Saturday, February 07, 2004

One Word Lost in Translation 

While checking out this week's ResearchBuzz, I learnt about a blog directory called Blogarama, and then while checking out the medicine section of the directory, I visited Stuff and Nonsense, a blog written by a doctor overcoming a chronic illness. In her January 10, 2004 post the doctor mentions a site called One Word, which asks visitors to write for sixty seconds on the word of the day (yesterday's word was 'channel') and submit the resulting piece of writing. I'm not too keen to supply my e-mail address, as is required when you submit, so my minutes-worth of words won't be appearing. But I did like the idea.

Also checked out Added Entries just because and learnt that a translation of Japanese dialogue from the film Lost in Translation is on line at The New York Times ('What else was lost in translation?'). The article translates a scene in which a Japanese director gives his directions to American actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray) through an interpreter. The scene is not subtitled but it is obvious that the interpreter isn't conveying all that the director is saying.

In Australian film Japanese Story, Toni Collette's character is present during a conversation spoken in Japanese. Not being able to see much of the screen and being wrapped up in the experience of Collette's character, who could not understand Japanese, I didn't think to look down to read the subtitles until it was too late. While watching Lost in Translation, I did think to look for subtitles and could understand why none were given. And having read the translation, I think the audience could tell all that needed to be known - that the translation was of no use to the actor and that the directions, if they could be understood, were of little use.

From the The New York Times article:

Ms. Coppola said she purposely gave the director "lame directions," adding, "He wasn't supposed to be the best director."

In the movie, Bob Harris turns to the camera during this scene ands says "For relaxing times, make it Suntory time." I wonder what directions Bill Murray received from Sofia Coppola. He sounds so assured, I wish he'd come round to my house when I'm in a fluster and say, "For relaxing times, make it cheese and tomato sandwich time." And I'd feel like, yeah, that's exactly what I should do, I should have a cheese and tomato sandwich.

And so now I'm wondering if perhaps writing random thoughts into a blog is such a good idea. Masses of people writing about ordinary everyday situations and the obtuse thoughts they have as a result. Then I discovered (also via Added Entries) a British project housed at the University of Sussex called the Mass-Observation Archive. The project involves ordinary people who observe everyday life in Britain. While you have to be in Britain to participate, the current questions are given on the site and appear to be just as relevant to people outside of the UK.

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