Unanswered [2] | Urgent [0]

Home / Undergraduate   % width Posts: 10

Common app essay, free topic "The Beauty of Translation"

sportybluei 7 / 40  
Dec 21, 2009   #1
Free topic: The Beauty of Translation

As Toru Okada, or "Mr. Wind-Up Bird," drifted into a deep sleep after his long search of his missing cat and wife, the same uplifting feeling I had before from reading in Korean and in English, overwhelmed me. The blank portion of the last page stared at me for a while and whispered, "That's the beauty of translation."

In The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Toru Okada, the main character, and I, the reader, encountered different characters that shifted us into their metaphysical worlds. I was quickly captivated by Haruki Murakami's beautiful, surreal, exotic writing and his ability to fit numerous stories and perspectives into a single book. But what eventually intrigued me more were the resembling feelings I had each time after reading the book in the translated versions and in the original version.

Looking back, Korean and English translations gave a distinct touch to the story, with the unique structures, rhythms, and sounds of the Korean and English language. These three elements magically blended into the narrative and the dialogues of the characters. At the same time, there were the inevitable flaws of translation. For example, a simple sentence of five words, when translated, became a sentence of fourteen words. Some Japanese idiomatic expressions, when translated, lost their distinct cultural flavors. But the voice of Murakami was still there, if not within every sentence, within groups of sentences and paragraphs. Even with the imperfections, the dialogues and the narratives carried the same tone and gravity in both translations, giving me the same "chills."

For the original Japanese version of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I read at a slower pace, because I had to constantly wrestle with the dictionary. My slow reading brought my attention to the individual words and phrases that Murakami had chosen, and the way they were deliberately put together in a sentence. In other words, I became aware of the importance of understanding the subtle meanings beneath these intended words and phrases, in order to truly understand the story itself. Thus, when I finished the original version and received the same stirring feeling that I had before from reading the translations, I could not help being amazed by the translators, as much as I was amazed by Murakami; they were able to carry the voice of the writer from one language into another by fully grasping the dynamics of both languages. Ultimately, it was the reading of this book that stimulated me to become an aspiring translator.

The beauty of translation lies in devouring the text, retelling it, and bonding different groups of people. In this sense, translators are artists, who, despite knowing the imperfections that inevitably follow, seek the best way to share with others the soul of a piece of literature. And that is exactly what I wish to do as a translator in the future, to continuously challenge myself in understanding language and literature.

I will greatly appreciate some criticism! Tear up this essay, please! :)
daisyx3 4 / 17  
Dec 21, 2009   #2
until it told me the answer to my question ---> until it answered my question

what is your question? it's unclear.

English translation gives a different touch to the story.

Your essay concentrates on one work of translation. You should focus more on its "beauty" and expand more on why you want to be a translator.
OP sportybluei 7 / 40  
Dec 21, 2009   #3
Thanks Lyolya, again!

My question was what made me feel different when I finished the story, even though it had the same plot. I should make that clear, right?

Should I involve more literary works in the essay or should I just expand more on 'why I want to be a translator' part? I felt if I included more works, then the essay would be without details, and only have the flowery adjectives.
daisyx3 4 / 17  
Dec 21, 2009   #4
Yes, make that part clear. Making it clearer will add strength to your essay. Don't focus on other works because you want the essay to be about you. Hence, write more about your interest in becoming a translator.
daisyx3 4 / 17  
Dec 22, 2009   #5
perspectives into a single book

I really like the way you start out your essay...very unique.
But again you focus too much on that one book. Try to talk more about "the beauty of translation" without the reference to that book.

Great ending :) In the ending, your passion in translating is evident. Try incorporating that throughout the whole essay.
OP sportybluei 7 / 40  
Dec 22, 2009   #6
This time I revised/restructured my essay so that it would focus more on the translating part, than focusing on my general impressions of each version of the book. :)
jabbsdht 1 / 6  
Dec 23, 2009   #7
i think there should be an AND in "I was quickly captivated by Haruki Murakami's beautiful, surreal,and exotic writing and his ability to fit numerous stories and perspectives into a single book. " but i understand you might have not put it in because of the and that comes right after writing.

Also in the first sentence, you didn't say you were reading the Japanese version. I think it's the Jap. version since i read your previous essay too but there should be a connection that the book you are reading in the first sentence is the japanese version you talk about later.

also i love your conclusion.
daisyx3 4 / 17  
Dec 23, 2009   #8
woooow it is soooooo much better!!
i love it :)
now i can truly feel why you want to become a translator. good job!
jabbsdht 1 / 6  
Dec 23, 2009   #9
Actually, i think i was wrong when i said put AND. I'm not sure...so i suppose that is the one awkward part i could find.

I'm trying to think of different ways to say that. You can try
"...beautiful, surreal, and exotic writing ability to fit numerous stories and perspectives into a single book."

Also i noticed you started a sentence with a but. "But the voice of Murakami was still there"
I was taught to never do that even though I know starting with but isn't necessarily bad. you can combine it with the previous sentence if you wanna play safe but i think it's fine.
OP sportybluei 7 / 40  
Dec 23, 2009   #10
Lyolya, thank you for reading my essay over 3 times!! :) Your comments really helped.

Harshil, thank you as well! I'll try to work with the sentences you pointed out.

Home / Undergraduate / Common app essay, free topic "The Beauty of Translation"