How Would You Translate This?

» 08 March 2012 » In nichibei »

Time for a little scrutiny.

Following his spring debut, Yu Darvish made the following comment about the double he surrendered to Padres outfielder Will Venable:



Note that that comment is in Japanese.

The hit in question was a long double, which Venable hit off the center field batter’s background at the Padres facility in Peoria. I didn’t see the game, but have been to that stadium and that would have been a well-hit ball. Here’s the official translation.

“The air is dry in Arizona and the wind was blowing out, so no, I don’t think he hit it squarely.”

This raised an eyebrow or two, including Venable’s.

It’s easy for me to say how I would have translated that, because I’m sitting here in front of a laptop thinking about it. I’m not sure if I would have come up with the right thing to say on the spot, in front of 150 reporters. Actually it’s totally reasonable to assume I would have made numerous mistakes in that situation.

Nonetheless, I’ll provide my translation later on when I have a little more time. But for the Nihongo-inclined out there, how would you have translated Darvish’s statement?

Edit: My translation would be…

“The air is dry and there’s the wind. The ball flies farther than normal, but it didn’t feel like he got me that badly.”

I don’t envy the job of Darvish’s translator.

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  1. Patrick
    08/03/2012 at 1:32 pm Permalink

    Will is the son of former MLB and NPB player Max Venable. He got a late start at baseball, and played his college ball at Princeton. He’s a bit of a AAAA player at this point in his career. A little too old to be a prospect beacuause of his late start, but has not been productive enough to be an every day major leaguer. He shows glimpses of being a solid 5 tool player, however, which the Padres have been hoping to develop for the past few seasons. Dry air or not, he hit this ball hard. Hopefully, Yu can show a little more class in the future, if in fact his intentions behind his words were as they were translated. He will not dominate the AL like he did NPB, and should come to terms with that quickly. The Padres line up is not exactly the LA Angels, and he gave up 2 doubles in 2 innings. Here’s how Padres beat writer, Bill Center, saw it:

    “Note: Venable’s double hit 30 feet up the center field wall at Peoria Stadium around 10 feet to the right of the 410-foot sign in left center.

    Responded a smiling Venable: “Maybe his perception of reality is not right on. I don’t know. No comment.”

    Added Padres manager Bud Black with a straight face: “Will hit the … out of that ball.”

  2. Patrick
    08/03/2012 at 8:04 pm Permalink

    I was surprised by a comment like that, particularly under the circumstances. I would be glad to hear that there was a translation problem, but I don’t think there really is. I gave it a crack this morning and came up with this:

    “It’s dry and windy. Normally that makes it go further, so I don’t think it could have been caught.”

    My Japanese is pretty wretched though, and a coworker explained to me that while toraeru does kind of mean ‘to catch’, it is almost always figurative, and in this case would mean ‘to lock on’. My revised translation then, is:

    “It’s dry and windy. Normally that makes it go further, but I don’t think he could really nail it.”

    So yeah, I think the official translation is pretty much dead on. The toraeru bit could be interpreted different ways. It could be ‘to hit’, it could be ‘to read’, it could be ‘to hit it squarely’.

  3. Patrick
    08/03/2012 at 11:18 pm Permalink

    Toraeru is one of those words that can be used in a number of different ways.

    The point of this post was more to explore the subtleties of translation and communication rather than belabor this one comment. It’s an interesting subject.

  4. Patrick
    09/03/2012 at 1:15 am Permalink

    I read somewhere that the comment actually shows that Darvish is actually admitting that MLB hitters are more powerful than NPB hitters. That even though he thought the pitch was not hit squarely, it was still practically a homerun. A different interpretation of the same words. Hard to tell without seeing/hearing him talk.

  5. Patrick
    11/03/2012 at 6:27 pm Permalink