(The increasingly less) Daily senryu thread

kana:

ありがとう そのひとことが じゅんかつゆ

literal translation:

“Thank you” the one phrase that keeps things running smoothy

Poetic translation:

Say “Thank you”;
keeps things runn/
ing smoothly

If i break the word then the syllables line up for a 3/4/3 so :person_shrugging:

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Lol whenever I submitted a translation, I ultimately just ended up feeling bad, so I just check every day to see if I understand them and don’t submit anything. I figured it wasn’t worth it to work hard trying to perfect the English for an arbitrary prize that I will never be awarded, but still feel ashamed at not getting, even though it literally doesn’t matter.

All that to say, your translation was fine, regardless of whether it was deemed good enough, prizes on the internet are fake and we gotta do the hard work of just letting it go.

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Yikes!

I really really don’t want to discourage anyone from submitting a translation!

Please say something if anything bothers you about how I’m running the thread. I’m pretty thick-skinned, but if I don’t know about an issue I can’t address it.

I didn’t realize I was causing problems explaining my rationale for picking any given translation over another.

Mea culpa.

So unless someone has a better suggestion, I’ll just unceremoniously pick a translation without comment, and quit with the :confetti_ball: and :trophy: silliness.

Unfortunately, I don’t think counting likes suffices because late entries are effectively penalized. I’d like to continue the mostly daily pace, though, so polls don’t really work, either.

I never meant for this to be a competition or to make anyone uncomfortable submitting an attempt! Exactly the opposite: I was hoping for as much participation and discussion as possible.

(Also, FWIW, “that I will never be awarded” seems harsh: your translation was selected on 5/23 and 6/3.)

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I think these are cute! Maybe just giving another emoji for the daily translation attemptees might help get more people to join?
You explain why you choose the translations you do, and I think it’s as fair as having one judge can be. The rules are laid out at the beginning of the thread and you’ve adjusted them as things and suggestions came up so I don’t think thats a big problem.

Maybe allowing past senryu to be retranslated might help? Like, “oh i thought of this translation for a previous day, what do you think?” but I can also see how that can devolve quickly trying to refind things.

I think in the end, people who want to try just need to jump headfirst into it! I also get discouraged if I look at other people’s translations first, (but that’s a willpower thing for me personally) and if I don’t look I still have fun even if I’ve translated something a little different than what the grammar says.

I have not seen any comment from anyone on here that was too critical or overly mean that would actively discourage those from trying so I think you’re doing good at making a friendly atmosphere on this thread!

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Please, yes! Not just allowed, but encouraged.

The spreadsheet is available as well as the top post. If anyone has any comments or suggestions for prior translations, please don’t hesitate to bring them up.

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I should make it clear, this is a me problem and not a you problem, and I don’t think you need to change what you’re doing. Mentally at this point i find the competition aspect difficult to handle for my own personal reasons, and that’s been more true in the last 2 months or so, again for personal reasons. I thought i detected those same vibes in the previous comment so i wanted to show some support and solidarity, although reading back it may sound like criticism. I like this thread, and I like participating in a way where i am not submitting my work for judgement, but others may feel differently. Please feel free to just carry on. I didn’t mean to derail the system, only offer my own perspective.

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The thing that I struggle with mostly is trying to adapt to the changing rules. Like switching to 3-5-3 or 4-5-4 instead of 5-7-5 is all well and good (and I like the extra challenge), but it doesn’t really seem to get weighted as much as promised :sweat_smile:. Same with the likes system.

And I’ve also gotten dinged in the past for leaving specific words out, so I’ll work to include as many of the words as I can, but translations will get chosen despite problems that eliminated mine from contention in the past. It’s just hard to know exactly what to aim for or what we’re trying to do because at the end of the day, often the one that gets picked is whichever is a personal favorite.

