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Translations to English

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Chayto
Post #638822
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Ruthless
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10:55 pm, Apr 9 2014
Posts: 134


Hey there, probably someone has already asked what I'm about to but I could not find anything regarding the matter.
So I was reading Bleach's new chapter, enjoyed it, started doing something else. After a few hours I decided to take a re-read at the chapter in a different website from the previous one and found some serious differences in the translated text. So I decided to check other chapters, other titles and found the same issue. The main difference I found are insults, some websites use more than others, some almost none at all.
My question is: Does each translation group/individual choose which words to edit into the text-bubble and censor curse words or is the Japanese language so confusing and has many ways to interpret that curse words might be or not be meant.
In which website I found the issue I will not say but for the sake of my point I shall type what each group translated.
Group 1:
Bad Guy: "Only I'll be left alive amongst the rubble"
Good Guy: "A meteorite? That's something I still haven't slashed so far"
Good Guy again: "That's great... Nozarashi"
End
Group 2:
Bad Guy: "I shall be the last one standing"
Good Guy: "A meteorite? I ain't ever slice something like that up before" (Yes, english mistake should be I ain't "sliced" but that doesn't matter)
Good Guy again: "This is making me hard... Nozarashi"
End.
Hope you understand why my question or issue. Help me understand, thanks.


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MangomyTango
Post #638827
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11:29 pm, Apr 9 2014
Posts: 166


Well, like chinese, the japanese text can be interpreted in several ways based on personal preference (for the translators) and how the context is taken. It can be translated strictly based on the text or loosely tailored to the contemporary english.

And lol at group 2's last line for the good guy xD

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wolfinthesheep
Post #638828
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12:14 am, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 177


Basically...

- Completely literal translations don't read very well.
- Words can have multiple meanings and interpretations.
- Phrasing needs to be twisted if you want to evoke secondary meanings (like puns or double entendre).

And, some unfortunate truths...

- A translators grasp of English or Japanese may not be strong enough.
- Someone in the scanlating process let their personal views take over.
- They might not have cared, and just slapped together something that was close.

Whatever the case may be for each release, scanlation is like one of those old jokes. Put 5 scanlating groups in a room, and you'll come out with 6 different releases.


cmertb
Post #638833 - Reply to (#638822) by Chayto
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1:32 am, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 161


Japanese swear words are few and tame even by English standards. If you see a lot of strong swearing in a translation from Japanese, it means the translator is taking quite a few liberties.

In general, your question has nothing to do with Japanese. Literary translation from any language can be phrased in numerous ways. Translation is about understanding the *idea* in the original text, and expressing that idea in your *own* words in the target language. For more advanced translators, it's not their own words they would use, but a specific dialect or manner of speech they feel would be appropriate for that character if he were speaking the target language. Since the words each person would choose for the same more or less complex idea are different, and since only some translators choose to also try to match the tone or dialect to a character, the exact phrasing of the same dialogue can vary widely from translator to translator. In fan translation, you're lucky if we at least express the idea accurately, forget about style.

I don't know how useful this explanation might be to you. In order to really understand this concept, you need to learn another language. The answer to your question would be very obvious to anyone at least bilingual.

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Chayto
Post #638858 - Reply to (#638833) by cmertb
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6:52 am, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 134


Quote from cmertb
Japanese swear words are few and tame even by English standards. If you see a lot of strong swearing in a translation from Japanese, it means the translator is taking quite a few liberties.

In general, your question has nothing to do with Japanese. Literary translation from any language can be phra ...


I understand, I am trilingual, I know Spanish (main language), English and French but I never saw such a difference which is why I was asking.
I guess all the previous answers respond to the post so it can be locked by some mod if suitable. Thanks and see you around.

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momimomi
Post #638863 - Reply to (#638833) by cmertb
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9:15 am, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 59


Quote from cmertb
Japanese swear words are few and tame even by English standards. If you see a lot of strong swearing in a translation from Japanese, it means the translator is taking quite a few liberties.

I beg to differ. Japanese insults may look tame in literal translation, but to a native they are quite as effective as English strong words because honestly it's all relative. English speakers don't hesitate to swear, so the words don't have so much force to them anymore. Even "b*tch" is a PG-13 word these days. On the other hand, for a Japanese it's shocking to hear "die!"

All in all, translating Japanese instults literaly just won't convey the true power of the words to an English reader.

-shiratori-
Post #638866 - Reply to (#638863) by momimomi
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11:11 am, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 437


Quote from momimomi
Quote from cmertb
Japanese swear words are few and tame even by English standards. If you see a lot of strong swearing in a translation from Japanese, it means the translator is taking quite a few liberties.

