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New Poll - Translation Accuracy vs Fluency
This week's poll is a bit different. Instead of just being fun and games, a member named mattfabb requested that we run this poll for a university research project. It's not the usual way to do a statistical study, but hey, it's an easy way to reach a bunch of scanlation readers who actually might answer the poll. If you got comments on your choice, post them here!

You can submit poll ideas here (and try to keep them manga/anime-related)

Previous Poll Results:
Question: If you were in an RPG, which class would you pick?
Warrior (fighter, barbarian, knight, etc) - votes: 2755 (18.3%)
Archer (sniper, etc) - votes: 2425 (16.1%)
Thief (rogue, assassin, etc) - votes: 3192 (21.2%)
Mage (wizard, sorcerer, witch, adept, etc) - votes: 5374 (35.7%)
Cleric (priest, healer, etc) - votes: 1306 (8.7%)
There were 15052 total votes.
The poll ended: April 26th 2013

Just as fire has amazed mankind since the beginning of the caveman, so would the modern man be able to shoot fire out of his finger tips. That and magic is OP
Posted by lambchopsil on April 27th 6:37am Comments ( 56 )  [ View ]  [ Add ]

» strixflash on April 27th, 2013, 12:20am

The choice is hard to make. While I want the translation to be completly accurate in order to fully understand the original text, I also want fluency in order to enjoy the reading. Of course, a translation have them both, but the thing which matters most to me is fluency.


» Pionfou on April 27th, 2013, 12:36am

Going by the given definitions, which make the poll extremely biased and thus completely useless. (It is blatantly false to say that translations that retains the original characteristics of the language are more accurate.) I'd fail the paper a failing grade if I was the professor but I digress.

If a translator is not skilled I suppose they can opt for a more literal translation as a crutch. A professional translator should be capable of translating the nuances of each language. There are some cases where things are lost but it's better than butchering a language for things the reader won't grasp anyway.

I've read boatloads of manga. And I'd be a liar if I said I understood what the honorifics -san, -kun, -chan, etc. actually mean. Do I have a general idea? Somewhat. But a good translator would convey the general idea anyway.


» philip72 on May 5th, 2013, 1:32pm

If you don't yet understand what honorifics and their inferences mean, your "boatload" of manga wouldn't fill a kayak.
Two minutes on google will provide you all the knowledge necessary to be cognizant of their meaning.

I myself am sick of seeing proper grammar and sentence structure being brutalized in order to incorporate untranslatable meaning. Some subbers and scanlators are so terrified of being labeled "weaboo", that their scripts read like they were written by hillbillies.

Even though English is a West Germanic Language, almost 70% of it's vocabulary comes from non-germanic sources. It's a language with a germanic substrate but a superstrate composed of almost every other major language in the world.
Borrowing new terms and concepts constantly from other languages is what makes it English, as opposed to say French whose grammar and vocabulary is determined by a central language authority, the Académie française.

Therefore it is in the very nature of English and it's speakers to borrow new words for concepts that don't already have an equivalent.
For instance just Hindi gave english pajama, abacus, cushy, bandanna, bungalow, cheetah, dingy, pundit, shampoo, cider, veranda, typhoon, and hundreds of other words. And only an moron would translate the now english words, tycoon, judo, bonsai, haiku, origami, sushi, karate, sumo, sake, geisha, ramen, honcho, rickshaw, wasabi, ect...

Here's some regularly butchered concepts that should earn you a kick in the junk for mistranslating:

1. Tanuki as Raccoon. Usually done by Americans, the Tanuki is a canid related to wolves and jackels. Aside from the dark mask around their eyes they couldn't be more different, you're butchering taxonomy and the concept.

2. Dango and Mochi as Rice Dumplings. Most native english speakers think of savory dumplings when you use the word, so it's very misleading. You can now purchase Dango and Mochi by name at Walmarts in North Dakota or Arkansas so the names aren't unfamiliar to anyone anymore. You wouldn't still call sushi rice patties, so it's time to give "dumpling" the heave-ho.

