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  • #16
    I recently started learning Japanese. So far, I have a favo(u)rite question. The reason is that this one took me a while to get all the after-N-vowels right:

    Anata no inu no namae wa nan desu ka.

    Aside from that, I was actually surprised to find that I could read some of the rest of what's been written in this thread so far. \/

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    • #17
      I was thinking about Japanese the other day and all the stuff about House of Leaves on the broad scale, and I came to be curious how a Japanese version would work.

      Most likely it'd be written in kanji. I'm not completely familiar with Japanese and all that, but I don't think I've seen a book or other large editorial that wasn't—written instead in hiragana/katakana. I think it's safe to say that it is very unlikely to be written in romaji. (?)

      In this case, I'm wondering about things like all the typos and double meanings. Certain things like this are easy (grant me the comparison, they may not be that easy) to carry over into another European-derived language, but Japanese is completely different.

      This also led me to other curiosities like emoticons. One like this: wouldn't quite work in Japan, because they don't react to embarrassment the same way as the rest of us.

      I guess a lot of this would be directed at zakalwe for now, since he's the one living there. :) Anyone?

      (Forgive the—most likely—poor translation.)
      私は日本語及び広いスケールの葉のについての すべての 原料 について先日考えて、日本語版が働くかいかに私は好奇心が強い来た。

      多分それは漢字で書かれる。私は日本語を完全によく知られていないし、私は本をかなかった他の大きい社説を 見たことを、私が考えないがすべて-- hiragana/katakana に代りに書かれて。私はroma-ji. に書かれることは非常にまずないと言うことは安全であることを考える(か。)

      この場合、私はすべてのタイプエラーおよび二重意味のような事について疑問に思っている。このようなある事 は別のヨーロッパ得られた言語に運び易い(私に比較を、 容易かもしれなくないある許可しなさい) が日本語は完全に異なっている。

      これはまたemoticons のような他の興味に私を導いた。これのように1 つ: それらが残りの人達と当惑に同じ方法を反応させないので、かなり日本で働かない。

      私は彼が1 つの生活そこにいるので これがザカルヱで今のところ指示されることを多くのことを推測する。 だれでもか。

      (-- 多分-- 悪い翻訳を。許しなさい)
      EDIT: hiragana/katakana ゠ ひらがな / かたかな
      roma-ji ゠ ろまじ
      emoticons ゠ 感情を表に出しなさい .. アイコン

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      • #18
        Originally posted by OriginalIdea

        Most likely it'd be written in kanji. I'm not completely familiar with Japanese and all that, but I don't think I've seen a book or other large editorial that wasn't—written instead in hiragana/katakana. I think it's safe to say that it is very unlikely to be written in romaji. (?)
        As far as I understand it, Japanese writing almost always uses kanji. Students of Japanese are the ones who write sentences using hiragana/ katakana only. The way it works is that kanji supply most of the bits of meaning, nouns, verb stems, and hiragana kicks in for conjugations, particles and other grammatical structures, etc... There are, of course, exceptions, but my Japanese teacher often says that a work written only in hiragana would be very hard for a Japanese person to read. Katakana, of course, would also be in heavy usage--as if it weren't an integral part of the language already, HOL references all sorts of gaijin things and goings-on.

        As a personal update, I'm nearing the end of Japanese 2 as we speak. Hiragana and katakana learned, along with some basic grammar that, given how far I am in French, almost seems embarrasing. I'll be skipping Japanese altogether next year (a bad move, I know, but somewhat unavoidable) as a consequence of my planned Spring semester in France. 3 and 4 to be resumed when I'm a Junior. JET Program still on the horizon.

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        • #19
          Hmm... zakalwe has yet to respond to this one.

          ザカルヱ はこのにまだ答えるために持っている。

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          • #20
            Well, not much to add really...1exist's right. Haven't been able to find HoL in a shop to have a browse though it; buying would be a bit futile since my (written) japanese is infantile at best.

            My students all use a kind of emoticon equivalent in their (often bizzarre) letters and notes to me; faces composed of symbols ( >'<) etc.

            As for HoL... a nightmare to translate, I imagine. Punning and imbiguity are quite possible however, since in Japanese one kanji can have several different pronunciations and meanings according to context... 中, for example, is "naka" or "chuo" and can mean in, inside, medium, middle... Of course all MZD's clever wordplays with the character names are lost in the translation to katakana.

            It's also worth considering the difference that using an ideological (is that the word I mean?) system like Kanji makes- for a book so concerned with the interface between space and ideas, using letters that embody ideas rtaher than sounds will have some interesting effects.

