Translating for art

It’s been a while since my last post…I’ve been working non-stop over the last few months. Writing this blog and doing yoga were the only time to unwind a bit, but in the last six weeks, I was working intensively on weekends too…前回の投稿から時間が経ってしまいましたが・・・ここ数ヶ月間、ノンストップで働いてきました。このブログを書く時間とヨガをする時間だけは少しリラックスできましたが、ここ6週間は週末も集中して仕事をしていました。

What has kept me so busy is translation of PhD papers in fine art. I find translating text written by artists is challenging but very engaging. Often such text can be very conceptual and abstract. The abstractness of the original text should remain the same in the translation. But in order to translate abstract text, one needs to understand the thoughts/intentions of the writer behind the abstract words…it’s never easy to translate text when a writer intentionally writes in a very abstract and conceptual way to stimulate reader’s imagination and encourage them to interpret text in their own way. Luckily I find it interesting and fun to translate this kind of text, but was told by other translators that they wouldn’t take that kind of assignment…なぜこんなに忙しかったかというと、博士論文(美術)を翻訳していたからです。アーティストの書いた文章の翻訳は難しいですが、やりがいがありとても面白いのです。アーティストの書く文書は、大半の場合とても概念的で抽象的です。原文の抽象性が翻訳にもそのまま残るべきなのですが、抽象的な文章を翻訳するために、まず文章の背後にある著者の考えや意図を理解しなければなりません。読者の想像力を刺激し、独自の方法で文章を解釈してもらうよう意図的に抽象的・概念的な方法で執筆された文章の翻訳は、一筋縄ではいきません。幸いなことに、私は興味を持って楽しみながらこのような文章の翻訳に取り組めるのですが、自分だったらそんな仕事は引き受けないと言う翻訳者さんたちも多いのです。

Some artists have dyslexia and translating what they’ve written is a big challenge for a translator. One of the papers that I’ve translated this time was written by an artist with dyslexia. This job wasn’t straightforward translation. I had to edit the original English text first so that it can be readable, while keeping its abstractiveness. Editing text is not supposed to what a translator does, but in this case I had no choice. I’m not arty  enough to be an artist, but editing the text seemed to give me a better idea about the artist’s thinking process, which was very intriguing.


As I was so swamped with these assignments, I didn’t have the time to do any Christmassy things. I only taken out the tree few days ago…My husband and I normally go back to England this time of the year and get to have Christmas drinks with friends and family. But we’re stuck in Japan this year and it feels like Christmas never comes…but I hope everyone else is having a lovely festive time!



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