Gishi publishes Uchinaguchi version of Soseki’s I am a Cat

Gishi publishes <em>Uchinaguchi</em> version of Soseki’s <em>I am a Cat</em>

“I am confident about this new book. I translated it using the natural Uchinaguchi rhythm,” Gishi said at the Chubu Office of the Ryukyu Shimpo.

April 5, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Masanobu Gishi, a 67 year-old resident of Okinawa City, has published an Uchinaguchi (Okinawan dialect) version of Japanese novelist Soseki Natsume’s work Wan ne maya du yaru, or Wagahai wa neko de aru in Japanese, and I am a Cat in English. He has been working away at translating Soseki’s works into the Okinawan dialect and more than 11 years have passed since he published the first work in which he translated from Chapter 1 to Chapter 6. On this occasion, he has translated the remaining chapters of the work, Chapters 7 to 11, and published them all in one volume. “I want young people who do not know Uchinaguchi to read it and compare the Okinawan dialect version with the original Japanese,” said Gishi.

He published the previous work at the end of 2001. The chairman of the Koyodenshi Co. in Naha, Gishi has continued to translate Soseki’s works during his free time. The first work that he tried to translate was Kusamakura (The Three Cornered World), but said, “That work was too high brow for me, so I quit part way through.” Then in 2003 he began to translate Botchan, which is more familiar to readers, and published that translation.

Gishi visited secondhand bookshops in Tokyo, collecting many books on Soseki in order to build up some knowledge of the background to which the author wrote his works. These books helped him to translate Soseki’s works. Gishi said, “Soseki’s works include social criticism, and I really have to think on my feet to translate them properly. I couldn’t find appropriate Uchinaguchi for some idioms or Chinese poetry that appear in the works so I paraphrased them. I’m confident about this new Uchinaguchi version.”

After the book he translated became popular, about ten years ago he was invited as a lecturer to the police school and he has taught Uchinaguchi to students since then. He said, “A decade ago, there were students around who knew some Uchinaguchi, but these days they seem to learn it as though it were a foreign language. I teach them how to speak Uchinaguchi using simple words.” Gishi has translated these books using the natural Uchinaguchi rhythm. He says, “Standard Japanese is a logical language, but there are some things that can only be expressed in Uchinaguchi. I want to cherish the essence of the works rather than their academic nature.”

The Uchinaguchi version, entitled Wan ne maya du yaru, can be purchased for 1429 yen. Gishi wants many high school students to enjoy learning Uchinaguchi, so he will donate copies to high schools in Okinawa. For further information, contact the Yonabaru office of Koyodenshi Co., telephone 098 946 9801.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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