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Site Poll - Chat Box 109 - Translation Quality

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Post #404418 - Reply to (#404335) by Grumpy

3:03 am, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 26

Quote from Grumpy
Speaking as a translator....

I've actually seen a number of translations where someone messed it up pretty bad and the message being delivered was incorrect. Though, they aren't that common.

And then there are things with bad flow enough though the meaning is right. But how much "liberty" you want to apply not only falls on the translators but also QC. And I don't think there's ever a correct amount. When there's some play-on of language for example. You have the option to ditch the original completely and substitute your own or just make no sense. First option clearly makes things more enjoyable (if you're good at it), but then again, it's partially your doujinshi now....

There are often also times where bubbles are laid out so each bubble says one things which builds suspense and the "tada" at the end. But when you put it into English, you may have to flip the words to make sense due to different ordering. Then, you just have to go with bad flow... sad You just have no choice. Cuz the pics won't match anymore...

The worst of times in translation is when there's "mysteries". Where people speak on and on with the themes being shrouded largely in mystery and you have no clue what's going on. To add to the 'mystery' that the author is trying to give, they tend to use words where meanings are questionable. That is, it could mean 4 different things that all apply at the moment. Given the full context, you can translate properly, but you also can't go into the future to read the next 5 volumes.

So, I think there's a lot of "too bad" areas in translation. But clearly a lot of effort goes into them, especially series where you have two translators doing double check of each other.

As a reader, I'd say taking more liberties is better than not taking enough liberty. That's my main problem with most translations. They're far too literal. Keeping it close to the Japanese shouldn't be a major objective. As long is it's accurate, then it's fine.

It's better to take liberties and give a translation it's own flavor than to get stuck up on the "that's not what it originally said" mentality. Because in the end, the readers of the translation have not read the source material. A good translation tries to hide the fact that it's a translation and successfully appears to have been written in the language that's being translated to. For example, when translating to English, the resulting translation should seem like it was written in English. It's not a bad thing to make the translation "your own".

Anyways, that's just how I feel. Translations are way too literal, which is why I marked the "they're horrible" box.

Post #404437 - Reply to (#404418) by HollowNinja
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Mome Basher

4:55 am, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 3380

Quote from HollowNinja
It's better to take liberties and give a translation it's own flavor than to get stuck up on the "that's not what it originally said" mentality. Because in the end, the readers of the translation have not read the source material.

TL notes are there for a reason.
I say there must be limits to how much "liberty" one can have on translating.
Some take it too far to give it this "flavor" you speak of and end up making changes to things such as a character's personality or even plot.

A good translation tries to hide the fact that it's a translation and successfully appears to have been written in the language that's being translated to. For example, when translating to English, the resulting translation should seem like it was written in English. It's not a bad thing to make the translation "your own".

You make it sound like re-writes are awesome... laugh
As mentioned before, by taking liberties and making the translation "your own", you've basically made it a a way.
Making it " seem like it was written in English" can be bad in several ways.
For example, sometimes what could be said in English could take up less space/speech bubbles than you would in Japanese - this is where being a bit "literal" can be good.

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Post #404484
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the fork of truth

9:41 am, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 254

I dont know if they translate it correctly to the meaning (as I don't understand japanese T_T), so I have to judge it by how well one can understand the translation. If I could speak Japanese I'd probably read the raws, because the translation always changes the meaning a bit and if you want to understand it the way the mangaka meant it, you have no other choice...

Sometimes translator mess up to the point where even I can find the mistake. I once read a manga which was translated to German by the offical publishers. There I found the word "frustig", which doesn't even exist in the german language (likely they meant frustrating -> frustrierend). That made me kind of angry... smile

Still I`m thankful and look up to all of those translators who take their time to bring us this wonderful stuff biggrin

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Post #404501
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12:36 pm, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 761

It's difficult to judge translations in general, because there are some brilliant ones, as well as very, very bad...

I don't think you have to know Japanese to know whether the translation is good or bad. Even I, although English is not my first language, can see when there are some mistakes or when things the characters say sound just awkward.
I've been translating manga (and also books, to practice language) for some time and I know that sometimes you just have to change the text, because otherwise it may sound strange. But on the other hand, some people change too much, because they think that it would "sound cooler", or something - although this means changing what the author wrote.

