I figured as a new form of study, I would begin translating some Japanese songs into English. Songs, as well as poetry, are difficult to translate. I thought this would give me some good practice of a different kind. While it won’t do me any good on the test, which is all academic Japanese, I think it did help me understand song lyrics a bit better. I figured I would do a few, at least three. I started last night with a request by Bryan: “can you do ‘eenen’ by the Ulfuls?” I said “sure, why not?” and gave that one a go.
This was my first time doing any actual translating work outside of class. It was also my first time ever doing typesetting to a video. So, I had two things to learn. First, I downloaded the official Japanese lyrics and followed along with the video. From there, I translated the song line-by-line into English. Oftentimes, the lyrics don’t look right in English and have to be re-worked into natural English. This is how a lot of meaning gets lost in translation.
When that was done I opened up notepad and started learning how to make an actual subtitle file. I had to watch the video at the same time, stopping each time a line is spoken and mark the start and end times. Then, I write this into the subtitle file in the proper notation. It looks like this – 0:00:35.200,0:00:38.000 “Lyrics go here.” This says that from 35.2 seconds until 38 seconds into the video, “Lyrics go here” will be displayed on the screen as a subtitle. It’s a very tedious task and can take a lot of patience.
While this seems like a pain, this is actually the easy way to subtitle something. The hard way is to hard-code in the subtitles in a video editor. This is actually the fast way to do it. I’ve hard-coded subtitles into a video before and this way took considerably less time.
Anyway, here’s my first translated music video: Eenen by the Ulfuls.
To be honest, the song was pretty simple and I didn’t have much trouble translating it. I wanted more of a challenge, so I chose a song with lyrics that are more poetic and complex. I decided to go with an Utada song.
COLORS by Utada: