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Tuesday, 25 October 2016


Georgian-Japanese “translation problems”

2009-03-27 16:52

1/6/2/2162.jpegThis is how it happens sometimes! No sooner had I spoken to Gurik, an old Tbilisian friend of mine on the phone than the subject of our discussion became known to the supreme authorities. Moreover it took an unexpected turn. But let's be consistent.

As you remember in the story "A Phone Call from a Tbilisian Friend" I suggested that Guram advise the "Stephane and 3G" girls to perform their hit in English with a Mongol implication. Like "I love Georgia and lasha tumbai" (whipped cream - Mongol).


Gurik was very attentive to my proposal and got down to composing a hit with the prompted text. But he was immediately corrected and asked to change the implication from Mongol to Japanese. It was like this.

Guram is calling me. He sounds very excited:

- Thanks for stirring up the trouble, dear Sasha. You put not only Tbilisi but the whole of Japan into a flutter...

- Batono Guram How could I scandalize passionless samurais? I don't speak Japanese so...

- Have you seen "Lost in Translation" movie?

- No, but they say it's a good movie. It even won an Oscar. But what's that got to do with it?

- Nothing basically. Only our reputable Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze asked his Japanese colleague Khirofumi Nakasone to name our small Gruzia "Georgia" from now on.

-Stop, Gurik. How is it possible? Can it be that your Foreign Ministry has drunk poisoned chacha? Do you remember the panic in America last year? (During the hostilities in South Ossetia people of Georgia, (US state) and other Americans pushed the panic on hearing radio report that "Russians were bringing their troops to Georgia. The thing is that "Gruzia" translated in English is pronounced and written like this American state - Georgia. That is why there was so much fuss about it). Now imagine all these "translation problems" if the Japanese write something critical about Georgia, i.e. Gruzia. Yankees from Georgia, i.e. American state, will surely be offended. Besides in English the word "state" stands both for a country and part of a country. Americans can't forgive the Japanese for Pearle Harbor and you puzzle them with your Georgia. - It would be easier to ask Japan to rename the jaw-breaker like "Gruzia" into "Sakartvelo" as Pushkin, Mayakovsky, Pasternak and Bitov used to call this blessed land if "Gruzia" is so disgusting to Mr. Misha.

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