Ultimately I’m translating as a hobby and not with serious intent to win or anything, but it’s demoralizing for the rules to be inconsistently applied, I guess. Makes it feel like I can’t really get a good grasp on what I’m aiming to do here. It’s like I’m aiming for a 3-5-3 (except when that doesn’t matter), or aiming for the most likes (except when they don’t count), or aiming for a complete word for word translation (except when leaving out specific words is alright). Or sometimes clever wordplay that isn’t a direct translation gets chosen, and sometimes you get dinged for it.

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ありがとう そのひとことが じゅんかつゆ

2-3-2

Single-phrase-
-lubricant:
“Thank you!”

It’s a 2-3-2! Again!! :innocent:
:notes:あ やった さー! あ やった、やった!!.. :notes: (sung to the tune of these Awa-odori dancers)

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As for prizes, corrections etc. it may serve us all well to remind ourselves that, as learners of Japanese, our indulgence in this thread is akin to the parable of the 5 blind men feeling around different parts of an elephant and interpreting it as a pillar, a wall, a rope, etc. Well, perhaps not that bad :smile:, but still…

What I enjoy most about the thread is the different thoughts and ideas that people bring to the table on how to interpret these very terse, grammatically challenging poems that are steeped in a culture that all of us, as foreigners, are learning about and trying to get closer to. In that sense, all translations, opinions and comments matter. If we take it in the spirit of learners.

I take @Rrwrex 's comments and awards in that spirit and really not as a competitive assessment. In fact, he regularly admits he’s wrong (as do most - if not all - of us here, at least when it comes to translating Japanese). So, I focus on the translation and the input from others as a learning experience. As I do the final, mashup version.

As for the prize, the real winners are those who wrote the original 川柳, no? We’re merely parasites feeding off their hard work :joy:, for our own benefit. Even when we do it incorrectly, we benefit thanks to the participants here. :wink: For me, that is the real prize.

It’d also behoove us to remember that the way poems are read or understood is quite personal - even those in one’s mother tongue. All the more so with translations. For example, there are umpteen different translations of Basho’s haiku of the “old pond,” and, of those, I haven’t found a single one that I think captures the original mood, particularly the 水の音 bit in English. Ditto for Ryokan’s “moon in the window” haiku. But that’s my very subjective nit-pick based on my limited understanding of Japanese, and despite the fact that the translators I’ve read are illustrious notables in the fields of literature and translation.

Bottom line - trying to capture the Japanese “mood” (i.e. cultural baggage) into the English/Western mind-set (i.e. a very different cultural baggage) is, at worst, a fool’s errand, and, at best, prone to have mistakes and misunderstanding.

In the end, we need to pool together what we all have learned so that we can come to the right conclusion, “Aha! An elephant has trunk, four legs, big stomach, tail, and floppy ears!!” Not to be the blind men of the parable is the prize.

Apologies for the long, rambling discourse.

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I can sympathize with that, but that means this has become much more of a competition than was intended, and that the silliness of selecting a daily “winner” has become a problem. Going forward, I’ll be publishing the translation I’ve elected to go with but not calling anyone out by name.

I’ve definitely applied the rules inconsistently on occasion. Some translations feel “more right” to me (and only me!) for some reason, but these discussions have also helped to clarify my thinking. The “rules” have evolved over time. I’ve not updated the top post in a long while, I’ll update it accordingly.

I’ve only recently decided that the most important rule is to keep the translations as “direct” as possible while still having some artistic merit and capturing the “feeling”. It’s that last bit that’s hardest to judge, for what it’s worth.

Syllable counts, likes, and other things seem like secondary concerns.

The reason this makes sense to me is that I’m still envisioning the results of these efforts as a script running on users’ dashboards. Since WK is about learning to read words, it makes sense to translate the words as directly as possible. But the English version should still work as a poem!

In the end, however, we are attempting to translate poetry, an art form. I think it’s probably impossible for anyone to consistently apply a set of “rules” to evaluate art (“eye of the beholder” and all that) — I know I’m not up to it.

I’ll try to eliminate the competitive aspects, but expect me to continue being inconsistent. Most days I prefer chocolate ice cream, but some days mint chocolate chip looks better.

I hope you continue to follow the thread, enter submissions, and engage in the discussion.


