Monday, June 8, 2009

Translation Issue 2: muddling/meddling; 参上/干渉

A second point of translational friction (see Tsing) comes near the beginning of the Wonderland segment when Sora, Goofy and Donald watch the initial section of Alice's trial.

Sora: なんだかかわいそうだなー
Donald: でもねえ
Goofy: 僕らは他の世界に参上したら
Donald: ”干渉”!
Goofy: そう、それはダメなんだよね

Sora: Hey guys, we should help her out.
Donald Yeah, but the... [interrupted]
Goofy: We're outsiders, so wouldn't that be muddling?
Donald: "meddling"
Goofy: Oh, yeah. And that's against the rules.

The Japanese dialog opposes sanjyou and kanshou (which itself is nearer to kachou/captain or kanchou/enema). Sanjyou means, roughly, to present oneself to the place of a person of higher status. Goofy's mistake of "going to other worlds is bad" is replaced by "interfering with other worlds is bad." It is necessary and proper for the Goofy and Donald in their position of importance and power to go to other worlds, but they are not supposed to interfere. Obviously, much like Captain Kirk and the Star Trek Prime Directive interfering is the name of the game (see Bernardi).

The English translation switches the malaprop to muddling and meddling. Whereas muddle indicates negatively impacting some existing system, meddle indicates interference into a system where one doesn't belong. The irony of course is similar to the first malaprop situation where Goofy plays the part of the idiot savant. They do not "muddle" as they improve the situation. Just as mid 20th century developmental theories how can it be "muddling" when it "improves" the situation (Schramm, Schiller)?

The different translations in fact reveal the same covert meaning to be believed over the overt meaning. They are not supposed to interfere, but in fact they are not interfering as they are improving. Again, it goes to an idea of transnational elite prerogative.

Finally, Goofy explicitly uses the term "outsiders" in the English version. The idea of native vs. outsider is important with the concept of who should/can travel across borders and ideas of ethnocentrism and fear of difference/others.

Bernardi, Daniel. Star Trek and History: Race-Ing toward a White Future. New Brunswick; London: Rutgers University Press, 1998.
Schiller, Herbert I. Mass Communications and American Empire. 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 1992 [1969].
Schramm, Wilbur. Mass Media and National Development: The Role of Information in the Developing Countries. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964.
Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt. Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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