Sonna Fuuni Shika Ienai Kedo

そんな風にしか言えないけど (Sonna Fuuni Shika Ienai Kedo) · 虽然只能这么说 · Even Though I Have No Other Way to Say It

In:
[Album] Oku Hanako BEST -My Letters- – CD 2 track 12
[Album] Yasashii Hana no Saku Basho – track 4

There are a couple of Japanese words that I learned about while translating the song’s title, and I would like to point them out. The first word is しか (shika), which is used to say “only” in Japanese. Another way to say “only” is to use だけ (dake). The difference between them is that だけ (dake) is used for constructing a positive sentence (e.g. it can only happen here) whereas しか (shika) is used for constructing a negative sentence (e.g. it cannot happen anywhere else).

The second word is けど (kedo), which is used to mean “but; however; although” in Japanese. Note that でも (demo) can also be used to mean “but”. The usual syntax is to put けど (kedo) between two clauses (clause 1 けど clause 2), but it may be used to finish a sentence to hint at an unsaid second clause that has to be inferred from the context. Other reasons that a sentence may end with けど (kedo) are to make the sentence sound softer, to subtly ask for a favour, or to colloquially make a point, answer defiantly, complain or express emotion.

So, what does this mean for translating the title? To start with, the Chinese translation literally means “even though this is the only way to say”. Context can be found in verse 3, where the title is used as the last line of the verse. The singer asks the listener to let her help him, despite not knowing any other help she can offer or any other way to ask. Perhaps the reason is that she is a bit awkward, as suggested in verse 4. The singer might be meaning something else with the question (see verse 7), but let’s leave that discussion for another time. With the context in mind, I believe that けど (kedo) is hinting at an unsaid second clause, which is that the singer hopes the listener will let her help him despite her poorly asked question. So, if the second clause is included, the translation becomes “even though this is the only way I can say it, will you let me help you?”

Although しか (shika) is used for negative sentences in Japanese, it is not necessary for the translation to also use a negative form. However, I think that a negative form seems more appropriate for stating a desire to do something without knowing a better way to do it. As such, my translation would be “even though I have no other way to say it, will you let me help you?” A positive form seems to be more suitable when knowing only one method is used as a reason for doing something, e.g. this is the only way I can say it, so this is how I will say it.

In the end, I translated the title as “Even Though I Have No Other Way to Say It” because I didn’t want to include the unsaid clause. Although the meaning is somewhat incomplete without the clause, I think that this is fine because the original title omits the clause.

 

English

You wave at me from the other side of the station platform
Will I be able to repay your constant sincerity?

Aboard the departing train, what are you thinking about?
The sight of your small figure among the crowd is very endearing

However small the pain that you grip in your hand
Can you place it in my hands? Even though there is nothing else I can say
Even though I have no other way to say it

My heart ached whenever I hurt someone
Then I would blame it on someone else; this was how I had been living

“Your heart isn’t lost”, you said to me
Your kindness on that day left me speechless
I only felt pain while looking at you

I wish that the embraced warmth can turn into your smile
It has provided warmth many times, even though that is all it can do1
Will you stay by my side?2

I want us to be a couple who wait for the same train on the same platform
There will be no reason for us to part ways

How much can I think about you in this limited time?
I shouldn’t cry, I’m heading out now to welcome you3

However small the pain that you grip in your hand
Can you place it in my hands? Even though there is nothing else I can say
Even though I have no other way to say it

I love you from the bottom of my heart

 

Translation notes

1. In this line, the Chinese translation specifically says that “you” are warmed by the “embraced warmth”, whereas the Japanese lyrics do not specifically say who is warmed. The Chinese translator may have believed the listener to be the one who is warmed because the preceding line specifically identifies “your smile” as what the singer wishes the warmth to turn into. I think the meaning is more likely to be that the singer is warmed, or perhaps both the singer and the listener are warmed. I opted to avoid identifying who has been “provided warmth” in my translation so that people can decide for themselves. If you would like to share your thoughts, please leave a comment.

 

2. In this line, the singer is asking for someone or something to stay by her side. This could be the warmth that the singer mentioned earlier in the verse, or it could be the listener. I think that the singer is asking the listener to stay by her side because the verse that follows reveals the singer’s desire to be with the listener. Perhaps I’m over-thinking this and it doesn’t matter either way. If the warmth comes from the listener, then asking for the warmth to stay would be almost equivalent to asking the listener to stay.

 

3. It is not clearly specified who is crying in this line by either the Japanese lyrics or the Chinese translation. It could be the singer telling herself not to cry so that she can welcome the listener with a smile. Alternatively, it could be the singer wanting to comfort the listener. The chorus in verse 3 and verse 9 shows that the singer wants to help the listener with anything painful that he has. However, the description of the pain is “however small” rather than “however big”, so it does not appear that the listener has any great distress to cry over. I think this line is the singer telling herself not to cry. She may be aware that it would hurt the listener if he saw her crying, and that is something that she wants to avoid.

 

Simplified Chinese

车站月台的另一边  你挥着手
总是  率直的你  我能回应吗

开始起动的电车里  你想着什么呢
从人群间看到  你小小的身影  好令人深爱

你手中紧抱的  无论多么小的痛苦
可以交付到我手中吗  虽然只能说这种事
虽然只能这么说

伤了谁的时候  胸口好痛
然后又怪罪他人  我是这么走过来的吧

心没有迷惘  你如此告诉了我
那天的温柔  我什么都说不出口
看着你  只觉得痛苦

紧抱的温暖  希望能变成你的笑容
好几次都温暖着你  只能做到这种事
能待在我身边吗

想成为  在相同月台等着同一班车的两人
没有什么理由能让我俩分离

在有限的时间中  能多么地想着你呢
别用那胸口哭泣  现在  就要去迎接你了

你手中紧抱的  无论多么小的痛苦
可以交付到我手中吗  虽然只能说这种事
虽然只能这么说

打从心底爱着你

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3 comments

  1. tPenguinLTG

    When I saw that this song was about being separated by a train, I immediately thought about Saishuu Densha / 最終電車. Whereas Sonna Fuu ni Shika Ienai Kedo / そんな風にしか言えないけど is from the perspective of the person on the platform with a train about to leave, Saishuu Densha is from the perspective of someone on the train arriving to the platform. It seems to mirror a lot of the things said in Sonna Fuu ni Shika Ienai Kedo, so I wonder if they’re related.

    I don’t really have anything to back it up, but for the first translation point, my gut feeling is that it’s the singer providing warmth to the listener, as it’s the only thing she can do.

    On the second point, the Japanese uses the verb iru / いる (“to be present”, “to exist”) in itekurenai / いてくれない. いる is used for animate beings like people and animals, whereas aru / ある is used for inanimate objects. Warmth, being inanimate, would probably use ある, so I think you’re correct in interpreting it as “you”.

    I have nothing to say for the third pont, but I don’t think you’re wrong.

    This song was apparenty the CF (“commercial film) song for a JA Kyosai commercial. According to Wikipedia JA Kyosai is the “National Mutual Insurance Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives”, which provides insurance. Given that, does this change the interpretation of anything in any way?

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    • Edward

      Thank you for pointing out the difference between いる and ある. That’s something new I learned.

      In Oku Hanako BEST -My Letters-, Sonna Fuuni Shika Ienai Kedo is on the 愛のうた (ai no uta) CD whereas Saishuu Densha is on the 恋のうた (koi no uta) CD, so I think that the songs are not directly related. Besides that, Sonna Fuuni Shika Ienai Kedo was released in March 2006 in the album Yasashii Hana Saku no Basho and Saishuu Densha was released two years later in March 2008 in the album Koi Tegami. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the inspiration for Saishuu Densha came from Sonna Fuuni Shika Ienai Kedo or a similar source.

      I didn’t think it was likely that the singer was providing warmth to listener because the singer was shown kindness by the listener. That made me think that the warmth resided with the listener. But when you explain it as the only thing that singer can do is to give the listener warmth, then I can accept it as a reasonable interpretation.

      If the chorus is used in a commercial, as was the case when Kimi no Egao was used in a commercial, then a change in interpretation would be due to a change in who is delivering the message. In the song, it is someone who loves you. In an insurance company’s commercial, it’s someone who wants to do business with you. In the commercial, the message I imagine would be along the lines of “If you’re worried about something, why don’t let us worry about it instead? We can’t solve the problem for you, but we can insure you so that you don’t need to worry (about paying for anything) if the worst should happen”.

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  2. Pingback: Sonna Fuu ni Shika Ienai Kedo / そんな風にしか言えないけど | Thoughts on Oku Hanako

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