11/5: Seiichi Makino

Tomorrow, Thursday 11/5, Seiichi Makino of Princeton University will give a lecture on translation and the loss of deep cognitive meaning in a text when it is taken from one language into another.

The lecture will take place in the Satow Conference Room, Lerner Hall 5th floor, from 4pm – 5:30pm. Please note that although Lerner Hall requires swipe access, there will be someone at the door to sign you in if you do not have a Columbia University ID.

“What Will Be Almost Permanently Lost in Translation? A Cognitive Linguistic View”

In translating Language X to Language Y we lose a lot, but translation has survived the centuries, primarily because not everybody can easily learn the Japanese language, and gain is larger than loss. The structures of Japanese and English are quite different on the surface, so we first lose sounds and orthography. Even so, crucially phonetic poetry like tanka, haiku, and modern poetry has been frequently translated into English. Surface morphological and syntactic structures are lost, too. There is no end to the long list of loss of forms due to translation. This talk lecture focuses on something cognitively lost in translation of written Japanese, and especially literary work, into English – loss of deep cognitive meaning expressed explicitly in the original Japanese language. There are many of layers to the phenomenon, but the present talk will focus narrowly on shift phenomena such as number shift, case marker shift, tense shift, formality shift, and voice shift, that which are almost permanently lost in translation even though they convey a significant cognitive shift on the part of the author.

Seiichi Makino is a Professor of Japanese and Linguistics and serves as the Director of the Japanese Language Program at Princeton University, as well as the Director of the Japanese Language Program at Princeton University. He is also the Academic Director of the Summer M.A. Program in Japanese Language Pedagogy at Columbia University. Professor Makino is the author or co-author of numerous books, dictionaries, and articles, including Aspects of Linguistics: In Honor of Noriko Akatsuka (edited with S. Kuno and S. Strauss, 2007) and A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar (with M. Tsutsui, 2008). His current research interests include the cognitive linguistics inquiry into metaphors, and shift phenomena of tense, formality, numbers, and grammatical persons (i.e., the 1st person “I”, the 2nd person “you”, and the 3rd person “he”). He is the former President of the Association of Teachers of Japanese.

This lecture is offered as the Fifth Shirato Lecture on Japanese Language, and is supported by the Japan Foundation.