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Old 2008-02-21, 16:12   Link #41
WanderingKnight
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The issue is not purely about cost and conveiniance, it is also about quality. Often the DvDs which are for sale do not have things translated very well, and are often missing those little cultural notations which several subgroups tend to include.
Speaking as a translator in training, translation footnotes should be avoided as much as possible. It's better to include references in the extra DVD material in such a way that it doesn't get in the way of the viewing. A translator should strive to provoke a reaction as close as possible in a foreign viewer/reader as the native one would have--and that, most of times, includes _not_ pausing the video to read a tiny footnote on top. That is, of course, unless 1) there's no way to adapt it into the language, and 2) the reference is absolutely necessary. A stellar example of completely unnecessary footnotes is when food is mentioned and the main text shows the name in Japanese and a footnote on top its description in English. That's wrong. Either reformulate it in English and include it in the main text, ignoring the Japanese completely, or just use the goddamn Japanese if you want it so much.

I think that's what professional translators strive for when doing DVDs, and having the advantage of including extra material with the DVD itself, such as booklets, not-so-important cultural references and the like should go there.
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Old 2008-02-21, 17:57   Link #42
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Originally Posted by Dark Shikari View Post
Yeah, like:




Yes, I agree of course, though every once in a while those translator's notes end up worse than none at all.
Well that's just a bad example, although I would hope that they had a reason for making that note... I was referring to the sort of notations which help explain what is happening in the situation, or what is being portrayed by a visual gag. You can see them alot in Gintama, Lucky Star, Galaxy Angel, and similar anime which seem to play off things which most westerners would be unaware of. Yes, initially people may need to pause what they're seeing to be able to understand, but it's better than having no idea as to what is being said. In this case, the note is much better than trying to just fill what is being said with some western replacement... Which has ruined many series, or makes the scene just seem wrong. The side advantage to those notations is that it leads to a more informed and mentally engaged viewer. And let's be honest, most people who have been reading subs for a few years also tend to be fast readers out of necessity.
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Old 2008-02-21, 18:18   Link #43
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Originally Posted by Vagrant0 View Post
Well that's just a bad example, although I would hope that they had a reason for making that note... I was referring to the sort of notations which help explain what is happening in the situation, or what is being portrayed by a visual gag. You can see them alot in Gintama, Lucky Star, Galaxy Angel, and similar anime which seem to play off things which most westerners would be unaware of. Yes, initially people may need to pause what they're seeing to be able to understand, but it's better than having no idea as to what is being said. In this case, the note is much better than trying to just fill what is being said with some western replacement... Which has ruined many series, or makes the scene just seem wrong. The side advantage to those notations is that it leads to a more informed and mentally engaged viewer. And let's be honest, most people who have been reading subs for a few years also tend to be fast readers out of necessity.
Nah, it was just a notorious example of a pointless TL. Its usually spammed around 4chan's /a/ or similar whenever someone talks about bad fansubs.

Another popular one is where a character says "HAI!" and the subtitle also says "HAI!"... with a translator's note that says "TL: Hai means yes in Japanese."

Obviously, and fortunately, this is the exception, not the rule.
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Old 2008-02-21, 22:01   Link #44
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I disagree on the food translation point. Sure, if it's onigiri, it can easily be translated as rice balls, but you have to remember that the Japanese have a whole different food set to the West. You could list the whole ingredient list of a type of food, but if the Japanese have only one word for it, that's gonna be hard to sub in the audio time. I personally prefer tl noting the cuisine, because I use the original words for all food types, no matter what country they're from. I mean, you wouldn't change Sauerkraut, would you? Or paella? Why change natto or ramen and things like that? How would you translate cous cous?

I feel the cultural differences of food would get in the way if either a) the food was translated, or b) it was untranslated, without a tl note.
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Old 2008-02-21, 22:06   Link #45
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Originally Posted by False Dawn View Post
I disagree on the food translation point. Sure, if it's onigiri, it can easily be translated as rice balls, but you have to remember that the Japanese have a whole different food set to the West.
Onigiri's a loanword. You can probably use it untranslated, like sushi.
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Old 2008-02-21, 22:23   Link #46
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I feel the cultural differences of food would get in the way if either a) the food was translated, or b) it was untranslated, without a tl note.
Then you're not thinking like a translator. The goal of the translator is not to educate--it's to communicate. If the viewer wants to know about Japanese food, he has two choices: 1) read some sort of extra documentation available with the media (ie: booklets or footnotes at the end of the episode) or 2) get a book. The concept you're using only leads to translators becoming lazy and loaning more and more words when translating--which is no translation at all. Not so long ago, in this very forum, someone suggested directly writing "-tachi" in the English script instead of doing a proper translation... which is certainly lazy and unprofessional, but that's what lazy translation leads to.

Besides, all the examples you gave are already established words in the English language. Ramen, natto, Sauerkraut, paella... most people already know what you're talking about, especially the anime-watching crowd. Now, if you've got a particularly obscure Japanese food, there's no freaking need to use the term and add a footnote on top.

For a perfect example of what a good translation is, see a.f.k.'s translation of Lucky Star. That show dealt with a lot of food and the translations were impeccable, not a single footnote used to explain them and the meaning was perfectly conveyed.

Disclaimer: I'm a student of English translation, so I have some pretty strong basis to say what I'm saying (ie: I'm not pulling all this out of my ass and it's not simply 'an opinion', it's a pretty wide-covered subject in translation theory)
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Old 2008-02-21, 22:36   Link #47
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Then you're not thinking like a translator. The goal of the translator is not to educate--it's to communicate.
Can you communicate an idea if you do not educate the viewer on it first? It's like anything else that's left "untranslated" though - if there's no English equivalent that would suitably fit the word because of its cultural basis (like mononoke, etc), then the best way I've come across is to note it. It's not laziness at all, it's actually a conscious decision to try to convey everything that you might lose in translation.


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Besides, all the examples you gave are already established words in the English language. Ramen, natto, Sauerkraut, paella... most people already know what you're talking about, especially the anime-watching crowd.
That's assuming a lot. Before I started watching anime, I had no clue what ramen or natto was (in fact, I remember watching Air and not understanding the idea of a ramen set). And actually, I only found out what natto was when watching Moyashimon, so to suggest that your average leecher would know without prompting... (and who would really go out of their way to research something like that?)


Quote:
Disclaimer: I'm a student of English translation, so I have some pretty strong basis to say what I'm saying (ie: I'm not pulling all this out of my ass)
Good for you. Doesn't mean your opinion is any more valid than mine, does it?


Anyway, this is almost a new discussion in itself, and as such, a moot point in this thread.
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Old 2008-02-22, 03:34   Link #48
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@WanderingKnight: While I do agree with your sentiments to a high merit, you should know that in fansubbing there are no absolutes. I'm surprised you haven't got flamed for your assertion about on-screen notes.
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Old 2008-02-22, 06:58   Link #49
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There might be no absolutes, but there are rules professional translator stick to and fansubbers habitually break. And WanderingKnight probably knows them better than most people here.

Note that when I say "professional" this includes accomplished translators translating books of Nobel Laureates for respectable publishers, not just (if at all) some Joe Kawagawa who might work for Bandai for a warm meal a day.
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Old 2008-02-22, 07:22   Link #50
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Can you communicate an idea if you do not educate the viewer on it first?
If you do have the possibility of reformulating it in the original language, there's absolutely no need to use a foreign words. The fact that "onigiri" is so widespread, for example, is the result of lazy translations, since "rice ball" is more than adequate to denominate them.

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It's not laziness at all, it's actually a conscious decision to try to convey everything that you might lose in translation.
Perhaps I'm using the term "lazy" loosely here, but that's what I think whenever I see an unnecessary footnote, especially in subtitles. The translator is sacrificing the mental effort that it would take to reformulate the phrase for the sake of communication (and this is especially true in audiovisual entertainment, since the translations are 99% dialog and a dialog always has to receive what is called in translation theory a "communicative translation"--that is, to sacrifice literalness for naturalness) to force the viewer to pause the video and read something that the native viewer didn't have to. If the meaning can be perfectly conveyed with English (see "rice balls"), there's absolutely no need to use a foreign word.

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Before I started watching anime, I had no clue what ramen or natto was
Ramen you didn't need to know, since "noodles with soup" or just "noodles" is succinct enough to reformulate what ramen is--but due to a number of cultural influences in the US ramen is pretty widely known outside of the anime fanbase (they're sold at most Chinese/Japanese/Korean fast food shops). However, I can understand the usage of a footnote with natto, since it's a pretty complicated concept that is almost nonexistent in the West, and it's almost impossible to reformulate it. Likewise, natto also carries with itself a number of cultural peculiarities that go beyond the food itself. However, this depends on the context of it being mentioned (I haven't watched Moyashimon so I have no idea how is natto presented there) and the importance given to it. If it's a completely unimportant mentioning, the translation should be as simple as possible, perhaps even eliminating the mentioning of natto and changing it for something else. Only if you need to explain a particular reaction due to the mentioning of natto (which is quite possible since natto is a very particular food) you can think about trying to explain what natto means, be it by context or by footnote. Of course, the latter should be the last choice.

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Good for you. Doesn't mean your opinion is any more valid than mine, does it?
It actually means I know, more or less, how a professional translator works and thinks, which was the point on which I started this discussion (DVD translators vs fansubbers). I don't disagree with the sentiment of fansubbers being sometimes better than professional translators due to their status as a fan, but to say that most fansubbers are good translators is quite shortsighted.

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While I do agree with your sentiments to a high merit, you should know that in fansubbing there are no absolutes.
There are no absolutes in translation, either. What I said probably wouldn't apply to a show about cooking, for example. Context is also very important in translation. My comment on food footnotes was much more a blatant generalization in order to give a clear example on what I consider unprofessional translation than some sort of golden rule of translation.
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Old 2008-02-22, 08:09   Link #51
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
It actually means I know, more or less, how a professional translator works and thinks, which was the point on which I started this discussion (DVD translators vs fansubbers). I don't disagree with the sentiment of fansubbers being sometimes better than professional translators due to their status as a fan, but to say that most fansubbers are good translators is quite shortsighted.

Well, for a start, I don't believe I made that assertion. Of course, professional translators have a clear set of guidelines that they have to stick to - but then, a lot of the time, these lead to sacrificing literalness for naturalness. Having fansubbed anime for a couple of years now, I have a very basic understanding of Japanese, but even when I'm watching DVD releases, I notice how subs actually chop the language up quite heavily so that, in my view, quite a lot of atmosphere is lost, etc. I know that a number of translators on the fansubbing scene don't like this method of hack-slashing the language in translation, and prefer a much more literal sense. Hence why most fansub groups keep in suffixes when professional releases rarely do.

Translation notes, in my opinion, have come about because of this desire to be literal, and the fact that "noodles" in place of ramen is not a clear enough translation for them. Yes, it would explain the concept in some way, but not fully. There was a thread about how much of the Japanese culture you can learn from anime, and I think actually, it's the TL notes you learn from, that actually teach us anything. All we'd get from the repeated mention of noodles is that the Japanese eat noodles a lot (and then, imagine the viewers' confusion when you suggest "pork noodles" or suchlike).

Besides, the point of fansubbing is that there are no standards, no real guidelines to work from. There are accepted community practices but nothing ironclad. If a translator wishes to use footnotes, that's up to them, as long as it's not instantly translatable, like plan
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Old 2008-02-22, 08:59   Link #52
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Of course, professional translators have a clear set of guidelines that they have to stick to - but then, a lot of the time, these lead to sacrificing literalness for naturalness.
And that's why it is a better translation. You don't have to be literal--it's not "chopping the language", it's translating--you have to convey the understanding the native viewer would have without making the non-natural viewer feel as an outsider. In my view, and that of most professional translators, literalness in a work of audiovisual entertainment is lazy. Thankfully, I know enough Japanese to bypass most of what annoys me in most fansubs' translations. You have no idea how much it annoys me to see an awkward, unnatural phrase in English just for the sake of "literalness", when there's a perfectly valid, communicative alternative instead. However, fortunately enough, there's still groups like a.f.k. who know a bit about what a good translation is. Remember, the key in this kind of media is reformulation, reformulation, reformulation--especially when we're talking about two polar opposite languages like English and Japanese.

Anyways, I agree, there are no golden rules in fansub translations, but that's why professional translations will always be, speaking from the translation theory standpoint, better translations.

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Yes, it would explain the concept in some way, but not fully.
That's right, and that's why the concept of translation loss exists. As a translator, you can never, ever hope to be as accurate as the source material, and that's why you have to make sacrifices. And when dealing with a purely communicative text, those sacrifices mean less literalness and more naturalness, especially when it makes no difference, in the context, whether to use "ramen" or "noodles"
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Old 2008-02-22, 10:52   Link #53
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
Anyways, I agree, there are no golden rules in fansub translations, but that's why professional translations will always be, speaking from the translation theory standpoint, better translations.

That entirely depends on what the translators' individual purpose is with their translations. If we were talking about dubs and/or mainstream releases, then maybe your viewpoint is the most applicable, but when you're talking about fansub releases - you're over-simplifying the point. Apparently, you view translators who try to reduce the amount of information lost in translation as lazy, when they're clearly not, they're making valid decisions that usually take quite a lot of thought.

I agree that a.f.k have good translators but it's not solely because of their translation decisions - those are merely different styles of translating (and in some cases, editing). And even then, they can't get away without using TL notes. Look at their Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei - that show would lose all sense if the notes were taken out, and it'd be useless for the viewer to watch half the scenes. So it's not as black and white as you suggest.

And I'd suggest if you're a translator-in-training that instead of closing your mind to different techniques, that you actually take note of the choices other translators make in fansubs and DVD releases. No one translator can be wrong in their decisions (unless they warp the meaning of the line), they just have different tastes when they're translating.

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Old 2008-02-22, 11:01   Link #54
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What is the point of anything in this world?

In the very very end, nothing matters. But people still do what they do because what they do is important to them.

Why is it important to them?
It gives them satisfaction, in some way. Some people say they do stuff out of responsibility, or out of "insert noble cause", etc, but in the end, these things are done to satisfy one's self. ie: The satisfaction that injustice has been removed from the world, etc.

So my point is, people do what they want to do, for differing reasons. And I think practically any reason (or no reason at all, you know, just for fun?) is fine as long as long as it is within the law (lets not get into morality and stuff, thats a whole other debate).

Fansubbers that do it for the fame? Good for them!
Fansubbers that do it for "expanding the reach of anime"? Good for them!

Is one better than the other? More "correct"? I dont think so.
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Old 2008-02-22, 11:50   Link #55
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Apparently, you view translators who try to reduce the amount of information lost in translation as lazy, when they're clearly not, they're making valid decisions that usually take quite a lot of thought.
The point is, an unskilled translator takes the wrong decisions. Yes, every translator has to think, every translator has to take decisions, but for the sake of communication (I repeat, this is according to translation theory), you must sacrifice literalness in a dialog. There's no way around it. The translator's job is to judge which elements are necessary due to the context and which elements can be dismissed. Of course, there are no perfect translations, but there are wrong decisions, too. As I said, I use the term "lazy" loosely here, and I'm not really implying people do it because they're not putting enough effort, but because they're either unskilled translators or unlearned ones. There's no problem with being one, but there's almost no point comparing them with professional translators.

I repeat, the translator must weigh its decisions always thinking on the context of the source material, the original audience and the target audience. Doing a word-for-word translation is almost never good, and when applying it to a spoken dialog in an audiovisual media it's much worse.

Quote:
And I'd suggest if you're a translator-in-training that instead of closing your mind to different techniques, that you actually take note of the choices other translators make in fansubs and DVD releases. No one translator can be wrong in their decisions (unless they warp the meaning of the line), they just have different tastes when they're translating.
Oh yeah they can, believe me, and I'm not talking only about fansubs. I've seen hideously horrendous translations done by supposedly "professional" translators in almost every field. Part of my study course is based on looking at translations and identifying mistakes. Warping the meaning of the phrase is the least of the concerns (a basic error like that will get you automatically disqualified in any translation exam), believe me.

Anyways, the point in relationship with the topic was the comparison between professional DVD translators and fansub translators. While I haven't seen many DVD translations, and I know that there are bad professional translators, chances are much higher that there's gonna be someone who has studied at least a bit of theory. I've seen much more fansubs, so I've got a wider taste of the crappy translations in the medium. And remember, a crappy translation is not only spotted by those who know both languages--badly formulated phrases can be caught by anyone.
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Old 2008-02-22, 12:28   Link #56
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My philosophy in translation is to convey 100% of the meaning in a form that a NATIVE english (in my case, American) speaker would use. Literalness takes a backseat to native fluidity.

I don't think translation notes are a bad idea in fansubs, though. They should be kept brief and stay up on the screen for long enough to read without pausing (usually 10-12 seconds). Most groups fail in that regard.

