Thursday, June 3, 2010

歌詞:「川の流れのように」。 ("Kawa no Nagare")

After thinking about the lyrics for a while and singing the songs around the house, I broke down and looked at a native speaker's translation of 「川の流れのように」 and 「愛燦燦」. Some new insights.

This translation is helpful but makes some strange (to me) choices. Eg:
故郷が見える: I feel as if I'm leaving my home
I guess this makes sense, but literally the lyrics are more about sight than about feeling: if [I] turn back, [I] can see, far off in the distance, [my] home.

地図さえない、それもまた人生: with no destination, such is my own life
I think of 地図, chizu, as a map rather than a destination; the first kanji is world/ground, and the second is a map/plan/picture. (Zu is also the to in toshokan 図書館, maps-writings-institution, a library.) And the idea of a map works a bit better with さえない, there isn't a single [noun]; がない, there is no [noun], seems like it would make more sense with a single destination. I think I like それもまた人生 better when it's not so personal: that's how life is, such is life.

空が黄昏に染まるだけ: only the sky turn gray in the twilight
Seems like a brilliant color would be a better choice for 染まる (to dye). 黄昏 is twilight/dusk, but the first kanji is yellow.

この身をまかせていたい: floating myself in the time being
This loses the volitional -tai form and also, to some degree, the idea of moving water. The second time around, this translator goes for "leaving myself to the water being", which (aside from the water being) seems to work better. (Question: Why -teitai? Is this a volitional ending on a progressive form? What does that mean? この身をまかせたい, want(ing) to entrust this body; この身をまかせている, entrusting this body; この身をまかせていたい: want(ing) to be entrusting this body? Do we mean we want to be in a state of having abandoned ourself to the current (川の流れ)?
This one seems more literal. Both interpret 愛する人 as a single person, but that first one I found (which I now can't find) took it as plural, those we love.

Surfing has led me to an interesting post about this musical genre, enka (演歌), a nostalgic and melodramatic style of singing about Life. (「それもまた人生」ね。) Neat: per Kotoba, enka can be written with two different first kanji (along with ka, song): one means theatrical performance, and the other means gloss/luster/polish. So, a melodramatic song, or a schmaltzy song. Last time 先生 and I were going over lyrics to 修羅の花, and he chuckled at the drama—演歌の歌ですかなぁ。 Site calls Misora Hibari "the most famous female enka singer", and that she should be enka makes perfect sense when you see her perform this song. Site also says that 川の流れ was her last song and was voted "the best Japanese song of all time" in 1997.

Just for fun, here's Placido Domingo singing it in a weird syllabic way that suggests he's not so much about the meaning.

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