3. Onii-X/Ani as brother/bro/big bro. Unlike Mother/Father/Grandma the title Brother is not a form of address in english. Quit trying to make it one, it sounds retarded. The same applies for sister.


» RattixEmpire on April 27th, 2013, 1:03am

Translations need to convey the original meaning behind the words accurately. Phrases used in Japan can convey the wrong meaning, or one I see what they are trying to say, but just burst out laughing, cringe or get annoyed. I also really like reading allot of books, complicated books, I have a great appreciation for words and the different meanings that words, than mean almost the same thing can make a big difference due to the small differences. I am less engaged if the writing is overly simplistic and repetitive, simply because I throw about words like flummox, discombobulate and embonpoint in my every day speech.


» calstine on April 27th, 2013, 1:24am

That's a tough choice. I'm pretty adamant that they keep the honorifics, because you can never convey the formality of -sama, -dono, the neutrality of -san, -kun, or the friendly familiarity of -chan, -tan, etc. with any kind of English honorific (or the lack thereof), but at the same time excessive usage of Japanese words can break the flow of the dialogue and confuse the readers.

I say go for a blend between the two: retain in Japanese the honorifics and the words that are: (a) so deeply rooted in Japanese culture that translating them to even their closest Western equivalent would result in a loss of important subtext or (b) don't have a significance in the plot and therefore require only the barest understanding of their meaning (for example: why try to translate something like "Takoyaki"?)

I have to wonder why the people who want every little thing to be translated into its Western equivalent even bother reading manga or watching anime when they're clearly not the least bit interested in being so much as occasionally reminded that these stories are, after all, set in Japan and deal with Japanese people and their society and its nuances.

Which means I'm not voting in this one.


» CuthienSilmeriel on April 27th, 2013, 1:27am

Ideally there should be both. Translations should strive to be as accurate as possible, but an accurate translation is still a poor one if it lacks fluency. Something are just not translatable, and to attempt to do so will only succeed it altering the author's meaning, but by that reasoning any translation can be said to have altered the author's intentions, so nothing should ever be translated. Therefore we should accept that a degree of accuracy is always going to be lost and focus on maintaining a balance rather than prioritising one at the detriment of the other.


» NightSwan on April 27th, 2013, 1:44am

Well, you see, it's impossible to choose...
A good translation should have both.
In order to retain the original mood, it shouldn't sound completely localized, but it should still flow and not be a pain to read.

I've read boatloads of manga. And I'd be a liar if I said I understood what the honorifics -san, -kun, -chan, etc. actually mean. Do I have a general idea? Somewhat. But a good translator would convey the general idea anyway.

Google is your friend. : )


» Pionfou on April 27th, 2013, 5:41am

Quote from NightSwan
Google is your friend. : )
Really? I've read brief descriptions. They just give you a general idea and nothing more.

Is there someone who hasn't been to Japan for an extended period of time that can tell you what exactly each use of honorifics means in each case? When it's fine to break convention? When a character is simply being impolite? Or polite? Or sarcastic (although, I've read that sarcasm isn't really a thing in Japan)? What their use of honorifics says about a character? There are nuances that a simple description can't possibly help you understand.

I've never learnt Japanese and I've never been to Japan. It's inevitable that the nuances will escape me. Unless it's a slap you in the face transition to first name basis variety.


» puzzledsheep on April 27th, 2013, 10:32am

although, I've read that sarcasm isn't really a thing in Japan

No, sarcasm is a thing in's just that Western humour is different from Eastern humour. They don't use sarcasm as much as we do. It might be ok to make a sarcastic joke to a stranger at the bus stop here, but it could come off as rude in Asia (in a "Ugh, why is this person so cynical" sort of way). Not that it always does...but it could, depending on the person.


» evilcleo on April 27th, 2013, 9:48pm

Quote from puzzledsheep
No, sarcasm is a thing in's just that Western humour is different from Eastern humour. They don't use sarcasm as much as we do. It might be ok to make a sarcastic joke to a stranger at the bus stop here, but it could come off as rude in Asia (in a "Ugh, why is this person so cynical& ...

