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Women's Day invitation

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 06:47
We had a meeting several weeks ago with some government officials.  The government official over our sub-county (here he is called the LC3) was there and is becoming a great friend to GSF, and...

March Update

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 04:57
"God isn't looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him" Hudson Taylor From the Philippines to China“I think one of the advantages of having an Asian face is that...

At the End of My Strength

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 04:00
From left: Susie, me, Hanna, Tiramu, sorting Acts pages toget ready for typing; photo by Debbie Petterson“I’ve kept them in a safe place and looked after them.” Tiramu, an elderly Kope man, beamed at...

Uncommon Sense— Part One

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 03:58
I’ve grown weary of so many Christians using the phrase “well it’s just common sense!” I’ve grown weary of it especially when what follows this exclamation is usually ideas which are not compatible with what the Bible says. Take for example “neither a borrower nor a lender be”. I’ve heard that one quoted quite a [Read More...]

Tex-Mex Food (in song)

Missionary Blogs - Thu, 03/05/2015 - 01:58
For anyone who reads this blog and doesn’t do Facebook or does Facebook but isn’t one of my FB friends (for whatever reason I can’t imagine) or who does Facebook, and IS one of my...

Never Too Old to Learn

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 17:17
I guess I’m sort of living proof of this, although I’m not THAT old.  You know, eternity and heaven are rather important and yet somewhat obscured from our vision and understanding. ...

How long should you give a missionary to speak?

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 10:48
Most churches, when we visit them to speak in their worship service, give us between two and seven minutes to speak. It doesn't escape our attention that it doesn't matter how...

I Saved Some Water

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 06:42
I did my part for water conservation yesterday. (If you follow Kate on Facebook then you are aware that we are experiencing a water shortage as we wait for the dry season to end.) I bathed using only...

Kingsman– The Secret Service

Ben Witherington - Bible and Culture - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 03:47
Sometimes things are just not as advertized. This movie is one of them. It has a few good scenes. One of the better ones can be viewed above. It also has a boat load of the F word and the S word, and some absolutely grotesque violence scenes, including one in a church in Kentucky, [Read More...]

I Saved Some Water

Missionary Blogs - Wed, 03/04/2015 - 03:42
I did my part for water conservation yesterday. (If you follow Kate on Facebook then you are aware that we are experiencing a water shortage as we wait for the dry season to end.) I bathed using only...

Let's tiptoe around this subject...

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 18:08
I am not afraid to talk about taboo topics. Here in Kenya, pregnancy, sex, mensus... they are all hush hush topics. And obviously, they are a part of every day lives and need to be addressed... ...

Why we need more female missionaries in the Middle East

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 17:26
"the facts, instead of discouraging woman from engaging in the work, encourage her to go forward; for, while out of five men only one survives, only two women died out of three." This statistical...

What if – a new way of looking at infertility

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:44
What if we let go of the dream. Not because we want to give up, but because we want to hand it over to the One who sees the whole picture? What if we view infertility as a heroic calling, rather than...

Let's tiptoe around this subject...

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 15:08
I am not afraid to talk about taboo topics. Here in Kenya, pregnancy, sex, mensus... they are all hush hush topics. And obviously, they are a part of every day lives and need to be addressed... ...

School News

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 12:00
Some may or may not know that two of our orphans-no-more have done so well on their KCPE exams, they received full scholarships to prestigious boarding schools here in Kenya. Enoch Bandi is attending...

Let It Go As I Am: Disney, Translation and Contextualization

Simon Cozen's Blog - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:08
Language Undefined

If you have children, or have been near any children during the past year, you have probably heard the theme from Frozen, “Let It Go”. We hear it nearly incessantly, both in English and Japanese, and even our one-year-old storms around the house singing “a-a-no! a-a-no!”

Disney are (quite rightly) very proud of the internationalisation of Frozen, and I’ve come to see the Japanese version as a particularly excellent example of the art of translation. The fact that it scans and the lyrics fit musically in the same way as the original is pretty excellent, but in a sense I take that as a given for translation. That has to be there. What’s really interesting for me is the way that the translation adapts the message of the original to fit the recipient (Japanese) cultural context.

In other words, this is not a straight translation, by any means. Let’s compare the English chorus with the Japanese. English:

Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door!

I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway!

And Japanese:

ありのままの 姿見せるのよ
ありのままの 自分になるの
何も怖くない
風よ吹け
少しも寒くないわ

I’m going to reveal who I truly am,
I’m going to become who I truly am.

I’m not afraid of anything.
Blow, wind!
I’m not cold in the slightest.

Here are some more sections from the English song:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know!

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

These ideas simply do not appear in the Japanese translation at all. Instead, the final Japanese chorus reads like this:

これでいいの 自分を好きになって
これでいいの 自分信じて
光あびながら 歩きだそう
少しも寒くないわ

This is OK, I’ve come to like myself
This is OK, I believe in myself
Let me step out bathing in the light.
I’m not cold in the slightest.

Now maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the English version focuses on a rejection of external judgement, whereas the Japanese version is an affirmation of internal judgement. And that’s a huge difference. But why?

I wonder if one reason might be that the evaluation of others is such an integral part of one’s identity in Japan that singing about rejecting that evaluation would be crossing a line of plausibility.1 Rugged individualism in the face of adversity is a Western value, but not a Japanese one.

I think another part of the reason why 「ありのままで」 can be heard echoing at high volume from every karaoke booth in Japan is that it speaks directly to the insecurities of young Japanese girls. Liking and believing in oneself, living out one’s true identity, is just counter-cultural enough to be attainable and desirable; it’s one of those tempting ideals that everyone wants to reach but few have the confidence to attain. Which incidentally is precisely the sort of thing the missionary should be attuned to. On the other hand, translating “I don’t care what they’re going to say” into Japanese would have produced concepts which are so alien that they would not achieve the same level of emotional engagement.

It’s a good reminder that translation is only secondarily about the words you use. It’s primarily about how those words operate in the recipient culture and the meanings and emotions that they convey. It takes an intimate knowledge of the recipient society and culture, its dreams, insecurities, values and ambitions. I don’t know whether someone at Disney Japan sat down and worked out what kind of cultural resonances they wanted to achieve with this translation; it’s more likely that someone working out of their native intuition naturally reformed the ideas of the song into terms that would work well in this culture. But I’m really impressed that Disney gave them the freedom to make quite major and sweeping changes to the meaning in order to hit the right cultural notes—and it certainly worked.

  • 1. Yes, we’re talking about the plausibility of a cartoon girl who shoots ice from her hands, I know.
Subject tags: theologytranslation

Our Life Lately

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:55
It's starting to really warm up around here.  Last week was H-O-T!  We had a few days in a row where we reached 100 degrees.  So to combat the heat we decided to visit a nearby pool to...

Life gets messy

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:25
February felt like we were operating from a base of jelly. We struggled to get our balance and figure out a schedule that would work for everyone. I think it took us all by surprise a little. The...

To censor or not to censor?

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:12
Sometimes I feel like this social networking debate is coming to a head. In all honesty, I don't pay much attention to the news and various privacy laws. But I do sometimes read articles or comments...

School News

Missionary Blogs - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:00
Some may or may not know that two of our orphans-no-more have done so well on their KCPE exams, they received full scholarships to prestigious boarding schools here in Kenya. Enoch Bandi is attending...
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