My week was hard. Push ups are hard. Getting comfortable in ankle cuffs is also hard.
In English, I have to say ‘hard’ or ‘puma’ (pineapple up my ass), but in Japanese I could make an ‘Nnnn!’ sound that kind of sounds like I’m constipated and it perfectly expresses the hard/frustrating/difficult/tiring feeling I want to get across.
I spent most of my week entertaining customers from the land of the rising sun and answering all those sticky marketing questions they like to ask by telling them something without really saying anything at all. I had long days and lots of travelling and missed several nights at gym that left me climbing the walls for some sweat-inducing classes.
I also lost count of the number of times I said ‘It’s difficult’ because in Japanese you don’t say ‘No’, you just say ‘It’s difficult’ and that’s code for ‘Not over my dead body’.
While I do a bit of marketing material translation these days, in another life I was a full-time translator and that involved me doing a lot of freelance work on everything from movie subtitles to instruction manuals for foot spas to corporate contracts (just ask me about torts!) And while law-related stuff is probably some of the hardest stuff I’ve ever had to translate, I have to say manga are pretty damn hard too. Why you ask? Well, they’re full of sounds that describe environments, feelings and actions and they are a nightmare to translate.
Japanese is full of onomatopoeia (sound symbolic words) and they add a wonderful depth to what you’re trying to say and to visual media like manga & tv.
English has a few words like this too – a tummy rumbling with hunger, the car zoomed past, but definitely not the range that Japanese has.
I see most of the time that the translators of manga just ignore the onomatopoeia and leave it as part of the art. I can see why…having the page filled with bubbles saying things like ‘sound of something slippery going through his fingers’ or ‘heavy knocking sound of wooden leg on gang plank’ just kind of distracts the reader.
When I’m writing my story I’m very conscious of the environments I build and the sounds that should be there (or lack thereof) to make it feel more three-dimensional. I often wonder if the people and places I build in my mind are similar to what other people imagine when they read my words. Somehow I think that what makes me juicy doesn’t necessarily turn on the juice of others.
I’d like one of these plugs for my phone though:
or maybe one of these:
and this is just weird (it’s apparently been made using a ‘real woman’s finger’ as a model?!?!):