I don't think you should just be saying Asians might take sarcasm to be rude because no matter the nationality, there's alway a possibility the other person might be comeoff by that behavior. Especially on the internet when you cannot sense the tone behind the words.


» puzzledsheep on April 27th, 2013, 11:19pm

True, what I said was a very wide generalization. However, it is true that sarcasm is more prevalent in Western humour than Eastern humour (it's apparent just by comparing tv shows and other mediums of popular culture). There are various hypotheses as to why that is, but no definitive answer has been found thus far.

The rudeness bit was speaking more from my own impressions and observations as well as snippets I've heard from friends. I probably should have mentioned that :x


» Tierra93 on April 27th, 2013, 2:03am

the choices are cut off and I can't seem to see the full choice


» mattfabb on April 27th, 2013, 2:15am

Hi guys

This is how the poll was phrased

Poll: What aspect of translation is more important to you?

- Accuracy: I like manga translation to retain characteristics of the language of the original, to show the linguistic and cultural differences between Japanese culture and my own.

- Fluency: I like manga translation to read as if the author was native English speakers, so that linguistic and cultural differences are minimized.

The technical terms would be "foregnisation" and "domestication" or, to use an even older dichotomy, dynamic/formal equivalence.

These are two extreme poles, so you guys are right: most of the time, there is a middle ground. but what I have in mind is the removal of culturally specific sentences in order to ensure an easier reading experience.


» puzzledsheep on April 27th, 2013, 11:01am

I understand what you're trying to get at, but the wording is may mislead people who haven't read your post. It makes it sound like accuracy (in the traditional sense) and fluency are mutually exclusive.
Thus, while you are trying to compare extremes like...
  [JP] 餅が好き。 (I love mochi.)
   a) "I love mochi."
   b) "I love sweet dumplings."
It makes it sound like you are trying to compare extremes like...
  [JP] 餅が好き。 (I love mochi.)
   a) "Mochi ga suki."
Keeping in mind these examples are extremes ^^;

Rather than using the terms "accuracy" and "fluency", it might be better to phrase the poll in terms of "localization". It might not line up with "foreignisation" and "domestication" directly, but it'll get the point across better since it's a term and concept most of the community is familiar with already. Just for the sake of communication smile
  ○ Less localized. I prefer translations that reflect the differences between Japanese culture and my own.
  ○ More localized. I prefer translations that compensate for the differences between Japanese culture and my own.
This way people understand that there is a middle ground, but that you are asking them which extreme they tend to lean towards. At the same time, this eliminates the bias the terms "accuracy" and "fluency" may have on the ordinary reader.


» switchgear on April 27th, 2013, 2:18am

Personally I like fluency in the sense that the translations use proper English grammar. Word for word translations ruin the flow of the story if I have to stop to correct each dialogue box. Too many Japanese words do the same thing. Keeping more well known words like Shinigami in a story about grim reaper or death gods is good and so are words that do not have a clear and concrete English translation. Honorifics should always be included in the translation because not only is it part of Japanese culture it immediately tells me and other readers the relationship of two characters by the ones chosen or when suddenly one character is not using them with another when they usually use them. They also help define character personalities as a delinquent might be more inclined to disregard honorifics, but a delinquent with some social consideration might still use them in certain situations showing some good in that character.

Throwing in random Japanese words (or German words [shame on you Commie]) for the sake of having them in there to be more "authentic" or to be snobbish is not something I like. If there is an English word that matches the definition and context of the Japanese word (unless it is vital that the word choice be displayed for reason pertaining to the plot) then it should be used in place of the Japanese word in a translation.


» PandaRanda on April 27th, 2013, 3:31am

This poll isn't great on choices. A good translator can use fluent English while still translating accurately. Although it's true not all Japanese nuances/jokes/cultural differences are able to be translated to English, that doesn't necessarily mean that a direct translation will be able to convey that information to a reader in a way that they can understand. There are usually ways to convey a nuance to a reader accurately with fluent English, and if there isn't, then the use of fluent English coupled with a small translation footnote to explain to the reader what's going on is what I prefer to do.

