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Shaping the Field of Translation In Japanese ↔ Turkish Contexts I

Edited By Esin Esen and Ryō Miyashita

The academic discipline of translation studies is only half a century old and even younger in the field of bilateral translation between Japanese and Turkish. This book is the first volume of the world’s first academic book on Turkish↔Japanese translation. While this volume gathered discussions on translation studies with theoric and applied aspects, literature, linguistics, and philosophy, the second volume deals with the history of translation, philosophy, culture education, language education, and law. It also covers the translation of historical materials and divan poetry. These books will be the first steps to discuss and develop various aspects of the field. Such compilation brings together experienced and young Turkology and Japanology scholars as well as academics linked to translation studies and translation, and also translators. Both volumes contain 24 essays written by twenty-two writers from Japan, Turkey, USA and China.

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Confronting Emptiness: Translating Japanese Philosophy into Turkish


Abstract: Translating Japanese philosophy into Turkish poses several difficulties. A number of these difficulties arise not only from the ambiguous and flexible character of the source language but also from the fact that Japanese philosophical notions and discussions, as well as their connections, associations and historical contexts, are virtually foreign to the Turkish readers. Thus, the translator faces the challenge of rendering Japanese philosophical texts in Turkish in an accessible manner. By focusing on the problem of accessibility of philosophical translations, and by reflecting on the differences between “Japanese philosophy” and “Nihon no tetsugaku”, the article highlights some of the main difficulties in translating Japanese philosophy into Turkish as the unintelligibility brought about by fixed translations, the lack of comparative linguistic studies with respect to philosophy, the differences in philosophical assumptions which are yet to be investigated, and the ramifications of Eurocentric rewriting.

Keywords: Japanese philosophy, Translation, Untranslatable, Emptiness, Turkish


Describing the defining characteristics of emptiness in Japanese design and culture, Kenya Hara (2014: 11–17) gives the example of Yanagiba knives used for slicing raw fish. The handle of a Yanagiba knife is just a stick, but this extreme plainness and simplicity allows the user to hold it anywhere according to his or her needs or preferences. It is flexible and receptive. Hara further explains that instead of “disseminating a precise, articulate message” extreme plainness “can invite a variety of interpretations”. Correspondingly, emptiness not only operates with accuracy and efficiency...

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