Back to Top Page     

How should "We made our way to B... that night" be put into Japanese?

Masanori Hisatake

Firstly, I am grateful to Mr. S. Mashimo, who introduced me to Mr. S. Hiraga, Chairman of Kansai Division of Japan Sherlock Holmes Club (hereinafter referred to as "JSHC"), who permitted me to join in JSHC in November 2002, since then letting me to contribute to the West End Journal (hereinafter referred to as " WEJ"), which is edited and published by Mr. S. Hiraga and Mrs. K. Midorikawa, to both of whom I am most grateful. I am also very much pleased to have so many contributors to the "Brussels Issue Special Editions " and Mr. S. Sugiyama, who informed me of "The days before the One week later" written by Mr. & Mrs. P. Weller, taking chair at Franco-Midland Hardware Company.

Among my contribution to WEJ, I have submitted 2 articles on A.C. Doyle's The Final Problem regarding the captioned issue, the first in WEJ No. 272 issued on 6 March 2003 and the second in No. 278 Special Edition Part I issued on 22 July 2003, where Mr. Hiraga gave encouraging words: "No such clear explanations have been made so far, and this is one of most interesting subjects that have been absent for years, on which Sherlockians can enjoy discussion." Here, I would like to take this opportunity to combine the two into one with some cutting and pasting work to interpret into English to facilitate international communications.

Towards the end of the year 2002, I purchased a book written by Mr. S. Hiraga titled "An Introduction to Scientific Study in Sherlock Holmes Novels and Stories (Sherlock Holmes Gaku heno Shotai)" (Reference (1)), which impressed me a lot with its very unique features, having all analyses and reports therein from time series point of view and cross-sectional at the same time, which is rather scientific than literary. The former is represented by "Sherlock Holmes Chronicle" (ibid., p.p.184-193) and Time Analysis memo (ibid., p.p.79-86& 96-99) and the latter by relevant maps inserted.

Mr. Hiraga pointed out that 'if "changing trains at Canterbury to make a cross- country journey to Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe by the ferry" is correct then "reaching Brussels that night" is false. If "reaching Brussels that night" is correct then "changing trains at Canterbury to make a cross-country journey to Newhaven, and so over to Dieppe by the ferry" is false' (ibid.,p.69) However, such comprehension was made, according to Mr. Hiraga, "based on K. Nobuhara's English - Japanese translation" (ibid., page 179).

I thus would like to check and make comments on the original CANON in English ( References (2), (3) and (4))). The original sentence in question is: We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two days there, moving on upon the third day as far as Strasburg (Reference (2) page 262).

If within that night,, there will be no room for any doubt to reach Brussels within that night. However, we find no within before that night. As such, the sentence is somewhat ambiguous and I should say that it does not necessarily mean "reach within that night".

We made it is an expression used when you are in or on time or when you were successful. If this is applied, then it can mean "reach within that night".

On the other hand, "The is a big problem: after the cross-country journey, only available from Newhaven was the night ferry to Dieppe, which arrives at the French port next morning and not that night. " (ibid., p.68)

However from my point of view, no problem is there if you read the "We made our way to Brussels that night" as "We were on our way to Brussels that night". There is no necessity to arrive in Brussels that night.

Indeed many of Japanese translations represent "arrival at Brussels within that night". However, S. Koike's translation (Reference (8)) is somewhat curious, representing "arrival at Brussels within that night" on one hand, and Baring - Gould's notes "after approximately five and half hours trip, the ferry reaches Dieppe at 4:23am at another"(ibid. p.p.120-121). What a contradiction!

Grammatically and idiomatically speaking, B in "We made our way to B... that night" can represent any names of places. Further, with some more generalization, it can be "A made A's way to B that night" and more typically with present tense "A makes A's way to B that night". In present tense, A reaches B that night does not make sense, due to the fact that A is not definite to reach B beforehand. It should be A is on A's way to B that night.

Concerning the subsequent sentences, more likely, it necessitates us to reallocate the statements in time-series order.

