Chris St. Louis: Won't You See This Amusement Park With Me?
I began this project about two years ago, at a stage in my Japanese knowledge where I really had no business attempting to translate something even as short as 「願えばきっと…」. In that time I participated in a hardly-relevant capacity in various insani projects, and each time at Seung's urging I would try to return to 「願えばきっと…」. My Japanese gradually increased but my confidence didn't; the prospect of translating an entire piece of any length was horribly daunting. It was almost like I was terrified of succeeding.
When al|together 2008 was initially announced I was halfway through a yearlong study-abroad session in Japan. Aside from a handful of lines I had worked on back in the states, I finished translation of the piece in about a month while staying with a friend's family outside of Nerima, in a house with no furniture that forced me to do all my work sitting on the floor, balancing the laptop on (surprise) my lap. After I submitted the piece to Seung for approval, I reflected that I had done the majority of the work in a two week period, and could probably have shortened it to one week had I really been diligent about it. This little bit of regret, however, was overshadowed by the exhiliration, the feeling of accomplishment of finally finishing my own translation piece. My Japanese had of course improved by leaps and bounds, but what I think really enabled me to finally face the piece was the confidence I gained from being thrown into a foreign, non-Western culture with only three years of college study of the language under my belt, and left to fend for myself. It was the difference between balking at chatting about the weather with Japanese exchange students on my home campus, and attempting to explain the main economy of my home state to my host father, despite not knowing words for things like "cattle ranching" or "timber" or even "mountain range" (these have since been rectified). It was that confidence, first and foremost, that allowed me to triumphantly claim to be a translator.
"The problem is that when you're right, it's generally fine, but when you're wrong you're, uh, almost inappropriately wrong," Seung said to me when we first sat down to edit my draft after I returned home. To be fair, I didn't expect that my initial attempt was anything near flawless. The editing and rewrite session was grueling and I struggled regularly with the effort of trying to put my words to somebody else's theme and idea, and have the end result come out as something faithful to the author's original intent. I can proudly state that this translation of 「願えばきっと…」 is entirely faithful to Se-Ro's original Japanese work. I couldn't have done it on my own — my original draft did contain quite a few technically correct but spiritually unfaithful entries, and several complete gaffes where the meaning was entirely lost. The end result, though, is a short but sweet story about loss and redemption in the most unlikely fashion, and I hope you are able to feel the author's intent — to understand his heart — through our hard work.
I would be remiss if I did not extend my thanks to those who made this project possible: first and foremost to Se-Ro for writing the piece, without which all this effort would have been for naught. And to Seung Park, whose tutelage and advice made all the difference between a revised piece and a sloppy hack-job, and who got me started down the translator's path properly, so many years ago.
And thank you, for reading this piece. I do hope you enjoy it.
27 November 2008
© 2006 Persian Blue; © 2008 Chris St. Louis
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