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Ayn Rand in Japan

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I didn't know that , apparently, the works of Ayn Rand have been translated and published in Japan.. mainly The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged and the Virtue of Selfishness. The person behind the translations seems to be Professor Kayoko Fujimori in Osaka, her webpage is here: http://www.aynrand2001japan.com/

Now, my question is- to those who may know more of this situation... what is Prof. Fujimori's agenda, so to speak? Unfortunately I don't speak Japanese so I cannot read her website, but it seems that she approached Sciabarra to help her with the translations. That in itself sets off a big "Danger, Will Robinson" light in my mind. They both seem to have a cordial relationship, so does anyone know if Fujimori is trying to pass off Rand as a Libertarian in Japan, or is she being faithful to the source?

Edited by kainscalia
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I'm skeptical; the french version of "We the Living" was off, and from what I know about Japanese, it'll be hard to express Rand quite as well as in English. I have a mild understanding of some eastern languages, and I speak Chinese quite well, and it seems as though Rand was right when she implied that it wasn't as easy to express her philosophy in non-Western languages. However, I can't speak a word of Japanese, and so I really can't tell what on earth she's even talking about, much less weather or not it's true to the source.

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The subtitle of her web page is not a good sign:

Fujimori Kayoko's Room for Japanese Randians

Perhaps there isn't a good Japanese word for "Objectivist", but "Randian" is not a good substitute. I'm moving to Japan in a month, but I'll be in a Tokyo suburb - about 6 hours or so from Osaka. I haven't learned Japanese yet, but I was interested in whether anyone had translated Rand's works.

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Now, my question is- to those who may know more of this situation... what is Prof. Fujimori's agenda, so to speak? Unfortunately I don't speak Japanese so I cannot read her website, but it seems that she approached Sciabarra to help her with the translations. That in itself sets off a big "Danger, Will Robinson" light in my mind. They both seem to have a cordial relationship, so does anyone know if Fujimori is trying to pass off Rand as a Libertarian in Japan, or is she being faithful to the source?

Well, I did a quick search, perhaps we can form more of an opinion on this, from this article written by Sciabarra here titled "The First Landing of Ayn Rand in Japan!".

Quotes from it:

Kayo had asked me if I would be able to explain certain English idiomatic expressions to facilitate the Japanese translation.

I think this information in this quote is in the translated book:

Ayn Rand has been packaged for the distinctly Japanese audience with the following information: "Ayn Rand is the fountainhead of Libertarianism, a grass-roots American people's philosophy that stands against the Neo-Conservative." I swear: I had absolutely nothing to do with that; as Kayo admits, the copy doesn't quite capture the essence of Ayn Rand.

The fountainhead of Libertarianism?

Kayo writes in the book, on the acknoledgements page:

I must first give thanks to Dr. Chris Matthew Sciabarra. Dr. Sciabarra is one of the best and most productive scholars in the study of Libertarianism and Ayn Rand. His careful comments and thoughtful advice helped me to complete my laborious project—the translation of this long, great novel, The Fountainhead. Dr. Sciabarra's great dedication to the first encounter between the Japanese intellectual people and Ayn Rand cannot be overemphasized.

Dr. Sciabarra is one of the best and most productive scholars in the study of [...] Ayn Rand?

This gives a big clue as a(nother) possible agenda of hers which may be towards what Sciabarra says here:

Apparently, many Japanese readers are interested in the globalist implications of neoconservatism, so anything that suggests opposition is a selling point.

And on Solo, here they are in a thread on it here

This of course is the only thing that I think that cannot ever be overemphasized: (from ARI note on translation of AR works here:

The Estate of Ayn Rand has requested that we post the following notice:

Under certain circumstances, the Estate of Ayn Rand grants rights to publish Ms. Rand’s work in foreign language editions. However, the Estate has no power to choose the translators or to evaluate the quality of their work. We cannot, therefore, be held responsible for poor or inaccurate translations.

Edited by intellectualammo
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Unless it is translated into Canadian.

"A is eh?"

Want something even funnier? Plug this new webpage into Google Translate.

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=e...sl=ja&tl=en

Ein Land Timeline. The egotism of affirmation to actively publishing! If you are a serious source of water, youth is a novel! Bitter taste of adult fiction in the political ideology if it is the Atlas shrug! That the poor people novels, a collection of essays, read the spirit of selfishness!

ad rediculum...

<*>aj

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One thing that you have to keep in mind is that in the worst case, the translation will be inartful. Whatever the translator's underlying prejudices may be, that can't override what Ayn Rand said, and no amount of "translator's liberties" can change the content of Galt's Speech.

The whole of Galt's speech would be difficult. But translators can screw things up when they set their minds to it.

