Sunday, September 29, 2013

A new translation of "Being in love" (あいしてる)



あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
ならんですわって うっとりみつめ
あくびもくしゃみも すてきにみえて
ぺろっとなめたく なっちゃうかんじ

あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
みせびらかして やりたいけれど
だれにもさわって ほしくなくって
どこかへしまって おきたいかんじ

あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
いちばんだいじな ぷらもをあげて
つぎにだいじな きってもあげて
おまけにまんがも つけたいかんじ

Being in love

                Shuntaro Tanikawa (trans. by Naoko Ishikura)

What is it like to be in love?
It's like sitting side by side, looking into each other's eyes, entranced
Even yawning and sneezing seem enchanting
And feeling tempted to lick

What is it like to be in love?
You feel like showing it off
But you don't want anyone to touch it
And you want to put it away somewhere

What is it like to be in love?
It's like you want to give away your most precious plastic model 
And then give away your most precious postage stamp
And on top of that, you want to give away a comic book too


  1. Naoko, this is Chris from
    Thanks again for your comment on my translation of なくしもの. This is a lovely translation. I am so impressed that you are translating into English. Did you learn English from a very young age? Because your English is flawless.

    I posted my own translation on my blog, so please go check it out and see what you think. My translation of the last line of the first stanza is much different than yours, but I was deliberately trying to make my translation different to yours for comparative purposes. I hope you enjoy reading my version. :)

  2. Hi Chris! Thank you SO MUCH for your kind words. I didn't learn English from a very young age (I started when I was 11) but I've always loved and continued to enjoy studying the English language. Translating into English is something I've recently gotten into and I'm just a beginner, so there are TONS of mistakes!!

    I read your translation and I love it!! It's very rhythmic and I think you successfully transferred the playful tone of this poem, which is what I failed at. And I liked how you translated the infamous sentence, "ぺろっとなめたくなっちゃうかんじ" too.

    My habit (and could be my problem) is that I tend to be too obedient to the original text. I just don't like to add anything from my imagination. It's one of the characteristics of my translations, but being obedient certainly limits the room for creativity. But should translators be creative? That's something I haven't figured out just yet.

    Thank you so much for taking your time to do this for me! I truly appreciate it. I'm looking forward to exchanging more thoughts on literary translations in the future!

    1. Naoko, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm very happy you liked my translation.

      The question of "should translators be creative?" is a very important one. And my answer is yes. I believe you have to be creative in translation because, no matter what, there are always things that just don't translate directly into the second language. And of course there are certain not-strictly-linguistic characteristics like tone which are just as important (if not more) as the meaning of individual words. If you translate everything faithfully but the tone of the poem is lost completely, can you really say you have succeeded? Especially with poetry, I think there are things that are more important than individual words. The emotions conveyed are vital, and those emotions are inextricably tied with the tone. Sometimes you can't help but choose a different turn of phrase to use in the language you are translating into.

      Of course, this is just my opinion. And of course, as much as possible you should try to be faithful to the original words. I look forward to chatting more with you. Feel free to email me any time.

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