Tenrikyo Dynamic Mission ABOUT TRANSLATIONS

Some years ago I became aware of the fact that there are a number of words in my vocabulary the meaning of which I was not entirely clear on. When it came to studying the poems collected as the Tip of the Writing Brush I found that it was often the case that I was told that I didn't understand one poem or another because the English translation was faulty and one had to be able to read Japanese in order to understand the teaching.

It is absolutely true that I neither speak nor read the Japanese language however, fortunately for me, I have had really very good access to Timbers "Yoboku" who could read and translate from Japanese to English as well as anyone else in the world could and who were willing to help me check the English translation. So over the course of perhaps five or so years we worked together to check each and every word in each and every poem.  What I discovered was the use of all of the key English words in English translation are dictionary perfect and in some cases I was surprised, but shouldn't have been, to find that my vernacular English language usage didn't always conform to, or was an incomplete in my understanding of what a particular English word was actually intended to mean. Which of course meant that the translators had a better understanding of English vocabulary than I did.

When working on a translation project the translator or translators need to settle on what the author intended in the first place. It is of course possible to translate a work and either intentionally or unintentionally swap out the author's original intended meaning with one's own. In this regard I have been told that there is more than one way to translate the original Tenrikyo resources.

In any translation however it is possible to miss the intended meaning of a particular word or phrase. We really don't have to be too concerned about that as all of the terms in the poems metaphorically refer to aspects of the human make-up that are common to all human beings equally. Specifically we are all conscious, we all have a mind, we all have a self-image, we are all capable of using our imaginations to create truths and though we don't often think about it we are all capable of knowing and understanding each of the terms that I just mentioned through our own mind.

Then there are the Japanese words that remain un-translated in the text of the poems.