The Witcher

Help for a poor student in her research

TheWitcher5 - Help for a poor student in her research
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Hello! I'm a Japanese studies student currently struggling with writing a small paper on translation of "Time of Contempt" into Japanese. The thing is that the Japanese translation wasn't based on the Polish original but on the English translation. Quite a mess, in some cases.

I wanted to ask English native speakers about what they feel about a certain phrase, more specifically, a name of a wraith.

In English it's called "Virgin bane". Yeah, I know that this wraith appeared also in the game, under the same name, so probably most of you already has some notion of what kind of creature it is but still I'd like to ask you to try to forgot about it for a while.

Imagine you're reading a book. One of the passages says:

(one of the characters, a royal messenger, listens to gossips in an inn; it's the beginning of a story)

"Some even darker, more foreboding gossip was told. That in several villages in the region of Aldersberg cows had suddenly begun to squirt blood from their udders while being milked, and at a dawn the Virgin Bane, harbringer of terrible destruction, had been seen in the fog."

No other mentions of the Virgin Bane.

Question would probably sound stupid to you but basing on this paragraph only, what would you think of the Virgin Bane. Is it: – Virgin's Bane or – Virgin of Bane to you?

I can answer later why I am asking about it but I'd like to hear your opinion.

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So, as I've mentioned before, I'm currently writing (almost finished) a small research paper on the Japanese translation of "Time of Contempt". I'm a Polish native speaker, have been learning English for appr. 15 years (the outcome you can pretty much see here) and Japanese for 3.5 year. One of the focus points in my paper is translation of culture-related words/phrases. In Slavic mythology (not sure about the others) there was a wraith, called "morowa dziewica" or (as in the book) "Dziewica Moru" – a wraith that takes a shape of a decaying corpse of a young girl, or a young girl wearing white clothes. It's a harbinger of plague. In "Time of Contempt" there's only once sentence about her that she was seen in a fog on the break of a day. "Dziewica Moru" was translated into English as "Virgin Bane" and then in Japanese as 処女ベイン (shojo bein). "shojo" means "a virgin", and "bein" is just a phonetic transcription of the English "bane". Having the Polish meaning on my mind, I didn't notice that both English and Japanese translations can have a little bit different meaning until my tutor has pointed it that he thought that "shojo bein" is not "bein no shojo" (a virgin that brings bane) but "shojo no bane" – the virgin's bane.

Read:  Finished the Witcher 3 again, some thoughts on the next game/s (spoilers)

Since in the phrase "Virgin Bane" "bane" is a noun and "virgin" can be used both as a noun and as an adjective, you can be kinda puzzled about what's the main noun of the phrase and what's the modifier of the noun. Polish is quite clear in this matter and even if you don't know the mythology, you can still get the idea of a head noun and modifier thanks to (sometimes dreadful) declension. It's not the case in English and even less in Japanese, where they even have a somewhat unfamiliar "bein" which actually can also be a transcription of other words, like "vein" or "vain". And since I got a feedback from a Japanese native speaker that he's somewhat uncertain about the meaning, I thought that I'd ask also English speakers about their feeling on that.

Thank you very much for your help! <3

In case you were wondering about the Polish version of a game, this wraith is called "Morowa Dziewica". The difference between this name and "Dziewica Moru" is pretty much grammatical – the first one simply uses an adjective "morowy" ("plague-related", "plague-bringing") instead of a noun.

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