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Post #1 Posted: Tue Jun 27, 2017 6:52 pm 
Judan
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Since we have some (high level) English translators/interpreters here,
I thought I'd try my luck:

How to translate/interpret the following (as a book title) into English ?

風にふるえて眠れ

( I have a sense of its meaning.
I'm wondering: does a good English version depend on the contents of the book ?
Does it also depend on the target audience ? )

( Compare: 1Q84 is very convenient, for an English target. :) )

Thank you.

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Post #2 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:19 am 
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I don't know much Japanese but here's my guess :twisted:

Sleep in the hush of the wind

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Post #3 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:18 am 
Judan
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Hi gamesorry, Thanks for your input. :)

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Post #4 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 3:10 am 
Oza

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Ed

No need to be off topic - there's a go connection!

You can't translate this without knowledge of the content. It sounds literary, i.e. its meaning is not meant to be obvious, but allusive.

The obvious allusion here is to the famous film Hush Sweet Charlotte starring Bette Davis and... Olivia de Havilland, who played go with her father. Walter de Havilland. He served as a patent attorney and law professor in Japan, but seems to have been mainly a go nerd. He was author of the English go primer The ABC of Go: The National War-Game of Japan in 1910, and played go with his two children, the other one being an equally famous actress, Joan Fontaine. One of them (I think it was Joan but memory fades...) wrote an autobiog which suggested Walter's divorce was rooted in his go nerdity and hence desire to stay in Japan. The two sisters themselves had a notorious competitive streak and you could say their feud became the National War-Game of USA for a time.

This film was released in Japan as ふるえて眠れ. Rather old, but a song from the film still keeps popping up. The literal meaning is "you are trembling [but] sleep." I think Olivia says it to Bette, who is having nightmares years after having missed her wedding because her groom turned up decapitated and she had blood on her wedding dress. It was a psycho thriller - there were no CSI type films in those days, as I recall.

Here, however, the phrase is prefaced with "in the wind". That gives the first part of the phrase (trembling in the wind) a "poetic" lilt of seven syllables, so I'd guess the book is fiction-cum-art, or a poetry anthology perhaps. Can't quite explain why (something to do with starting off like a haiku and the timbre of the syllables) but it strikes a tone of loneliness, to go on top of the sinisterness of the above allusion.

Really showing my age, aren't I?


This post by John Fairbairn was liked by 4 people: Bill Spight, EdLee, gowan, jeromie
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Post #5 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 4:26 am 
Judan
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Hi John,

Thanks very much.

I had no idea of the Go connection! (Thus Off topic.)
It's actually the title of a book -- a collection of Japanese poetry --
(excellent guess!) written by a friend here in town
(native of Japan; born and raised there, but immigrated here years ago).
He has already made an English title, and the book is available on Amazon.
He already explained to me the literal meaning of the Japanese title.
(But I had no idea of all the references you mentioned. Very interesting.)
Hmm...to get a 'good' English title requires knowing (in depth) about the book itself -- this makes sense.
Quote:
That gives the first part of the phrase (trembling in the wind) a "poetic" lilt of seven syllables
You mean 風にふるえて, 7 syllables... this 7 syllable metric is similar to the 7 in Haiku's 5-7-5 ?
Quote:
but it strikes a tone of loneliness
Your guess is amazing! (Based on my very rudimentary understanding of the poems in the book.)
This level of understanding (based on only 10 syllables) is far, far beyond Watson's! (But I have no idea when AI may catch up, re: AlphaGo.)

Follow-up question (greedy): does ふるえて眠れ have any ancient, literary context, or was it an original coinage just for the 1964 movie ?

Thanks.

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Post #6 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 5:36 am 
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I thought trembling in the wind suggests leaves ...

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Post #7 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 10:27 am 
Oza

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Quote:
This level of understanding (based on only 10 syllables) is far, far beyond Watson's! (But I have no idea when AI may catch up, re: AlphaGo.)

