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"Proverb" Translation

Noahd25

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Greetings!
I saw this proverb the other day and really want to know the Japanese translation of it, possibly to make a poster of some sort.
I believe it is basically a fictional quote from a samurai who tells his student:
"It is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war."
Can anyone give me the Japanese translation of this? Forgive my American arrogance, but I just want the "characters", not the phonetic translation.
Thanks!!
 

nice gaijin

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Hi Noah, could you tell us a little about how you interpret this phrase? A lot gets lost in translation, and a direct translation to Japanese would lose the sense of wordplay in the English version.

Particularly if you're asking because you want a tattoo, I'd recommend looking into actual Japanese kotowaza, rather than trying to translate one directly from English.
 

Noahd25

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Hi Noah, could you tell us a little about how you interpret this phrase? A lot gets lost in translation, and a direct translation to Japanese would lose the sense of wordplay in the English version.

Particularly if you're asking because you want a tattoo, I'd recommend looking into actual Japanese kotowaza, rather than trying to translate one directly from English.
Thanks for the response. Basically, here is the longer backstory that I read on the internet. I doubt that it is a real Japanese story or proverb, so to speak, but it might be.

[A student approaches his samurai master and says,

"Teacher, you instruct me how to fight, yet you preach to me about peace. How do I reconcile the two?"

The samurai responds,

"Because it is better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war."]

So basically I fell in love with the last sentence as a motto, and have thoughts towards making a big wooden inscription for my apartment, maybe a tattoo as well if it sticks with me. But I want it to be in Japanese characters, not in English, alas I am here!
 

Mike Cash

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Can't help but being reminded of LBJ's explanation of why he hired for his campaign staff someone who had been an outspoken critic of him: "I'd rather have him inside the tent p!ssing out than outside the tent p!ssing in".

How about the traditional four character idiom 鶏口牛後?

It means, "Better to be the beak of a rooster than the rump of a bull"

.... And it would make a much neater tattoo
 

Toritoribe

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What has come to my mind is;

転ばぬ先の杖
Have a walking stick ready before stumbling.
or
備えあれば憂いなし
If you are prepared, you don't have to worry.
 

nice gaijin

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According to google-sensei, your quote comes from Sun Tzu's art of war. If this is the case, the original quote would be in Chinese, not Japanese. Another source claims it's from a Chinese proverb, but starts off differently: Tending the garden is a relaxing pastime, ...

I took the Chinese words for gardener and warrior and added "gardener in war" in quotes to a search, and nearly hit the google jackpot: 2 results that have the exact quote you're looking for:

花园里的战士好过战场上的园丁。
Huāyuán (garden) lǐ de (in the) zhànshì (warrior) hǎoguò (better than) zhànchǎng (battlefield) shàng de (on the) yuándīng (gardener).

(the grammar structure in Chinese is different from english, the translations are just there to show which words mean what)
 
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Mike Cash

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It would look better in traditional characters than the simplified characters.

Fantastic job, finding that!
 

Noahd25

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According to google-sensei, your quote comes from Sun Tzu's art of war. If this is the case, the original quote would be in Chinese, not Japanese. Another source claims it's from a Chinese proverb, but starts off differently: Tending the garden is a relaxing pastime, ...

I took the Chinese words for gardener and warrior and added "gardener in war" in quotes to a search, and nearly hit the google jackpot: 2 results that have the exact quote you're looking for:

花园里的战士好过战场上的园丁。
Oh I see, I was unaware that the origin of the quote was likely Chinese, I had assumed Japanese because it was a Samurai stating the quote.... interesting.... I wonder if I could forcibly make it into a Japanese kotowaza, or if I should just adhere to the Chinese characters.
 

Noahd25

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It would look better in traditional characters than the simplified characters.

Fantastic job, finding that!
Thanks! Again, please forgive my arrogance, but I do not understand the difference between traditional and simplified characters. Is this a suggestion for the Japanese or Chinese translation?
 