In my opinion, translators should make they work as close to the original as possible, changing things only when it's absolutely necessary. I know it's difficult with translating manga, since English is so different than Japanese. But I think that most translators do a good job and I'm really grateful smile

But, what I hate about some translations is when translators are slacking off. I've read a manga in which around 70% of Japanese nouns were left in original, just written phonetically, because the translator didn't even bother to translate them (although I know there were English equivalents). There were also many blank speech bubbles. That was very annoying - if you leave half of the manga untranslated, then why try to translate it at all?

Post #404535

4:42 pm, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 8

Quote from HollowNinja
A lot of translators forget that being accurate to the original Japanese is less important than making something sound right in English. Far too often do I read a translation in which a statement sounds awkward and unnatural in English, in which the translator should obviously have taken far greater liberties.

Calling that "taking liberties" strikes me as a false dichotomy. One can simply translate for meaning and get an accurate, natural sounding English script out of it. I happen to think that approach is more accurate than the translations that try to stay true to the literal phrasing of the Japanese.

Post #404542
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5:16 pm, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 641

I wish there was a "So-so" option in this poll, since translations in general aren't good and I can't forgive them just on the pictures either though they're not horrible.

I've read my share of well done translations and those that are just horrible (most of the TP ones...) and knowing Chinese I can at least check on that version to see whether the English version holds true to the original. There are some that over-translates (they went too far either in meaning or wording) and it becomes entirely of the translator's work instead of the original author. I have no love for these translations and never bother with them again.

There are too many problems with translations (to English) in general to be able to judge it properly as a whole, but if it must, it does not have a passing quality. none

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Post #404572 - Reply to (#404501) by Hanae
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9:57 pm, Sep 5 2010
Posts: 1

Quote from Hanae
In my opinion, translators should make they work as close to the original as possible, changing things only when it's absolutely necessary. I know it's difficult with translating manga, since English is so different than Japanese.

I quite agree, with a slight alteration. What shouldn't be changed is the overall impression given by the script. To give the same impression, the word choice and phrasing isn't going to end up being an exact translation, and in many cases those working on it will have to get quite creative, but it does end up with a much better end result.

Some groups are good (I resist naming), and some are just terrible. Quite often, I think some of the official English translations are of lower quality than some of those done by scanlation groups (I have a couple Shounen Jump and TokyoPop volumes that are just pathetic), which makes me tend to avoid English manga in general. I read mostly in Japanese now. That's what I call accurate to the author's intent biggrin

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Post #404629

5:29 am, Sep 6 2010
Posts: 8

As someone who knows a significant amount of Japanese and often compares raws to translations, I'd say about 90% of the series I have/do read have "adequate" to "good" translations. The other 10% can be abysmal. I am someone who prefers literalism in translation; I also prefer correct (or at least regular) grammar, so I know that sometimes the translation has to change some. There are groups that expend a lot of effort into making dialogues understandable, adding footnotes to help explain literal translations of opaque Japanese colloquialisms.

Some groups have a few errors here and there that don't detract enough to take note.

... and then some groups don't seem to QC or proofread well and scanlations abound with grammatical and translation errors, as well as inconsistencies. (I know some QCers don't even have the original pages to look at and figure out if it all fits into context.) If you're a speed team, this makes sense. If you're a group that spends a lot of time on editing and translating anyhow, I'd take the extra step to do TLC and QC.

In any case, if a group is taking time to scanlate, I actually won't complain, partly because I'm grateful, and partly since I have the ability to read it in Japanese to begin with if I can procure raws.

Post #404636
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Wandering Soul

6:30 am, Sep 6 2010
Posts: 55

Oops. I stupidly read the poll wrong. I thought it meant manga scanlations in general. Maybe that was why I was confused. I should think more before I click.

If I read the poll right I would probably choose Don't know, instead of minor errors. I can't read the original japanese so how would I know? When I think about it, the translators could in fact change the entire story around and I wouldn't know any better.

Post #404764

12:48 am, Sep 7 2010
Posts: 3

I can't read Japanese, so that would probably put it in the "DON'T KNOW" category. HOWEVER! I chose "THEY'RE GOOD" because the scanlations I read are coherent and move the story along. And quite frankly that's all I care about.

Was it a good, clear story? The answer is usually a resounding "yes". The person translating the story could be totally making up their own storyline to go with the art work and I would never know the difference. As long as the story is good, I...Don't...Care.


My answer is - "THEY'RE GOOD"

Post #404844
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8:19 am, Sep 7 2010
Posts: 364

I can't read japanese but sometimes you can still feel there is some error in translation .But who cares, its doesn't change the storyline and there is the picture, you can always assume the exact situation.

