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Old 2008-02-25, 16:13   Link #41
SinsI
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You're missing my point. Only technical texts can be translated "one to one", anything of literature value loses a great deal due to translation. Each language has its own words, structure, idioms - all of this is lost. You can only accurately depict events from the original work (not always, as sometimes the story is dependent on some quirks of language or wordplays), but their form is inevitably lost. Also throw in unfamiliar cultural references...
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Old 2008-02-25, 17:15   Link #42
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I've read a few LN's now, and i've yet to find that. The only one that came close to being like that was 12kingdoms, and that was down to bad editing. All the ones i've read so far have been excellently handled.
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Old 2008-02-25, 17:53   Link #43
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Did you also read them without translation? If you have no knowledge of the original you might not see the difference.
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Old 2008-02-25, 18:55   Link #44
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Yes i have, and while you always lose bits in translation, i've found the majority of them have kept the essence of the story. Thewy arent rewrites which is what you were basically saying.

As the companies have learnt more from the fans they've improved. You can never get a 1 to 1 translation in anything, not even tech journals.

However i've found they take more care over novels than they do over manga precisely because of limitations novels put on them.

And i've even talked with a translator. She did me a 1 to 1 translation of the first scrapped princess novel ages ago, and then went through explaining what would be changed in a normal english translation. And she's a native jap who does novel translation for a job.

I've since compared it with TP's release, and while they arent perfect, they keep alot of the stuff that i thought would have been lost
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Old 2008-02-26, 11:10   Link #45
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Perhaps if he provided a specific examples of a light novel he felt was "rewritten" or what he means by rewritten?

If the plot is kept and the character personalities are maintained, what exactly was rewritten? Or is "plot" meant as "armwaving summary" rather than scene to scene and line-to-line?

I mean, yeah, he's right in that the underlying essence of the language and author's style really take a small hit in translation, but there's no reason a translation can't convey the intent of a story and the personalities of the characters down to the individual paragraph or line of dialog.
Even the poetic nature of the writing, proverbs, puns, or speaking style of the character can be handled in a way to carry the intent across.

So some examples, please? Because certainly not all light novel translations are great and it'd be good to know which ones to skip and why.
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Old 2008-02-26, 11:58   Link #46
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Sorry, I can't exactly give you examples of poorly translated novels as I'm not on a level that would enable me to read written japanese without furigana, but you can try and watch Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei as illustration of the problems I mentioned above - even though AFK's treatment is far from bad, and it still has its art and voice acting intact - only ~30% of the jokes are kept in the subbed version. Granted, there's almost always an explanation of what was supposed to be funny - but it's no longer funny at all.
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Old 2008-02-26, 12:18   Link #47
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Your talking two different industries here, and two different concepts.

Fansubers are not professionals, so of course they're going to make mistakes. Most translators are people who are learning japanese, so naturaly they're going to goof up.

However light novels are a different theing all together. They're done by professionals, go through numerous QCing and stuff before being released. It's like comparing a driver that just got his drivers license, with a stunt driver.

There has so far only been two LN's that i would critercise, TP's Crest of Stars trilogy, and thats because of the way they used Barohn, and TP's 12 Kingdoms, and thats due to bad grammar and editing.

All the others i've read have been excellently done. Sure, when you get a play on words, which is frequent in japanese language, your going to lose it in translation. But the same applies with taking a lot of humopur from the west and translating it to japanese. If one or two bits of lost humour ruin a book for you, then you obviously didn't like it that much in the first place IMO
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Old 2008-02-26, 12:59   Link #48
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I'm talking about the same process here, and not different industries or concepts.

"They are professionals, they will do it better", huh?
Argument rejected!
Not all of the professionals are better than all of the amateurs.

The problem is with the translation process itself, not with the level of staff.
And of course it is the same with any language, not only japanese or english.
Fanfic can be even better than the original, but it is still going to be a different thing that gives you a different experience, and translations are just fanfics that more-or-less strictly follow the original(you'd be surprised at how often they add or remove random parts here and there).
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Old 2008-02-26, 13:05   Link #49
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I'm talking about the same process here, and not different industries or concepts.