Noahd25

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What has come to my mind is;

転ばぬ先の杖
Have a walking stick ready before stumbling.
or
備えあれば憂いなし
If you are prepared, you don't have to worry.
I see, so are these examples of pre-defined Kotowaza, or Japanese proverbs as one might say?
 

Toritoribe

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The one nice gaijin-san found seems like a modern Chinese translation of the English sentence rather than the original Chinese quote. If it's really from The Art of War, there must be the Japanese version of the quote. I've never heard those kinds of quote, so it's at least not so common/well-known one such like 風林火山 or 彼を知り己を知れば百戦殆うからず.

I see, so are these examples of pre-defined Kotowaza, or Japanese proverbs as one might say?
Yes.
 

Noahd25

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Can't help but being reminded of LBJ's explanation of why he hired for his campaign staff someone who had been an outspoken critic of him: "I'd rather have him inside the tent p!ssing out than outside the tent p!ssing in".

How about the traditional four character idiom 鶏口牛後?

It means, "Better to be the beak of a rooster than the rump of a bull"

.... And it would make a much neater tattoo
Thank you for your advice... would those four traditional characters be in Japanese or Chinese?
 

Noahd25

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The one nice gaijin-san found seems like a modern Chinese translation of the English sentence rather than the original Chinese quote. If it's really from The Art of War, there must be the Japanese version of the quote. I've never heard those kinds of quote, so it's at least not so common/well-known one such like 風林火山 or 彼を知り己を知れば百戦殆うからず.
I see, maybe I need to find out where in the Art of War it is written, and then look for the Japanese translation?
 

Toritoribe

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Yes, if it's really from the book.
 

nice gaijin

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Simplified: 花园里的战士好过战场上的园丁
Traditional: 花園裡的戰士好過戰場上的園丁

(Without going into too much detail, Chinese characters have changed much over the years. The kanji used in Japanese came over from China long ago and more closely resemble the traditional set (which is still in use in Hong Kong and Taiwan). In the 1950's, China simplified their own character set, to make it easier for people to learn to read and write, so 園 became 园, and 過 became 过, and so on. When talking about simplified vs. traditional, it's always about Chinese, as no other language that uses Chinese characters has adopted the simplified set. Japanese kanji is closer to, but not the same as, the traditional Chinese set.

In Chinese it is quite straightforward and succinct, I'd be interested in knowing how this phrase was professionally translated into Japanese.
 

Noahd25

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Simplified: 花园里的战士好过战场上的园丁
Traditional: 花園裡的戰士好過戰場上的園丁

(Without going into too much detail, Chinese characters have changed much over the years. The kanji used in Japanese came over from China long ago and more closely resemble the traditional set (which is still in use in Hong Kong and Taiwan). In the 1950's, China simplified their own character set, to make it easier for people to learn to read and write, so 園 became 园, and 過 became 过, and so on. When talking about simplified vs. traditional, it's always about Chinese, as no other language that uses Chinese characters has adopted the simplified set. Japanese kanji is closer to, but not the same as, the traditional Chinese set.

In Chinese it is quite straightforward and succinct, I'd be interested in knowing how this phrase was professionally translated into Japanese.
That was very well explained, thanks for clearing that up for me
 

joadbres

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According to google-sensei, your quote comes from Sun Tzu's art of war.
No, this is not correct. The English version of the quote is mentioned on a web page pertaining to Sun Tzu, but nowhere is there a direct claim that the quote actually comes from the Art of War.

Obviously, if the quote actually came from the Art of War, it would be much easier to find from a google search in English or in Japanese.

And the Chinese version provided here only shows up on two or three web pages - so take it with a grain of salt. It was probably back-translated from English.

The furthest I was able to trace the English version was from a 2014 article by Peter Jessop: The Warrior in the Garden (article) by Peter Jessop on AuthorsDen

Jessop claims the story comes from the Chinese martial arts. Given how difficult it is to find in a Japanese web search, I am a little skeptical.
 

