Best Tense to Translate TE form in titles
  • The TE form of verbs can be used in many ways. I've seen it used standing alone (not combined with other verbs) in book or film titles, such as,

    『時の流れを超えて』

    What is the best English verb tense to translate these types of uses of the TE form as? For instance, does the above title mean, "Going Beyond the Stream of Time", or "Go Beyond the Stream of Time!" (as an imperative), or just something abstract like, "Beyond the Stream of Time"?
  • The Japanese sentence is not concerned with time or tense, tense is not the foremost thing in the speaker's/writer's mind.
    It is concerned with establishing the relation time, flow, and cross/go beyond. Namely, that someone or something did go, goes or will go at some time across or beyond a stream which is in some sort related to time.

    The te form as a "continuous form" allow for this open ended-ness.

    When it comes to translating into another language, choosing a particular tense may become necessary in order to make it sound natural.

    At any rate, this would be feature of the English language, and our primary goal is to understand Japanese.

    In this case, it is possible 『時の流れを超えて』is supposed to be a (light) command. Without context, it is hard to be certain. Out of the blue, I would opt for the other interpretation.

    As for "Going Beyond the Stream of Time" or "Beyond the Stream of Time", this is mostly a matter of style in English. As for a book or movie title, I'd go with the latter.

    A possible official translation is "Across the gulf of time."
    http://www.worldcat.org/title/across-the-gulf-of-time-the-international-cemeteries-of-nagasaki/oclc/28177921
    http://www.worldcat.org/title/toki-no-nagare-o-koete-nagasaki-kokusai-bochi-ni-nemuru-hitobito/oclc/30512506

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