I decided that I’d write a short post on how I go about actually translating some text. So here we go.
Here’s a real example, pulled from the Introduction to Naze Besto:
Now, let’s translate it using the patented “GaProgMan Never Fail” method *
*Patent not even remotely pending
Step 1: copy it out to the Genkō yōshi
I’m going to skip this section, because it’s exactly what it says on the tin: I copy the text to my Genkō yōshi notepad. For an example of my Genkō yōshi notes, see yesterday’s post: [link]
Step 2: Make notes on the kanji and grammar used
Here’s the fun bit. I’ll make a whole bunch of notes on each sentence, in turn. The notes will be on the kanji, grammar or anything else that I feel pertinent. Here’s what my JWP file for the above quote looks like:
人生 【じんせい】 (n) (human) life (i.e. conception to death), (P)
変える 【かえる】 (v1,vt) to change, to alter, to vary, to convert, to revise, to amend
最終 【さいしゅう】 (n) last, final, closing, (P)
文字 【もじ】 (n) letter (of alphabet), character, (P)
僕 【ぼく】 (n) (male) I, manservant, (P)
今 【いま】 (n-adv,n) now, the present time, just now, soon, immediately, (one)
魔法 【まほう】 (n) magic, witchcraft, sorcery, (P)
存在 【そんざい】 (n,vs) existence, being, (P)
言 【げん】 (n) word, remark, statement, (P)
実 【じつ】 (n) truth, reality, sincerity, fidelity, kindness, faith, substance, essence, (P)
嘘 【うそ】 (n) lie, falsehood, incorrect fact, inappropriate, (P)
hopefully, you can see that I’ve broken each sentence down into small chunks and made notes on the reading and meaning of each chunk.
Step 3: Translate the chunks and glue them back together
This bit is the second easiest, but takes almost as long as the other sections. Yes, the individual parts of each sentence have been translated, but when you put them back together again, they wont make grammatically correct English sentences. For example:
Human life <verb marker> to change
Final 13 characters
But my translation of it becomes:
With these 13 characters, I will change your life
It’s important to note that “なぜベストを尽くさないのか” is 13 characters long. Ueda is making the bold statement that, by saying this characters out loud, you can change your life.
That’s, mainly, all there is to it. See if you can translate the second sentence based on my notes.
Until then, remember: なぜベストを尽くさないのか? (Why don’t you do your best?)