Things do get a little tricky with Japanese specific words like honorifics, especially because there are differing opinions, with some preferring the inclusion of honorifics and others not. However I believe the use of honorifics is very important in Japanese culture, particularly the relationship dynamics between characters. Moreover including them doesn't usually detract from the readability of the English, which is why I prefer to have them stay. However I understand that some people would rather stay ignorant to the use of honorifics and the meanings behind them.

The only thing that really gets to me though, is when translators have everyone regarding each other on a first name basis like how it would be in an English-speaking country. That really annoys me, because sometimes it's pivotal in a relationship between characters when they start referring to each other by their first names. Like you totally wouldn't get that touching scene towards the end of Fruits Basket, when Yuki calls Tohru by her first name, if Yuki and Tohru had always been calling each other by their first names! In any case, I don't think naming and honorifics detract at all from the fluency of the English, which is why I don't see the problem with keeping them in, even if it isn't 100% natural in English.


» ascoat on April 27th, 2013, 3:49am

Thanks for introducing me to the terminology, mattfabb. My linguistic study isn't in an academic context, so I've been using the concepts but didn't know the terms.

I see foreignization and domestication as being on a separate spectrum from dynamic and formal equivalence. Domestication and foreignization are about whether a translation should be true to the source or familiar to the target, whereas formal and dynamic equivalence are about whether a translation should convey the detail and structure of the language or the overall effect of the message.

The poll is asking whether I prefer formal foreignization (literal translations) or dynamic domestication (localizations), and most discussions seem to identify these as the only options. My personal translation style, however, is dynamic foreignization: I try to accurately convey the message as understood by a native of the source language. This isn't a middle ground. In this style, accuracy is the goal but natural-sounding language is part of the accuracy: if a translation sounds unnatural, it should be because the original material sounds unnatural to a source native. From reading the comments, it seems many people actually prefer this style.

I'd be interested in a poll that offered dynamic foreignization as a third option. I suppose formal domestication could be included for completeness, but it's trickier to describe without explaining the dichotomies and I doubt it'd get any support.


» Perim on April 27th, 2013, 7:24am

I auto-correct spelling and grammar when reading anyway; sometimes to the point of re-wording/structuring the entire sentence.


» himexcherry on April 27th, 2013, 7:33am

I prefer accuracy! is done right!!

I find that when reading manga, it makes so much more interesting if the translation does retain some of it's original characteristics. For example Pin to Kona, which for those who don't know, is largely based on Kabuki, you can't translate it without losing a fair bit of meaning. I also find it more engaging as a reader if I can learn bits and pieces of Japanese and Japanese culture while reading a good narrative. Most of the time, if there is something that is left as is translation wise, most good scanlation groups ensure there is a footnote somewhere in the scans so you know what something means.

This is what I meant by if it is done right. There is no point leaving as is if you don't explain to a larger audience who probably don't know what something means...Then you are left with something that is accurate, but makes no sense because there is that gap.

In saying that, you do get some scans that aim for fluency and it doesn't make sense anyway, so it feels like that the reader misses out entirely.


» Crenshinibon on April 27th, 2013, 8:19am

Accuracy is a bit of a misnomer here. A clear and distinct argument can be made that 'fluent' translations are actually more accurate in that they better succeed in mirroring the original communication, rather than the original form.

Really a poor experiment this time around. There are multiple schools of thought here and the answer is clearly somewhere in the gray area, but the ideas not being presented or addressed in a manner which garners real information.


» mattfabb on April 27th, 2013, 8:29am

Maybe adequacy is a better term? however, my interest is not in school of thought, and there are no right and wrong answer, just preferences.


» SirPimp on April 27th, 2013, 8:42am

I think literal vs localized translation would be a better wording. Both are technically accurate if done right where they convey the mangaka's intent.

Literal - word for word exact translation, taking into account the connotation and specific use of the words. Keeping honorifics and "special move names" would be literal in my opinion.

Localized - Adapting to your audience. Things like fluency and making foreign concepts more understandable. Nakama from One Piece would be an example. There's a reason why things get lost in translation... and of another translation.