Follow-up question (greedy): does ふるえて眠れ have any ancient, literary context, or was it an original coinage just for the 1964 movie ?


Ed,

I'm not aware of any older allusion of the phrase, but just to expand a little on why it sounds "poetical": apart from the 7-syllable metre, which is a backbone of most Japanese poems, it exhibits vowel harmony. Within a 7- (or 5-) syllable unit there is a tendency to make all the vowels "back" (a and o) or "forward" (i, e, u). These are my own terms, but the phenomenon is common in Uro-Altaic and other languages. For example, you will see it a lot in Russian poetry and folk songs (but in Russian the u is a back sound, whereas the Japanese u is more like ü, and since ancient Japanese had eight vowels rather than the modern five, there was even more scope for vowel harmony then).

As a trivial example of how vowel harmony works in practice, sake is rice-wine in Japanese and -ya is suffix meaning dealer. But a rice-wine dealer is sakaya rather than sakeya.

As a less trivial example, take this line from a Russian poem/song (Одинокая гармонь) by poet laureate Mikhail Isakovsky: Снова замерло всё до рассвета. He used what I regard as a huge proportion of a o and u, which you could say went well with the Stalinist architecture so prevalent during his life. But it would be unfair to overlook the subtleties. In this line, the e sound in замерло is a neutral one, as the stress is on the za-, so the only pure forward sound is the e in рассвета. All the back "dark" sounds fit the word picture - All has closed down till morning - but the open e beautifully adds rays of sunshine to it (and рассвета = dawn). The rest of the poem also makes skilful use of vowel painting. That may be why so many of Isakovsky's poems have been turned into songs. choirs like the Red Army Choir and the Pyatnitsky Choir have used lots of his work. I'd be a bit surprised if most people here didn't know Katyusha, at least as a recognisable tune

This digression is partly to explain why word nerds like me feel sensitised to phrases like ふるえて眠れ. Similarly, I even have a theory that an important part of Rabbie Burns's poetic skill is his love of the w sound:

Now westlin winds and slaughtering guns
Bring autumn's pleasant weather.
The moorcock springs on whirring wings
Among the blooming heather.
Now waving grain, wild o'er the plain
Delights the weary farmer.

But no matter how nerdy you think that is, computers may have already out-Alphaed us as regards stylistics. I read the blurb of a pseudo-linguistics book on this topic recently. I think it might have been called How to Write a Bestseller. Although this was by yet another author who tells you how to do something wonderful yet for some strange reason never does it himself, the research mentioned may not have been entirely fanciful. I gather someone did some tests where famous authors tried to write things under a pseudonym, but the computer could tell who the author was by analysing the style. Even more impressive (to the author - not to me) was the fact that even when the writer knew he/she was under test, and so tried to change style and vocabulary, AlphaWord was not fooled.

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Post #8 Posted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 12:33 pm 
Judan
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Hi John,

Thank you.

So it's your trained ear (deep neural nets :) ) that picked up the poetic lilt.
Quote:
As a trivial example of how vowel harmony works in practice, sake is rice-wine in Japanese and -ya is suffix meaning dealer. But a rice-wine dealer is sakaya rather than sakeya.
Off off topic, surely ( linguistics ):

Is vowel harmony related to these examples:
- In Putonghua, when two third tones are in a row, the first one is changed to the second tone ;
- 組手 by itself is くみて, but if preceded by 一本, it becomes 一本ぐみて ; ( ...this is a consonant thing... )
- By themselves -- Lazy. Motion. Margaret. Starbucks. -- the last syllable inflects down. But when each precedes something else -- Lazy Acres. Motion sickness. Margaret Thatcher. Starbucks Coffee. -- then the last syllable of the first term inflects up ( at least a little ) ;

Thanks for the Russian examples ; unfortunately I know zero Russian, so I couldn't appreciate the nuances.
( Most people in California -- not sure about elsewhere -- pronounce 酒 as [SAH-kee]! :-? )

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