Direct Translations between English and Japanese

When I first started studying Japanese at the academic level, I was, unsurprisingly,  taken aback at just how different two languages could be from one another, whether that was in terms of pronunciation, grammatical structure, semantics, alphabetic letters, or anything else. The experience was something of a given for all polyglots-in-training though (the quintessential realization of sorts), and I think I’ll forever believe the cultural enlightenment to be a valid and common backing used when encouraging someone to learn another language. However, at the time, even more so than the discrepancies between English and Japanese, I was rather amazed at some of the similarities between the two. For me, something about two ethnic groups of people separated by more than ten-thousand kilometers of sea and land constructing phrases that conveyed the same connotations and denotative diction was a much more romantic discovery. Now I’m not saying that it was a life-changing moment that definitively decided my future career as a translator or interpreter or anything like that; it was simply but satisfyingly a feel-good discovery for a young scholar is all, one that at least warranted going home and writing a blog-post about it. As Japanese is the only foreign (to me) language that I am consistently becoming more and more proficient at and because the animanga industry is the global form of entertainment that I have effectively  invested myself in the most, this article will be strictly sticking to Japanese and its culture.

Aside:

I look forward to the day I could even possibly think about covering such a dynamic for other languages such as Chinese (just you wait, one day I’ll veer away from just watching martial arts and romantic comedy flicks), Vietnamese, Korean, and more. In speaking of those languages, one day, I too hope to unravel the mystery of the English word “prepare”, or “get ready”, being translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean as “準備 (jyunbi)”, “准备 (zhǔnbèi)”, “chuẩn bị”, and “준비 (junbi)”, respectively, and more particularly, similarly. (In all honestly, I’m sure all it takes to resolve this riddle is to ask one of my language professors, but I’d like to take pride in the pure awareness of the phenomenon and keep it here as an interesting tidbit of trivia.)

And so, without further ado, what follows is the ongoing compendium dedicated to the Japanese phrases that I have come across while indulging in popular forms of Japanese media such as anime, manga, dramas, and music and that are essentially direct translations of their English counterparts.

 

 

 温まってる。(Attamatteru.) – “It’s all warmed up.”  or “I’ve warmed it up for you.” 

The kanji 温まって can be read あたたまって (the most modern and widely accepted reading),  あったまって (the rather obscure reading), or even ぬくまって (the outdated and obsolete reading); in our context, we have the middle option. Regardless of which pronunciation, we have the same meaning for the word: “to warm”; this of course is the intransitive version of the definition, in which 温める is the transitive equivalent. Although it may seem strange that a single word in Japanese can translate to the whole English phrase “It’s all warmed up” or anything along those English lines, an analysis of the verb conjugation should show otherwise. Here, we have the verb in its て-Form succeeded by the word いる, in which the beginning い character is dropped completely for the sake ofor rather, the lack of meticulous politeness. In Japanese the て-Form of a VERB succeeded by  いる often translates to “is VERBing,” however it can just as easily translate to something along the lines of “has VERBed.” Here we have the latter, wherein the subject of the sentence (dropped because of implication, as is done so often in the Japanese language) has completed warming up (again, implied that it was warmed up by the speaker even though we are using the intransitive version of the verb here) and is now in the resultant state of being warmed up (and of course the last implication here is that it is warmed up for you, the addressee).

Example(s):

Log Horizon Second Season #25. 「開拓者たち」 (The Pioneers) – 4m57s

Nazuna says the line to Shiroe after he arrives on the scene with a cavalry of other characters. She is referring to Taliktan, the Genius of Summoning, and target mob boss that she, Soujirou, and number of others have been combating while awaiting Shiroe’s arrival in order to being the real offensive.

 

 

こちらの台詞だ。(Kochira no serifu da.) – “That’s my line.” or “I should be the one saying that.”

The word こちら translates roughly to “here” but is frequently used to mean “this direction”, “this side”, or “this person”.  The particle の is used to represent possession exactly the way the English “my” does. 台詞, or せりふ, can mean “dialogue”, “remark”, “words”, or, as seen here, “line”. Altogether, it is a completely smooth transition, in semantic structure and emotional connotation to the English counterpart, “That’s my line.”

 

 

その意気だ!(Sono iki da!) – “That’s the spirit!”

As the Japanese language does not necessarily have an equivalent to the English “the”, directly translated, the phrase becomes “that spirit!” その acts as a demonstrative adjective to the succeeding noun, 意気, which can mean “heart”, “disposition”, or “spirit”. And with the だ and exclamation mark to end the sentence and to establish a familiar informality between the conversation partners, その意気だ! naturally becomes an enthusiastic, “That’s the spirit!”

 

 

遣ったな。 (Yatta na.) – “Now you’ve done it.” or “You’ve done it now, haven’t you!?”

遣った is the conjugated form of the verb 遣る used to represent past-tense occurrence. The concluding な is employed to express the nuance of a rhetorical question of sorts. Finally, because the verb 遣る is conjugated as 遣った and not the more formal 遣りました, there a validity to the speaker’s subtly chastising tone.

 

 

その予定です。 (Sono yotei desu.) – “That’s the plan.” 

The demonstrative adjective その translates to “this.” The noun word 予定 most commonly translates to “plan,” also capable of meaning “scheduling,” “arrangement,” etc. And finally, the word です is a copula that is commonly interpreted as the Japanese counterpart for “is” (though it rarely shows up explicitly in translation). As such, these three words combined literally become “That is plan” in English; and since the Japanese language does not have a counterpart to the English article “the,” these two different language phrases essentially serve as direct translations of each other.

*In usage, this phrase is very similar between its language counterparts as well, as it is probably more so used as a colloquial phrase in response to someone requesting information or verifying something.

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