January 20th, 2010

baelheit's motherfucking hat

historical present, specifically in japanese

So I've just started a translation project on a novel in Japanese, and though I've had plenty of practice translating and interpreting dialogue, obviously translating literature is a bit more difficult. What I'm mostly baffled by is the historical present -- not really its use in Japanese, but how I should be adapting it into English. The historical present in English doesn't really exist in formal narrative, and though I've encountered it a bit in Latin, the usage and tense switch in Japanese is much more rapid and frequent -- as in, tense switching two or more times within a given sentence. I understand that the historical present is usually employed to emphasize the action that's in the present, although I get the feeling that its use is a bit more nuanced in Japanese. The two most common places I see it are in dependent (usually relative) clauses that are part of longer sentences, which makes sense to me in a way that it maintains relative tense, and as the final (head) verb in much shorter sentences which are meant to be a bit more dramatic. However, in the second case, these sentences are often in the past tense as well, and the distinction between when to use the nonpast and when to use the past seem kind of arbitrary so far.

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I guess I'm just not sure how to adapt the instances of historical present here, because the rapid tense switching is just awkward in English, especially in third person narrative. Do I just translate them all into the past tense in English as that would be more natural, or is there a way I can incorporate the intended emphasis in a natural way as well? Additionally, if anyone has any good resources on the historical present in Japanese, that would be great. My Google fu has largely been useless in finding any resources on this matter.

Thanks in advance!
  • iohanne

Non-Sumerian and Non-Akkadian Cuneiform

I'm interested in looking into cuneiform inscriptions in languages other than Sumerian and Akkadian. According to Professor Henry Rogers in his textbook, Writing Systems: A Linguistic Approach, the cuneiform adaptations to other languages were "conservative" and "kept the structure of Sumerian and Akkadian." In the textbook he mentions Elamite, Eblaite, Hittite, Hurrian and Urartian. In addition, Wikipedia mentions Luwian and Hattic.

In order to have an in-depth look at these other cuneiform scripts I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could point me to any academic sources. I'm particularly interested in exploring the relationship between cuneiform and the spoken language. I have learned from Rogers that cuneiform script made mix use of phonograms and morphograms and I would like explore the distribution of these grapheme classes within the cuneiform inscriptions; where they, for example, in complementary distribution (as Japanese generally uses phonograms for inflections and morphograms for lexical roots) or is the usage up to the whim of the scribe? To a lesser extent I am interested in allographic variation especially variation that arose during the initial adaptation of the script from Akkadian to the new language.

Obviously any works on the proposed phonologies of the above languages may also prove to be helpful especially if I could get my hand on a decent list of phonograms for each language. Finally, because there are apparently great innovations in Old Persian and Ugaritic cuneiform (and more research material, I'm assuming), I am interested in these two scripts most of all. Though this may all seem overly ambitious, any help at all, however small, would be greatly appreciated.

X-posted to linguists

P.S. For some reason, when I look at cuneiform tables on-line, it only shows that little square with numbers and letters. I'm an idiot at technology. What do I have to do to get my computer to support the cuneiform characters?
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Danish help please!

Hello, I am looking at the following phrase in Danish, it's the application requirements for a course at a business school. Can anyone tell me if I have got this right? Thanks...

Du kan også søge om optagelse, hvis du har en erhvervsuddannelse inden for detailhandel, handel m. specialer, kontor, kontor m. specialer, eventkoordinator eller finansuddannelsen.

My version: "You can also apply if you have vocational training within the retail sector, trade with a specialism, an office, an office with a specialism, as an event coordinator, or financial training."

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