» mattfabb on April 27th, 2013, 8:45am

Which of the two general tendencies do you tend to enjoy more?

I am not interested in "what is the best translation method" but "what is more important to you". take this as if I asked you "do you prefer vanilla or chocolate" or "sea or mountains". these are not absolutes: I don't expect one to say "I will never eat vanilla" or "I will never choose mountains" but one (should) know whether s/he likes one or the other more.

Check this for example: ng

Its from Urusei Yatsura: Ataru first meets the aliens and he thinks its a Oni, so he throws beans at it.
this is a joke about Japanese culture:

In English, they translated it as a Halloween joke, since few people know what a Oni is. this is not ideal, but its one solution. another would have been to put a note explaining the cultural reference. which do you prefer?


» Sapphiresky on April 27th, 2013, 9:54am

It really depends. I typically like to keep it accurate with references or any japanese words that don't translate, but for sentences or figure of speeches which just don't make as much sense when translated to english, I don't mind if they change the phrasing.


» mattfabb on April 27th, 2013, 11:20am

Thanks for the pointers, I will wait to see how this goes, since I cannot change the poll myself at this point.

I was not familiar with the terms "more localized" and "less localized", but if these are more familiar to the community, hopefully people will understand them.


» ascoat on April 27th, 2013, 11:31pm

If I were doing it, I'd separate out the linguistic and cultural aspects:

Literal translation: I like manga translation to correspond to the original words.
High-level translation: I like manga translation to preserve the overall message.
Localization: I like manga translation to read as if it were written for my culture.

The fourth combination, formally-equivalent domestication, is esoteric enough to leave off (adhere to the original words but adapt to the target culture). Alternately, I'd focus on just the cultural aspects (more / less localized) or just the linguistic aspects (more / less literal).


» szeszter on April 27th, 2013, 1:16pm

I answered fluency, because if it is not fluent, it can disturb my reading experience. But it is a given that I also like some expressions a certain way, that adds atmosphere and a feeling of unity between the text and the images.


» Pikapu on April 27th, 2013, 3:32pm

I feel like it should be a mix of both and not just one or the other... \:


» achyif on April 27th, 2013, 5:00pm

ehhh technicalities here but first of all this is a poll and would make a horribly inaccurate statistical survey (though I guess it does have its purposes)

second of all I'd rather see fluency with extra TN's on the side or back of a chapter to make up for the differences in culture.... sometimes it's hard to differentiate between a bad translation and a true translation. The additional notes make the translation more through and helps me learn more about the culture of the original country, which to be honest... not all of us know about!


» gwkimmy on April 27th, 2013, 9:19pm

i guess i'll respond to the corrected comment in there instead of the cut off poll XD

i prefer for translators to try and keep as much of the original cultural content and nuances of jokes, etc. they can add tons of footnotes explaining the nuances and such, or if they do change something because of lingual awkwardness or something, also reference it in the footnotes. i think the publishing company del rey does this a lot? localization sometimes alienates certain audiences if they themselves don't understand what [american] cultural reference the translators are referring to or can sound REALLY dated and awkward if they aren't careful. very early viz and cmx had this and it was just...ughh ;_;


» Yasuhime on April 27th, 2013, 11:57pm

Tough choice. Personally, I prefer accuracy because I'm studying Japanese and I like to see translations closer to the original text with things like honorifics, idioms, speech patterns, etc. On the other hand, fluency is probably better suited to official translations. In the end, I think a lot depends on the individual translator.


» mewarmo990 on April 28th, 2013, 12:00am

Professional localization translator here, who started doing amateur translation years ago as a hobby.

Let me say that while semantic accuracy (meaning) is, of course, paramount, the choices presented in the poll are oversimplifications.

A good translation transmits as much of the original meaning and intent as possible while still sounding natural in the target language. You also want your audience to be able to understand any cultural references that are made, if possible. Of course, when dealing with culturally and linguistically distant languages like Japanese and English, compromises have to be made. In some published manga (like Del Rey's release of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle) and light novels footnotes and appendixes can help the audience along. With more substantial projects like video games, movie subtitles, and novels, however, it becomes more complicated.

