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I'm reading Yoshimoto Banana's みずうみ in Japanese, and I decided to refer to Emmerich's translation into English to make sure I was following the beginning correctly since I'm still an intermediate level reader. One sentence confused me greatly. The original Japanese reads

時間が止まっていて、特に望みもなく中島くんを見ている。

which I took to mean something like "Time is stopped, and I'm looking at Nakajima-kun, wanting nothing in particular." Or more literally, "with no particular desires."

However, Emmerich translates the same sentence as:

"Time has stopped, and I'm looking at Nakajima, and that's all I want."

Have I totally misunderstood the way that もなく is used here?

My translation and Emmerich's have very very different implications. I'm especially skeptical of my own, since it seems like a professional translator wouldn't want to completely change the meaning of a sentence like that.

In context, my version does make some sense, since the main character has just finished saying she's not really in love with Nakajima, so the sense of not wanting or expecting anything in particular seems appropriate. She has just said a few sentences earlier that

「それは恋というようなものよりも、もっとぎょっとするような驚きなのだ。」

which I take to mean (loosely) "Rather than something like love, it was more of a surprised/shocked feeling." But I can see that Emmerich's translation works in this context as well, just with a different meaning.

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  • You say they "have very very different implications", but I feel that both translations are valid and have similar meanings. Your translation is more literal, but having no particular desires and not wanting anything seem like the same concept to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with your Japanese and wonder if this would be better debated in an English forum. Dec 18 '20 at 17:43
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    @user3856370, I agree more with Boop here -- while Emmerich's "that's all I want" may have been intended to mean "all I want is just to look, I don't want him, I don't desire him -- looking is enough", the phrasing is ambiguous: some speakers in English would use "that" to refer to "Nakajima", rather than "looking". I think Boop's version of "wanting nothing in particular" is more appropriate -- it's less ambiguous, and it better fits the context. Dec 18 '20 at 18:19
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi Not disagreeing with either of you. The OP has clearly understood the Japanese, but I still think the difference between the two translations is an English rather than a Japanese discussion. As a native English speaker I'm failing to see the big distinction. I guess it's lucky that my day job is science ;-) Dec 18 '20 at 18:30
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    Ah, ok, I see what you both are saying. I had taken the English to mean more like she actively wanted Nakajima or wanted to look at him, while the Japanese seemed more like she was doing it with no particular desire for it or anything else--but if you take Emmerich's to mean not wanting anything besides what she's doing now, it does fall more in line with my understanding.
    – Boop
    Dec 18 '20 at 20:15

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