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Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Translating Little Monk

Decided finally to start translating Little Monk (Tongsûng 童僧) (director Joo Kyung-jung, 2002), a sympathetic, humorous and little sad story of a child monk, young monk and an old monk.
I have tried in vain to contact the movie company and the distributor to get a copy of the Korean manuscript, but now I'll have to do with the English translation. Well, even that's better than doing the job directly from the video: I'm not that good in Buddhist terminology, and the broadcasting company pays only 50% more for translating without a manuscript, which takes twice as much time.
I don't cut corners when translating for tv, even though there are very few here who could detect flaws, but this time the Buddhist terminology gives some creeps. I'm not even sure how the k'ûn sûnim used as a term of address for the old master should be translated. (Terms of address and reference always give the most trouble.)

Update.
Figuring out a handy term which doesn't actually exist but describes the term to be translated understandably is one of the small delights of this work. So the ch'ilsôngdang (칠성당 七星堂) became Otavapyhättö.

Here's one review of the film.

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Comments to note "Translating Little Monk" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Blogger Andi> said on 27.7.04 : 

Antti,

Kun sunim, although it is applied to older monks of some distinction, carries connotations of warmth and intimacy with that teacher. Nearly every time I've heard the term used or used it myself, it is accompanied by affection and deep respect. Because of this, although you could translate kun sunim as "elder venerable," "great master," or some such, you may simply want to use something simple like "Master" or "teacher"--because that's what kun sunims are. Anything more complicated would detract from the intimacy and affection that most students have when addressing their teacher this way, and would not convey the function of a kun sunim, which is to teach.

Just my two cents. Good luck on the translation. I've often thought about renting the movie, and now I'll have to so that I know what you're working on.

<Anonymous Anonymous> said on 28.7.04 : 

Just remember to use the term "grasshopper" when referring to the young monk.

;-)


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