I beg to differ. Japanese insults may look tame in literal translation, but to a native they are quite as effective as English strong words because honestly it's all relative. English speakers don't hesitate to swear, so the words don't have so much force to them anymore. Even "b*tch" is a PG-13 word these days. On the other hand, for a Japanese it's shocking to hear "die!"

All in all, translating Japanese instults literaly just won't convey the true power of the words to an English reader.


Since fan translation is not bound by commercial bonds to be damned to appeal to the masses, we should set a good example and encourage the reader to learn something about Japanese culture instead of flooding manga with exaggarated swear words and other bastardizations of the source material. After reading some manga it should be apparent to anyone that certain words that sound relatively harmless in English have a stronger effect here.

Slang is another thing. My knowledge of English dialects is very limited, so I don't even try to translate Japanese speech styles into different styles of English. It's fine if someone does it, as long as they don't get carried away. Just don't make them speak in ebonics or call each other faggots or shit like that (see above).

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NightSwan
Post #638868
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Mad With a Hat
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11:30 am, Apr 10 2014
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The people above are pretty much on the money.

Quote from Chayto
I understand, I am trilingual, I know Spanish (main language), English and French but I never saw such a difference which is why I was asking.


Did you ever try translating? Or thought about it beyond just reading, but also about relating the language? (Please don't take these question as an insult, I'm just wondering).

Because I've translated from and to Hebrew, Russian and English and I can attest to the fact that it's not uncommon to face such hurdles such as these.
Every language has expressions and colloquialisms that are unique to them.
I've been told that Japanese as a special way of relating subtext, especially with kanji, something which is (in my opinion) impossible to translate, or at least relate exactly.

Like others have said, there's literal translating and then there's the more difficult, where "context" or "meaning" is taken as a whole and reworded accordingly.
It all depends on how good the translator is acquainted with the language, how fluidly he uses it, how big is vocabulary is and most importantly, his natural feeling of the language.

Maybe you've heard of Marshak, who was a beloved Russian translator, well known for his Shakespearean works.
The reason why I said "his", is because in translating Shakespeare's works, he made them his own.
The style, the wording is in no way a direct translation. The emotion is there, but it's as if, in a way, he'd reinvented Shakespeare. Or more precisely, reinterpreted him.

Each person that translates has his own style, understanding, influences that reflect and alter the languages they work with, that is why translations end up being different by varying degrees when done by different people.

Or they just suck at translating/don't know the languages, because, you know, Japanese isn't exactly easy to read.

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momimomi
Post #638875 - Reply to (#638866) by -shiratori-
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3:07 pm, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 59


Quote from -shiratori-
Since fan translation is not bound by commercial bonds to be damned to appeal to the masses, we should set a good example and encourage the reader to learn something about Japanese culture instead of flooding manga with exaggarated swear words and other bastardizations of the source material. After reading some manga it should be apparent to anyone that certain words that sound relatively harmless in English have a stronger effect here.

Learning Japanese culture is good and all, but what about the readers who haven't spent years doing that (like a translator)? They won't understand that what looks like a harmless word is actually an insult. Otherwise you have to add a bunch of notes that frankly nobody likes to read. I think if somebody decides to learn about Japanese culture that should be because they're genuinely interested in it, and not because some translation forced them. Also, about "after reading some manga." I know many seasoned anime/manga fans who think "-chan" is just a cute way to address a person. The idea that "-chan" can be an insult when used wrongly doesn't even cross their mind.

Quote from -shiratori-
Slang is another thing. My knowledge of English dialects is very limited, so I don't even try to translate Japanese speech styles into different styles of English. It's fine if someone does it, as long as they don't get carried away. Just don't make them speak in ebonics or call each other faggots or shit like that (see above).

And again I beg to differ. There are some manga characters, say gang members, who speak broken Japanese that would sound quite right translated to ebonics.

Arleea
Post #638878
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3:22 pm, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 89


As everyone else has said. One Japanese paragraph Can have 10 or more interpretations.

An example is ごはん- gohan which can mean rice, or be someone's name (DBZ) or as I just learned from my husband it can also mean meal. Now if a character is talking about a 'meal'. It's up to the translator to figure out what 'meal' they had, breakfast, dinner, or lunch? The translator would have to guess by context. Seriously this is where we get 10+ interpretations. This is also where you get those that stick strictly to the Japanese or those who reword it for a smoother read.

Made up example:
"Yes! The meal was so good!"
"Yes! Dinner was delicious!"
As you can see there are many ways of rewriting a sentence but the main thought has been conveyed.

