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Unfaithful beauty or
faithful plain-looking woman

- Belle infidèle o femme quelconque fidèle -

Cat: LAN
Pub: 1998

Mari Yonehara (米原万里)


Unfaithful beauty or faithful plain-looking


  1. Introduction:
  2. Interpreter and translator are badgers of the same hole?:
  3. Separating chasm between interpretation and translation:
  4. Unfaithful beauty or faithful plain-looker woman:
  5. There was a context at the beginning:
  6. Serving God named communication:
  7. Postscript:
  1. 序文:
  2. 通訳翻訳は同じ穴の貉か:
  3. 通訳と翻訳の間に横たわる溝:
  4. 不実な美女か貞淑な醜女か:
  5. 初めに文脈ありき:
  6. コミュニケーションという名の神に仕えて:
  7. あとがき:
; Abusive words; Banned words; Combination of languages; Context; Deterioration of the message; Deterioration of message; Faithfulness-Refinement quadrants; Hermeneutic; IPA pronunciation; ; Mystery of memory; Nancy Martin; Plagiarism; Reinforcement of memory; Returnee; Rhema; Taboo words; Translation job 20%; ;

>Top 0. Preface:

  • Even a poor interpreter is indispensable in the meeting where there is no common language to communicate among the people.
    • But after the meeting, the value of the interpreter is completely forgotten.
      • It is like an transformer (or like the oldest profession), which is indispensable in abroad with different voltage. But after returning home, the value of the transformer becomes useless and forgotten.
    • Thus, fee for the translation should be concluded before the start of the service.

0. 序文:

  • 同時通訳はRoller coaster

>Top 1. Interpreter and translator are badgers of the same hole?:

  • K. Marks says, "Human beings have desire to experience all kind of profession in one's life."
    • An interpreter resembles to an actor who experience various professions or roles vicariously. An interpreter can experience them in living reality, while an actor does in a fictional world.
      • Language is not only means of communication, but that of thinking, i.e., an interpreter (or translator) transfers the thinking pattern of the original speaker or writer into that of a different language.
      • Thus it is a real pleasure that an interpreter can actively experience structure and process of thinking of the other person, which is never boring job.
  • >Top Combination of languages:
    • It is said that there are as many as 3,000 or 15,000 languages worldwide.
      • Definition of language is not easy; e.g., whether the language spoken in the Ryukyu Islands is a dialect of Japanese or an independent language.
      • Once there was a TV program reporting a scene of the ancient Silk Road, where the communication was interpreted through Japanese, Russian, Uzbek, and Oirot languages.
    • Even in Japan, there are so different dialects which Japanese, which is almost impossible to communicate each other without a local interpreter.
      • But after proliferation of TV program, the common or standardized Japanese could penetrate nationwide.
  • >Top In Japan, there are many banned words or discriminatory terms. In interpreting, such words need to rephrase into other proper expressions.
    • But in Japan there are too much banned words, which include impotents, house maid, waiter, street urchin, mad person, prostitute, etc.
      • It is different to overcome discrimination and to treat some words as taboo.
      • In English, there are only seven dirty words which are highly inappropriate for broadcast in US, such as sxxx, pxxx, fxxx, cxxx. cxxxsxxx, mxxxfxxx.
      • there are more numbers of concepts or idea than those of names, or nomenclature.
    • In interpretation, code transfer between different languages always includes unique world view or way of thinking reflecting each history or customs.
  • >Top Deterioration of message during interpretation:
    • Hearing the original expression by the interpreter: only recognizable portion by the interpreter:
    • Decoding the original message: only understandable portion by the interpreter.
    • Memorizing the original message: only memorable portion by the interpreter.
    • Coding the original message: only able to coding portion by the interpreter.
    • Expressing the original message in different language: only expressible portion by the interpreter
    • Hearing the message by the receiver: only able to hearing portion by the receiver

1. 通訳翻訳は同じ穴の貉か:

  • simultaneous/consecutive interpretation: 同時/逐次通訳
  • Input→Output
    • 音声→音声: 通訳
    • 書面→書面: 翻訳
    • 音声→書面: ラジオ翻訳?
    • 書面→音声: 新聞通訳?
  • Who is the speaker?:
    • yes→maybe
    • maybe→no
    • no→外交官失格
  • <女性の場合>
    • no→maybe
    • maybe→yes
    • yes→女性失格
  • 通訳プロセス; 情報の劣化
  • Engels"自由とは状況の把握"
  • 通訳=追体験する俳優; 他者の頭脳を垣間見る



>Top 2. Separating chasm between interpretation and translation:

  • Confusing vowels:
    • English language has 14-16 vowels; in IPA pronunciation symbols there are different.
      • In vowels: iː (eat), e (bed), æ (cat), ɪ (bit), ə (about), əː/ɜː(curb), ʌ (up), ʊ (full), uː (do), ɑː (last), ɔː (saw), ɒ (bot),
      • In diphthong: eɪ (say), aɪ (eye), ɔi (toy), aʊ (out), əʊ (over), ɪə (peer), eə (pear), ʊə (pure)
  • For an interpreter, listening position as well as listening ability is particularly important.
    • Listening ability consists of ability of differentiate meaning of the term, context of the conversation, situation of the communication, understandability of the receiver as well as general background knowledge of the conversation.
    • Memory is always important in interpretation and translation; particularly in case of consecutive interpretation, good memory is required.
    • A note or a memo taken during the interpretation is very important, which helps insufficiency of memory during interpretation.
      • Concentrating listening and Taking note are inconsistent; taking unique or skillful note is important to become a reliable interpreter.
      • But taking a note is supplementary; memory is more important to make a good interpretation.
  • >Top Active or passive knowledge:
    • It is a passive knowledge to understand what a person speaks or writes; but is an active knowledge to speak or write by oneself.
      • An interpreter is required to reciprocate passive and active vocabularies in both languages.
      • Selective or multiple-choice test is a typical passive knowledge, while writing a thesis or a report, or making presentation is an active one.
  • Speed of an speaker is essential; it said that interpretation will be appropriate when the original speech is made around 100-120 words in a minute in the case of interpretation between English and French.
    • If the speaking speed became 150-200 words, it would be difficult to keep the quality of interpretation.
  • Redundancy of spoken language:
    • It is usually said that spoken language contains 60-70% redundant or repetitious words; or in some cases 90-100% redundancy.
    • A skillful interpreter can use this redundancy for better interpretation.
    • On the contrary written language contains little redundancy.
      • At International conferences such as UN, some speakers read the prepared draft very rapidly; in such cases interpreters may reject the interpretation, stating that "This speaker reads too fast the prepared draft, which was not handed beforehand to us. In such conditions of interpretation, we could not fullfil satisfactory interpretation for the audience. Therefore we are obliged to reject our interpretation and quit from this place rather than giving wrong interpretation for you."
  • >Top Mystery of memory:
    • There are three categories of memory: 1) short-term memory (from 1 minute to 1 hour) during the interpretation, 2) middle-range memory (from half day to one week) needed for the job of interpretation during particular conference or training, 3) long-term memory (almost semi-permanent) as basic knowledge used for the profession.
      • Ability of memory surely deteriorates according to aging; but we still remain alternative ability or seven reinforcement of memory as follows: 1) meaningful or significative words (including mnemonic), 2) interesting words or sentences, 3) understandable or known words, 4) logical sentences, 5) speech with story (including funny stories, or rhapsodies, 6) rhythmical phrases, such as poem or haiku, 7) description easy to be visualize as a picture.
    • >Top Lecture of Nancy Martin (interpreted by Kumiko Tamaru):
      • Information by listening is only 10%, while that by looking is 30%. But the information by own experience attains 80%. So it is important to try it by yourself than listening a lecture or reading a book.
    • An interpreter really learns knowledge of the theme during the interpretation activity; therefore it will be recognized by most of the interpreters that if the interpretation had started from following day after finishing the job, which could have been done in much more smarter way than today.
  • >Top An interpreter should be involved in translation job at least 20%:
    • Interpretation is always pressed by instant interpretation, though it is allowed not to be perfect.
      • On the contrary, translation needs to be perfect in selecting most appropriate translated words or expression by having enough time of checking translated words or expressions.
    • The job of interpretation terminates in a short time, or even shameful mistakes of interpretation is discarded.
      • On the contrary, the quality of translation remains for longer times as a record.
    • However, even an interpreter should accept translation jobs as much as at least around 20%.
      • It would be useful for an interpreter through translation jobs to find the most appropriate expression spending enough time including consulting dictionaries or related books.
      • Translation activity will contribute an interpreter to enhance own ability and sense of wording.
    • >Top Plagiarism or copying the interpretation is almost impossible:
      • Interpretation is essentially one time job, which would not be reused, just like a theatrical arts or music performance.
        • Translation activity is always available copying; an established translator may subcontract the job to the junior staff.
      • But there might be an exception: during broadcasting of the Gulf War, some TV channel could not prepare the interpreter for the urgent news. The foreign news section considered to plagiarize or copy the interpretation of other TV program (like NHK).
        • But this idea of copying interpretation of other channel was not adopted fortunately.
        • Actually, it could be intolerable to copy the same expression of an announcer of other channel.