"We made our way to Brussels that night and spent two days there, moving on upon the third day as far as Strasburg." After that comes "On Monday morning Holmes had telegraphed to the London police, and in the evening we found a reply waiting for us at our hotel", however, Monday is the second day in the European Continent for them.

Therefore, the time series shall be in order as follows:
April 1891
24th Fri -Holmes walk into Watson's consulting room upon the evening.
25th Sat -Watson reached the Lowther Arcade at 9.15am then to Victoria Station to be in time for Continental Express.
-Change trains at Canterbury.
26th Sun 1st day in the Continent -In Brussels
27th Mon 2nd day in the Continent -In Brussels
-Holmes telegraphed to the London Police.
-In the evening found a reply at the hotel.
28th Tue 3rd day in the Continent -In Strasbourg arguing the questions for half an hour.
-The same night on their way to Geneve.

I understand that the problem has been solved. Hence, "We made our way to Brussels that night" is equivalent to "We were on our way to Brussels that night ", not reaching Dieppe within that night.

Regarding "charming week", a week does not have to be exactly 7 days from my point of view. In German they say acht Tage (eight days) instead of eine Woche ( one week). On other hand working week can be 5 days or 6 days or even 4 days depending on how you work. So, a week can be adjusted to some number of days depending upon the context.

Let me answer to some basic questions about K. Nobuhara's translation (Reference (5)).
(1) Why did K. Nobuhara selected translation "reached Brussels that night"?
The phrase can mean either, however, without sufficient data such as train or ferry schedule, one may well select more attractive option, in this case, arrival within that night to give more speedy and imminent impression of story to the readers, that Dr. Moriarty and his party is really after them.

(2) Was K. Nobuhara rather poor in linguistics, or is it a careless mistake or are there any reasons to make errors in translation?
I think otherwise. I am rather impressed with his interpretation technique into Japanese, a language of eccentric grammatical structure. Since Sherlock Holmes novels and Stories are written in English of about century ago, it is hard for a foreigner to read them smoothly and fluently. In that sense, translated works are very much helpful for the ones who are not so good at English and other languages to enjoy reading them. As such, translation is a big contribution.

The more work, the more errors. As it is said "to err is a man, to forgive divine". I suppose some errors in translation will do as long as it is not critical and within some allowances. If so many mistakes were found, then publish revised edition.

The last but not the least is the words extracted from Mr.& Mrs. P. Weller, which is as follows:
"they reached the Belgian capital on the night of the day that they left London, but this is impossible, and Watson must be referring to the day when they reached the Continent as being the day when they also reached Brussels, which was the Sunday." ( 'The Journey to Brussels') and "there is still room for the discussion of the confusing elements of Watson's account in connection with Brussels and Strasbourg" ( 'Conclusion').


(1) S. Hiraga, An Introduction to Study in Sherlock Holmes Novels and Stories (Sherlock Holmes Gaku heno Shotai), Maruzen Library, 1997.
(2) A.C. Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, Oxford World's Classics, 2000, p.p.249-268.
(3) A.C. Doyle, The Original Illustrated 'Strand' Sherlock Holmes, Wordsworth Editions, 1998, p.p.435-446.
(4) A.C. Doyle, Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories Volume I, Bantam Books, 1986, p.p.642-659.
(5) A.C. Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, English - Japanese translation by K. Nobuhara, Shincho Library, 2002, 1st published in 1953, p.p.316-342.
(6) A.C. Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, English - Japanese translation by T. Kikuchi, Iwanami Library, 1967, 1st published in 1937, p.p.179-208.
(7) A.C. Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, English - Japanese translation by T. Abe, Sogen Mysteries Library, 2001, 1st published in 1960, p.p.324-355.
(8) A.C. Doyle, The Annotated Sherlock Holmes The Four Novels and the Fifty- six Stories Complete, Edited with an Introduction, Notes and Bibliography by W. S. Baring-Gould, English - Japanese translation by S. Koike, Chikuma Library, 1997, p.p.83-146.
(9) P. Weller, The Days before the One Week Later, Franco - Midland Hardware Company

Back to Top of This Page     
Back to Top Page