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- Hayashi Fumiko
- Wandering Heart: The Work and Method of Hayashi Fumiko
- Susanna Fessler - Google Scholar Citations
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There are a few presses, like Kodansha has kind of pulled out of the game, but for a long time Kodansha International was sort of one of the key players, Tuttle , obviously, is also still there, does a lot of translation. But they often let stuff fall out of print, and then it might just die a quiet death.
I work with a publisher — it's a one man gig — so there's one person working in the office and he does most everything. He lives in Fukuoka, and his love is books, and so he just wants more stuff to be translated. So he's got a nice website and he'll say if you're interested in translating they actually have a process that you can go through. They have an application if you're interested in publishing with them, and they will ask you to pick one of, I think it's ten different things they have on their website to translate, and send it in as a sample.
If they think you're competent and there's hope there, then you can start talking with them about it. The guy's name is Edward Lipsett. I don't know how Edward deals with current authors.
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In my case, the guy I translate is dead, and has been dead for more than fifty years, so everything is public domain, we don't have to worry about copyright or anything like that. But when you're working with more current authors, then that's where the publisher has to get involved. But Edward, I think he tries to contact the authors and says, you know we have somebody who's interested in translating your work, would you be interested, or he talks to the publishers of the original Japanese and then tries to get them onboard.
So there's a big negotiation process, but you kind of have to, as the translator yourself, you have to first show that you're competent, that you have something to offer, and getting to that point isn't super easy.
Now, how do you get to that point? One way is by doing technical translation, and getting comfortable with that process. How do you do that? Well, it's like looking for any job. You have to send a resume out to a whole bunch of different places. It's like opening the phone book and looking under translation, because most technical translation is done through an intermediary, middle-man party.
So Company A needs a document translated, they contact the translation office, and then the translation office farms that out to the appropriate person. So it's never a full time job, where you get a salary. Unless you're one of the very few people who does it full time, for say, Toyota is always the example we use, it's not only Toyota, but you know huge companies like that actually do employ a few people full time.
But often those people they employ full time are specialized, like they do law, or something like that. I would never take a law job.
Wandering Heart: The Work and Method of Hayashi Fumiko
It's too scary. I don't know that vocabulary and I can't learn it fast enough to be safe. Like, I don't want to expose somebody to a lawsuit laughs. Right, so that's one way to get your foot in that door. Talking to some of the people at the BCLT event who actually have worked for Toyota in the past, they say that what often happens is you simply do a couple jobs, a couple freelance jobs, and they really like your work, and so then you're their go to person, and the middleman maybe gets cut out or something like that.
But it takes a long time to be that go to person. And the competition is, well Japanese to English not as great as lots of other languages, but it's still there. One of the problems with translation, if you move out of the sort of musty world that I'm in and into stuff like video games and manga and anime, is that there is a large crowd of people out there who are willing, and who do, translate game scripts and web pages and all those kinds of things for free, for fun.
And you know, you can't compete with free when you're talking about what you're going to charge for something. So that's why I keep saying it's just not lucrative. And I'll probably make about that much money from the one that I'm publishing right now. So I just do it because I enjoy it, and it's a fun, fascinating challenge, and it dovetails with my research. I don't think anybody gets rich doing it.
At all. I'm curious, so for example, Jay Rubin , who is now retired, who's my daisempai, if you will. He had the same advisor in graduate school as I did, he was the first generation and I was the last generation, We both worked under McClellan , and McClellen was, you know, one of these demigods of translation. So a lot of the students that he produced then went on to do translation. So Jay did a number of different translations and now in his glorious retirement, is one of the go to people for translations of Murakami Haruki. So Murakami Haruki has two translators and Jay is one of them.
I'm not sure how much money he makes on that.
Susanna Fessler - Google Scholar Citations
I don't think he does it for the money, I'm sure he has a nice pension laughs. No question about that. Yeah, exactly, well those books sell. I mean the reason I don't make money is because my books don't sell.
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Quite literally every year, maybe two or three copies sell, and that's okay, I don't care. But you know, I don't depend on it to make money, that's for sure. For the most part, I stay away from it, but at the car parts factory I did it. But it was exhausting, it was absolutely exhausting.
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Translating I can sit and do all day, I mean I get tired, but the mental work involved in interpreting, especially because I was a first year graduate student, and at that point I had been studying Japanese for six years, on and off, and there was just a ton of stuff that I didn't know. So it was really very nervous making too.
And inevitably, half the time you ran overtime. And it was an hour commute one way, in summer, in a car that had no air conditioning. It's the one time in my life when I've come close to falling asleep at the wheel. But after three months I was so glad that it was ending. I was just exhausted. I wanted to go back to school and do something different. I can't imagine interpreting for a long period of time, unless you were raised bilingually.
It's just really hard. Yeah, basically. Like I said, they were setting up the production line, so I would go and interpret for, usually it was the management, who was explaining to the Americans what needed to be done. Or it was an assembly line and they were doing it according to this sort of long standing Japanese tradition where you train everybody for every station, so that if someone's out sick one day, production doesn't stop.
So they had to train all the Americans in all the different stations. Like okay, today we're doing chrome plating, or whatever. So there was stuff like that, and then I would kind of follow people around. One day we had someone come, an American subcontractor who needed to check out some of the air conditioning units that are on the roof of the factory, it was a flat roof, right? So the management was really funny, it was almost all men in this factory, there were like two women in the office, and then everybody else was male. And then there was me. They realized that they needed help with this and they said well, we're not going to ask you to climb up on the roof and I said why not?