Book #4 Norwegian Wood (ノルウェーの森)

The next book I have decided to read is actually a novel I have read a few times previously, the first occasion being during my first year of university. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami is a nostalgic story of loss and adolescence narrated by the protagonist Tōru Watanabe. The title in Japanese (ノルウェーの森 Noruwei no Mori ) is the Japanese translation of the title of a Beatles song often described in the novel – Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown).

To avoid giving away too much of the plot, as I am sure some of you have yet to read this book, let me instead move to tell you why I have decided to re-read this novel and not start a new one. I have not gone into detail about this before, however I am currently putting my focus on learning the Italian language. What does this have to do with Norwegian Wood? I happen to have copies in this novel in English, Japanese, and Italian, and therefore have decided that it would be a fun exercise to read all three simultaneously and to look at vocabulary, grammar, and translation all at once.

Is this too much? Maybe it is. Even so I believe that I will be able to learn new things about all three languages (yes, including English my mother tongue), and enjoy reading at the same time. I will also read some pages aloud in Italian in order to work on my pronunciation and speaking speed.

Although I already included some of the interesting points I found in my last post, I hope to write further ones as I go deeper in the novel. I’ll keep you updated!


Translations from Japanese: A Comparison

As part of my self-study in translation I was interested in how texts have been translated to several target languages. To best look at this, on this occasion I have chosen to look at the works of Haruki Murakami, and I will primarily be looking at translations from Japanese into English and Italian.

NB: I understand that there are elements of personal choice on the side of the translator, and also language constraints which explain why texts have been translated in such ways. This post is a high-level approach to translation analysis and represents only the musings and opinions of this budding translator.

The first text I looked at was ノルウェーの森 (Norwegian Wood in English).

I own this novel in both my target languages (English and Italian), as well as my source language. The English version was translated by Jay Rubin, and the Italian by Giorgio Amitrano.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story of ノルウェーの森, the title has been taken from the Beatles song by the same name. My Italian copy is also entitled Norwegian Wood, however the novel has also been published in Italy as Tokyo Blues. A quick look on Wikipedia shows that in many languages the title is a version of either Norwegian Wood or Tokyo Blues, with the exception of French where the title has been translated as La Ballade de L’impossible.


After looking at the title I was interested in how the names of the characters had been translated.

In Japanese the names are as follows: トオル、直子、緑.

As expected, the names in English and Italian are simply romanisations of the originals. However, a difference must be noted on how the long vowel in トオル is dealt with. The English translation is Toru, and it can be seen that the long vowel has been ignored. In Italian the name of the protagonist is Tōru with the macron diacritical mark (part of Hepburn romanisation) indicating the long vowel. I hope to look at Hepburn Romanisation more closely in a future post.


In this initial analysis the final thing I wanted to look at was the first sentence of the first chapter in each version of the novel.


English: I was 37 then, strapped in my seat as the huge 747 plunged through dense cloud cover on approach to Hamburg airport.

Italian: Avevo trentasette anni, ed ero seduto a bordo di un Boeing 747.

It is clear that, in this case, the Italian is closer to being a ‘word for word’ translation. The English is in fact a combination of the first 2 sentences. This shows the literary freedom a translator may have when translating. Note that in the English the word Boeing has also been omitted, possibly because 747 is sufficient to portray what type of plane the protagonist is sat on.

For a further comparison I also looked at the first sentence in another of Murakami’s novels ねじまき鳥クロニクル (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle / L’uccello che girava le viti del mondo).


English: When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.

Italian: Avevo la pasta sul fuoco in cucina, quando squillò il telefono.

Obviously yet again the English is longer as it is the combination of more than one original sentence. The Italian is also on this occasion almost the same as the Japanese.


This is where I stop for this post. I was just looking to note down my initial thoughts after looking at these novels. Hopefully in the future I will be able to update on anything else I notice. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you think I should look at!



Reading: Book #3

The third instalment of my reading journey will be Desire by Haruki Murakami. I wasn’t able to wait much longer before adding a Murakami to my list – next to Stephen King he is most certainly my favourite author. Desire is a selection of short stories chosen from Murakami’s larger volumes of short stories, such as The Elephant Vanishes.

I have not yet decided whether I will post vocabulary updates for each of the stories, or for the book as a whole. We’ll have to wait and see! Given my love of Murakami, I doubt it will take me long to devour this book. See you soon!

Vocabulary Expansion #3

Another vocabulary post so soon? I thought that the words looked at yesterday in my Mr Mercedes post were a little lacking… so here you go! Many medical terms and advanced vocabulary to help us expand both our English and Japanese lexicon. As obvious from the image, these words have been chosen from the first book on my reading list: The Body Keeps the Score. At the end of the post you will also see a few acronyms, what they stand for, and how they are translated.



  1. A departure from what is normal, usual, or expected, typically an unwelcome one.
  2. Biology A characteristic that deviates from the normal type.
  3. Optics The failure of rays to converge at one focus because of a defect in a lens or mirror.
  4. Astronomy The apparent displacement of a celestial object from its true position, caused by the relative motion of the observer and the object.

異常 (いじょう)

収差 (しゅうさ)

光行差 (こうこうさ)


  1. A mode of behaviour or way of thought peculiar to an individual.
  2. A distinctive or peculiar feature or characteristic of a place or thing.
  3. Medicine An abnormal physical reaction by an individual to a food or drug.

特色 (とくしょく)

特異室 (とくいしつ)


Also known as Noradrenaline

Biochemistry A hormone which is released by the adrenal medulla and by the sympathetic nerves and functions as a neurotransmitter. It is also used as a drug to raise blood pressure.




Biochemistry A compound present in blood platelets and serum, which constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter.


Frontal lobe

Each of the paired lobes of the brain lying immediately behind the forehead, including areas concerned with behaviour, learning, personality, and voluntary movement.

前頭葉 (ぜんとうよう)

Limbic System

A complex system of nerves and networks in the brain, involving several areas near the edge of the cortex concerned with instinct and mood. It controls the basic emotions (fear, pleasure, anger) and drives (hunger, sex, dominance, care of offspring).

大脳辺縁系 (だいのうへんえんけい)


Either of two masses of grey matter lying between the cerebral hemispheres on either side of the third ventricle, relaying sensory information and acting as a centre for pain perception.

視床 (ししょう)


A roughly almond-shaped mass of grey matter inside each cerebral hemisphere, involved with the experiencing of emotions.

扁桃体 (へんとうたい)


The elongated ridges on the floor of each lateral ventricle of the brain, thought to be the centre of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system.

海馬状隆起 (かいばじょうりゅうき)



PET (Positron Emission Tomography)

ポジトロン断層法 (ポジトロンだんそうほう)

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

磁気共鳴画像 (じききょうめいがぞう)

ANS (Autonomic Nervous System)

自律神経系 (しりつしんけいけい


If there are any books you think I should read, or even any topic to focus on for vocabulary, let me know!


Vocabulary Expansion #2

It only took two days for me to start and finish Mr Mercedes by Stephen King. As expected it was so much of a page-turner that I was often too absorbed to note down any vocabulary. This post is not meant to be a review of the book (although if anyone is interested I’ll consider that!), and therefore there should be absolutely no spoilers.

Here I will look at the few words I actually noted down. Besides the first word, I am only providing a Japanese translation as I am already familiar with the meaning in English.


Lasting for a brief period of time




割増料金 (わりましりょうきん)


平屋・平家 (ひらや)




目出し帽 (めだしぼう)


霊柩車 (れいきゅうしゃ)




I hope this is as helpful for others as it is for me. In the future I’ll try not to get distracted and record more words! I will update soon on what book I’ll be looking at next.

Research: Linguistics #1

Multiculturalism and Integration: A Harmonious Relationship by James Jupp & Michael Clyne

Chapter 3: Multilingualism, Multiculturalism and Integration

For my undergraduate degree I studied joint honours Linguistics with Japanese Language. Although it has been a few years since I graduated, linguistics is still a prominent interest of mine. Last night I read the chapter mentioned above from Multiculturalism and Integration. This research is focused on Australia, and the chapter in question was looking at the relationships between English and community (non-Indigenous) languages.

Here I will highlight what I found most interesting, and also provide a few definitions and translations of interesting vocabulary.

Exogamy: the custom of marrying outside a community, clan, or tribe.

族外婚 「ぞくがいこん」

I was particularly fascinated by the section Changes in the structure of community languages. Although it may seem almost inevitable that English lexical items would be transferred into the various community languages, the nature of the recipient language brings about variances in how English items are integrated.

Although it has not yet been mentioned on this blog I am currently learning Italian, and was quite interested in the following:

Italian fattoria (Italian small farm) takes on the meaning of the similar sounding factory, while Australian farms are referred to by the integrated English transfer, farma.

I can understand why the Italian fattoria underwent a change in meaning (at least in the communities analysed), as this is a word I often mix-up when using Italian as it really does sound like factory.

The chapter mentions briefly that English-derived nouns are assigned to genders in a particular way in Croatian and Romanian, and that major typological changes (word order) have been seen in Dutch. As these sound like fascinating areas of research I may attempt to find such research and do some further reading.

Next, in the section Language shift, there was discussion about the use of English vs. community languages and how this differs between genders:

The census statistics indicate that for most groups from Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, men maintain community languages more than women… among those born in Japan, Korea and the Philippines, and to a lesser extent those from Cambodia, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Taiwan, the shift is greater among women

The research appears to show that this is due to second set of countries (except India) being those from which women have married out more than men.

The final section, Family communication, offers another interesting finding about Italian communities in Australia. It was found that trilingual people have a more clear-cut functional differentiation between languages. Sicilian-Italian-English and Venetian-Italian-English trilinguals in Sydney apparently use Italian to express personal identity, Sicilian or Venetian for family identity, and English for everyday wider communication.


Although this has been a brief look into the insights of Australian community languages provided in the chapter, I have tried to encompass what stood out to me most prominently. I hope that as I continue to read such chapters/articles I will be able to give a more in depth analysis of what I have read.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions for anything I can read!


Reading: Book #2

Stephen King has been a favourite author of mine for many years. That being said, I haven’t read as many of his novels as I probably should have.

As I am interested in choosing literature as a semi-specialised area for the Diploma in Translation, it is important that I also read many novels. Could there be a better place to start than with King himself? I am almost ashamed to admit how few novels I have read in 2018 so far, and although IT has been sat unread now for many months (bought as a result of my husband’s obsession with the 2017 film adaptation), 1,138 pages was a little daunting. Therefore I have decided to start with Mr Mercedes, which is a more reasonable 436 pages.

メルセデス・ベンツ Mercedes Benz

Mr Mercedes is a crime novel about a retired detective (Bill Hodges) being taunted by a murderer, “Mr Mercedes”, and is the first book in the Bill Hodges trilogy. It is the 62nd novel by Stephen King and was published in 2014.

ビル・ホッジス三部作  「ビル・ホッジズさんぶさく」 Bill Hodges Trilogy

Unlike with The Body Keeps the Score (See my post Reading: Book #1), I do not expect to come across many instances of unknown vocabulary in this novel. However, I will pick out any words for which I do not know the Japanese translation and make a post about them.


I am open to suggestions for further reading material – let me know!