For example, I first read "We The Living" in a Spanish translation. There's a passge where Kira is talking to Andre about the ideals of the Communist party, that goes something like this:

Andre: "I know. You admire our ideals but dislike our methods."

Kira : "I loath your ideals."

In the translation Kira comes out saying "I dislike your ideals but admire your methods."

Now, to a careful reader that's way out of character. But I attributed the error to the author until I read the English version. Since then I no longer read translations from English.

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But translators can screw things up when they set their minds to it.

To fray this thread some for what it's worth, I usually try to read at least two translation of a work, that is being translated from a different language into English. I always wonder what is gained or lost during translation. Recently I have been looking at and learning some of the German language. It occured to me while doing that, that both nouns and pronouns are capitalized in German. So I was wondering how this would effect a translation of Emily Dickinson's poetry into German, (or even E.E.Cummings for a better example) when she uses capitalization for emphasis or personification. Now, wouldn't that be lost in translation, then? I couldn't imagine what her poetry'd look like in German. I can't even read her poetry if it is not the Thomas H. Johnson versions, which are closer to what Emily originally had written in her fascicles. What happens in German if someone doesn't capitalize a noun/pronoun? Cummings, who is known for not using much capitalization in his poetry, though he still does, wouldn't that be lost in translation too? What about my dear Emily's dashes and so forth, what would that be like in German? I gather it is best to read a writers work in the language that they'd written it initially in, right? I guess as a translator, they might, or should at least make a note to the German language readers that if they deviate from the poets deviations/emphasis, either because of language differences or the translators preference, they might or should include such a note in the volume so as not to be a disservice to the poet in a given translation.

This translation business both bothers me and interests me, because of what a translation could do to some of my own writings, which may be untranslateable at times, since the meaning is often contained in the way that I play with a word or phrase, whether in my poetry or in my prose. That would be lost and also the intended effect would.

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This translation business both bothers me and interests me, because of what a translation could do to some of my own writings, which may be untranslateable at times, since the meaning is often contained in the way that I play with a word or phrase, whether in my poetry or in my prose. That would be lost and also the intended effect would.

I'm not a translator, but I've done translations of technical and legal documents for work purposes (usually from Spanish to English), and I've learned a few things:

1) A literal translation is often incomrehensible. That is, translating every word or sentence mechanically will often yield an incomplete translation, as parts of meaning may not be translated due to differences in the syntax between languages. Thus:

2) You need to focus on the meaning and translate that. However:

3) Every language has terms that can't be translated into some other language. Sometimes the meaning can still be conveyed, but by using a longer term or even a sentence. Example, there is no Spanish word for "airlock," but the term can be accurately rendered. Conversely, there's no English word for "despensa" (literally it means "pantry," but the term "grocery gift basket" comes much closer).

4) Some words change meaning depending on how they are used. For example, the Spanish term "vales de despensa" can be perfectly cast into English as "grocery store vouchers." That's 100% accurate, despite there not being a good English term for "despensa."

5) Syntax matters a lot. English and Spanish have a completely different syntax. My solution was to translate by the sentence, thinking in the language I meant to translate into, then reading the whole paragraph and checking for accuracy in meaning (and later checking the whole document). Sometimes this required mixing two sentences, sometimes breaking up one sentence into two or more.

6) The flavor or style of the original writing is hardest to translate. This matters little in technical documents (and not at all in legal ones), but a great deal in prose and even more in poetry. I see this a lot in subtitled movies (English movies are all subtitled in Mexico), and that's one reason I never see dubbed movies or TV shows.

If there was ever any good argument for a single universla language, I guess this may be it ;)

Seriously, it's a better argument for learning more languages. I'm fluent in Spanish and English, but would like to learn Italian and German. I figure Italian would be easy since it's similar ins tructure and vocabulary to Spanish, and German shares some roots with English. Maybe someday I'll find time for that.

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This translation business both bothers me and interests me, because of what a translation could do to some of my own writings, which may be untranslateable at times, since the meaning is often contained in the way that I play with a word or phrase, whether in my poetry or in my prose.
I have a novel (Myombekere) that was originally written in an African language and was recently translated into English (by a speaker of the language, who is also fluent in English). His translation seeks to preserve as much as possible from the original, so not just the events, but also the way of speaking. The cost is that the English is kind of rough and a bit peculiar, since it preserves the original style of talking, but we don't talk that way in English (example: "the banana beer of yesterday"). Another feature that often gets lost is the actual meaning of words, since many concepts are not the same across languages. Since the main point of that novel is to report the main cultural features of the society, it would be wrong to reduce omutaho to "cup", since the construction and function of omutaho is much narrower than "cup". Rather than employ a sentence-long paraphrase which explains omutaho each time, the translator simply leaves the word untranslated and adds a footnote explaining the word.
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Want something even funnier? Plug this new webpage into Google Translate.

http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=e...sl=ja&tl=en

Ein Land Timeline. The egotism of affirmation to actively publishing! If you are a serious source of water, youth is a novel! Bitter taste of adult fiction in the political ideology if it is the Atlas shrug! That the poor people novels, a collection of essays, read the spirit of selfishness!

ad rediculum...

