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How should non-standard Japanese dialects be translated?
Translate to a non-standard English dialect or accent
Standard English without any note
Standard English with a translation note
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New Poll - Bad Spelling/Grammar

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Post #580110
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3:21 am, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 178

For me it's just a little distracting. English is not my native language so I guess that lots of mistakes go unnoticed for me, though I admit I would get pretty annoyed if it was my native language. After all, the reason I read manga in english and not spanish is precisely because spanish translations tend to be very poor at grammar and spelling. I think english translations have better quality, but maybe it's just that since spanish is my mother language for me it's easier to identify mistakes in spanish than in english.

Anyway, when I notice some mistake in english it's usually something not so bad so it's just a little distracting. I have seen a few cases in which the translation was so bad that I didn't have any idea of what was going on, but it's so rare for me that I don't even get to be annoyed.

Post #580118
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Snarkiness Lvl.500

4:46 am, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 97

I think it's a little distracting too, but I don't care overall.

As a translator, I know that my English isn't good enough to catch all my grammatical mistakes and spelling errors, but I know for sure that my proofreaders aren't that good either. No offense.

For example: "...and its Church" (got changed to) "...and it's Church"

Use of "you're" and "your" drive me crazy too. Are people meant to say "your wrong?" or "if your hungry..."? Some of my proofreaders never pick that up.

I changed it back when I QCed that, but then the proofreader commented on it...and she also complained how I used "anyway" not "anyways". Most people where I live (and so does my dictionary) say "anyway", not "anyways", so I'm not technically wrong here...right? My opinion, words like that should just be left alone.

Like I said before, it's a little distracting but I reckon the English language is very localised and so it's hard to say exactly what's right and what's wrong. My opinion though.

Hey relax, I'm just kiddin'.
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Post #580128
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AKA Roseille

6:19 am, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 326

I picked "Definitely annoyed!" for reasons I can't quite understand—probably because many, many moons ago, I used to get terribly disappointed at the use of bad grammar because grammar is wonderful and lovely to me. (Yes, I am an incorrigible dork and I will die alone in a house filled with cats.)

A few years past my rage-stage of grammar-Nazism, I find that bad grammar or an overall disregard for the English language does sometimes tear at my heartstrings (Why, God? Why?!) but rarely annoys me. If it's bad enough (or paired with lacking or garbled translations), I do sometimes get annoyed, but heck, I'm not the one scanlating whatever series it is, so I can't get too huffy about it. (Though I do not-so-secretly scanlate in my free time because it makes me happy and keeps my bumbling translation skills as polished as I can ever expect them to be.)

Seriously, though. Spending almost three full years working in a college writing center where students routinely forget what nouns are, I have grown a tough outer skin to to protect myself from complete grammar-blindness. I've gotten to the point where I can skim past most minor errors.

I have to admit, though: CHAT SPEAK in scanlations makes my soul cry blood.

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Post #580136 - Reply to (#580071) by cmertb
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7:41 am, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 33

Quote from cmertb
It's not the translator's job to embellish the original. Any translator who does that becomes a co-author, and to me it's not acceptable.

If the translated line is able to convey the same intent as the original despite being reworded, then what's the problem?

(I think the whole "translation as art" discussion is an interesting one, though. These professional translators assert that translators are writers, and I think they make a strong case for this argument.)

Quote from cmertb
If I read a translated literary work, I want it to be a gateway to another culture. Localization simply narrows that gateway, if it doesn't shut it down entirely. I've read many translated works in my life, but it was only the utterly unlocalized fan translations from Japanese, with all their accompanying translator notes, that made me fall in love with the language and start learning it.

You're reading translations for all the wrong reasons then. I mean, it's cool that you picked up Japanese to be able to understand cultural references and stuff. Not everyone has the time or inclination to do this, though. This is why translations exist in the first place. They're supposed to provide a seamless experience for readers who are not familiar with the original language and culture. The goal is to strive to give the target audience the same experience the native readers had when they first read the story.

That's not to say that we foreigners shouldn't learn about Japanese culture from Japanese fiction. But a literary translation isn't meant to be didactic. If the translator can subtly integrate cultural information directly into the dialogue without sacrificing good flow, that's fine. If they have to add long-winded footnotes that are unnecessary to the progress of the story, then they've failed to do their job properly. Of course, there are things that probably can't be fully translated because of (irreconcilable?) cultural differences, but those are exceptions, not the rule.

