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About translations in our fav games/anime/manga. What do you guys consider good or bad there?



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KingdomKurdistan

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I'm a translator. The huge issue I find in my field is that you're often asking translators who are technicians to preserve the work of an artist.

Art isn't a technical manual for a machine part. It's not a medical guidebook. In written literature, translators of books are often as illustrious in their reputation as the authors they're translating.

Don't even get me started on "localisation." Ugh*

Guillermo Del Toro was so unhappy with the translation of his classic, Pan's Labyrinth, that he just did it himself.


*Kingdom Hearts is perhaps the sole exception to my snobbish opinions on preserving the cultural aspects of the original text, since Kingdom Hearts as a text is based on being a meeting of East and West.
 

U.N. Owen

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I never liked the idea of "translation" as a term for language since it implies there is a 1:1 relationship. In reality, it's closer to an interpretation. Some languages are just easier to translate between than others. Spanish and Italian for example. Others are absolutely painful to translate between. When I was in Vietnam, their term for air conditioner literally translates to "cold machine." It's also hard to convey pronouns from Japanese since we don't have a pronoun system based on your status among your peers. Don't even get me started on Chinese tones.
 

maryadavies

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UN Owen; that's what I keep saying. It's a art really.

From seeing literal translations of jp phrases like "You are 1000 years too early!" which didn't quite make sense, you kind of have to localize some. The trick is to do it in a way that keeps the original intent/meaning. that's a art.
 

kirabook

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1000 years too early.... that does make sense, doesn't it?
 

KingdomKurdistan

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1000 years too early.... that does make sense, doesn't it?

Maybe. But it's clunky and shallow as a depiction of the original statement. It's also not idiomatic as English prose when I presume the original is idiomatic Japanese.

Translations not only have to make sense syntactically, they have to preserve (as far as possible) the tone, brevity, subtext, and affect of the original. For me, a faithful interpretation of the aesthetic is just as important as the accurate translation of the function. Broken Japanese should interpreted in broken English. Pretentious oratory should read as pretentious in the translation.

Then there's the implications of sayings which aren't readily apparent to foreigners: sociopolitical, cultural, hierarchical signifiers which aren't overtly stated but would be lost in a literal translation. A conversation between emperor and subject should preserve the linguistic signifiers of class divide and hierarchy overshadowing that encounter.

This is all an internal dialogue we must go through with each line of text and each minute of footage. It is, of course, an exercise in compromise. You can't do it all, all the time.

Sometimes, frustratingly, I hit a brick wall where it seems impossible to do the original justice. Then I need to prioritise. With experience, those instances have become less and less frequent.

I used to be very self-consciously literal in my translations when I started. My output was 100% factual, but often not truthful. As years went by, I started to shift more towards truth and away from fact. Clients are far happier with my work these days.

I never liked the idea of "translation" as a term for language since it implies there is a 1:1 relationship. In reality, it's closer to an interpretation.

That static assumption of 1:1 relationships torpedoes so many translation efforts. Tragic, really. You might find this journal article interesting.

But in terms of industry usage, I feel the term retains meaning well enough. There are clear distinctions between translation, interpretation, or localisation. Within each vocation, plenty of debate occurs on that excellent point you make.
 
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maryadavies

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Kirabook; that's a literal translation of a expression over there. It can come across very unprofessional and klungy depending on where the translator did it. That's one that really needs localized a tad depending on context, really.

And Kingdom: I'm with you. I hope my wants for a translation/localization don't make you mad, I just don't want things like the rice ball thing. Geez loize..
 

KingdomKurdistan

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And Kingdom: I'm with you. I hope my wants for a translation/localization don't make you mad, I just don't want things like the rice ball thing. Geez loize..

I'm with you 100%

Somethings you have to get the gist of. Names of stuff isn't one of those things. Rice balls aren't freaking 'donuts'. They're rice balls.

If someone is so culturally insular that they'd be confused over a damn food item then they should not be the ones translators cater for. That's why I said I'm so against "localisation". The original isn't local. It depicts a different land with a different culture and will therefore be different. Deal with it. Even better, try to learn from it.