For instance, I recently subbed a script that referred to a disease called "beriberi". I don't think most Americans would know what beriberi is without a note. (beriberi is the ENGLISH name of it).

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Old 2008-02-22, 14:18   Link #57
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For instance, I recently subbed a script that referred to a disease called "beriberi". I don't think most Americans would know what beriberi is without a note. (beriberi is the ENGLISH name of it).
The important thing in this case is to understand whether the Japanese audience is expected to know the term or not. If it's not regular knowledge, then IMO any footnotes on the matter should go at the end of the episode.

But I think this conversation is drifting too much off topic. Someday I'll make a thread about it to discuss it thoroughly.

I want to make clear, though, that I respect fansubbers and their work, and I'm extremely grateful for lending me a way to watch anime before I knew Japanese.
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Old 2008-02-22, 15:47   Link #58
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Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
The important thing in this case is to understand whether the Japanese audience is expected to know the term or not. If it's not regular knowledge, then IMO any footnotes on the matter should go at the end of the episode.

But I think this conversation is drifting too much off topic. Someday I'll make a thread about it to discuss it thoroughly.

I want to make clear, though, that I respect fansubbers and their work, and I'm extremely grateful for lending me a way to watch anime before I knew Japanese.
WanderingKnight, it's a common disease from Asia but not in the West. Japanese fans would have a more likely chance to know what it is than Americans. You raise an obvious, but good point though, that should be obvious for any translator.

But in a fansub, I think the more information you can convey to the viewer the better. No need to dumb down for them. Nothing wrong with that, right?

Maybe in your current or more advanced classes, you'll be formally taught how to cater your translation to the target audience.

-Tofu
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Old 2008-02-22, 16:59   Link #59
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The key thing is that often alot less effort seems to go into the commercially produced products from a translation standpoint than what several unpaid fansub groups tend to display. Even if that effort may be seen as misplaced by some, it still lends to a better understanding about what is being conveyed in that scene. Yes, most translation notes about food aren't really necessary, but they can help to understand the situation, or a characters personality a bit better.

Translation issues are just one of the things which, as I see it, can make or break the viewing experience. This will probably always be something that fansubs do better because fansub teams are constantly getting feedback about what they've done wrong. Companies often don't catch their mistakes till long after the product has been shipped, and often don't make efforts to fix them in later volumes since viewers of the series are already familiar with things as they were.

So in essence, the point of fansubbing is to ensure that the product is being experienced in a manner which is as close to the original as possible despite the differences in language or culture. Afterall, not all of us are as equally informed about Japanese culture, and not all of us want things dumbed down or westernized because of our unfamiliarity.
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Old 2008-02-22, 17:08   Link #60
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But in a fansub, I think the more information you can convey to the viewer the better. No need to dumb down for them. Nothing wrong with that, right?
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The key thing is that often alot less effort seems to go into the commercially produced products from a translation standpoint than what several unpaid fansub groups tend to display. Even if that effort may be seen as misplaced by some, it still lends to a better understanding about what is being conveyed in that scene. Yes, most translation notes about food aren't really necessary, but they can help to understand the situation, or a characters personality a bit better.
I'm not against including information, I'm against including information during the episode itself. Just do a footnote at the end on the "extra" stuff, if you really want to do it. That way, it won't hinder the experience at all. This would be analogous to including extra information in the DVD booklets, or at the end of a manga volume, as I often see done. I remember a group adding an extra PDF file for the huge amount of references in Pani Poni Dash!, which helped to maintain the flow of the episodes. Sometimes key references were put directly on the episode, but most of the small and unnecessary ones were added directly to the PDF. I really thought that to be a brilliant idea.

What I often mean by avoiding footnotes is the fact that I'd like to see excellent translations, such as a.f.k.'s legendary way of handling the "boku/watashi" scene in Kanon, more often. It certainly makes my experience more pleasant, even if I understand both languages (well, I'm not 100% fluent in Japanese, but I'm JLPT3 so I guess it counts ).

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So in essence, the point of fansubbing is to ensure that the product is being experienced in a manner which is as close to the original as possible despite the differences in language or culture. Afterall, not all of us are as equally informed about Japanese culture, and not all of us want things dumbed down or westernized because of our unfamiliarity.
It's not "dumbing it down", it's using the tools that are available in the target language. If tools are lacking, and there's no way around it, then there's no problem in including it.
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