|THE DAILY YOMIURI|
|2/7t fC[~EwSaturday SCENExfฺLฬ๊ฒลทB
By Tom Baker
Daily Yomiuri Staff Writer
@A hopeful newcomer to the field is Chiga Kamei, who recently got her start in young adult fiction. After doing a little rough-draft translation work behind the scenes, Kamei recently came out with her first book translation under her own name --- A Taste of Perfection, by Canadian author Laura Langston.
Kamei's auditions pay off
@"I have been a member of TranNet for about three years, and last year, luckily, I passed two auditions," says Kamei, 52, who once taught piano but now works at her husband's acounting office.
@TranNet is a translation agency in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, that matches aspiring translators with assignments from publishers.
@TranNet Sales Manager Koji Chikatani says his firm has contacts with dozens of publishers and has thousands of translators registered. When a publisher requests a translation of a certain book, TranNet puts out a call for auditions, inviting its members to translate a sample of the text. The firm then presents the top five candidates to the publisher. The publisher pays TranNet, which in turn pays the translator.
@Most of the books TranNet handies are nonfiction --- everything from medical textbooks to Lonely Planet travel guides. "Fiction is much harder to translate," Chikatani notes.
@Still, fiction is where Kamei has begun to make her mark. After successfully completing a firstdraft translation of a portion of one young adult novel, she was assigned to do another entirely on her own. A Taste of Perfection is a book Kamei says she feels strongly about: "Reading this book, I cried and burst into laughter. And I wanted to express that feeling in Japanese."
@Not that it was easy. She ran into the same challenges that beset even the veterans. Like Nagai, she puzzled over brand names --- Lip Smackers, for example --- and like Kurohara, she found that exact word-for-word translations don't really work --- especially when one is confronted with preteen girlspeak such as, "Talk about majorly ugly!" Kamei even found she had to ponder the nuances of gesture as well as language: What does it mean, for example, when a character bites her lip?
@Erin, the book's 12-year-old protagonist, considers herself a warty, hairy-legged ugly duckling. But when her dog-breeder grandmother asks her to take a beautiful champion labrador to a show, Erin decides to get a complete makeover for the occasion. The girl and the dog look perfect together, but then tragedy strikes. Learning from what happens helps Erin grow up.
@Not only did Kamei like the story, but she enjoys the translating work itself. "I'm very pleased when I find the right word, the right phrase," she says, likening it to the satisfaction of finding a jigsaw puzzle piece that fits just right to complete the picture.
@Of course, Kamei's "right word" is a Japanese one. As Chikatani points out, successful English-to-Japanese translators have to be professional-level writers in Japanese to make their work worth reading.
@Asked what advice he would offer aspiring translators. "It is more important to write good Japanese than to understand English well," he says. "So read many books, Japanese books."
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