I hope my post didn't come across as defending inaccuracy. I consider localisation to be a form of sinister censorship, in all honesty. Translations should only deviate from the text if doing so brings readers closer to the text.

Same reason why I'm deadset against dubbing*. Subtitles or nothing.




*Again, Kingdom Hearts is the sole exception because it's exceptional.
 
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maryadavies

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For the most part I agree with you; tho I can see where localizing is necessary. Like the joke/pun in Digimon Cyber Squad that didn't translate well between a bridge and chopsticks (they did a "you will slip in sticks" bit there). That's prolly a case where it brings the English viewers and the JP viewers to the same laugh though. (Yes there was also a big censor in yet another ep, but that's another kettle of fish/FU to the standards people. I didn't think that should of been done but it was a had to do it..but that's a whole nother subject, tho to be honest I don't blame them for doing that censor in such a way as to flip the bird at the standards people)

But other than localizing humor like that..or changing the 1000 years too early thing/other idioms if it doesn't fit in...NO, don't do it! I'd really like it to sound like natural english if possible and I think that's not a bad thing to ask, not to mention preserve meaning.
 

KingdomKurdistan

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Agreed. If there's an untranslatable pun then you find a way to express it in the target language that respects the original. It's an art, not a science. All hangs on the discretion of the translator. I recently had to translate something where the subject says, in literal terms: "we will set donkeys on them to rape their honour." Obviously, I'm not going to just type that out and leave it at that. I spent a long time trying to construct an intelligible substitute that conveyed the intended meaning and preserved the full vulgarity and contempt of the original.

However, sometimes I get the opportunity to do both. The same guy said "your tongue has grown too long." Now this is an idiom in his language but not in English, in which the equivalent would be "you have a big mouth." I wasn't happy with this as it didn't convey the present participle tense of the original. Luckily, he then repeated the same meaning in a very literal and unnatural way, which meant I could also keep the literal and unnatural English phrase "your tongue has grown too long."

A mildly funny personal anecdote: I was in attendance at a political speech once where a foreign president was talking. He made a joke that I thought was translatable with a tiny bit of added context. The interpreter, clearly under a lot more pressure, just said: "the president made a joke, kindly laugh."

I know for a fact this president speaks excellent English even though he pretends not to. I didn't know which was funnier: the white flag of his interpreter or him standing there pretending he didn't understand what was just said :LOL:
 

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Maybe I've just been too invested in fantasy settings, Japanese or not. "You're 1000 years too early to defeat meeeee!" sounds like a cliche villain line. Sounds like something Skeletor from He-Man would've said. But I guess if it's supposed to be coming from an intimidating super evil serious villain, such a taunt may sound silly when written like that.
 

AdrianXXII

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Same reason why I'm deadset against dubbing*. Subtitles or nothing.
While I think you probably are just stating your personal preference, which is perfectly fine, I wanted to share why this statement irks me.

There are people to whom subtitles are not an option. I myself have something similar to dyslexia and while I can watch something subbed now, when I was younger I always had to stop the video so I could read the subtitles, which made for a rather subpaar experience.
Dubs can be a big pluses for slow readers, people with difficulties reading and are generally more accessible. Therefore there's a reason for their creation.
 

KingdomKurdistan

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While I think you probably are just stating your personal preference, which is perfectly fine, I wanted to share why this statement irks me.

There are people to whom subtitles are not an option. I myself have something similar to dyslexia and while I can watch something subbed now, when I was younger I always had to stop the video so I could read the subtitles, which made for a rather subpaar experience.
Dubs can be a big pluses for slow readers, people with difficulties reading and are generally more accessible. Therefore there's a reason for their creation.

Yes, I realised later I should have qualified the statement. While I disagree that's the reason they're created, I meant more from the perspective of the viewer not the creator (though tbh I do think they encourage bad practice among people who could otherwise follow subtitles). And stuff aimed at younger kids also needs it, of course.

