As a part of the Children's Entertainment program I'm in, there's a course on children's books. I'm writing (well, writing samples of) a middle-grade fiction book, and it's really hard. Since I'm basing the story in Japan (that's no surprise), there are obviously many things like specific words and jargon and turn-of-phrases that I want to use to express something in particular.
Today's theme is something about translation and expression.
I'm no writer, so I knew this was going to be hard, but not this hard. Whenever I write a sentence, I have to make sure I'm explaining things clearly when I could easily explain that in a single word (with all the specific nuances) if it were in Japanese. For instance, how a wall looks. "Plaster" or "stucco" just doesn't feel right for me, even when it's a direct (and correct) translation of shikkui.
This sort of "knowing what it is in one language but not the other" really makes it hard to succinctly express whatever I want to say or convey. Recently I've been lucky to have several one-off translating/interpreting gigs, but with every job it really hits me that languages and their subtleties are so different, and some things just don't translate well. I'm aware that I don't have the kind of mastery of a true native-speaker with either language (English/Japanese), so even when I see translations that don't correlate with the original text, I'm incapable of making a decent fix.
Well, this turned out kinda downer-y.
But I guess what I want to say is (a) translation is hard and (b) utmost respect to the professional translators out there because language is such a subtle and sensitive subject.