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なるほど!英訳塾 ~ビギナー編~





This week, I will continue to look at the translation of relative clauses that are used in a different way. As shown in the (1a) sentences below, 「~のは~だ」is a frequently found sentence structure in Japanese. What precedes「の」is a relative clause, and when this is directly translated into English, it becomes “The one which/that/who (relative clause)...” as shown for example in (1b) below. 日本語

(1a) 千葉県市川市の居酒屋「酒処 手羽矢南行徳店」で、消費者の異変にいち早く気づいたのは経理の女性だった。

(1b) At the izakaya “Tebaya Minami-gyotoku Outlet” in Ichikawa City, Chiba, the one who first noticed the change among consumers was a woman in charge of accounts.

In some contexts, a direct translation may work while in other cases it may not. (1b) shows that if we do a direct translation, we will end up with a long modified subject that makes the sentence difficult to process, and the reader has to retain a lot of information in memory before getting to the essential part. 日本語

One way of getting around this problem is to use “it” to return the focus to “a woman” as shown in (1c) below.  日本語

(1c) At the izakaya “Tebaya Minami-gyotoku Outlet” in Ichikawa City, Chiba, it was a woman in charge of accounts who first noticed the change among consumers.

Note that the relative clause that follows “the one” in (1b) now modifies “a woman” in (1c).  日本語

Of course, this is not the only strategy that can be used for improving the translation of 「~のは~だ」. As shown in the next example, depending on the context, it may be better to do away with the relative clause and just use a simple sentence structure.日本語

(2a) デザートが売れているのはサークルKサンクス。

(2b) The one that is doing well in dessert sales is Circle K Sunkus.

(2c) Desserts are selling well at Circle K Sunkus.

(2a) is found towards the end in a newspaper article comparing the performance of different convenience stores. We should try to avoid the direct translation in (2b) because it sounds awkward and unnatural.日本語

The version in (2c) uses a simple sentence structure. I avoid using the “it” sentence structure like (1c) above because it adds an unnecessary emphasis in this case, and sounds as if we are making a comparison between convenience stores that are doing well in dessert sales and those that are not. 日本語

In the next example, (4b) is a direct translation of (4a). Again, the direct translation sounds extremely awkward even though it is grammatically correct.日本語

(4a) 業界で「本当の危機」とささやかれているのは、宴会シーズンの12月を終えた年明け1~2月だ。

(4b) The one that is whispered to be the “actual crisis” within the industry is the first two months of next year after the corporate gathering season ends in December.

(4c) The “actual crisis” that everyone is whispering about within the industry is the first two months of next year after the corporate gathering season ends in December.

In (4c), “the actual crisis” becomes the subject instead of “one”. Note also that “is whispered”, a direct translation of 「ささやかれている」, is changed to the active voice. The rest of the sentence remains unchanged. 日本語

Finally, I will leave you with an example for practice. (5b) is a direct translation of (5a). How would you improve on (5b) to make it sound more natural?日本語

(5a) きっかけといわれているのが七月に全国に導入されたタスポ。

(5b) The one that is said to be the triggering factor is Taspo, which was introduced throughout the country in July.


日本語原文の中で、まず主語になる名詞を探し、この名詞について説明している部分を関係節にする --- このような方法で訳していくと直訳調になり、主語にくっつく情報が長くなって最も大切な情報がぼやけてしまいます。一文が長い日本語に出会うと、ついこの方法で英訳してしまいたくもなりますね。ですが、もっとも重要な情報は何かを常に意識して、そこが明確になるように英文を作ることを心掛けてみてください。

この練習問題、短い文ですがやりがいのある問題だと思います!ぜひチャレンジしてくださいね。回答受付は2月23日(月)12時までです。メール こちらまでお送りください。質問・疑問もお待ちしています。


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ンー・ソーキンさん:Ng Soh King