Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Replacing the name on behalf of

We're having one of those days where we have a few self-imposed things to do and we want to do all of them or we wouldn't have imposed them but we also don't want to do any of them, so we're stalling. In the meantime, we had a brief Facebook exchange that might be worth documenting.

So someone was talking about how their daughter went to school dressed as Sailor Moon on superhero day and was saying Sailor Moon's speech at everyone in Japanese because smart people like to show off. It takes us a long time to figure out that nobody really cares how smart you are, and it's more important to be caring and relatable, and to be sufficiently impressed when someone is trying to show you how smart they are, which is why I didn't think to comment about how adorable this must have been, or express some sort of approval of the fact that she knew the speech in Japanese. Actually, I was falling prey to another bad habit of smart people, which was to suspect that she probably wasn't pronouncing it properly. I didn't think too much of it, because this person wasn't someone we really talk to anywhere. But I would like to apologize here for not commenting on how adorable it must have been, because it probably was very cute.

Then the story came up again because of comments. Somebody asked what the speech meant, because instead of saying she went around saying it in Japanese, the original post said she went around saying 月に代わっておしおきよ. Somebody else came along and said Google translate said it meant "punishment on behalf of the moon," and yet another person came along and said they were close, it actually means "In the name of the moon, I'll punish you." And then the original poster came back and pointed out that に代わって actually means "on behalf of," but since that means the same thing as "in the name of," whatever.

I don't know what got into me. Maybe I was just in a mood. We were either feeling extra social or extra grumpy, or maybe both, and there was probably a hint of, "You're talking about Sailor Moon? We want in!" Or maybe more than anything we were feeling extra needy. I don't know. But when asking myself about it at the time, my reason was that if people are going to come along and try to be all smarter than everybody else, they better be right. And while the original poster wasn't technically wrong, he was technically at least as incorrect as the person who said it means "in the name of."

You see, に代わって actually means "in the place of." We even checked a Japanese dictionary to be sure, because as previously stated, if you're going to come along and try to be all smarter than everybody else, you better be right. And then we commented with, "If you're going to be nitpicky about the literal meaning, I'm going to have to tell you it actually means this." Immediately after I hit enter, I thought of apologizing, but I couldn't think of the right words for it, so I thought about deleting the comment instead, but then I was like, "Well, that person was being pedantic, and if they really care about the correct meaning, they should know it." But seriously, just look at it. They all mean the same thing, basically. And Sailor Moon's speech is not the kind of context where the subtle nuances of that are going to come back and bite you later if you choose the wrong one. Frankly, if it were up to us, we would probably go with "in the name of," because while "in the place of" is technically more correct, "in the name of" sounds the nicest, and we like to consider ourselves more in the iyaku camp than the chokuyaku one.

I think it turned out with no hard feelings. The original poster came along and tried to have the last pedantic say by quoting a J-E dictionary at length. Even though we wanted to, we decided it was a bad idea to argue the point anymore (in one of Grandpa's books, he talks about how he can't resist philosophical discussions anymore than an alcoholic can resist an open bar; I think that's sort of how we felt about this sort of translation debate), so OP did end up having the last say, and we apologized for being overly pedantic, and they said hey no hard feelings, and I think it's okay now. It was just all very silly. But I think what I meant to say all along was if you try to sound like the smartest person in the room, make absolutely sure you know the facts or someone could come along and make you feel silly (our other grandfather is a big fan of the saying, "Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove the theory").

So the main things I think we didn't get to say but want to are first, if you're going to argue translation with a translator, don't use a J-E dictionary, because the translator can read a Japanese language dictionary and get the really important stuff. And second, we're sorry for being so petty and pedantic. The whole thing was just very silly.

Today I'm thankful for peaceful resolutions, getting some chocolate chip muffins for Bread Day, coming home from church to discover that Page had transported our happy birthday balloon into the bathroom, repentance, and finding out that for Mother's Day not only will the Priesthood brethren take over our singing time responsibilities, but they'll be teaching our Primary classes as well.
Tags: language geekiness, translating, why we don't have friends

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