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New Poll - Censoring Curses

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7:14 am, Aug 10 2019
Posts: 9858


This week's poll was suggested by Nekomikoto, and it deals with how to translate censored curses or expletives. It's interesting to think about, even though I don't think it comes up that often.

You can submit poll ideas here
http://www.mangaupdates.com/showtopic.php?tid=3903

Previous Poll Results:
Question: How many hours per week do you work on average? (Including unpaid internships, not including volunteer work)
Choices:
81+ hours - votes: 89 (1.7%)
71-80 hours - votes: 47 (0.9%)
61-70 hours - votes: 61 (1.2%)
51-60 hours - votes: 184 (3.5%)
41-50 hours - votes: 747 (14.2%)
40 hours - votes: 971 (18.5%)
31-39 hours - votes: 592 (11.3%)
21-30 hours - votes: 338 (6.4%)
11-20 hours - votes: 230 (4.4%)
1-10 hours - votes: 183 (3.5%)
No job and not looking for one - votes: 782 (14.9%)
I'm retired - votes: 40 (0.8%)
I don't have a job, but I'm looking! - votes: 768 (14.6%)
I can't work due to some disability - votes: 216 (4.1%)
There were 5248 total votes.
The poll ended: August 6th 2019

If you're working more than 80 hours a week, I'm sorry for you.

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7:20 am, Aug 10 2019
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I think censoring part of the word makes the most sense just from a language barrier perspective, personally.

If you censor the word fully, you might not have the same context in English (or whatever language you're translating to) for how that word is used in Japanese, and it might create more confusion.

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8:20 am, Aug 10 2019
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Isn't English the only language with actual "swears"; meanwhile every other language, especially Japanese, has several words and/or phrases that mean the exact same thing, except that they range from extremely polite to extremely rude/casual (Not to mention tone, context, and sentence structure playing a factor as well)?

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mmm...
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10:45 am, Aug 10 2019
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The third option is just the most logical and practical mmm...
I mean, how are you censoring part if the original is fully censored mmm...~?

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11:30 am, Aug 10 2019
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I voted match but there's one situation where I usually replace with the actual word and that's when dealing with situations where the author is *forced* to censor because of government policies (i.e. China). but if the author is free to write whatever dialogue they wish and chose to censor, then the translator should also censor similarly to reflect their choice.

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1:33 pm, Aug 10 2019
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Match how the author censored it, of course. Interesting question, though: I've never really thought about this before.

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Seinen is RIGHT
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2:32 pm, Aug 10 2019
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Match how the author censored it. Japan is kinda weird with cursing. Porn doesn´t just censor genitalia. Words as pussy also get bleeped in VAs and porn, as being rude is a big societal no-no even there. You just can´t say the wrong words during a casual pretend rape scene, of course!

Curses as slut or fuck off do exist and swearing isn´t reduced to addressing someone wrongly or being disrespectful. Good luck finding a publisher to print these though.


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12:24 pm, Aug 11 2019
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Match how the author censored it, as with the clear majority.

It's not just lewd words that authors do this with... it's also for references to other media that they don't have a licensing agreement with 🙂 Like saying Dora*mon. Very cute.

Post #771128 - Reply to (#771118) by HikaruYami
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Seinen is RIGHT
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11:02 pm, Aug 11 2019
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Oh yeah about that. "Copyright censorship" will a topic once the inevitable JoJo Part 6 anime comes out and will need to be translated. There is no protection of satire in Japan (look up what happened to the pilot of Osomatsu-san) so jokes as this can be tricky and backfire.

Bleeping sweating can be pretty fun btw. as Arrested Development proved a few times.


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Post #771131 - Reply to (#771085) by VawX
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1:14 am, Aug 12 2019
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Quote from VawX
The third option is just the most logical and practical mmm...
I mean, how are you censoring part if the original is fully censored mmm...~?

Because the original line can give you context, based on the use of a common phrase.

For example: son of a *****
Even without typing any letter of that last word, every native English speaker will understand what that word is, simply based on the context. I'm sure phrases or idioms like this exist in Japanese as well, and translators will probably know what a censored word is without even having to read it.

However... if we were to literally translate that into a different language, it'd inherently change the meaning of the phrase, and, in all honesty, the best option would be localizing it into a different common phrase that has the same meaning.

This brings up some more questions... if a translator took a phrase that has a censored word and localized it as a phrase that doesn't have a censored word, then should we add a swear word to the new phrase? Just leave it as-is? There's lots of specifics going on here.

Last edited by vigorousjammer at 1:20 am, Aug 12

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Post #771133 - Reply to (#771131) by vigorousjammer
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2:55 am, Aug 12 2019
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Quote from vigorousjammer
However... if we were to literally translate that into a different language, it'd inherently change the meaning of the phrase, and, in all honesty, the best option would be localizing it into a different common phrase that has the same meaning.

This brings up some more questions... if a translator took a phrase that has a censored word and localized it as a phrase that doesn't have a censored word, then should we add a swear word to the new phrase? Just leave it as-is? There's lots of specifics going on here.

I've seen a lot of people make the argument of "Translate as directly as you can. If something cannot be translated, then leave as is.". And I'm of the same opinion that that is how it should be. There is a nuance between languages that extends beyond just translating the words, which also explains why it is that "finding and equivalent" is the LAST thing you should do.