I would say the industry as a whole has gotten much better about this since the 1990s. Back then it was common to rewrite -- not translate -- wholesale entire works to suit some producer or executive's idea of what the target audience would be able to understand. Now that we live in a more globally aware age people want to see the original culture come through, and so we try to aim for this. It's not black and white, of course; an intentionally European-style setting (e.g. check out the Tactics Ogre PSP game) might do better if editors are given more creative license to make the writing more believable, it makes sense to preserve some unique cultural conventions in a title that has a specific Japanese context (e.g. Shin Megami Tensei).

In the end this is why we have both translators (who, well, translate) and editors (who do the actual final writing) in localization. While it would be ideal if a translator had equal, native-level fluency in both Japanese and English language AND culture, the reality is that very few people do. It is really important that both sides communicate to publish the best work.


» calstine on April 28th, 2013, 12:58am

I see the wording of the two options has been changed. In that case, I vote for option 1, since it's closer to what I like to see in my manga and anime.

On another note: I've noticed that quite a few people who pick no.1 are students of Japanese language and/or culture, but I, personally, don't know anything about Japan apart from what they show on the occasional NHK programme. I've never been to Japan and don't have any intention of going there to live/work, though I wouldn't say no to a short holiday.


» amy_levi on April 28th, 2013, 5:35am

One otion is missing: BOTH.
Too much of either one of them and neglecting the other one is not good.
Too much accuracy makes the text difficult to read, it sounds clumsy and even wrong at times.
Too much fluency "distorts" the meaning and sometimes sounds to westernized.
So, a balance between both would be best.


» aikaeimin on April 28th, 2013, 5:51am

A good translation should, nay, must be both accurate to the source and be fluent and well-crafted in terms of language.
I can't pick one of these answers since they are both equally important things to have in mind when translating Japanese text.
P.S. If you're a translator and you leave in honorifics, know that I probably hate you. That's all.


» mattfabb on April 28th, 2013, 6:54am

OK I see that some of you guys are arguing for both, so let me rephrase it in simpler terms:

Option 1: I'm OK with notes on page, honorifics, etc. I find them useful.

Option2: I'm not OK with notes, honorifics, etc. I find them unnecessary.


» Kina92 on April 28th, 2013, 8:02am

I have to go with accuracy (option 1). One of the reasons I love reading manga is because I love seeing the linguistic and cultural differences between Japanese culture and my own. In case of fluency, much of that gets lost. That's why I tend to enjoy fan/group scanlated manga and doujinshi compared to the manga done by big, publishing companies. Not always, but usually the ones scanlated by individuals or scanlation groups are much more accurate. (And in my opinion, much more enjoyable.) >.<


» mysstris on April 28th, 2013, 3:48pm

Totally accuracy but the best scanlators do both as best they can.\

I appreciate the T/Ns that are used too b/c it helps understand where things are coming from like proverbs and such.

As for fluency, i think it's hard to minimize cultural differences. I think an example would be easier to understand that but personally i enjoy learning about other cultures so i'm on board w/ accuracy.


» Wyllia on April 29th, 2013, 2:48am

In my opinion the accuracy is the important part, proofreading is of course very important in order to not make me rage, but what infuriates me the most is when "san" becomes "mr" and such, also when the text becomes "americanised", it just feels so wrong reading it then.


» Hellsayer on April 29th, 2013, 4:28am

I personally believe that it should be readable so that it doesn't sound stiff and halting. I think that it should keep sans and stuff like that, but stuff that sounds normal in japan, such as their indirectness, would sound better without it.


» Jooles on April 29th, 2013, 6:06am

Chose fluency. Mostly because of retarded non-translations like just romanicizing that thing they say when they're leaving instead of well, "I'm off/leaving." or "Let's eat" instead of "Itadakimasu". It's not important, and it makes your work as a translator look bad.

I like suffixes and hierarchy when they're important to the story, or classics like "Sakura-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!", but in general I have a distaste for Japan's kouhai/sempai-culture.

