Gay across cultures..

Fascinating conversation with The Translator on IM. He has sent me a short bit to edit and checked in to see how I was doing on it. In the course of that he referred to a piece he is working on that will shortly be passed along to me.

He started by discussing an IM conversation that the two of us had and it led to this conversation:

5:04:20 PM Translator: oh, wait a minute.
5:04:27 PM Editor: yah..
5:04:49 PM Translator: remember how we had a late night chat a while ago?
5:04:56 PM Editor: yep
5:05:03 PM Editor: fondly, of course..
5:05:08 PM Translator: exactly…
5:05:31 PM Translator: when you have some time, go over the chat history…..
5:05:36 PM Editor: ok..
5:05:42 PM Editor: what am I looking for?
5:06:00 PM Translator: we’re pretty close to being a “brokeback mountain” in terms of “I miss you man” and stuff
5:06:05 PM Editor: heh..
5:06:09 PM Translator: right?
5:06:12 PM Editor: yeah..
5:06:17 PM Editor: but I’m not sleeping with you…
5:06:30 PM Editor: two tents! πŸ˜‰
5:06:33 PM Translator: now, you need to figure out when we get to cross the line and not crossing the line…
5:06:55 PM Translator: that”ll be the issue with the short story I’m translating for KLIT
5:07:01 PM Editor: your change in verb tense crosses the line!
5:07:05 PM Editor: ok.. I’ll study.
5:07:11 PM Translator: πŸ™‚
5:07:12 PM Editor: I am grasshopper. πŸ˜‰
5:07:38 PM Editor: as I think about that with respect to Korea..
5:07:44 PM Editor: isn’t the line *farther*
5:07:52 PM Editor: as they don’t believe in the ghey?
5:08:00 PM Translator: it seems all the guy to guy bonding/friendship things for Koreans turns out to be gay when translated into English
5:08:04 PM Editor: ah.. I get what you’re saying..
5:08:07 PM Editor: yeah.. ok.
5:08:36 PM Translator: πŸ™‚
5:08:53 PM Translator: man, i give you more homework than I do to my students…
5:08:54 PM Editor: things that Koreans routinely do, can read as gay in the West, even though they are miles from it..
5:09:02 PM Editor: got it…
5:09:14 PM Editor: so that becomes a translation issue..
5:09:15 PM Translator: this short story is so….gay
5:09:19 PM Editor: LOL
5:09:30 PM Translator: I have to picture it otherwise…
5:09:35 PM Translator: somehow
5:09:53 PM Editor: point taken and something interesting to work on..
5:10:06 PM Editor: since you’ll have to leave that part in for the judges, but “neuter” it for the West..
5:10:07 PM Editor: outs..
5:10:23 PM Translator: hahaha…

Because there “are not gays” in Korea, because it is an intimacy culture in general, and because the sexes are quite separate until marriage, Korean is a physically familiar culture.

Every guidebook in the world somehow tries to tell the potential visitor that the cute girls in their school uniforms might be holding hands, but they aren’t about to start a pillowfight, undress, and make out for you.

Similarly, the guys are quite close physically and bond tightly, but there is nothing overtly sexual about it.

But you TRANSLATE that stuff literally, and it’s gonna be read a bit differently.