I’ve eliminated the “winner” column in the spreadsheet, but added another page containing all the participants so far. We are up to 21 so far!

Please let me know if I’ve missed anyone. I’ll try to keep the list of participants up to date going forward.

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I actually really like rules and constraints for this sort of thing because it makes them into sort of a puzzle to try to solve, and I think it sort of recreates some of the conditions that the original was written under. But the rules being inconsistent is I think just a particular kind of hell for an autistic person :sweat_smile:.

Honestly, I feel like probably the best way to do it would be to have a bilingual native speaker who isn’t participating in the thread choose the best translation. It feels like we just need an impartial judge, I guess. It’s inevitably going to be a little arbitrary, but I’d trust a native speaker’s impulse on which one seemed to capture the original the best. I feel like the results might surprise us.

With poetry, I think sometimes a most direct translation is not the best choice, since often the meaning is captured better by going a little bit outside the bounds of the original. At least, I’ve started to take small creative liberties with my wrestling translations, and I can already tell that they’ve improved a lot in terms of capturing the actual feel of what the characters are saying. Just simple things like switching out Japanese phrases for equivalent common phrases in English, or sometimes not translating a けど as “but” if it makes the English read awkwardly, etc. Often the better choice seems to be to reword things to get around clunky wording that is technically correct but sounds odd. But I favor senryu translations that read smoothly maybe more than others do, so maybe it’s not actually a real concern.

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I’m a fellow autist, maybe that’s part of the problem, if both you and I are having similar feelings. I still stand behind that we should find a way to be proud of our own translations though, regardless of whether they are “picked.” I also personally disagree with the idea that they have to contain the direct translations of the words, but the reasoning behind that was clearly explained by Rex and I understand his decision even if I would make a different one.

But, this is not our thread and it also really doesn’t matter either way. This is just the internet.

So I have a proposal, you and me @fallynleaf, as a way to put behind the artificial rules and find joy in our translations:
How about you and I translate all the senryuu this week, and we each submit our translation. Then, we will tell each other what we think were the good points of each other’s translations, and talk about why we made our choices, if we made different choices than each other. And we won’t look at any criteria, we just discuss how we translated it and why. I will hype you up endlessly, and maybe you could do the same for me, and then we will feel great about it all again.

What do you think?

Edited to add: you said you really liked the rules as part of the puzzle. If you tell me what rules you are choosing to follow, I’m game! I may not choose to follow the same ones, although if my translations inspire you to redo what I said in a 3-4-3 or whatever, more power to us both!

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Thanks for weighing in! I think this was an important conversation to have, because I want people like us to be able to keep participating!

Unfortunately, I don’t think I can commit to translating all of the senryu in any given week. I usually only sporadically have the time to do them, and sometimes they’re too hard for me, or I don’t feel confident, so I’ll choose to skip one. I’d love to see your attempts, though! And I bet others in the thread would also enjoy them :blush:.

If the sense of competition is the main issue, if you just do them all technically a day late, you might have an easier time, since that way, you don’t have to feel competitive? Or you could translate them ahead of time when everyone else is working on theirs, and only share them after the deadline has passed. That way, there’d be way less pressure.

My problem is that the deadline every day helps me, and I also enjoy participating along with everyone else, so I feel simultaneously drawn to want to participate, but then also discouraged because of the reasons discussed earlier. It’s possible that this is a case where there isn’t a real solution :sweat_smile:.

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Well i will try to pay attention each day and hype you up when you submit one. We’ve gotta support each other, right?

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I’ll try to do the same for yours as well! :blush:

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Monday, July 25, 2022


Previous senryu

  1. 「ありがとう」 そのひとことが 潤滑油
    ありがとう・そのひとことが・じゅんかつゆ
    “Thank you” — that one / phrase acts as social / lubrication

Notes:

  • I found it interesting that the struggle today seemed to be adding enough English syllables (we even had a seven syllable submission!). Usually it’s the other way around. 「ありがとう」 そのひとことが is eleven 音, but can be expressed in just four English syllables (“‘thanks’ that one word”).