So yeah, if it's vital - retain as much as possible, but please get rid of the nonsense-translations.


Like someone said, T/Ns are fantastic. General comments like "Omg Kawaiiiiiiiii!!! O.O ><" suck though.


» yarn on May 1st, 2013, 9:21am

"I like suffixes and hierarchy when they're important to the story"
Who gets to decide if it's important to the story or not?

"Like someone said, T/Ns are fantastic."
As long as they aren't excessive, and cover the whole page, or define an English word. It's English, I can google it myself bigrazz

"General comments like "Omg Kawaiiiiiiiii!!! O.O ><" suck though."
Agreed.... -_-


» PaterFrog on April 30th, 2013, 5:28am

Why is there no middleground to this poll?
I mostly prefer accuracy as far as titles go and also to some degree dialects.

What I do not like however, if the translator keeps the korean or chinese or japanese word choice and grammar. That just sounds strange.

So the favourite middle ground for me is keeping titles like -dono, or -san, or -kun, or -ou, I don't mind things such as "Itadakimasu" either. They keep the manga spirit intact. I don't find they disturb my immersion or anything, they actually improve it. I do remember however, that in the beginning I didn't like most of them. It takes some getting used to, but now I prefer it this way.


» Reyalsdog on April 30th, 2013, 1:36pm

Accuracy - yes. But "accuracy" not meaning "literal" or even "plain transcription" (itadakimasu, tadaima, etc. - its not translation at all). And "accuracy" no way in hell meaning "I don't understand what written there, but I compensate it with lot of fucks, shits, flying sluts, and good orthography (occasional), albeit overall meaning will be absent".

Fluency - no. Because not all of us "native English speakers". Heck, not all of translators etc. are "native English speakers". And I really hate when translators turn japanese manga into american comics with american jokes, idioms, curses (especially in shounen manga, when in original nothing of the sort), etc. "Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo" as prime example. And Tokyopop's rewrite of "Ikkitousen" is beyond good and evil.


» yarn on May 1st, 2013, 9:28am

I agree with the swearing. Either the translators want to "have fun" with it, or they don't understand the different degrees of cussing, or kids manga really does have a lot of strong language (which I kind of doubt).


» Gallaplacidia on May 1st, 2013, 12:09am

The two things aren't mutually exclusive for a good translator and good editing/proofing of the translation. The whole point of translation is to make a text, with all it's cultural undertones and references, understandable and readable in another language, so what's the point of having accuracy to the Japanese if that doesn't then have meaning to an English (or whatever other language) reader? I also think that while cultural references should be kept and/or explained with notes, some characteristics of the original language should not often be retained. Japanese syntax and phraseology can often end up sounding quite ridiculous in English and makes reading tedious.


» Hespia Klarerin on May 1st, 2013, 12:25am

when i first started translating, i was all over accuracy. i debated over the wrong choice of words, trying to re-arrange the korean words and inserting the english words in it

now though, my opinion is completely different. I'm not afraid to use a different expression, idiom, and choices of words when i translate. If i have to translate a expression that doesn't flow very well for english audience, I WILL STRIP IT OFF and add a similar semi-equilvent english expression in there. now i focus more on the flow of the language then translating. I do not want the reader to stop and think "what did that mean" and i keep any translator's note to a minimum and always at the end of the chapter. (I do not want to be one of these translator that makes comment on every insecure word choices they make, that make it look like i don't know what i'm translating) what flows best flows best. I trust my confidence.

ps. i sometimes leave suffix like -nim though, this is only because i know that the majority of the manwha readers already know what this means. I won't bother stripping it off and finding another expression for it if it's really hard to find another word. (as in, if it's a situation where i can't use sir or lady, -nim it is)


» SiLNeT on May 1st, 2013, 6:40am

I love these polls. You should really bring all this research data to the publishers so they stop 'guessing' what it is the majority of readers really want and just give the majority of readers what they want.


» yarn on May 1st, 2013, 9:15am

I voted for fluency. But like most people I like a mix.

