Sunday, April 4, 2010

Translation: Amadare Blues (B'z)

When you're a young, aspiring translator, one of the most difficult things to accept is that the actual words that make up a phrase are less important than the ideas that those words convey. Why is this so difficult to accept? Simple: translating words is easy; translating ideas is hard.

Translating words is also safe. You don't really have to care about what you're doing. You're dealing in relatively unimpeachable facts; if someone tells you that you're wrong, you just have to point to your dictionary to prove that you're right. On the off-chance that you do make a mistake, it's very easy to catch and fix.

By contrast, translating ideas requires a certain investment. You have to connect with the material. You have to understand it. You have to use your judgment about what needs to be conveyed, and the best way to convey it -- and despite your best efforts, not everyone will agree. You'll get into arguments that have no right answer and no end.

In other words, real translation is hard because it's art.

I bring up these thoughts, because they were running through my head as I hammered away at a translation of Amadare Blues by B'z. The meaning of the song is simple enough; the challenge is figuring out how to convey the singer's stream-of-consciousness rantings without sounding stilted. This meant the painful sacrifice of no small number of literal words.

Check out the amazing song here on YouTube, and follow along with the translation below.

Song Title: Amadare Blues (Rainy Day Blues)
Artist: B'z
Album: Monster

amadare no oto jiwarijiwari hibiite
kemono no you ni ugomeku omoi
doyoubi no gogo no sora miagerya ayashige na GUREI ni kasumu


The stale rain's pounding louder and louder on the roof
And my thoughts've started straining at the leash
It's Saturday afternoon and the sky is grey, a bad sign of things to come

suzushige na manazashi de boku no ireta KOOHII susuru
KAPPU ni soeta yubisaki ha machigainaku shiroku kirei
yuube dare to dokomade itte donna tanoshii koto shitetano?
aa shiritai iya shiritaku nai


With studied cool, you sip the coffee I made
Your fingers around the cup, so clean and white
But I'm wondering who you were with last night, what games you played together...
And ah, I want to know... ...but no, I don't want to know...

aru no ka nai no ka mada hakkiri shinai kakutaru shouko wo motometeru
hajimarimasu giwaku no daibousou


I'm scrambling for hard proof, not even knowing if it exists
My suspicions are spiraling out of control...

nani ga okiteiru no ka tende wakaccha inee
sagashiteru mono ha doko ni aru no


What is this feeling coming over me? I haven't got a clue
I just need to find what I'm searching for

koi no honoo ha kieta hazu na no ni shiranai yokogao miserare
mata iyarashiku moete kuru
ima sara sonna kenri mo kaishou mo nai no ni uragiri wo yurusenai baka daro
migatte na yubi ga sono karadajuu saguru masaguru


I thought the flame of my love had died, but seeing this new side of you
Brings it flaring up again, against my will
I've given up right to you, but I still feel betrayed -- ah, it's so stupid!
My fingers across your body, with a life of their own, fumble and grope...

aru no ka nai no ka daremo shiranai tairyouhakai heiki mezashite
burei ni ranbou ni tsukisusumu you da yo


As after weapons of mass destruction, not even knowing it exists
I rush forward recklessly, throwing consideration to the wind

nani ga okiteiru no ka tende wakaccha inee
sagashiteru mono ha doko ni aru no
honto ha nanimo mitsukaranaide hoshii
mou ichido CHANSU wo ikinokoru CHANSU wo kure


What is this feeling coming over me? I haven't got a clue
I just need to find what I'm searching for
The real truth is, I don't want to find anything
Just give me one more chance, please, one more chance to survive...

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