  • No more winners going forward as we seem to have unintentionally made people feel like losers. I would like to keep track of the participants though. I want to thank everyone on the credit screen of the userscript I plan to create once we have at least ~100 translations. I’ll do my best to keep track, but please help me recognize any newcomers.

Current senryu challenge

Volume: Life in one page

  1. 湯の旅の疲れをいやす家の風呂

This one seems quite poetic! Hopefully we will see some creative submissions: “direct translations preferred” doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for creative word choices!


Remember to please use the spoiler tag with your translation attempts! Also, please include the reading in kana with your submission.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter your level! Questions and comments are every bit as welcome as actual translation submissions.

Please try not to be disappointed if your translation isn’t selected or if you disagree with the daily choice: the judge isn’t terribly consistent with his grading (and has awful taste!).

Online tools like dictionaries, sentence databases, and even AI translation engines are fair game and can be extremely helpful. Yomichan is particularly handy if you use the Chrome or Firefox browser. The 語源(ごげん)由来(ゆらい)辞典(じてん) is also an excellent resource for researching the etymology of various words and expressions.

Here are the links to the 356 Japanese originals (spoiler free) and to the the spreadsheet with all the upcoming senryu as well as the translations to date.

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Since I already started working on a translation, I might as well post it. I don’t think I managed to capture the nuance, but it’s a start.

ゆのたびの つかれをいやす いえのふろ

tiring spa trip –
to relax, I take
a bath at home

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Administrivia and the mythical senryu dashboard script

One thing that I’ve neglected to mention before:

For readability, it would be great if the translation submissions had the readings written with furigana rather than a separate line of kana. Furigana is written in HTML using the <ruby> markup element — easily created on these forums with the excellent IME2Furigana user script. Several submissions have done this, and while it’s appreciated, it’s actually caused me slightly more daily work.

Unfortunately, Google spreadsheets won’t display <ruby> markup correctly. Worse, when I cut and paste Japanese text with furigana it removes all the markup and just puts the kana immediately after the kanji (without html tags or even the IME2Furigana notation).

So until I figure out something better, I’d prefer submissions with just a kana-only line for the reading. For example:

離婚後も同居続けるへんな仲
りこんごもどうきょつづけるへんななか
divorced but still / living together. / odd dynamic


Notes about the eventual script

What I’d REALLY like, though, is a column in the spreadsheet using IME2Furigana notation. Something like this:

<離婚後>{りこんご}も<同居続>{どうきょつづ}けるへんな<仲>{なか}

Then in the app it would render in the eventual dashboard script like this:

離婚(りこん)()同居(どうきょ)(つづ)けるへんな(なか)

(where you have to click on the furigana to see it).

But that’s an utter PITA to type, so for the time being just continue to submit plain kana if you don’t mind (I had to escape every angle bracket and curly brace with a preceding backslash).

I’m envisioning that the script will contain a hard-coded “database” that’s just a line of text for each senryu, with the original in IME2Furigana “spoiler” notation and the English translation delimited somehow.

The script will then create the blurred furigana using <ruby> tags, implement click-to-unblur, and add a button to show the English translation.

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Ah! Thanks for posting quickly, you helped me catch my misunderstanding.

I thought the ()(たび) was the trip to the bath at home, but it makes MUCH more sense as a senryu with your interpretation. The bath at home is to recover from the exhausting trip to the hot spring!

I love it.


With @Myria 's assist, here’s my attempt:

湯の旅の疲れをいやす家の風呂

ゆのたびの・つかれをいやす・いえのふろ

recovery
from grueling spa trip:
a bath at home

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湯の旅の疲れをいやす家の風呂

ゆのたびの つかれをいやす いえのふろ
Cure for the / hot-spring-trip’s fatigue: / Home’s hot tub.

3-5-3. Learned that 家の風 (いえのかぜ) = family tradition. I suppose that is what an お風呂 is for the Japanese family. 日本で家の風呂は家の風ですよ。

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