Translation Notes: Connect

Normally I would not even try to deal with a song that has undoubtedly received so much attention. I have to imagine that every fansub group with a version of Madoka Magica out has offered a translation of at least the TV size version of Connect. In fact, I would hardly be surprised if we did not get an "official" translation, in the sense that the subtitles on the American DVD release will be the direct result of Aniplex's efforts and thus will bear their stamp of legitimacy. So why did I translate Connect?

Part of that would be simply for the challenge. Yes, I'm the kind of person who translates Japanese for the fun of it. I'd hoped that part of it would be obvious already...

Part of it is to hopefully draw out more of a response. I have not even bothered to look at any other translations of this song; the Madoka Magica premiere at Otakon did not have subtitles during the opening sequence, and I have actually not (yet) watched the rest of the anime. So there's every possibility that the translation I've created will have differences, possibly even major differences, from other versions. I'd like to believe that any major differences will be debatable questions and not simply the result of my own error, but I guess we'll see.

And so, some of the things that I dealt with in writing this translation... (It's worth noting that the following is really just my attempt at imagining what someone would ask about my translation. These are the answers I've come up with to fictional "why did you do this" questions. They're fairly extensive, so feel free to just look at the translation and ignore my detailed thought process if it's not your cup of tea.)

In the very first stanza (right after what I'll call the introductory version of the second chorus) the line breaks and Japanese word order gave me no end of trouble. It's clearly a question, of course, but the Japanese word order would perhaps best be represented by "when - lost future - I - here - again can see?" Clearly, some reordering is going to be necessary. Mine does this to a fairly considerable extent, but I think the result is effective.

The next section that gave me some difficulty was right before the chorus, at "hajimari tsuge". It's a simple enough concept in general, but given this particular usage of it, with the subject apparently being "time", it became much harder to deal with. "Tsugeru" could translate directly as "to inform", but that seemed awkward and unclear; what does it mean for time to inform? In the end, I chose to use the word "speak" as a translation, as the anthropomorphism made it clearer as to what exactly was being said. 

The first line of the chorus makes reference to "kokoro". If I had to make a list of Japanese words familiar to people that hadn't formally studied Japanese, that one would probably be on it. I chose to translate it as "spirit" here because its meaning is effectively "spirit", or "heart" in the spiritual sense. Given that there was no need to distinguish it from other Japanese words that might be closer in meaning to "spirit", that was the word I went with in the end.

Also in the first line of the chorus, I found it difficult to deal with the word "hashiridashita". Its position before "mirai" suggests that it's supposed to modify the idea of "future" in that line, but my first thought upon seeing "hashiridashita" is effectively "begin to run", which is a little awkward and then doesn't quite make sense. Given that it can also be applied to less concrete things like "project", I decided that the best way to represent this was with the word "new"... since the definition of "hashiridasu" is connected to starting something, the reasonable assumption is that it's newly formed. Of course, that isn't the only possible interpretation, and I'm not sure I'm entirely satisfied with this one...

Shortly after that chorus, I ran into an addition that I felt obligated to make. The next stanza after that ends in "yasashiku tsutsumareteta", which would probably translate literally as "gently enveloped". Unfortunately, as usual, Japanese omits the subject and lets the reader/listener figure it out. I felt that the direct, subject-less translation would have read too strangely in English, and so I added a subject, linking the previous line to this one.

Finally, the hardest part of this translation was the part immediately after that. That next stanza seems like it could be one sentence, assuming "shinjireru" and the parts before it are modifying "koko". But "yuitsu" seems like it isn't referring to anything, and I couldn't come up with a connection for that. What I've written as a translation seems like it could be reasonable and fit in with the rest of the song... but if I had to pick out the spot where a serious error is most likely, it would be right here.

... I talk entirely too much about these kinds of things. Over-thinking much? *sigh* Do let me know if there are any other comments/questions/concerns about the translation.

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