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            • #21
              Well, my InterLibrary Loan actually came through with the Nihon go translation. My ability to read Japanese is quite minimal, but I plan on spending some time with this to see if I can extract anything interesting. Here are a few rambling, initial notes:

              Plenty of kanji and hiragana used throughout, with a good dash of katakana as well. (I haven't come across any romaji, but I doubt I will.) Text that is not English in the original (e.g. Muss es sein) is left in it's original language. [Interesting sidenote on that one: 'Muss es sein' is provided with a translation, 'どうしても ?' What seems odd about that is that it's all hiragana and that it has a '?' Also, babelfish translates that as 'By any means;' clearly, babelfish can only be relied on for a general sense of what you're translating, but this sounds oddly like an answer.]

              Obviously, it rights 'right to left', so Yggdrasil appears on what we would call the first page. The hex code inside the covers appears to be the same, as do all of the collages and other images.

              The fonts for each author appear to follow a similar pattern, with Zampano's bearing a serif and Johnny's somehow sans. The editors appear to be the same as Johnny's but smaller and in boldface. It's hard to tell how fonts work in this language, but they appear to be roughly equivalent in terms of where and how 'serifs' appear in relation to the stroke.

              The pages are numbered in Arabic numerals (thankfully). The pagination is off, but on pages where it clearly matters, (Ch. X for example) the same patterns appear to be retained, though rotated 90 degrees.

              Since my main interest here is in how puns and codes work in the translation, let's take a look at how 'snaps/spans' from p. 294 - 296 works.

              The last character on page 328 in the Japanese is the hiragana そ (so). Page 329 contains the single kanji character 切 (which I think is pronounced ki tsu) This kanji means "cut, pause, interrupt, etc." A lot of things which could potentially correspond to snapping. Page 330 contains the single hiragana character れ (re), and page 330 starts with the hiragana る (ru).

              So all together that's そ切れる . Babelfish says that means "the そ it is cut off." So it sounds like we're in the ballpark. Reversing the order to get るれ切そ, babelfish says, "The る れ ardently the そ." In other words, it couldn't recognize enough to translate except that the context for the kanji somehow indicated that it should be "ardently." So that pun doesn't seem to amount to much, unless there's some phonetic pun I'm missing.

              I did find at least one case of something that seems to work better (or at least add a nice touch) in japanese, though. I'll put it in a separate post cause this one is getting long and I'm paranoid that my browser's about to crash.

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              • #22
                One cool thing I've come across is a case where there appears to be a visual pun made out of a kanji character, 口 (I promise that's a real character and not just a "I don't know what that is" square). Babelfish doesn't recognize it, but it apparently can mean "mouth," in addition to lots of other things. Significantly, a different kanji, 囗 which is only distinguished by being slightly larger means "box."

                It appears on the equivalent to pg. 444 (US) which is now 508 (JP). Page 444(US) looks like this:

                mments after
                he has been
                walking for a
                while. "I ne
                ver thought t
                his labyrinth
                would be a p
                leasant thin

                (It's one of those square text-box pages when Navidson is crawling through the . I just can't make it show up as full-justified.)

                In the JP, the text makes a square, with 口at it's center. It's hard to tell what words are in this passage because the spacing between words has been eliminated (I guess to make a similar effect to the arbitrary line breaks in the US), but it appears to be part of the phrase "walking for a while." So it's visual presence at the exact center of this text square plays on one of its meanings.

                はしばらくあたり
                を歩き回つてそう
                感想を口にする。
                「まさかこの迷宮
                に戻れて安心する

                (It's actually this rotated to read right-left, but I don't feel like laying it out that way. Anyway, you can still see the 口 in the center.)

                Babelfish says that means "You walk the around for a while and time connection so mention thought. 'Being able to return to this labyrinth never, you feel at rest." Which almost makes sense.

                Anyway, I just think that's cool. My next goal is to pick through May 8, 1987 and see if I can figure if/how the coding works.

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                • #23



                  Fascinating. FYI, the smaller square kanji you quote is one of about 40 that I actually know- it's "guchi" which can mean mouth, but also entrance or exit (in the former case it's combined with the kanji for person, in the latter with "deru"...got to wait till i'm at work to get my kanji on). So there's possibly a further -based play on entranceds and exits at work here.

