By the time Narses and Afarid entered a certain small village, the sun had already dipped below the sweeping outline of the mountains at their backs…
Notes under the cut:
This scene has an interesting illustration.
Also, flustered Narses is best Narses. 😄
1. In case you didn’t notice, I changed my mind on the previous update’s “phony artist” — switched it over to “hack artist”, which has a more accurate nuance.
Actually I’d been struggling with this one ever since the first book (as mentioned, I previously just settled with “travesty of an artist” because it didn’t occur to me that it would come up again). Some of the alternates I was weighing: hack, phony, dauber, artistic disgrace, etc. Most of the choices I came up with were either a bit of a mouthful or perfect but totally anachronistic (“poser” XD). “Dauber” is an almost exact translation but the word itself is relatively obscure in modern usage, not the best choice for a snappy insult. (In fact it feels more like a word Narses might use to describe himself in a show of false modesty… if it weren’t for the fact that he’s REALLY sensitive about his art. XD)
I was previously very hesitant about “hack” because it sounds anachronistic and has different modern connotations (“hackers”, “lifehacks”, etc). Also, “hack writer” may be a set phrase, but it’s not used in an artistic context nearly as often. But after letting it sit for a while, I just don’t like the way “phony artist” sounds, so “hack artist” it is unless I think of an even better alternative.
This is one of the toughest (but also most fun) parts of writing/translating historical fantasy imo — working out a balance between reader accessibility and verisimilitude.
2. Another correction note (which I already fixed a while ago, but want to clarify now): This is embarrassing to admit, but I can’t for the life of me remember why I previously translated beer as “bozah” (which is not entirely wrong, but). The term given is フカー, fu-kaa. Must have been a major brain derp on my part because the actual term, fuqah (fuqa), is in the exact same source I was looking at originally for boza and the entry looked suspiciously familiar when I reread it. Sigh.
(There’s also a possibility that I deliberately discarded fuqah due to potential awkwardness when sounding out the word — I do know that was definitely on my mind at one point — but that may be giving myself too much credit…)
3. Trying to figure out what Tanaka intended for the other food items made me both super hungry and super frustrated. The literal in-text translations are legume soup and hotcakes (pancakes) respectively. Also, the Reader’s Guide describes “bistandud” as being made from a wheat flour/water mix. But unless I glazed over it, the soup isn’t listed at all.
Anyway, I am pretty sure bistandud (with a long u) is the name of a slightly different medieval Arab dish but am not quite dedicated enough to hunt down the exact reference (al-Jahiz‘s Book of Misers, which also seems to be the source of tifshilah, but more on that below).
Tifshilah is also a medieval Arab dish. Some brief research indicates that the RL version is more of a stew/porridge rather than a soup. It seems the Persian version is tafshila, and there is a related Aramaic word, tabshila, which does refer to broth. That said, yet another source indicates that “tifshil” refers to lentils, specifically giving “tifshiliyya” as lentil soup. So there you go!