I should have said "for all who are able."
 
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AdrianXXII

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Yes, I realised later I should have qualified the statement. While I disagree that's the reason they're created, I meant more from the perspective of the viewer not the creator (though tbh I do think they encourage bad practice among people who could otherwise follow subtitles). And stuff aimed at younger kids also needs it, of course.

I should have said "for all who are able."
True, dubs arent usually meant for those with disabilities, but it does help them.

Still dubs tend to have a broader appeal. For example German dubbed movies tend to do better here in Switzerland than the Originals with subs. So I would say they make the show or movie more accessible by nature.

Also while subs can deliver a more honest and truthful translation, I feel a well executed dub can provide a more normative and genuine watching experience. Watching something while reading along is quite a different experience from just being able to focus on what's happening on the screen.
Ideally you'd want to be able to watch the original language without subs, in my opinion, but that's not always an option.
 

maryadavies

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Kirabook; You hit the nail on the head on the context where it'd sound wrong. From what I've seen with fan translators since I rub shoulders with 'em quite a bit online; If the villain's a Skeletor type and it can be played for laughs, then it's fine for literal, but villains aren't all Skelator you know. If it's a serious villain, it's like "what's that silly line?"

In the art of translation, context is EVERYTHING from what I've seen. Heck, you should of seen what I went though once to get a communication from the FFXI staff to make sense when they didn't bother translating it for us. Google Translate just mangled it, so I poked a guy who called himself Magenta from Aesir Fansubs (now defunct..)..He did a good job once I gave him a little context from the game.

[Edit] Found it. Here's what google trans did (and this is why I HATE HATE MACHINE TRANSLATION!) (And for refrence, here's the post that fans had to fix. Mind, this was when they were raising the crafting cap, if that gives a reference you guys. On the old test server, they had the key item in question be 100k guild points, which since for some crafts that isn't easy to get, there was a UPROAR, but I don't think they saw the English players's reaction. Never attribute to stupid what might just be overlooked.)

Hello.

Here are two answers that have received a lot of attention so far.

The number of points and items currently reflected on the test server to obtain the "key items" required for promotion are provisional.
It's still under consideration, but the key ones are expected to be around 20,000 points.

Also, the important thing this time is that it is positioned as "necessary when breaking through skill 100", so for now I am thinking that it will be necessary each time the upper limit of synthetic skills rises to 120, 130 in the future. not.


And here's Mag's translation.

Hi there. Wanted to clear up a few of the more contentious points that have been raised.

Firstly, we're still testing this on our test servers, clearing up the specifics. The "Way of the Craftsman" items and their required point counts are still being fine-tuned, but we're expecting an eventual cost of around 20,000 points.

Secondly, while these items will be required to raise your cap above 100, we haven't yet decided if they'll be required again for further raises to 120, 130 etc.


I'd say Magenta's translation is a LOT more clear. Say what you want about what Aesir Fansubs did, but Mag knew how to do things right. I basically told him that I'd seen a screen that showed the item for Culinarian be "Way of the Culinarian" so that's a localization to make it clear; believe me when I say that when Google did it the first time it was *worse*. Mangled it even worse than that!
 
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Xickin

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Legitimate question: Are there more words with the same meanings in the English language than there are Japanese? In some sub translations the Japanese dub will just have an add-on to an adjective beforehand (i.e Super, Awesome etc.), as opposed to English which just gives one adjective (Big < Giant < Titanic)
 
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maryadavies

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Xickin; that I don't know. Personally, I know how translation works to a certain extent due to talking with fansub translators, but I don't really know JP that well. I only know about 4 words in JP to be honest. That is: No, no or You're welcome(ieie), cute (kawaii), and two forms of pervert(I think everyone knows what those are if you watch subbed anime at all). I had to learn You're Welcome in self defense in FFXI since they did not have that in the autotrans for years and I <3 doing drive by raises XD.

So yeah, does anyone around here know JP better than that and can answer the question?
 
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