                  If you quote some passages you're working on here, I'll get a sensei at work to translate it for me... A nice cake or two should be adequate bribe from me, I think.
                  We're at the cutting edge here...in a way.
                  8)

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by zakalwe
                    So there's possibly a further -based play on entranceds and exits at work here.
                    Nice, yeah. Also since 口 seems to correspond to "mention" or telling, it's an interesting relation of the ideas of a portal or window with the idea of telling. Also, confinement and inscription seem to be the respective correlates of those ideas, so we've got a nice image here.


                    Originally posted by zakalwe
                    If you quote some passages you're working on here, I'll get a sensei at work to translate it for me... A nice cake or two should be adequate bribe from me, I think.
                    Thanks, I'll do that. I'd better get baking.

                    I forgot to mention that there's also an insert which appears to be a translator's note. It would probably make sense for me to start there, but it's pretty long. . .

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                    • #25
                      Ok, so I'm stuck on a couple things. Any advice on how to deal with or recognize names in kanji? I've come across two phrases that repeat often, and I think one is the translator, Yoichi Shimada. The other one might be MZD, but I can't tell. It's not written in katakana, so I can't be sure.

                      I can't type them in here because they're not standard characters, but rather, combinations of characters that are pronounced similarly. So, Yoichi Shimada has one character that looks like a combination of 山 and 鳥 (mountain and bird) which would be pronounced yo ma to ri. The next character is 田 (ta = rice), followed by a combination of "water drop" + "sheep," then 一(ichi). Anyway, it appears that all or most of the sounds are there to make Yoichi Shimada. Also, it makes sense contextually.

                      The other sticky phrase which may be MZD (or not) looks similarly complex. Once again, I can't just type it, so I'll try to describe it. (sure would be nice if I had a scanner).

                      1st character:
                      己 (o no re) twice, above. Below, I can't tell it it's a radical, but it looks like a combination of 二 and 凵 to make sort of a tic-tac-toe shape on top of a 八. I dunno.

                      Second character:
                      Looks like a combination of 老 "old man" and 子 "child."

                      You know what--I'm going to see if I can get my digital camera to get a decent picture of this. Hang on . . .

                      Hows this:

                      ?
                      It's still pretty blurry, but that's the best I could get it. Can you (or one of your colleagues) make sense of that? (cakes forthcoming)

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                      • #26
                        Working on it- long meetings at the moment so no one has much time for my strange requests. Hang in there, Hoss.


                        So, Yoichi Shimada has one character that looks like a combination of 山 and 鳥 (mountain and bird) which would be pronounced yo ma to ri.
                        I don't think this follows; the elements of which a kanji is composed don't necessarily dictate the pronunciation in this way. Anyway, I've been mucking about on word and come up with this, which seems to fit your description:

                        与一島田

                        That should be Yoichi Shimada (it might be written Shimada Yoichi in the Japanese formulation, since they put family name first)- is it what you've got in the book?

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                        • #27
                          Cool, thanks. No hurry :)

                          Yeah, what you say about the name makes sense. It's definitely listed as

                          嶋田「something else」一=訳

                          so this is apparently "Shimado Yoichi." That first character came from experimenting with what the Windows japanese typer thing suggested to sound like "shi ma", but it's apparently the one on the book that I was previously calling a combination of "mountain" and "bird." The "something else" character should be "yo," but it's not coming up for whatever reason.

                          Anyway, whatever I scanned in the above post probably isn't MZD (duh) since on the spine he's listed as マーク。Z。ダ二レブスキー。

                          So I'm not sure what that thing I scanned is, though it shows up several times.

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                          • #28
                            Wouldn't this be better off in a thread of its own, really?

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
                              Wouldn't this be better off in a thread of its own, really?
                              Well, it's still true that I don't know Japanese, and I guess this forum is supposed to be for people who have encountered the Japanese version, but what the heck.

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by zakalwe
                                Working on it- long meetings at the moment so no one has much time for my strange requests. Hang in there, Hoss.




                                I don't think this follows; the elements of which a kanji is composed don't necessarily dictate the pronunciation in this way. Anyway, I've been mucking about on word and come up with this, which seems to fit your description:

                                与一島田

                                That should be Yoichi Shimada (it might be written Shimada Yoichi in the Japanese formulation, since they put family name first)- is it what you've got in the book?
                                Yeah, radicals determine meaning, not pronunciation. That wouldn't make sense at all seeing as spoken Japanese predates written Japanese, and written was derived from written Chinese.

                                I was wondering about how translations of this would work, so much of it is form-based. You'd think you'd have to have Danielewski himself on the translation team to make sure they didn't miss the nuances, and the majority of written puns don't translate from any language to another.

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