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News Article
New Poll - Chinese Names in Japanese Manga
This week's poll comes from 8-3. I'm just gonna quote what he said, since it's a good explanation:
Quote
There are lots of anime & manga written by Japanese authors that take place in China, or have characters who are ethnically Chinese. In the original Japanese releases, these Chinese names are usually pronounced in "Japanese."

For example, the name "玉玲" is pronounced "Gyokurei" in Japanese. In Chinese, it's pronounced "Yu Ling". Depending on who's doing the (English/French/Spanish/etc.) translation, the resulting romaji may differ. I've personally seen translated manga where Chinese names were converted to Chinese, and I've even seen manga where the translator chose to stick with the author's preferences; it really can go both ways.

Audiovisual mediums (anime, movies, etc.) can make subtitling a challenge, but seeing as manga is purely a visual medium, they tend to have less grey area, often leading to an all-or-nothing situation.


You can submit poll ideas here (and try to keep them manga/anime-related)
http://www.mangaupdates.com/showtopic.php?tid=3903

Previous Poll Results:
Question: Do you celebrate the Lunar New Year?
Choices:
Yes - votes: 1264 (22.3%)
Used to, but not anymore - votes: 295 (5.2%)
Never have - votes: 4098 (72.4%)
There were 5657 total votes.
The poll ended: February 4th 2017

I had a lot of good Chinese food last week!
Posted by lambchopsil on February 4th 2:54am Comments ( 20 )  [ View ]  [ Add ]
Comments

» calstine on February 4th, 2017, 2:49am

I went with the third option because I generally advocate preserving the "feel" of the setting, though I'm sure most people couldn't care less.

But I suppose if the story acknowledges certain characters as being Chinese, then even if it's set in Japan it'd be better if their names alone were in the Chinese pronunciation.

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» silvarion on February 4th, 2017, 3:01am

I am a person that likes things as close to original as possible, so I wanted choose option 2, but...
a lot of Chinese names sounds the same to me
so I chose the first option.

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» residentgrigo on February 4th, 2017, 7:20am

We are going though Chinese history month, ok. Change them into their proper Chinese pronunciations only if the story takes place in China, i guess. I never asked myself this question but this seems logical. Have the name pronounced as the characters "realistically" would.

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» Senrosj on February 4th, 2017, 10:44am

Mostly option 3, but I would actually pick the name that is the easiest to remember. In your example of "玉玲" is pronounced "Gyokurei" in Japanese and in Chinese, it's pronounced "Yu Ling" I would take the Chinese name, because it is easier for me to remember. But that probably has to do with the fact that I have been reading Chinese webnovels. For someone who knows nothing of how Chinese names work, they would be confusing.

I guess option 3 is the best option as that would be how the characters would call each other in the story. Still, if the story has many characters coming from one family... that is a pain. I can never remember many of their names...

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» cmertb on February 4th, 2017, 11:46am

This is an excellent question.

My answer is that, with a few exceptions, Chinese (or any other) names need to be translated to the proper spelling of the target language. It's very common for personal and geographic names of a neighboring country to start to significantly deviate from the original language due to both historical and phonetic reasons. Let's take Deutschland as an example, also known as Germany in English and Allemagne in French. So if you were translating a French text about Germany to English, and you kept using the term "Allemagne" instead of "Germany", even if neither has anything to do with "Deutschland", you would be considered an incompetent retard, and rightly so. Or to take another example that recently caused me to roll my eyes: http://puu.sh/tEP0T/9cc9e3337c.jpg What we have here is a mix of translator's ignorance, incompetence, and laziness.

So, to get closer to the specifics of the topic, the name 孔子 found in a Japanese text should not be translated as "Kou Shi", nor should it be translated as "Kong Zi". The correct translation is "Confucius". But other than well known figures whose spellings are historically derived, any names should be based on the current standard of transcribing Chinese names in English, which I believe is their pinyin spelling.

Now, the exceptions (there are always exceptions). The necessity of such exceptions is obviously derived from context. If we are talking about a Chinese person living in Japan who is called by the Japanese reading of their name, and the whole dialogue takes place in Japanese, it would make sense to use the Japanese pronunciation. Or, I remember watching a silly anime a while back, where there characters were Japanese, but they were named after characters from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms for whatever reason. In that case, it would also make sense to use Japanese pronunciation. You have to take it on a case by case basis.

