Number Girl’s “I don’t know”

I don’t know

作詞:MUKAI SHUTOKU

あの娘の本当 オレは知らない
あの娘のうそを オレは知らない

I don’t know

あの娘はひとり マンガを読んで
笑いながら 眠ってしまった

I don’t know

あの娘は今日も 夕暮れ族で半分空気
笑って走り出す

* * *

I don’t know

Lyrics: Mukai Shutoku
Translation: Alex Fyffe and Yumi Hori

I don’t know the real her
I don’t know the fake her

I don’t know

She reads manga when she’s alone
And smiles as she falls asleep

I don’t know

Today, she sells herself again, half-empty
She laughs and starts to run

Notes:

I translated this song sometime in 2006, and back then it was even harder to find translated Number Girl lyrics than it is now, so I posted my translation online, and a few years later, I found that someone else had posted my translation on a YouTube video of the song (which has probably since been taken down, as happens with so many YouTube videos). It was a strange feeling. This version may be slightly different in word choice from that original, but it’s mostly the same.

The first two verses were simple for me, a first year Japanese student at TTU at the time, to understand, but the third verse presented some difficulty which I only overcame at the time thanks, once again, to my friend Yumi. The third verse literally means, “She, today again, with twilight tribe, half air, laughs and starts to run,” which made no sense to me at all. But Yumi told me that “yuugure zoku” (twilight tribe) is a slang term for a young girl who sells her time to older men. Instead of getting wordy in the translation (Today again, she sells herself to an older man, half-empty…), I decided to keep it simple and straight-forward, and I think it works.

The first verse, although easy to understand, was a little harder to settle on than the second, because it literally means, “I don’t know her truth, I don’t know her lies,” which is the way I started out my translation originally, but it felt too unnatural to me. I also tried out, “I don’t know when she’s telling the truth, I don’t know when she’s telling lies,” but it felt a little long and slightly different from the literal line. So I decided on the more succinct and closer translation above.

Also, note that the verb “warau,” which is used twice in the song (“warainagara nemutteshimatta” — while smiling, she fell asleep; “waratte hashiridasu” — laughs and starts to run), can mean either smile or laugh, and I decided that smile works better in the first case, and laugh works better in the second case, although either word could very well fit in either position. This was just personal preference.

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