Presented by Professor Tomoko Tamura, International Christian University
Although this presentation was aimed at interpreters, who often have to think on their feet, it was interesting to translators like me, who often translate texts that have some subjective or emotional content.
The focus was on the notoriously tricky phrase yoroshiku onegai shimasu. Back when I was in academia, Japanese exchange students would sometimes ask me for the one English equivalent that would work every time. But of course, no such all-purpose English phrase exists.
The so-called “twin towers analogy” is about how a person’s perspective on a situation varies depending on what role he or she plays in it, while pragmatics is the sub-field of linguistics that studies the conventions for using language in natural communication and speech act theory classifies utterances according to whether they are constative statements (i.e. they are either true or false) or performative (representing the feelings, thoughts, or intention of the speaker).
Professor Tamura showed how the various uses of yoroshiku onegai shimasu reflected differing perspectives, was part of the conventions of Japanese speech, and was more performative than constative. She gave written examples in different contexts, and audience members contributed their own suggestions for translating the phrase, such as “Pleased to meet you,” “Please get this done,” “Thanks in advance,” “Take care of this person (or item),” and, when cuing a performer, “You’re on.”
Professor Tamura showed a video clip from a television program in which the hosts and the guests each used the phrase yoroshiku onegai shimasu, and each occurrence of which in the video clip would have to be translated into English in a different way. An interpreter in such a situation must be able to understand the overall situation and the attitudes and intentions of each speaker.
It was an interesting talk presented in an engaging manner.