sara_tanaquil: (Kanji make me cry)
[personal profile] sara_tanaquil
I'm gearing up to do more scholarly writing today, which of course means that I start out procrastinating over my first cup of coffee.

I have a random question for my Japanese sensei(s) (knowledge of One Piece is optional - grammar is the main thing here).

One of my keep-myself-amused small projects lately has been to go back and look at some clues to long-standing mysteries in the greater narrative. One of those is the mysterious existence of a past civilization about which little is known. I came across a possible reference to that civilization and I'm trying to understand what the Japanese says, for bonus vocabulary and grammar practice.

This sentence is meant to sound slightly archaic and formal, since it's written in a four-hundred-year old logbook.

巨大な黄金からなるその鐘の音は どこまでもどこまでも鳴り響き あたかも過去の都市繁栄を 誇示するかの様でもあった 広い海の長い時間に咲く文明儚きによせて たかだか数十年生きて全てを知る風な我らに それはあまりにも重く言葉をつまらせる.

Viz has: “The sound that giant bell of pure gold made… resonated and resonated… as if to celebrate the untold riches… of the ancient city. Throughout these vast seas over countless generations, a great civilization blossomed. Those of us whose lives span but a few decades and think we know everything… are left speechless."

I think most of this is correct, but what interests me is あたかも過去の都市の繁栄を 誇示するかの様でもあった 広い海の長い時間に咲く文明儚きによせて. I don't see 儚きによせて ("send to transience"? "send out transiently"?) in their translation at all.

あたかも as if it were
過去の都市の of the city of the past (the ancient city)
繁栄を 誇示する display(ing) the prosperity
かの様でもあった that was like it was (?) (this is where things get messy)
広い海の長い時間に咲く文明 the civilization that blossomed in a long time over the wide sea
儚きによせて sending to transience (?)

What does the あたかも govern? 誇示する, or 儚きによせて? Are these two separate sentences, as Viz has it, or one longer complex sentence?

The bell is in fact related to an ancient civilization in the story, but I'm not sure if the Japanese is specifically referring to a particular civilization, or to the fleeting nature of ancient civilizations in general.

Any help with this grammatical puzzle is welcome! And now it's time to get some real work done.

Date: 2014-03-03 03:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spacealien-vamp.livejournal.com
What does the あたかも govern?

あたかも is part of the "as if." It partners with かの様でもあった to frame the part to which the "as if" pertains: 過去の都市繁栄を 誇示する.

The whole phrase あたかも...かの様でもあった could more literally be translated "It also seemed as if..."

儚きによせて

According to this page, the によせて means "regarding" or "considered." It indicates a description of how a person feels or thinks about the subject.

You are correct that this particular phrase isn't really included in the translation...for some reason they use "over countless generations," which isn't in the original at all.

The way I read it, it is comparing the lifespan of the civilization to the length of the existence of the ocean and commenting that the civilization itself is transient/short-lived compared to the ocean. (This is emphasized by the use of the verb 咲く "to blossom," which is generally associated with flowers, particularly sakura blossoms, famous for their short life.)

People whose lives are even shorter than that are then even more miniscule in comparison.
Edited Date: 2014-03-03 03:24 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-03-03 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sara-tanaquil.livejournal.com
The way I read it, it is comparing the lifespan of the civilization to the length of the existence of the ocean and commenting that the civilization itself is transient/short-lived compared to the ocean. (This is emphasized by the use of the verb 咲く "to blossom," which is generally associated with flowers, particularly sakura blossoms, famous for their short life.)

Oh, how lovely! I didn't get that part at all (though I did wonder about the present tense of 咲く). So it sounds like I was right in suspecting that this particular reference is more of a reflection on the brevity of civilizations in general than a statement like "there was once a great civilization."

That is a great help, thank you!

Just to double check: If I were translating very literally, would it be correct to go with "...as if it were showing off the glory of the ancient city. When one considers the brief space in which a civilization blossoms in (comparison to) the long time of the wide ocean, men who live mere decades... (etc) are left speechless."

Date: 2014-03-03 12:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spacealien-vamp.livejournal.com
That translation sounds good to me. It's a very Ozymandias-like impression.

Date: 2014-03-03 02:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wednesday-10-00.livejournal.com
for some reason they use "over countless generations," which isn't in the original at all

I can see "countless generations" being used to make the sentence more poetic than "long time." It's just unfortunate that it was attributed to the civilization rather than the ocean.

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