Saturday, December 06, 2014

Sakigake Chamorro #6: Attack on Titan


I haven’t done this in a while, but I’m traveling this week and so it gives me quite a bit of down time on planes, with little to do other than get airsick. A few years ago I was watching quite a bit of anime and one thing I really enjoyed doing was taking anime theme songs, from shows like Gantz, Naruto and Cromartie High School and then translating them into Chamorro. Each translation was an interesting experiment, since although many of these shows are considered to be low-plebian culture, pop culture animated shadows on the cave wall for the masses, the lyrics to the theme songs tend to have a very epic and sophisticated feel to them.  These songs presented interesting challenges since translating them directly would be difficult and not necessarily match well with Chamorro. But finding ways of expressing similar epic thoughts in Chamorro, while trying to maintain a sense of the language would be fun and worthwhile.

I still read manga regularly even if I don’t watch any anime anymore, and one manga that I have being storing up for almost a year now, since I want to binge read later, is Attack on Titan. For those not familiar with this show it can be pretty gritty and pretty bleak. Humanity at some point in the future is forced to live in giant walled cities to protect themselves from Titans, huge humanoid figures that eat humans. Some of them are just 10 feet tall, while the largest can be more than 100 feet in height. The show follows characters who are trying to defend humanity against this threat, and use a unique grappling hook system with giant exacto blade knives to hit the weak spot on the back of their necks. I won’t give away too much, although what starts off as a truly compelling story in my opinion, eventually descends into ridiculous twisty turny plot shifts that make it incomprehensible at times.

The theme song for the show is “Guren No Yumiya.” It is a call to arms. The lyrics try to stir up a fiery passion in those listening, to fight and die if necessary, but not to slip quietly into oblivions by try to take destiny into their own hands. Here first is the Japanese version.

fumareta hana no namae mo shirazu ni
chi ni ochita tori wa kaze wo machiwabiru
inotta tokoro de nani mo kawaranai
ima wo kaeru no wa tatakau kakugo da

shikabane fumikoete susumu ishi wo warau buta yo
kachiku no an’nei kyogi no han’ei
shiseru garou no jiyuu wo!

torawareta kutsujoku wa han’geki no koushi da
jouheki no sono kanata emono wo hofuru jäger
hotobashiru shoudou ni sono mi wo yakinagara
tasogare ni hi wo ugatsu guren’ no yumiya

As usual this isn’t much help to me since I don’t read Japanese or understand it at all. Interestingly enough finding good English translations of the lyrics was very difficult. I found so many variations, it was quite confusing at first. Eventually I realized what was wrong. Many of the translations weren’t true translations, they weren’t meant to reflect what was being said, they were meant to be sung, in the same tune as the original Japanese lyrics. This is something I am no stranger to, I do the same normally when I translate songs that someone wants to sing with the same tune. But a faithful translation is lost in this process, because what may actually take 10 words to say, it reimagined in a very different way in order to say something kind of similar in five words. This often leads to a shifting in metaphors and imagery as one moves to find the most appropriate but efficient way to say something.

Here are the English lyrics that I settled upon, which matched closely the official translation that the show would use in its English subtitled.

Sie sind das Essen und wir sind die Jager!

Our names won't be remembered
If we die like trampled flowers
I refuse to be forgotten
Written off as less than worthless

Scream and cry
But none will hear you
Plead and beg
But none will help you
You no longer live as cattle
Will you rise and join the battle?

There are beings that live off of fears
And their words are like knives
As they play with our lives
They'll try to control you
As if they own you
Will you let them steal your freedom?

Channel the anger swelling inside you
Fighting the boundary 'till you break through
Deep in your soul there's no hesitation
So make yourself the one they all fear

There is a wild fire inside you
Burning desire you can't extinguish
Your crimson arrow
Rips through the twilight
This is the moment for war

Here is the Chamorro translation I came up with. Which in some ways fits faithfully with the original, but in others takes things in a new direction. Sometimes it is reducing the number of subjects or objects in a thought to make it simpler. Sometimes it is changing it to something in Chamorro that would be more commonly used instead of simply translating the English idiom.


Kao hita i kinenne’? Ahe’ hita i kekenne’.

Siempre maleffa i na’ån-ta
Anggen matai kulang flores magacha’
Lao Guahu ti bei sedi este
Na mayute’ hit sin båli

Essalao yan kate
Lao ni hayi u hungok este
Fanggagao gi dimu-mu
Lao hayi pau ayudu?
I mangekematai na poyitos?
Kao para un tachu yan mumu?

Ma kakanno’ i ma’a’ñao-ta (li’hån-ta)
Ya i kuentos-niha kalang sapbla siha
Manhugagando ni lina’la’-ta
Ma kekehoske hit
Ma fa’iyon-ñiñiha hit
Kao para un sedi i sinakke’ i libre-ta?

Sotta i binibun-miyu
Esta ki un yamak i chi-mu
I minatatnga gi korason-mu
Sina muna’fanlu’han todu

Enao na guafi gi sanhalom-mu
Ti chaguayon na minaipe
I agaga’ na acho’ atupåt-mu
Ha chachak i trankilun långhet
Måtto på’go i gerå-ta

Some notes for my Chamorro. Most Chamorros use “sapble” for sword, borrowed from the Spanish word. For some reason, my grandmother used the word “sapbla” at times and so this is what I ended up learning and use til this day.

The first line is often translated to, “Our we the prey? No, we are the hunters!” In Chamorro this presents an interesting possibility. In English there isn’t a close etymological relationship between hunter and prey in the same way you find between interviewer and interviewee. In Chamorro there are several options for expressing this. I ended up going with “konne’” and using it in two different ways. Konne’ means the take a human somewhere, but when used for lower creatures such as animals it means to catch. Kinenne’ in most cases is translated to “catch” or literally the thing that was caught. “Kao Hita i kinenne’?” means “Are we the thing that was/is caught?” From here there is a choice. Most people would then use “peskådot” to mean “hunter.” I preferred to use something that had a connection to the word konne’, two options were kumokonne’ and kekenne’. The first means “the one who is doing the catching” the second means “the one that catches.” I chose kekenne’ although it is not commonly used, because it fit better in the rhythm of the line.

The prefix “e-“ which is used to indicate someone who hunts or looks for something, but I would this cumbersome to use for this song, and dedicated to go with the above instead.

And as usual, now we take what was translated from English to Chamorro and translate it back into English to see what we have come up with.

Are we the catch? No we are the one that catches!

Our names will surely be forgotten
If we die like stepped on flowers
For me I will not allow this
That we get thrown away without value

Scream and cry
But no one will here this
Beg while you kneel
But who will offer help?
The chickens about to die?
Or will you stand and fight?

They are eating our fear
And their words are like blades
They are playing with our lives
They are trying to oppress us
They are pretending we belong to them
Will you allow the theft of our freedom?

Release your rage
Until you break your limits
The bravery in your heart
Can make them all afraid

That fire inside you
A flame that cannot be extinguishes
Your red sling stone
It cuts the silent sky
Our war has now arrived


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