone proficient in both languages & juggling both, because it might be meant to be an apostrophe indicating the plural possessive case (in English) to me.... insects' voices... correct in English for the voices of more than one insect, as Dennis has rendered it. So it could just be a 'bleed-through' kind of typographical error. I don't know, of course... just guessing.

ps. Would it be possible to have the script... um, this sort of thing ... Odoroita kare wa michi o hashitte itta.... as well, so we who don't read Japanese can get an idea of the rhythm?

- Lorin


modified: added the ps

Gabi Greve

The Japanese keyboard is different from the English one and expecially the symbols come out different.

I try to show the Japanese comma :  、

and the comma on my English keyboard :  ,

Commas like this in Japanese are not usally used when writing haiku in Japanese.



 :) well, I didn't even know that there were commas in Japanese. Learning, learning...

- Lorin



Thank you for this opportunity. :)

"May I ask where is the "blue"? "
I chose 空 as it often makes us imagine blue sky. And 空(sora) is shorter than 青空(aozora).

But you are right! 青空 is blue sky.

Also, considering your comment, I wonder my interpretation was different.

Now, I could say

青空消えて aozora kiete
虫の音 mushi no ne
拍子をみつけ出すhyoshi wo mitsuke dasu

"The comma at the end of Japanese line 2 looks strange to me."
I put the comma to clarify that 虫の音 is subject.
But in Haiku, I could delete it! :D

Thank you for all the advice!!


Hello Sasanoha san,

Perhaps you could arrange your translation to match similar to the Japanese haiku style at which the English poem is written?  This is difficult and sometimes impossible, but, the effort, if successful, in my opinion, is worth it.

For example the first line could be short, twilight, "夕闇 や" (yuuyami ya) this would in English be shortened and perhaps will fit the 5 beats of a first line in Japanese.  I do this or similar every weekend with my Japanese friends interactively over Skype on the internet.  I find the exercise much fun.  We use several dictionaries...  :) to find words that fit and still try to keep the meaning and feeling across both English and Japanese cultures.  That way we all learn together.

Thank you for your translations.

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