Hope that explained the process a bit.
But seriously sticking strictly to the Japanese context is never good because half the time it sounds weird in English. I know a few groups depend on Chinese scans for Japanese manga but that's a Chinese interpretation. So it's like a translation of a translation and there's bound to be some things wrong.

edit: Forgot to also mention that maybe the character is talking about rice instead of a meal!

Last edited by Arleea at 3:43 pm, Apr 10

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Hanae
Post #638879 - Reply to (#638875) by momimomi
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3:24 pm, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 742


Quote from momimomi
Learning Japanese culture is good and all, but what about the readers who haven't spent years doing that (like a translator)? They won't understand that what looks like a harmless word is actually an insult.


That's why translators should translate the meaning, not the words.

Quote from momimomi
And again I beg to differ. There are some manga characters, say gang members, who speak broken Japanese that would sound quite right translated to ebonics.

Substituting a dialect with another dialect is usually a big no-no. Dialects are very strongly connected with particular places and cultures and when you have a Japanese guy speaking ebonics or, say, a Kansai dialect user speaking Cockney, then you introduce totally different associations which is extremely confusing for the reader

momimomi
Post #638886 - Reply to (#638879) by Hanae
Member

5:34 pm, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 59


Quote from Hanae
That's why translators should translate the meaning, not the words.

That's what I was talking about.

Quote from Hanae
Substituting a dialect with another dialect is usually a big no-no. Dialects are very strongly connected with particular places and cultures and when you have a Japanese guy speaking ebonics or, say, a Kansai dialect user speaking Cockney, then you introduce totally different associations which is extremely confusing for the reader

Good point. Although considering how often manga characters speak some dialect, just ignoring it is... umm, wasteful? cry

-shiratori-
Post #638892 - Reply to (#638875) by momimomi
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7:38 pm, Apr 10 2014
Posts: 437


Quote from momimomi
Learning Japanese culture is good and all, but what about the readers who haven't spent years doing that (like a translator)? They won't understand that what looks like a harmless word is actually an insult. Otherwise you have to add a bunch of notes that frankly nobody likes to read. I think if somebody decides to learn about Japanese culture that should be because they're genuinely interested in it, and not because some translation forced them. Also, about "after reading some manga." I know many seasoned anime/manga fans who think "-chan" is just a cute way to address a person. The idea that "-chan" can be an insult when used wrongly doesn't even cross their mind.


As I said, since we are translating for free, we can require our readers to use their common sense instead of localizing everything to a point where it is understandable for 5 year olds who have never seen or read any Japanese media before. And as for insults, I frankly don't see any problem. If a character gets devastated after being called a pervert, you see that it's not a nice thing to be called in Japan, whereas most Americans would probably just laugh about it. That are things you can figure out after reading just a handful of manga, same as the honorifics.

Quote from momimomi
And again I beg to differ. There are some manga characters, say gang members, who speak broken Japanese that would sound quite right translated to ebonics.


Sorry, but Japanese characters in Japan speaking ebonics is just wrong. You shouldn't try to make the characters talk like they were English/American, but like they were Japanese, who for some reason speak English.


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cmertb
Post #638903 - Reply to (#638863) by momimomi
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10:07 pm, Apr 10 2014
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Quote from momimomi
I beg to differ. Japanese insults may look tame in literal translation, but to a native they are quite as effective as English strong words because honestly it's all relative.

It's not entirely relative. Sure, you can be insulted with mild words and shrug off strong insults depending on who the speaker is. This goes beyond even cultural differences, for example, a mild insult from someone you respect can hurt a lot more than obscene swearing from someone you don't care about. In that sense, it is all relative.

However, there are some absolute measurements you can take of the real offensiveness of certain words as perceived in their own culture. More specifically, how many words are there in Japanese that will have to be beeped out if you show someone swearing on TV? Or replaced with * or whatever in print? How many such words are there in English or other languages? That's one of the reasons I say Japanese is tame in terms of swearing.

The other reason is, like you mentioned, literal translations of Japanese swear words are also very mild if you go by the standards of any other languages I know.

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Post #638906 - Reply to (#638903) by cmertb
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10:38 pm, Apr 10 2014
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Quote from cmertb
The other reason is, like you mentioned, literal translations of Japanese swear words are also very mild if you go by the standards of any other languages I know.


I believe it is also because Japan is a very conservative country. Despite what people in other countries think. You can correct me if I'm wrong. I'm mostly basing this from Japanese laws, news, and culture that I've read about, not from manga.

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