<*>aj

Nice. That actually helps.

I see that Fountainhead = water source

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  • 4 weeks later...

Agreed, there's a reason for the refrain 'traduttore, tradittore!' (Translator, Betrayer!)

I picked up a book of Poems by Pablo Neruda who, despite being rather foolish as a socialist, did write some of the most beautiful love poetry. His 20 sonnets, for example.

Well, my native language is Spanish and I speak three other languages fluently... when I read the English translation I was rather upset at how clumsy the translation was, and how utterly insipid, lacking both the melancholy and sensuality that is Neruda's trademark. I started scratching them out and writing my own on the margins, in case I ever had to translate the poems to English for my friends' appreciation. If prose is horrible to translate, you can imagine the pitfalls that poetry has to face...

I have a novel (Myombekere) that was originally written in an African language and was recently translated into English (by a speaker of the language, who is also fluent in English). His translation seeks to preserve as much as possible from the original, so not just the events, but also the way of speaking. The cost is that the English is kind of rough and a bit peculiar, since it preserves the original style of talking, but we don't talk that way in English (example: "the banana beer of yesterday"). Another feature that often gets lost is the actual meaning of words, since many concepts are not the same across languages. Since the main point of that novel is to report the main cultural features of the society, it would be wrong to reduce omutaho to "cup", since the construction and function of omutaho is much narrower than "cup". Rather than employ a sentence-long paraphrase which explains omutaho each time, the translator simply leaves the word untranslated and adds a footnote explaining the word.
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  • 7 months later...
The subtitle of her web page is not a good sign:

Perhaps there isn't a good Japanese word for "Objectivist", but "Randian" is not a good substitute. I'm moving to Japan in a month, but I'll be in a Tokyo suburb - about 6 hours or so from Osaka. I haven't learned Japanese yet, but I was interested in whether anyone had translated Rand's works.

She calls her site that with a touch of irony. The line:

アメリカでは、「ランド大好き人間」のことをランディアン(Randian)とか

ランドロイド(Randroid)と呼びます。

translates to, "In America, people who like Ayn Rand a lot are called "Randians" and "Randroids".

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For example, I first read "We The Living" in a Spanish translation. There's a passge where Kira is talking to Andre about the ideals of the Communist party, that goes something like this:

Andre: "I know. You admire our ideals but dislike our methods."

Kira : "I loath your ideals."

In the translation Kira comes out saying "I dislike your ideals but admire your methods."

Now, to a careful reader that's way out of character. But I attributed the error to the author until I read the English version. Since then I no longer read translations from English.

Actually, that isn't a mistranslation, it was based on the originally published version of the book. That line was reworked into the present version when the book was republished after the success of Atlas Shrugged.

From what I understand that line was written when Rand's ideas were more Nietzsche-leaning than they eventually became.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I can't help but weigh in on this topic because I am a fluent speaker of Japanese and while I have yet to read Kayoko's translations, I plan on it.

On the note of whether Japanese can fully express Ayn Rand's language, I would have to say yes. Chinese characters (kanji) and Japanese are just as versatile as the English language, and Chinese characters in particular can be combined almost infinitely to express any shade of meaning you desire.

There is a word for "Objectivist" in Japanese, and it would be 客観主義者, which literally means "one who believes in objective-ism." It is pronounced Kyak'kan-shugi-sha. If you search for it on wikipedia under the Chinese language, you will get a result for the page on Objectivism. While that word may not be immediately understood by a Japanese person (who in America immediately understand what Objectivism means?), if you explained it briefly they'd get the general idea. I know I have.

There are words for any number of Objectivist-related terminology:

資本主義 (shihon shugi) means Capitalism

価値絶対主義(kachi zet'tai shugi) means moral absolutism

価値相対主義 (kachi sotai shugi) means moral relativism

自己主義 (jiko shugi) means egoism

This website uses the term "kyak'kan shugi sha" in reference to Ayn Rand. http://txpolisci.sakura.ne.jp/aynrand.html

You may have to change your browser's character encoding to "auto detect: japanese" to actually see Japanese characters. The website covers a significant portion of Rand's thought.

Edited by Krattle
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