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» Lucumo on February 4th, 2017, 5:00pm

Quote from cmertb
Or to take another example that recently caused me to roll my eyes: http://puu.sh/tEP0T/9cc9e3337c.jpg What we have here is a mix of translator's ignorance, incompetence, and laziness.

Praha = Prague. In what way is it ignorant of the translator not to change it?

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» cmertb on February 4th, 2017, 6:11pm

Quote from Lucumo
Praha = Prague. In what way is it ignorant of the translator not to change it?

First of all, it's not the only mistake in that line.

And the ignorance can be deduced from the fact that the tler hadn't heard of Prague (or of Antonín Dvořák for that matter) before tackling that particular drama. The fact that he got the Czech spelling out of Japanese プラハ is obviously a coincidence.

Why, were you going to claim the tler did it on purpose? That would be a bold claim for someone who hasn't seen the tl in its entirety.

EDIT: Upon further thought, most likely "Praha" isn't a coincidence, it's the result of incompetent Wikipedia usage. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%97%E3%83%A9%E3%83% 8F The tler found the page, but didn't take the next logical step to check the English page for the proper English spelling. Thus, ignorance compounded by incompetence and/or laziness.

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» Lucumo on February 5th, 2017, 1:11pm

Quote from cmertb
Quote from Lucumo
Praha = Prague. In what way is it ignorant of the translator not to change it?

First of all, it's not the only mistake in that line.

And the ignorance can be deduced from the fact that the tler hadn't heard of Prague (or of Antonín Dvořák for that matter) before tackling that particular drama. The fact that he got the Czech spelling out of Japanese プラハ is obviously a coincidence.

Why, were you going to claim the tler did it on purpose? That would be a bold claim for someone who hasn't seen the tl in its entirety.

EDIT: Upon further thought, most likely "Praha" isn't a coincidence, it's the result of incompetent Wikipedia usage. https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%97%E3%83%A9%E3%83% 8F The tler found the page, but didn't take the next logical step to check the English page for the proper English spelling. Thus, ignorance compounded by incompetence and/or laziness.

The English spelling is listed on the Japanese Wikipedia page, so why would he need to check a different one?

I wouldn't claim that...but I also wouldn't claim it was a coincidence. Unlike you (and despite his "Devorak Hall"), I still give him the benefit of the doubt. Sure, I haven't seen the translation in its entirety but at the same time, you didn't provide more than one sentence on which you put him down.

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» cmertb on February 5th, 2017, 5:53pm

Quote from Lucumo
The English spelling is listed on the Japanese Wikipedia page, so why would he need to check a different one?

Because "Praha" is one the first line, and "Prague" is a few lines down. Checking the English page is SOP for decent translators. Or we can go back to my old theory that he simply dropped the reduced vowel from the Japanese spelling, since that is also SOP for translators.

Quote from Lucumo
I wouldn't claim that...but I also wouldn't claim it was a coincidence. Unlike you (and despite his "Devorak Hall" wink , I still give him the benefit of the doubt. Sure, I haven't see ...

Benefit of the doubt in what regard? What do you claim his motivation was in misspelling two words anyone even half-educated would know? It doesn't matter what you wouldn't claim since you haven't actually done any research (i.e. watched the damn fansub wink ). You can check it out, it isn't actually a secret: it's Nodame Cantabile streamed on kissasian (not sure if I can provide a direct link to fansubs here).

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» MinatoAce on February 4th, 2017, 2:24pm

Leave them as their Japanese pronunciations, just like the author did.
I believe this is how, it would keep it's originality. Author intended to be this way (as he/she didn't do it otherwise because of laziness or whatever reason he/she may had), so keep it how it is. Else, every other things (mainly nouns) taken other places need to be pronounced as it's origin.

Qi, Chi, Ki are all the same you see...different names on different places. Chakra is similar but not the same thing.

