A Tale for the Time Being: Translation

I think that translation studies is one of the most interesting components of studying literature. Ruth Ozeki’s novel is itself a translation study. The character Ruth footnotes Nao’s journal with definitions of Japanese words and phrases, and includes appendices to translate larger concepts, such as the teachings of Zen Buddhism. There is Nao’s attempt to translate her grandmother’s importance to some future reader. There is Jiki’s desire to translate her knowledge for Nao. There is Ruth’s effort to understand modern Japanese slang, and to decipher the meaning inherent in Nao’s handwriting. It seems that translations dominate the book, and whenever something gets translated, I’m always left wondering, “what gets lost in translation?”

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