I like it when a translation keeps honorifics, Japanese name order (family/given), and some extremely common terms that don't really have an exact equivalent usage/translation in my language, and which a cheap translation will make more confusing (like shinigami, oni, itadakimasu - [oh, I get so riled when they make up some awkward translation like "I'll dig in now" for that, especially when it's a non-Japanese setting. NOBODY talks like that in real life.] ).

But other than that, I'd like it to be localized enough that my reading experience is similar to Japanese readers'. There's a lot of translations where the phrasing is weird (either because it's literal and word-for-word...or maybe the translator was just guessing at the meaning bigrazz ) and I have no clue what they're trying to say. For common phrases; if there's an English phrase that means the exact thing but is worded differently, I'd prefer the English version, unless the original is necessary to understand a joke or something. Footnotes are OK in cases like that.


» Mammoth on May 1st, 2013, 10:47am

Accuracy is essential and can be achieved in either a literal or a liberal translation. However, a liberal translation has a better shot at conveying the subtext unless you're reading it as non-fiction. Translate, don't explain. Maybe literal translations and keikakus will give me a taste of "Japanese culture", but in return it'll pull me out of the story while I wonder who the hell talks like that. The Japanese sure don't. They speak normally.
I can deal with some really Japanese-exclusive stuff like honorifics since it might be obscured in a manga. Leave it out of anime, though, my ears are fine. Also, keep in mind not only Japan has its exclusives. For one thing, a precision f-strike here and there can really do wonders.

Unnecessary notes also really bug me. If they can be avoided, do it. If not, keep it as unobtrusive as possible. If you constantly need to explain things, I'd really prefer an extra page or a blog post, but that's no excuse not to even try to translate it. If you just wanna drop a random comment in the middle of the page, I hate you.

I'm willing to make some exceptions, though. If it's a comedy with layers of meta humour, I can deal with translators adding a bit of their own. And if your english is as hilariously awesome as the Yamada and the 7 witches guy's, pick a light-hearted manga and go crazy, accuracy be damned.


» Nirhtuc on May 3rd, 2013, 12:05am

Love these latest polls! And yeah, I voted for accuracy too. I don't like how the '-san' gets translated into Ms/Mr etc in English, because we simply don't go around calling each other by honorifics anymore (at least where I live) while Japanese people still do! Most manga is also set in Japan, so I prefer everything to be as Japanese as possible (except for the language, of course). Good poll! eyes


» BlackOrion on May 3rd, 2013, 12:10am

I voted Accuracy... but only because of how the Fluency option is expressed on the description. To be clear i don't like it when the Manga end ups losing its sense in exchange for keeping it literal, I would prefer for it to be fluent and to make sense but this
I like manga translation to read as if the author was native English speakers, so that linguistic and cultural differences are minimized
is taking it too far for my tastes.


» zeusosphere on May 3rd, 2013, 9:18am

Voted accuracy... but that's keeping in mind that I prefer the translation to read as if the translator were a native English speaker... grammar and spelling mistakes detract from my own enjoyment. Once we get over that bottom line, then I'll prefer accuracy. Of course, translator's notes are a wonderful thing that lets us have the best of both worlds (especially if they're short enough to keep on the page).


» HanaTenshiHimeko on May 3rd, 2013, 9:30am

I like reading the honorifics. I get a sense how's the relationship is between the characters. If a character said, "-sama," I get the sense the character is being respected. -chan and -tan informs very close relationship. Etc etc etc.

So when I see "ms." I cringe because it just sounds awkward for me.

I think the only exception was for the anime "Tiger & Bunny" because the setting is in America and it made a lot of sense.


» Baalzebup on May 3rd, 2013, 9:56am

Accuracy all the way. The "all according to the keikaku" kind of stupidity aside, I want my manga TL with the original word play kept as intact as possible and I want my honorifics there to give me the proper sense of character interaction. Grammar and spelling errors are a separate issue.

Some of my physical copies suffer from the lack of suffixes and this bothers me.


» mattfabb on May 4th, 2013, 6:48am

I want to thank all the people who voted and left a comment, thanks so much, your participation was really appreciated!!


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