Note that when I say "target audience" I mean people who aren't necessarily familiar with honorifics and other aspects of Japanese culture. By refusing to translate certain things, you're alienating potential readers and making the text less accessible to a broader audience. I can't for the life of me figure out why any translator would want to do that.

Post #580145
user avatar

9:53 am, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 23

If you riddle your release with typos, grammar mistakes, or worst of all, incomprehensible sentences, then you probably shouldn't be scanlating in the first place.

Everyone makes mistakes, so sure, I'm not saying that an error here and there isn't acceptable (though any spelling mistakes should be caught with a spellchecker, it's easy), but some groups seem like they don't even look over the text. You don't need to be a proofer with an amazing grasp of English to catch things like your/you're or there/their/they're errors, but they're incredibly common.

The poll doesn't really mention it, but more than just spelling and grammar mistakes, I think the biggest issue is that sometimes the translation just doesn't make sense in English. The words might be spelled right, the grammar might work, but you'll read it and think 'What exactly are these people saying?'. Some people might dismiss it, but I don't get why you would read a manga if what you're reading is just incomprehensible garbage bearing only a faint similarity to what it should say.

And really, at the end of the day the point of scanlating is to translate a manga, not to slap your watermark all over everything and inflate your ego, not to slap ads on everything and whore donations, not to pick up a bajillion projects at the same time so you can be supah populah, it's simply to translate a manga. So really, releases should be a decent piece of readable English.

Post #580197 - Reply to (#580136) by Kirjava
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9:03 pm, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 18

I would argue there is a difference between fan translation and official ones, though. Not necessarily in quality, but as they are done for fans by fans, there are a lot of things you can pretty much assume about your readers and what they know, something the translator of an official translation can't.

For example, I'd argue most readers of online scanlations know the (basic) difference between -kun, -san, -sama and so on. A lot probably also know what a senpai and what a kouhai is. Depending on which genre you can probably assume other things are a given. So a fan translator can probably keep closer to the Japanese original than an "official" translator can.

And as for the honorifics - in my opinion they convey a lot of information about the relationships that's REALLY difficult to capture otherwise. In some of the official translations they're left as is and there is just a tiny note in the beginning of the book explaining their basic meaning, which is in my opinion the best solution. After all, in almost all German translations of English or American novels they leave the "Mr." or "Mrs." as is. (Now that I think about it, they don't do that in the translations of Japanese novels. But I still think it wouldn't hurt keeping them.)

I suppose it's a matter of "translation philosophy". I think that a translator should take care not to stray too far from the original. And when it comes to using the same phrases - I for one love the formulaic aspect of those, but I guess it's a matter of taste. What I think is important though is to translate idioms properly - I always wince a bit when I see the phrase "I saw a dream", but then again - I'm really nitpicky when it comes to official translations but when it comes to fan translations I'm pretty forgiving, especially since I started doing translations myself.

I'm not a trained translator, though, and few fan translators are. I agree it's important to take as much care with your translation as possible, but in the end it's really all done for fun and love.

Post #580209 - Reply to (#580136) by Kirjava
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10:36 pm, Dec 11 2012
Posts: 326

Your erroneous substitution of terminology is leading your argument astray. When I say a translator isn't a co-author, it doesn't mean that a translator isn't a writer. You still write. But you *don't make up stuff that's not in the source*. If you're fine as long as the intent is conveyed, then why read the translated work in its entirety anyway? You might as well read the Cliffs notes version of it, it'll give you the gist just as well. Worded differently, but you'll still find out the plot and the story.

The right reason for reading translated works is always the same -- enjoyment. And like I mentioned, I enjoy the aspect of getting a glimpse of another culture the most. You're also completely misunderstanding what I wrote about learning Japanese. Nowhere did I say that you need Japanese in order to understand cultural references in fan translations. What I said is that those cultural and linguistic references left intact by fan translators made me fall in love with Japanese and gave me the desire to learn it. No professional translator has ever accomplished anything remotely similar. Considering how difficult it is to learn a foreign language, especially Japanese (more difficult than quantum mechanics smile ), the impact of a good fan translation is simply tremendous.