Post #404875
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jail bait

1:54 pm, Sep 7 2010
Posts: 1444

i dont read raw so...

oh please do click this!
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Post #404885
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3:43 pm, Sep 7 2010
Posts: 17

About literal translations.

Yeah they're good if you only need to convey facts and plot and the such. They are terrible for convey doubt, feelings, probability, or cultural ideas. Those concepts take on a cultural manifestation and they way they are expressed will be completely different between languages. I'd say that in the seinen drama sections, the translation quality is generally poor. However, even if they are good, readers can find serious problems with translations because of the creativity and interpretation that is required to do a proper translation.

Often what you will find is that the translator might have to lock onto one particular interpretation to make the lines work, while de-emphasizing many of the other interpretations that were possible in the original. The Lost in Translation phenomenon is in full force everywhere, and it takes a fairly good writer to be able to figure out how to lose the least amount of substance in the translation process.

The effect is doubled when translated material is reused as source for a second translation. While that may fulfill the desire of people to read series as fast as possible, you will find yourself at the mercy of the original translator above and beyond the errors introduced by your own translator. It probably doesn't matter much to the average fan though.

Post #404944
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9:23 pm, Sep 7 2010
Posts: 13

I'm with a couple other people who wish there were something of an option in between Minor Errors and They're Horrible. You don't need to know Japanese to know that the wording, grammar, spelling, typesetting, etc of an english translation is bad.

I'd say the average scanlation has more than minor errors, generally stemming from having a Translator or QC person who is either is not very good at english or too afraid to modify that translation to fit the english language. It's unfortunate because it does detract from the enjoyment of a series, but if a series looks like it will never have an english release I'd rather have a scanlation with some awkward phrasing than no translation at all.

As far as officially released translations go I'd say on average they're very good (despite a couple series I've read which were obviously extremely localized or censored). It seems to vary by publisher though. My personal favorites have come from Del Rey (xxxHolic, Tsubasa) where the text seems modified just enough to make it flow well in english (although, as someone who doesn't know Japanese I can't say that for sure), SFX are left intact with small english translations placed nearby, and robust translation notes in the back give cultural information about things that couldn't be translated well or are unfamiliar to most english speakers.

Post #405053
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6:14 am, Sep 8 2010
Posts: 128

As a translator myself, I believe I would check the second option.

Most established quality groups have more than 1 translator working on the same project and the chapter usually gets a 'translation check'. The deal is that if both translators are strong in both Japanese and English they can learn from each other and the subsequent quality of the translation is greatly improved since there's input from two heads rather than one.

I've read the raws (I buy the manga) for series that I enjoy and I sometimes spot discrepancies in the translations, but if it's just a few lines <3-5 in a chapter I'd say the translations are pretty decent. Though, I've also noticed how some translators don't bother to go over their work - there may be ambiguity in the first few pages and then the ambiguity cleared in the later pages and it's apparent that the translator never went back to the first few pages to correct them.

It's quite easy to spot if there are mistakes in translation accuracy even if you don't know the language - one of the golden rules of translation (not said by me) is that not a single speech bubble or line is wasted, so if you find a certain line out of place then it's probably inaccurately translated. You need both proficiency in English and Japanese to be a good translator, and you also need to carefully scrutinize the pictures to make sure what you're reading (and subsequently interpreting) is in line with the pictures. Japanese is sometimes very ambiguous in word use and subject use so looking at the pictures is also important in my opinion.

I hate it when groups don't translate the word 'nakama' (in shounen jump). It's downright annoying and sticks out like a sore thumb. There are tons of translations for it, the most literal being comrade, or ally or friend or companion etc. You could use a thesaurus to find nice words if you're bored with the one you keep using.

Typesetting is NOT part of a translator's job.

And basically, for me, I divide translators into two groups: (A) Gosh, they suck! and (B) Omg, they're so fabulous! I wish I could translate as well as they can, someday! I haven't read Barajou no Kiss in Japanese yet, but I really admire Rembatsu (TP translator) for her translation style (been admiring her since quite a while ago). As long as group (B) exists, I'm sure the rest of us translators (those not too stuck-up to recognize their mistakes, group (B) inclusive), I'm sure that given time, translations will improve. smile We just need more constructive criticism and practice.

Then again, my opinion on scanlations are: since there are some series that I wouldn't ever buy (but still read), beggars can't be choosers.

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