2. 通訳と翻訳の間に横たわる溝:

  • 通訳と翻訳とは:
  • Phonetic symbol: 発音記号


  • 翻訳: 媒体が文字
    • 通訳: 媒体が音声
    • それぞれ異なる方法・技術・能力を要する
  • 同音的異義語の区別:
    • 組織・葬式; 情勢・女性; 空想・糞; 顧問・肛門; 少女・処女; 出国・出獄; 研究・緊急;
    • earth(ass); bad manner(bed)
  • економическое положение (поражение?) Японии
  • послаь(посрать) 発送・糞
  • развить(разбить)発展・破壊
  • пи'сать('писать)書く・尿
  • ху'доба(худо'ба)財産・害悪
  • христьянский(крестьянский)
  • гарвардский(варварский)ハーバードの・barbarian


  • 短期・中期・長期記憶:
    • 通訳能力=メモ能力


  • 積極知識と消極知識:




  • 記憶力の謎:
  • 記憶力の強化策:
    1. 意味(こじつけ)のあるもの
    2. 関心のあるもの
    3. 理解したもの:暗記は苦痛
    4. 論理的なもの
    5. 物語性のあるもの: 小咄
      Story teller的素質
    6. リズム感のあるもの:
      俳句; 九九も詩
    7. イメージしやすいもの:
      意味, image, storyを
  • 仕事は最良の勉学の場
  • 田丸久美子: 聴覚情報10%, 視覚情報30%, 体験情報80%も定着する。

  • 通訳者も20%は翻訳の仕事
    • 翻訳は通訳の能力点検になる。

  • 通訳の盗作は可能か



>Top 3. Unfaithful beauty or faithful plain-looking woman:

  • What is better translation?; both faithful to the original expression and the translation or interpretation should be refined in expression in other language.
    • But these values could be trade-off; i.e., which could be compared to impression of woman.
  • Faithfulness - Refinement Quadrants:
    • X-axis: Faithfulness in translation, while Y-axis refinement in expression.
    • Faithful and refined expression is the best; but actually translation should be either 'unfaithful but refined expression', or 'faithful but not-refined expression.
      • the former is compared to unfaithful beauty, and the latter is faithful plain-looking woman.
    • Which is better unfaithful beauty or faithful plain-looking woman? The answer would depend on time and situation.
      • In case of party communication, unfaithful beauty translation is preferable to enhance friendly and impressive association.
      • In case of serious diplomatic or business translation, faithfulness or correctness to the original is important, though the expression could not be refined.
  • It is generally considered that to interpret foreign language into mother tongue is easier than to do mother tongue into foreign language.
    • In European interpreters groups are made of native speakers of output language; i.e., French interpreters booth, which is composed of French speaking persons assigned to interpret from English, German, or Italian, etc. language into French language.
    • Similarly German interpreters booth, which is of German speaking persons assigned to interpret from English, French, or Italian, etc. language into German language.
      • In these grouping, there might be mistaken in listening input language.
      • But there are mostly common cultural background among European languages.
    • In Japan, all interpreters are required to interpret both ways between different languages.
      • In Japan very unique customary or idiomatic expressions often appear in formal meeting or party, or salutation made by the guest of honor.
      • E.g.; 'Hitotsu yorosiku...' could not be 'One Please!.'
  • >Top Salutation
    • Particularly opening salutation or exchange greetings are important but difficult to interpret literally.
      • In ending a party, in Japan, the host likes to end by clapping together; asking "Now, everyone, please ready to clap your hands! If I say yoo, please clap your hands once (or clap your hands in a 3-3-3-1 beat. Let's do this 3 times!"
      • At the end of the party, never say 'Are you tired?', which may mean that today's your performance is less than usual condition because of you are tired.
    • Tips for interpreting salutation:
      • Prepare typical patterns of salutations in each language, which could be a kind of casting a spell, such as 'Open sesami!' (iftakh yā simsim)
    • In translating 'Asha' Turgenev, Futabatei Shimei translated 'Ваша...' (suggesting I love you) into 'I wouldn't care if I died.'
      • In European languages, there are two types of 'you'; formal mode and informal mode.
    • The role of an interpreter (or translator) is to convey the essential meaning of what the original speaker (or writer) want to say or require.
      • An interpreter between European languages can interpret fluently or mechanically; but an interpreter between culturally different languages such as Russian and Japanese has a wide space for imagination and creativity.
  • Difficult interpretation (3P's):
    • Pun, joke, or wordplay:
    • Proper nouns:
      such as names of people, location, building, historic site, organization, etc.
    • Proverb, idiom, maxim, or quotation:
  • >Top Abusive words:
    • Russian language is a treasury of abusive words, which is difficult to interpret into foreign language.

3. 不実な美女か貞淑な醜女か:

  • 良い訳とは何か?
  • 美しいが原文に忠実でない翻訳
  • 誠実だが本質を見損なう場合
  • Thank you for your time. I know you're busy.: ご多忙中にも関わらず
  • Closing mid-way (actually ending the party): 中締め
  • Than you very much for coming all the way!: 遠路遥々
  • 一本締め: If I say yoo, please clap your hands once!
  • 三本締め: Please clap your hands in a 3-3-3-1 beat, and let's do this three times.
  • Ending: お開き:
  • Good job today: お疲れ様
  • Faithfulness-Refinement quadrants in translation:
  • unfaithfulbeautymatrix c
  • パーティー挨拶:
    • ご多忙中にも関わらず
    • 遠路はるばる
    • 中締め
    • 一本締め、三本締め
    • お疲れ様
    • 一つ宜しく
  • Open sesami; 芝麻开门zhīma kāimén
  • Bon appétit=I'm Anderson?
  • お疲れ様=Вы устли?=Are you tired?
    • 挨拶文を予め準備しておく
  • Turgenev: 'First love'の名訳
  • 醜女の深情け
  • 通訳困難な3大用語
    • ジョーク
    • 固有名詞
  • ロシア語に罵倒語多し


>Top 4. There was a context at the beginning:

  • Context is the key:
    • At interpretation, if you miss to hear or don't understand the words, please wait until the next utterance of words, which could be a solution for a good translation.
    • In Japanese tradition, it is usually said that silence is gold and eloquence is silver.
    • In interpretation, it is better to neglect unnecessary or redundant information and to find out the essential part of the expression, concentrating the context of the communication.
      • Shadowing is a kind of method of training an interpreter, which repeats correctly after the native speakers to learn the native smooth pronunciation or intonation; on the other hand this is not so useful as a training to grasp the core of the communication.
  • Prearrangement
    • Correct as much as related information beforehand, which is useful to make smooth interpretation.
      • relation information includes speciality, position of speakers as well as the theme of the conference.
        • E.g. in case of the speaker is an historian, who has the background of biology, whose speech might include the topic of biology.
    • most of international conferences continue two or one day, or half a day in the shortest one.
  • Speaking style of a Japanese tends:
    • to conclude the discussion at the last part of the speech.
    • to explain generally from an overview point, without replying each equation.
    • to concern about nuance of delicate expression or minor details.
  • Interpreters are usually allowed to spend 80-100% of the time spent by the original speaker; never allowed to spend 150-200%.
    • Interpretation into Japanese needs usually 2-3 times more than the original speech, because Japanese pronunciation includes vowels except 'n'.
    • Kanji characters can express the information compactly in interpretation, but speaking in Chinese-style Kanji is often more difficult to transmit the message than speaking in native Japanese word.
      • Usual spoken language contains 60% or 100% at most of redundancy, which could be omitted in interpretation to catch up the speed of the original speaker.
      • Lengthy redundant expression can be abbreviated such as, rather, about, fairly, say, let us say, so to speak, perhaps, as it were, sort of, etc.
      • Tacit understanding of key point; often omitted as in the internal communication.
  • >Top Theme and Rhema:
    • Sentences develop to add new information (rhema) to the old information (theme).
    • Lengthy official name or nomenclature can be abbreviated from the second time.
  • Grasping context is useful to interpret into an appropriate expression when the speaker say only simple words (such as hello, or thanks); which are interpreted in Russian as the following patterned expressions:
    • Я рад видеть вас; Здравствуйте; Долго не виделись; Очень приятно; Прошу любить и жаловать; бодьшое цспасибо; Простите меня; До свидания.
  • Speakers who will not cooperate to make international conference meaningful:
    • speaks (or reads) rapidly the text prepared for the conference.
      • sometimes the text was not handed to the interpreter beforehand.
    • use too much special jargons which are difficult to be understood by the audience.
      • sometimes happens in academic conferences.
  • >Top Taboo word in some conference:
    • контролировать (control) was taboo word at some fishery negotiation.
      • Interpretation was such difficult that this and that actions are allowed, but such are not allowed ....; thus both delegation (Russia and Japan) agreed various fishery actions without using the term of 'control' at the conference.

4. 初めに文脈ありき:

  • rhema: new or unknown information ⇔theme
  • 文脈が重要



  • 事前の用意周到さ



  • 日本語の話し方の特徴:
    • 結論が最期
    • 高所からの説明
    • 各論の質問に答えない
    • 些細な表現にこだわる

  • 原発言者の80-100%の時間内で通訳


  • 話し言葉には60-100%の冗長度がある。これを通訳に活用すべし。
    • 書き言葉の方が冗長性が低い(情報密度が濃い)


  • テーマとレーマ:



  • タブーな言葉

>Top 5. Serving God named communication:

  • There are two types of audience of relay interpretation: e.g., French speaker appears at the international conference, many Japanese audience on the floor and interpreters of other languages in the booths; all these audience are listening to the Japanese interpretation.
    • interpreters of other languages instantly interpret into other languages like English, German, Russian, etc.
    • the ability of French-Japanese interpreter affects the quality of other interpretations.
    • Japanese native speaker can learn any foreign language, whose quality should be no more than the native language; thus any interpreter is always required to refine the quality of mother language which will be the upper limit of any learned foreign language.
  • Shigehiko Toyama gives a warning that it would be risky to raise a child in multi languages environment in early childhood; as a teaching language dialect is better than common language, and mother loving tongue is better than dialect; inclusion of foreign language is the worst case; which may confuse the child brain by three languages of dialect, common, and foreign languages.
    • There will be no international language; any interpreter or translator without enough ability of mother tongue cannot fullfil the job of interpretation or translation.
  • The author (Mari Yonehara) had spent for five years (1959-64, from 9 year-old, the 3rd grade of elementary school through 14-year-old, 2nd grade of junior high school) at Prague, Czechoslovakia.
    • Russian language curriculum at the International School of USSR in Prague was very different from the Japanese curriculum.
    • After half an year of elementary learning of Russian, the class was divided into literature course or grammar course of Russian until 3rd grade, sharing half of 24 curriculums in a week; sharing more than 1/3 in 4th and 5th grade, and more than 1/4 after 6th grade.
    • The literature course is featured as follows:
      • Extensive reading of original Russian literature, and must reply the contents as well as impression of the works.
      • Recitation of an essence of typical classical works; 2 works per week.
      • Reading loudly the works and presentation of its summary just after the reading.
      • Composition; the theme is selected by the teacher introducing similar theme from classic works.
        • Composition must include the first impression, description of characters' expressions, features of voice or gesture, typical speech or response, inferred personal character, relationship with others, something discovered.
    • The grammar course contains:
      • Through grammatical analysis; sentence patter which is subject and predicate, meaning estimate from context.
    • >Top Returnee children from foreign schools have strong attachment on their mother tongue, on the other hand they analyze objectively Japanese language.
      • To study foreign language is to enrich their mother tongue, while to study mother tongue it to enrich the learning foreign language.

5. コミュニケーションという名の神に仕えて:

  • hermeneutic: concerning interpretation <G. Hermes
  • 外山滋比古
    • 幼児期に幾つもの言語を詰め込むな
    • 思考力が不安定になる


  • "世界心の旅", 4人の少女の同級生を訪ねる旅 (NHK番組1996放映) ユーゴスラビア、ルーマニア、ギリシア、日本の友達の行方
  • ソ連国際学校(プラハ)での
    • 母国語の徹底した教育
    • 文学コース
      • 多読(文豪の実作品)
      • 暗唱(古典詩・散文)
      • 読み+要旨発表
      • 作文(描写付き)
    • 文法コース
      • 母国語を外国語のように徹底分析
      • 概念分析


  • 外国語を学ぶことは母国語を豊かにし、母国語を学ぶことは外国語を豊かにする。

>Top 6. Postscript:

  • This book was awarded 'Yomiuri best literature,' and one of the selectra judges Kenzaburo Ohe commented that though the title of this book was the worst one, this book challenges to purse the perpetual goal of interpreter as 'faithful beauty' could exist between foreign languages.
    • He also commented that this book told the battle between languages, or story of compromise.
  • The author also warns the trend of overemphasizing of English in Japan, and strongly advise to study one more foreign language other than English to maintain plural viewpoint.

6. あとがき:

  • 本書は読売文学賞受賞。選者の大江健三郎曰く、本書のタイトルは最悪としながらも、ある言語を別の言語に完璧に移し替えること、即ち貞淑な美女は存在するのかをテーマとしている。
  • I deeply regret the author's too early death and loss of the unparalleled interpreter of Russian.
  • I had also studied Russian language at the first two years of university; but still wandering at beginners level. I even think that usefulness of learning Russian could make me feel easier to study other foreign languages.
  • 著者が早逝したことで比類なきロシア語ドージ通訳者を失ったことは誠に惜しまれる。
  • 小生も大学前半2年間ロシア語を学んだがまだ初級レベルを彷徨っている。ロシア語学習の効用は他の外国語を学ぶことが容易に感じるようになることであろうとさえ思っている。

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