BoA – “be with you.” Detailed Translation, Part 1

So I kind of feel like me just doing translations is kind of boring, both for me and for you. Sure, I spend a good amount of time per translation, but it’s hard to let the reader into the process without dumping vast amounts of time into it. Thus, I have decided to focus on a smaller portion of a song and explain the translation process as thoroughly as I can for each installment of this “detailed translation.” Hopefully it will aid people somewhat more in their Japanese-learning process than plain ol’ translations do. Here begins part one.

First off, I found the lyrics for this song online, and then transcribed a romanized version using the Hepburn romanization system. I preserved the spacing, and capitalized the romanization where katakana is used in the lyrics. The spaces between “words”1 are my own, to increase readability, and I have romanized the topic particle (は), the subject particle (が), and the direct object particle (を) as wa, ga, and wo, respectively. I also added line numbers to make future references to various lines easier. Inline romanizations of Japanese words are italicized.

01 さくら舞う この道を
02 あなたと並び 歩いている
03 風はまだ肌寒い
04 けどなんかシ・ア・ワ・セ

05 一歩ずつ 重ねては
06 今日と云う日が 明日に変わる
07 ふたりでいる時間が
08 わたしには あたりまえなの

09 いつか ねぇ、交わした約束をちゃんと
10 憶えていますか?
11 いつか きっと 叶えられる
12 そう信じてもいいよね…
13 あなたとだから 今
14 わたしはここにいる

15 足を止め 立ち止まり
16 あなたは空を あおいでいる
17 風に包まれながら
18 穏やかな表情で…

19 一秒って ほんとうは
20 とっても長い 時間なんだと
21 そばにいてくれるから
22 そう感じられるの きっと

23 いつか ねぇ、交わした約束をちゃんと
24 憶えていますか?
25 いまは まだ 叶えられて
26 いない約束さえ
27 大切なの だから
28 あなたと共にいる

29 この時代 思いどおりの
30 希望なんて持てない
31 そのたびに 不安になるけど
32 あなたがいてくれるから…

33 いつか ねぇ、交わした約束をちゃんと
34 憶えていますか?
35 いつか きっと 果たせたとき
36 もっと深い絆
37 手に出来るの だから
38 ふたりはここにいる

01 sakura mau   kono michi wo
02 anata to narabi   aruite iru
03 kaze wa mada hadasamui
04 kedo nanka SHIAWASE

05 ippozutsu   kasanete wa
06 kyou to yuu hi ga   ashita ni kawaru
07 futari de iru jikan ga
08 watashi ni wa   atarimae na no

09 itsuka   nee, kawashita yakusoku wo chanto
10 oboete imasu ka?
11 itsuka   kitto   kanaerareru
12 sou shinjite mo ii yo ne…
13 anata to dakara   ima
14 watashi wa koko ni iru

15 ashi wo tome   tachidomari
16 anata wa sora wo   aoi de iru
17 kaze ni tsutsumare nagara
18 odayakana hyoujyou de…

19 ichibyou tte   hontou wa
20 tottemo nagai   jikan nan da to
21 soba ni ite kureru kara
22 sou kanjirareru no   kitto

23 itsuka   nee, kawashita yakusoku wo chanto
24 oboete imasu ka?
25 ima wa   mada   kanaerarete
26 inai yakusoku sae
27 taisetsu na no    dakara
28 anata to tomo ni iru

29 kono jidai   omoi doori no
30 kibou nante motte nai
31 sono tabi ni   fuan ni naru kedo
32 anata ga ite kureru kara…

33 itsuka   nee, kawashita yakusoku wo chanto
34 oboete imasu ka?
35 itsuka   kitto   hataseta toki
36 motto fukai kizuna
37 te ni dekiru no   dakara
38 futari wa koko ni iru

And with that, we’re on to the actual translation!

