Friday, April 22, 2011
How to translate 犀利人妻 into English?
According to its official website, 犀利人妻 is translated into "The Fierce Wife." Is this translation appropriate? China Post, the local English daily, printed an editorial today titled "Drama shows growing Chinese influence on Taiwan's culture" discussing some after effects of this drama. 犀利人妻 was named "Trenchant Housewife" by the editor. Which is better, fierce wife or trenchant housewife?
My fifth edition Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English gives "fierce," an adjective, this definition to describe people or things "done with a lot energy and strong feelings, and sometimes violence." And "trenchant" is a written form meaning "expressed very strongly, effectively, and directly without worrying about offending people."
I do not consider 謝安真 qualified in the state as described by the definition "fierce" here for one simple reason. She is really not a violent person. Yes, she does slap 薇恩once, her cousin who steals her husband from her, in the 12th episode when she finds out that they cheat on her behind her back. Given what she has been through, one slap is really nothing and her violent response is only human.
In contrast, "trenchant" is more appropriate to say about her. As her well-guarded home is being ruined by the extra-marital affair of her husband and her cousin, she begins to lead her own life and raise her child independently working as a car salesperson. As a traditional Taiwan wife, it takes great courage for her to decline gracefully the call from her mother and her in-laws to return to her husband and starts pursuing her own happiness. This is even rare even for the majority of females in this modern time and that is also why this drama has become so popular because she wants to be herself and is not afraid of offending others including the family elders.
In addition, "housewife" is more preferable than "wife" to say about 謝安真's status as a 人妻, translated directly from "hitojuma" in Japanese.
As fans of 犀利人妻, my dear readers, which translation do you like? I guess it may be too late for the TV station to change the translation of their official website, huh?