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» KaoriNite on February 4th, 2017, 7:37pm

My question would be how many translators would know the proper Chinese translation? And how much effort would it take to find out the correct Chinese pronunciation and how to reflect pronunciation in English?

Also, for me since I don't know Chinese it really doesn't matter to me how it gets translated. If they leave the Japanese pronunciation or if they try to keep things authentic and give them the proper Chinese pronunciation, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

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» mikako17 on February 4th, 2017, 9:00pm

I'm with cmertb, it's all about context, if they're from China like Syaoran Li (Cardcaptor Sakura) or Kong Wenge (Ping Pong), then please use their proper Chinese pronunciations. And if they were raised in Japan and go by the Japanese reading, then do the Japanese.

I do wonder though, how often mangaka provide the Chinese reading vs the Japanese in the manga or if they provide one at all.

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» RoxFlowz on February 5th, 2017, 3:00am

Quite the interesting poll this time. Can't say I really have a preference.

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» vigorousjammer on February 5th, 2017, 11:24am

As long as the names are consistent, I don't really care.
The problem only arises if the series gets picked up by another group halfway through and all of the character names suddenly change.

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» 狂気 on February 5th, 2017, 8:10pm

I didn't vote because I find the question to be absurd.

I've noticed that usually in manga there is the Chinese pronunciation as okurigana on the kanzi. Usually in Japan though, people just don't know the Chinese reading and it's usually up to the Chinese person which pronunciation to use. Although I'm sure they would use the Chinese one 100% of the time when speaking with someone from a non-kanzi country in their respective language, e.g. in English. It's also worth noting that you can't always know even the pronunciation of a Japanese name unless you're told or you see the reading on a business card, etc.

As for using the Japanese reading for a Chinese name in an English translation, wouldn't that be the same as using the Japanese pronunciation on a Czech name in an English translation—to borrow an example from above posts. And that would not be either original "Praha" or the English "Prague" but "Puraha". Now wouldn't that be absurd? I think this poll is equally so.

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» Suxinn on February 5th, 2017, 9:58pm

I'm Chinese, so I'm biased, and I personally prefer the proper Chinese pronunciations regardless of the situation (as long as the character in question is ethnically Chinese, of course).

Though, honestly, most a lot of Chinese names made up by Japanese mangaka are pretty absurd. Syaoran's name, for instance, is (1) not spelled properly in any of the proper romanization practices for Chinese and (2) 小 is used in nicknames in Chinese (think the equivalent of "-chan"/"-kun"), not proper names. It is also extremely, extremely rare for a two-character Chinese surname in modern times, so unless the manga takes place in, like, ancient China, I do automatic spit-takes when I see a compound Chinese surname.

Regardless, I still prefer Chinese pronunciations (even when the name is, ugh, so wrong) because at least they're getting it, well, slightly less wrong.

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» drunkguy on February 7th, 2017, 1:24pm

This would be situational. Keeping it the way the author made it makes sense in a Japanese setting or if the name was nonsense to begin with. Otherwise, it would sound as silly as an english name that has been badly translated. Do readers really want to read or hear a Michael as Mikaru or Maikuru?

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» 狂気 on February 8th, 2017, 9:19pm

Quote from drunkguy
This would be situational. Keeping it the way the author made it makes sense in a Japanese setting or if the name was nonsense to begin with. Otherwise, it would sound as silly as an english name that has been badly translated. Do readers really want to read or hear a Michael as Mikaru or Maikuru ...

This is exactly why I called the poll absurd. Except... that would actually be "Maikeru".

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» cmertb on February 9th, 2017, 8:10am

Quote from 狂気
This is exactly why I called the poll absurd. Except... that would actually be "Maikeru".

Maybe you want to say that the first option of the poll is absurd? The poll itself brings up a very interesting issue and it's definitely something that should be discussed.

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» 狂気 on February 12th, 2017, 10:06pm

No, I'm saying the whole premise is absurd. As I stated above, I don't think it's any different from place names. No person in their right mind would write プラハ as Puraha. And whether it's Praha or Prague doesn't even apply here as in both English and Chinese the Chinese names in Latin letters are written the same (although several variations exist). If there's clear right and wrong then I don't see the point in discussing which it is.

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