Line 1: sakura can mean a number of things, but here it likely refers to cherry blossoms. Mau is a verb that perhaps desires to be translated as “dance” or “flutter” in this context, so sakura mau is a sentence saying that the sakura blossoms are fluttering/dancing (in the air). Kono is a demonstrative that refers to “this $noun” (which is necessarily closer to the speaker than the addressee, as opposed to “that” that is closer to the addressed party than the speaker — sono — or “that over there” that is not particularly close to either party involved in the exchange — ano), and the $noun is not implied here; kono (as well as sono and ano) must be followed by $noun. The noun that follows kono here is michi,2 which refers to a path, a street, etc. Finally, wo is the direct object marker, so here it indicates that “this street/road/path” is the direct object of whatever verb follows.

Line 2: anata is a term of address for the second person, although most Japanese speakers and dictionaries will also add the information that it is most commonly used as an affectionate term of address between spouses, especially from the wife addressing the husband. to is perhaps best translated as “and”, and narabi is a noun that means “line” or “row.” aruite is the te-form3 of aruku (歩く), meaning “walk,” and combined with the imperfect (uncompleted) form of the verb iru, meaning “be,” aruite iru means that the subject of the verb is currently walking (or plans to be in a state of “walking” in the future3). Thus, kono michi wo anata to narabi aruite iru is best translated as “[I] walk in line with you on this path” (the “I” is implied).

Line 3: kaze means “wind,” wa is the particle that marks the topic of the sentence, mada means “still,” and hadasamui is an adjective that can be translated as “chilly” or “unpleasantly cold.” Basically, “the wind is still unpleasantly cold/chilly.”

Line 4: kedo is best translated as “but” or “however,” nanka is an expression that might be translated as “something like,” and shiawase means “happiness.” I should note that here, shiawase is written in katakana, which gives the word some special emphasis, since it would normally be written using a combination of kanji (漢字, literally “Chinese character”) and hiragana (平仮名, one of the Japanese syllabaries). Hence, interpreting this with the previous line, we get something like “the wind is cold, but somehow [we have] happiness.”

Thus, we have our translation of the first stanza:

The sakura blossoms flutter; I walk in line with you on this path. The wind is still cold, but somehow we have happiness.

1 Japanese, like Korean, is an agglutinative language, which means that most words are formed by joining morphemes together, and thus it is not always clear where words begin and end; by some metrics, most sentences are composed of only a few words, but these sentences can also be said to contain a multitude of morphemes that can be broken apart, analyzed separately, and combined in other ways to create other meanings. Thus, in some places I have broken the morphemes apart as much as I can in order to explain them separately in the future, while in other places I have left the words alone and will explain the entire word in a giant chunk because it’s not necessarily useful to understand the parts of the word out of context.

2 Michi (道) is not to be confused with machi (町/街). The kanji for michi refers to a path, a way (think “The Dao”, as in Daoism — or “The Tao”, as in Taoism, depending on your romanization system), while the first possible (and preferred) kanji for machi refers to a raised path between fields and the second possible kanji for machi refers to a street. In Japanese usage, however, while machi can also be used to refer to a street, it is more commonly used to indicate a town.

3 The te-form of a verb is sometimes called the gerund form, even though this is not entirely accurate. For now, let’s just say that one usage is to follow the te-form with another verb to indicate that the second verb follows the first (kind of — tabete kuru, the te-form of taberu (”eat”) combined with kuru (imperfect form of “come”), is roughly translated as “I will eat and come,” where the act of “eating” occurs before or during the act of “coming” but is definitely finished before one’s arrival at the intended destination). When the te-form is followed by iru, the imperfect form of “be”/”exist” (for animate objects only), it is intended that the subject is currently performing the first verb (e.g. tabete iru can be thought of as “currently in the act of eating”); it is also possible for the intended meaning to be that the subject is planning to be in the state of performing the first verb in the future — the imperfect tense is not always terribly specific, and context is often helpful in determining meaning.

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