Sunday, August 8, 2010

夏なんです ー はっぴいえんど

Note: Originally posted October 21, 2009

Well, I was out tonight trying to relax or something (which wasn't working because I was alone and hence drawn to check my e-mail on my iPhone) when I realized that I really couldn't wait any longer to try to figure out the lyrics to 夏なんです, my favorite はっぴいえんど track so far, which I will translate here as simply, "It's Summer."

You could arguably do, "Since it's summer" or "Yes, It's Summer" or some more explicative sentence, because of the ん thrown in there, but we wouldn't say that in English really, and I think "It's summer" can have that feeling they are trying to impart, although as you might know, we don't associate it so strongly with awesome cicada noises.

(One thing you may NOT know is how nostalgic I am about Japanese summers. This is one sentiment that somehow has seeped directly into me from Japan, so somehow I really feel like I understand what they mean when they sing this song.)

Anyways, it's a rough translation. Keep in mind that I am not a super pro (yet?) I think I will present it with number notes in parentheses which you can find afterwards. Feedback is completely asked for and encouraged. I didn't even look to see if I could find any existing translations of these lyrics anywhere, so it's all just me (and with occasional help from for better or worse. I'd love to hear suggestions/corrections.

Incidentally, the original lyrics I found here, although you can't copy and paste them, which made it obnoxious to look up in an online dictionary. That was half of the point of having them computerized; the CD booklet is hand-written -- charming, but a bit scratchy/hard-to-read for a non-native speaker...

It's Summer - HAPPY END

On the white footpaths between rice fields in the country, dusty breezes grow still. (1)
Squatting low to the ground, those kids shoot marbles. (2)
It's the sparkling, glittering
It's the sparkling, glittering

The local deity's forest is dark green; (3)
a calm has descended. (4)
Someone dangles from the crossbeam (5)
of an old teahouse storefront.
It's the whirring sound (6)
cicadas make. (7)
It's the whirring sound
of summer. (8)

The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
loo-loo-looo-loo-loo-looo-loo-looo-loo-loo-looo-loo-loooo (9)

As I follow the cobblestone path, the weather runs its course (10)
Unfortunately, summer is accompanied by showers. (11)
It's the melancholy, fluffy (12)
towers of clouds. (13)
It's the melancholy, fluffy

The parasol twirls, I'm bored.
The parasol twirls, I'm bored.

