- Lip Sync
Still out of sync. Should I shorten Recurvirostra avosetta to avocet? I turn the jog shuttle to the left once again. On the screen, a blond woman in a beige jacket with black binoculars around her neck is speaking. She looks fairly old, but her voice is fast and confident. I try to synchronize the translation with her lips. “One avocet was spotted in Minsmere in 1946.” Too long. The image of a muttering voice actress on her way out of the dubbing room comes to mind—phew, that was tough! I bit my tongue trying to cram it all in.
I change “Minsmere” to “Here” since a subtitle indicates the location, and replace “1946” with “46.” “One avocet was spotted here in 46.” Too short? A few more words would do it. It would be better to add “extinct” to clarify why the English people were so thrilled to have the bird return. “One avocet, formerly presumed extinct, was spotted here in 46.” I type and hit Enter. It’s about the right length but now it doesn’t fit her gestures. I rework the sentence once more to match the woman’s movements. “Though formerly presumed extinct, one avocet was spotted here in 46.”
Her voice is rhythmic, like a dance. “Rĕcuŕvĭróstră ávŏset́tă waś spot̆ted́ in̆ Minśmerĕ iń 1̆9́4̆6́.” The original sounds like a couple of lines of Shakespearean iambic pentameter. “Tŏ bé or̆ not́ tŏ bé: that̆ iś thĕ quéstion.” There once was a [End Page 93] translator who insisted on translating Shakespeare’s works with the original meter, even if it took her entire life. There is no way that the woman from Minsmere is going to keep her Shakespearean rhythm. Forget the meter. I’m not even close to translating the style. That line alone made me sweat.
Going on like this I will never make enough money to pay the hospital bills, now three months overdue. Only after getting current can I move my husband to another hospital. Otherwise, he will go on a blacklist and then no hospital will take him. I only took this job translating, researching, and interpreting for a documentary in the first place because it paid well.
“If you’re that desperate just pack up your stuff and move in here. There’s even a sink and stove.”
I remember Yun, the producer, blurting this out last night while we were having sex on the worn-out sofa. He said it as if he was doing me a huge favor. Just the same, it was a long-awaited and thrilling rendezvous following our trip to England. The thought of my husband made me hesitate at first, but before I knew it I was accepting Yun’s embraces. Sometimes Yun comes to mind before my husband, even though we were initially just coworkers. Even so, after suggesting that I should move in, he sprang to his feet, turned around, and re-dressed himself all before I could pull up my panties.
“I really don’t know why you are so obsessed with that invalid. You said that even the doctors told you he should go home or to a nursing facility.”
My relatives say the same thing. The security deposit for our flat went to pay hospital bills long ago. Truthfully even I don’t understand why I am doing it. Thinking back, I wonder if Yun was sincere when he told me to move in.
Just as he said, there is a small sink in the corner of the editing room. There is a leftover ramen cup with some used chopsticks in it. The dim basement editing room is about ten feet square and crowded by machines, a desk, and the sofa. There is a [End Page 94] pair of editing VCRs and an old computer on the worn-out metal desk. There is also a stack of beta tapes of the England coverage converted from 8mm. The actual production process takes place in another room that we rent as...