Noahd25

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No, this is not correct. The English version of the quote is mentioned on a web page pertaining to Sun Tzu, but nowhere is there a direct claim that the quote actually comes from the Art of War.

Obviously, if the quote actually came from the Art of War, it would be much easier to find from a google search in English or in Japanese.

And the Chinese version provided here only shows up on two or three web pages - so take it with a grain of salt. It was probably back-translated from English.

The furthest I was able to trace the English version was from a 2014 article by Peter Jessop: The Warrior in the Garden (article) by Peter Jessop on AuthorsDen

Jessop claims the story comes from the Chinese martial arts. Given how difficult it is to find in a Japanese web search, I am a little skeptical.
So do you believe that this saying/proverb is that of Chinese culture, and not Japanese? And if so, how would I go about translating it to Japanese? Or should I just bite the bullet and find a similar saying in Japanese that is already accepted and well-known....
 

Noahd25

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As an afterthought, would it make sense to just put four Japanese characters together (the characters for a warrior, a garden, a gardener, and a war) and just leave it to myself to put them together into this motto? Or would that just look stupid to someone who actually knows Japanese?
 

joadbres

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So do you believe that this saying/proverb is that of Chinese culture, and not Japanese? And if so, how would I go about translating it to Japanese? Or should I just bite the bullet and find a similar saying in Japanese that is already accepted and well-known....
I have not exhaustively researched the expression, so I don't know. I attempted to do a google search in Japanese, using various common terms meaning "warrior", "war", "garden", and "gardener", but nothing seemed to come up matching your expression. Maybe I didn't use the right terms, though.

All I know at this point is that the expression can be traced back at least to 2014 in English, and that the author of that content claims that it originates from Chinese martial arts.

For your purposes, you can do whatever you like. If you are fond of the saying, regardless of how old it is and how verifiable the provenance, and you would like to have it expressed in Japanese for whatever reason, of course you may freely do that. If you prefer, instead, to use an expression that is verifiably older and originates from Asia, some examples of which were already given in this thread, you can do that, too. It is entirely up to you.

As for getting the expression translated into Japanese, it is fairly short, so I think it is reasonable for you to ask a native speaker here, or on another online forum, to do it for you. This forum has rules regarding translations, so make sure you read and follow those before making a request.
 

joadbres

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As an afterthought, would it make sense to just put four Japanese characters together (the characters for a warrior, a garden, a gardener, and a war) and just leave it to myself to put them together into this motto? Or would that just look stupid to someone who actually knows Japanese?
That's not a bad idea at all, but I think you will have trouble finding a single character meaning "gardener", so I don't think it will work, unfortunately.

I think in this particular case it would be better to start with the Chinese expression that was provided, and ask a native Japanese speaker to craft something similar which is concise and resembles older Japanese. That would be my approach, at least.
 

Noahd25

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I have not exhaustively researched the expression, so I don't know. I attempted to do a google search in Japanese, using various common terms meaning "warrior", "war", "garden", and "gardener", but nothing seemed to come up matching your expression. Maybe I didn't use the right terms, though.

All I know at this point is that the expression can be traced back at least to 2014 in English, and that the author of that content claims that it originates from Chinese martial arts.

For your purposes, you can do whatever you like. If you are fond of the saying, regardless of how old it is and how verifiable the provenance, and you would like to have it expressed in Japanese for whatever reason, of course you may freely do that. If you prefer, instead, to use an expression that is verifiably older and originates from Asia, some examples of which were already given in this thread, you can do that, too. It is entirely up to you.

As for getting the expression translated into Japanese, it is fairly short, so I think it is reasonable for you to ask a native speaker here, or on another online forum, to do it for you. This forum has rules regarding translations, so make sure you read and follow those before making a request.
I understand, and I greatly appreciate all of your help! I will be sure to do some more research of my own and work towards compiling the translation that I desire. Thanks!
 

Toritoribe

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I would translate the English quote as 庭園の戦士は戦場の庭師よりましである。 in modern Japanese, if you are interested in it.
 
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