(1) It did seem to me that the footpath was implied to be white, but the rice fields make more sense, right? Hard to say. 風 I translated as "breezes" here because it's summer, and 立ち止まるis literally "to stop/halt/stand still," but "grow still" seemed to fit the mood more. I guess I'm one of those translators who thinks it's fine to take a liberty as long as it's my liberty and no one else's ;) I do try to have a good reason, though.
(2) It took me a really long time to track down a translation for ペタンに partially because the word has a couple forms, but anyways, it means something like "flattened," which does not really describe the way people play marbles, at least when I think of it, so I said "low" instead. Also, I was really psyched that I learned ビー玉 earlier, from the kanji drills I was doing (reinforced with training -- BTW, I made a list that will contain all the words I learn from はっぴいえんど songs.)
(3) We say "dark," not "deep." I suppose you could go with "deep" since forests can be "deep," and also "dark," but this not that kind of forest. I like that ふかみどり is literally "deep green" but it doesn't sound like fluent English. Now that I'm looking closer at the definition, though, it does include "heighten" and "intensify." I wonder if those are bi-products of "deep" or not.
(4) I originally had "stillness" instead of "calm," but when I edited the first verse to "became still" I decided to change it up. "Silence" didn't seem to fit. 舞い降りるis a very active verb (swoop/fly down, alight) for something that in English we think of as settling or, like I said, descending.
(5) This came out less awkward than it could have, but I'm still trying to think of a way to make it not sound like someone hung himself...
(6) As you may have seen in my tweets (@tora, and in the sidebar there) I was having some trouble locating an English onomatopoeia for cicadas. I'm not sure we have one. I googled and found it described as "whirring," though, and I consciously went with that as opposed to "buzzing."
(7) Literally this complete line would've been "It's the houshiitsukutsuku voice of the cicadas," seemed awkward sounding. Plus "voice of the cicadas" is really stick in the mud and formal or overly poetic-sounding in English. "The sound cicadas make," as in, "What sound does a cicada make?" is more colloquial (we're in the country, after all!) and more child-like (which goes with the nostalgia, especially after the kids -- oh, I translated 奴らas "those kids" even though it literally means "those guys" -- shooting marbles <---oh, I said shooting instead of "flip," "snap," or "repel." It is "shooting marbles" in English, right? I guess I could just say "playing" but I wanted to preserve the action if possible.)
(8)Actually, though, now that I'm looking at this revised English I just worked out -- "It's the houshiitsukutsuku voice of the cicadas" (earlier I was making an error and adding another "of the" where it's really not needed, I don't think) I can see the argument for using that. And then that would make "It's the whirring sound of summer" into "It's the whirring summer," which I sort of like. You would be taking pretty big liberties to call it, "the voice of summer" since 声 is only stated along with せみ, could probably also get away with that.
(9) You may be tempted to go with ru-ru-ruu, but do not. No one in English would say that. "Loo," on the other hand, we would say.
(10) I thought the onomatopoeias would be the hardest part of this song, but it was definitely the first part of this verse. I THINK/hope I really nailed it here, though, in the end. "Paved stone path" would've been really stiff -- plus cobblestones are more nostalgic. I had to google for 縫い目を辿る to see how else it was used. At first I thought maybe it was straight up imagery, like maybe little rivulets of rain were rushing down the path after something happened to do with the sky (whut) but then I had the idea that the singer was the one going down the path (which is confusing since the verb there, 駆け抜けるcan be used to "pursue (a course)" but I didn't get the verbs mixed up, I promise) so I dug a little deeper on the "following the threads" thing and came up with "ran its course." I really hope I did this right. If anyone has any ideas on this in particular, I'm extra keen to know them :)
(11) Didn't feel the need to specify "rain" showers since we mentioned the weather. Also, translated 〜てしまう as "unfortunately." Hope that works.
(12) 悶々can be "worrying" or "anguishedly" and I went with just "anguished." This might be a bit dramatic, but the alternative seemed too whimsical. I wonder if I can think of something quick oh wait it was on the tip of my tongue..."brooding?" That seems really dark for summer, too. While I was working on it, I came up with "foreboding" but that is silly. Not that summer should be "anguished" either. Hrm hrm. This is in no way a perfect translation. AH HA -- do you think "melancholy" would be too much of a stretch? Oh I'm in love with it...I'm going to use that. Summer can definitely be melancholy, and that word fits the pacing really well (the strolling, the thinking, the nostalgia of the whole thing -- we're not worrying or anguishing -- we're just kinda...moping? A little bit? Bored and melancholy? I dunno! Feedback!)
(13) "Cumulo-nimbus" seemed a bit too sciencey and proper. "Columns" of clouds didn't do much better, so I used "towers" to be more poetic.


Boy, I really love doing this type of thing. Enough that it is quarter after midnight and I definitely have to be working by 6 am (although I can sleep in a tad because I'm having a work from home morning...) Very sleep now, though. Let me know what you think!! :)

UPDATE: OoooOOOooo, I just had the thought that maybe I should have gone with "twirls" instead of "spins." I'm ok with a little whimsy there. Deadpan is no good. Changing it. Feel free to fight with me over it later :)

UPDATE #2: Hmm, another thought. Tonight I saw the movie, Battle League Horumo, and in it one of the character's said, "You're boring!" and used the word たいくつ. So the question is, does this guy think he is boring, or is he bored? What are the usage rules for たいくつ? I'm too tired to look it up now, but maybe in the morning, but I will put it on my list of things to get done this weekend (which is getting rather long...)

UPDATE #3: Going with HAPPY END instead of Happiiendo.

UPDATE #4: たいくつis apparently used as both "bored" and "boring," so that is convenient. I'm going to leave it the way it is.

UPDATE #5: Realized instead "goes well with" it should be "is accompanied by" regarding summer showers. The line before that is still really bugging me.

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