You're example of "You son of a bitch" does actually have a direct equivalent in Japanese: 「貴様」 (Translated as "You [ Son of a Bitch ]/[ Bastard ]" ). However, because of the way Japanese is structured, you know that the accused did something unspeakably wrong if that term is ever used, whenever it is used (To where there is actually a slightly less "crude" phrase, 「手前」, that would be more equivalent the American usage of "You SOB", but doesn't actually mean "You SOB". It's just a rude way to say "you" ). From what I've learned of Japanese, the Nips are extremely autistic when it comes to politeness. In fact, they have dozens of ways to say "me; myself; I" and "you", however the actual usage of the word "you" is almost never used because it's very usage is considered rude itself. You say either the person's name (With the appropriate suffix) or don't even say their name at all. And, this is why you shouldn't force the translations to "work in English" (Or whatever language you're translating into). Just take a look at how I've used the word "you" in five of the previous seven sentences (Excluding when "you" is in parenthesis). In Japanese, you're not suppose to do that. I would have to say either "vigorousjammer" every time I'm referring to you, or just not use your name at all since it is pretty clear, from the context of this post, that I'm replying to you .

As I've heard someone so sophisticated put it, "Language is a culture", but do not mistake that to mean that learning the language itself means that you now understand the entire culture and the people that speak the language. There are 59 countries that speak English, 29 that speak French, 26 that speak Arabic, 20 that speak Spanish, and 10 that speak Portuguese. Culturally, majority of us are as different as night and day from nation to nation in our actual customs and rituals (Even those of us neighboring each other), but, understanding how it is that we speak starts giving you an insight into how it is that we think. And, if I may say, this "culture" is one aspect that is severely lacking in translations, especially in recent ones. Back when I joined this place (Seven years ago, according to me account), translations used to leave about half of the Japanese phrases and terms completely untranslated. And, in the translation notes, the teams we're explaining how it is that Japanese culture actually functions, and gives greater insight into how the writer, and his target audience (The Japanese people), think and see the story that is printed on the page. However, looking at translations now, you have people that have trivialized Japanese (At best), OR are sanitizing the more "controversial" aspects of Japan and her people (At wor-, hold on a second:
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Actually, that isn't the worst part. What IS the worst part is that you have people leading moral crusades against Japanese people for acting Japanese, in their views, their actions, and their creations; and, then, doing a complete 180 and pushing how we need to be more "multi-cultural" and "tolerant" of other nations and people.

).

Long story short, if you're translating a story, don't embellish upon it, don't trivialize it, don't "correct" it, and don't censor it. Give us the text that is is printed on the page and that is it. If a direct equivalent exists (As in, the actual phrase/term itself does exist, unaltered, in the language the work is being translated into, regardless of how the phrase/term is viewed), only then use it. If it doesn't exist, leave it unchanged and make a note in the margin or at the end of the chapter. Actually, after typing all this, I'm now starting to wonder how much of a story is being lost in the translation process nowadays. I think I actually learned more about Japanese culture from watching the 15 year old Ani-Kraze translation of Bomberman Jetters than I have reading much of the scanlations (And unofficial anime translations) made in the past couple years.
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
And, "official" translations can go die in a ditch for all I care because they're THAT underpar.

EDIT: Also, this response comprises of 30 sentences (Excluding sentences in parenthesis). The word "you" is used 15 times. Just thought that you would like to know.


Last edited by Transdude1996 at 3:05 am, Aug 12

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Post #771156 - Reply to (#771133) by Transdude1996
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10:24 pm, Aug 12 2019
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This was actually really insightful and fascinating to read. Though I'd like to point out that most people nowadays probably don't even bother reading translation notes. Thanks for your post!

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2:12 am, Aug 13 2019
Posts: 520


Imitating what the author does is the obvious choice, but... I totally don’t care about this one. If the work includes swearing, the target audience should be old enough to see the full word and also old enough to understand what’s meant if it’s partially or completely censored.

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8:39 am, Aug 14 2019
Posts: 213


Here is my view.
Just write the word, a lot of japanese is censored for comedic effect, but does not translate at all like the cyclops from monster musume's name, they have the joke of censoring the middle syllable, people who know what that can be, get it, but how many of them are reading the translation without explanation?

in cases like this write the word censored and explain below.

other cases are actors, seriese, games that get a letter censored, in cases like this, just write the name out as many of these references in the west will not translate.

If its a bad word, my view on it is much like "Offended by the "N word" ". granted this happens more in younger skewing manga then older, but just write what the word is, don't make me decode it, the people who are seeking out a fan translation are not in the same category as the people who would read it in japan. now if they are obviously bit censoring it by covering up speech with a bubble and not just crossing a word out with the 'tee hee, you know what the word is' kind of bs, then go with the comedit bit censorship, but if a character says a bad word, say the bad word. naruto was one that I remember most, as I know enough to know what is being meant in certain scenes, the english translation however took the most tame way to say any of the words. I get that you want to sell the story to a wider audience but watching a 'friend' possibly die does not elicit darnit from the protagonist when the word they said can be translated quite a bit harsher.

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8:50 pm, Aug 15 2019
Posts: 38


I'm Ok with either matching or censor the entire word.

However I absolutely hate choice no.4 Replace word for a less harsh one. Some publisher do this even when the word weren't censored by the author so to "appeal" to wider age group i.e OPM. I hate translation that deviate from author's intention.

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