On the topic of target audience, once again, you're confusing fan translators with pro translators. First of all, our target audience is special. In the previous post, I provided a link that demonstrates that the vast majority of scanlation readers disagree with your view on localization. But even if that weren't the case, fan translators can afford to not be driven by the demands of their audience. Pro translators are different in that they know where their bread is buttered, and all their talk of "seamless experience" constitutes post-factum rationalization of the need to cater to the lowest common denominator in their audience. If they didn't have to face this pressure, they'd wouldn't localize nearly as much. Let the readers use their brains more intensively so that the translator doesn't have to sacrifice any shade of meaning he sees in the source (and that sacrifice is often quite painful). You can see the same phenomenon at work in Hollywood remakes of foreign masterpieces that results in production of nauseating garbage (well, I'll admit "The Ring" was good, but then the original wasn't much of a masterpiece). I think the reason this happens in commercial space is competition. People typically don't want to use their brains too much when trying to entertain themselves. So if there's a choice between a heavily localized translation and something with long-winded footnotes, or a choice between "Jersey Shore" and a documentary on class relations in fin de siecle Germany, they'll choose the former, and those who serve the latter options will go out of business. But if the former options weren't available at all, would people really moan about how they want less intellectually taxing entertainment? Nah, they'd be too embarrassed.

So, this isn't a defense of poorly worded translations and stilted dialogue where it doesn't have to be, but I hope you can understand why fan translators (i.e. translators who have freedom) don't like localization, why most of their readers don't like it, and why this situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

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Post #580270

4:31 pm, Dec 12 2012
Posts: 27

It's distracting because I have to correct it in my head. This also applies to the wording.

Post #580274
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4:43 pm, Dec 12 2012
Posts: 166

For me it's just a little distracting. English is not my native language

Post #580277
user avatar
the mu...

4:50 pm, Dec 12 2012
Posts: 1049

my own english is not that good... so why get annoyed with someone else's. it's not like i pay for their work...

Post #580308

7:22 pm, Dec 12 2012
Posts: 301

i'm an english major and have a bit of OCD so seeing grammar and spelling errors in translations is like small rocks being thrown consistently at my head. i'm not going to throw a fit about it, but it does reduce my enjoyment of the series. i'll forgive the occasional typo or common grammar goof, but otherwise it does grate on me some ;(

on a positive note, some scanlators exceed my expectations with their translations and provide dialogue that is not only error-free, but contains believable "errors" found quite common in normal english speech patterns and gives more personality to the dialogue and sometimes even the character that is speaking. i don't know if this is intentional or just an attempt at conveying a similar speech pattern in the original japanese, but i know it's probably difficult to do, so kudos to those teams. <3

Post #580398

2:36 pm, Dec 13 2012
Posts: 106

While I do prefer that font that most "pro"-groups use and the QC at an extreme high, I guess I'm only "definately annoyed" when the sentences are troublesome to understand. One manga that comes to mind is the early Captain Tsubasa, with terms like "heading shoot" and whatnot, but there have been countless others with -grammatical- errors and those are worse.

(I have no idea if this post is littered with the same grammar errors that I complain about, and as a heads-up, I don't care and it really doesn't make my or anyone else's [with this problem] opinion less valid - there's a difference between being a fluent "reader" and a fluent "speaker", and they don't always come hand in hand. Hell, I wouldn't even consider myself a fluent "speaker" in my native tongue.)

Post #580405

4:25 pm, Dec 13 2012
Posts: 45

I'm usually pretty picky when it comes to spelling and grammar, but I believe I have no right to complain when it comes to scanlations. If I were a scanlator, I would find it tedious and time consuming. I'm thankful that there are people willing to do these things for free, simply for the reading pleasure of others. Bless you, scanlators!

But if the spelling and grammar are so bad that I can't understand what's being said...well, then that's a problem. Also, I can't stand when they use headache-inducing fonts. no

Post #580440

3:01 am, Dec 14 2012
Posts: 2

AFAIK about half of all english manga translators are not natives in english. So they really do their best and work for free with only reason to bring manga for english-speaking audience (which again don't limit to people who are english-native).
To all whose 36% who are so annoyed by bad grammar - you're always welcome to join translators and improve it. Feel free to check any group for QC/proofreader position. Oh, ofcourse that would mean what you will be asked to bear those terrible people's grammar even more often. But soon you will get accustomed to it and will make corrections on-the-fly.
Speaking of which. I'm not translating manga on english (eah, too bad... or good... whatever), but i do some times make descriptions on manga's info pages here. Feel free to correct those too. You only need to ask moderators for access.

Post #580446 - Reply to (#580274) by Human
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Noblesse Forever!

4:43 am, Dec 14 2012
Posts: 1066

For me it's just a little distracting. English is not my native language.


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