"They are professionals, they will do it better", huh?
Argument rejected!
Not all of the professionals are better than all of the amateurs.

The problem is with the translation process itself, not with the level of staff.
And of course it is the same with any language, not only japanese or english.
Fanfic can be even better than the original, but it is still going to be a different thing that gives you a different experience, and translations are just fanfics that more-or-less strictly follow the original(you'd be surprised at how often they add or remove random parts here and there).
I didn't say they ALWAYS do it better, hell i'm vocal in when they don't.

However in novels i've found that they DO do it better than when it's done by fans. And yes, because they're professionals they have a better understanding of the language intricacies, especially in japanese.

I know a few people who translate japanese novels to english, so i know what im talking about here. I also know afew who translate them for the german market aswell.

In anime and manga i've found that fan translations generally are better than the official releases. However for novels i've found it the opposite most of the time. I've found the official translations to be better, and yes i have compared them.

Unless you can present specific examples, your argument is groundless.
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Old 2008-02-27, 17:46   Link #50
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Actually, AFK is famous for what they like to call "localization" but I often call "rewriting the script". Their results are cohesive and well-executed.... its just no longer the original intent or meaning. Many people enjoy their work - its just not what I'm looking for. That's why its good to have choice in fansubs.

If that is the sort of thing he's referring to - I also do not like that sort of work (Lucky*Star and SZS, for anime examples). I just haven't encountered it yet in light novel professional (or fan) translation --- but I've only have tried to read a few and then check the fan-works out (ShnY, Ookami to Koushinryou, and a variety of manga scanlations). Sometimes the fan-work is amateur but then that mostly shows in awkward grammar or a mis-guessed subtlety.
I'm considering getting the Karin light novels and comparing them to the Tokyopop renditions but then I've only got so many hours in the day. And yes, I've seen some *terrible* professional translations and *great* amateur translations -- and vice versa.
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Old 2008-02-27, 19:11   Link #51
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A fan work is unlicensed and illegal; furthermore, a translated work is inferior to a original one even if a professional translator did. Thus, to learn Japanese and to read a original one is the best.
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Old 2008-02-28, 03:14   Link #52
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What you say is somewhat true... yet its kind of insulting to translators who really put their all into a translation to call it "inferior". "echo" or "shadow of" perhaps... also the "unlicensed/illegal" part is completely irrelevant to the discussion (and its only a potential violation to *share* it, not to create it).

Sorry but the line, "There's nothing like Shakespeare when read in the Original Klingon." always pops into my head when discussing translations.

(note: the hidden joke is that the Klingon language has no word for existence or being -- making the phrase "To be or not to be" notoriously difficult to render in Klingon. And Now You Know.... ).
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Old 2008-02-28, 06:50   Link #53
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also the "unlicensed/illegal" part is completely irrelevant to the discussion (and its only a potential violation to *share* it, not to create it).
I would like to add a compliment in the part of "unlicensed/illegal."
There are many translated works by some amateurs on the Web. They charge a reader for a fee. Needless to say, they are not unlicensed. Although I do not know the law in your country, they are considered illgal in our country. If we try to get them, we will be arrested. Therefore, what I trully meant in the part is that it is not worthwhile to discuss their work infringing an author, reagardless of their translational quality. I am very afraid that illegal activities spoil an author's motivation.
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Old 2008-02-28, 07:11   Link #54
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uhm...fansubing and scanlation in general are illegal
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Old 2008-02-28, 08:37   Link #55
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Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
Actually, AFK is famous for what they like to call "localization" but I often call "rewriting the script". Their results are cohesive and well-executed.... its just no longer the original intent or meaning. Many people enjoy their work - its just not what I'm looking for. That's why its good to have choice in fansubs.
Japanese humor to me strikes me as not all that different from your example with Hamlet and Klingon. The concept of manzai and the tsukkomi and boke roles are completely foreign to the West. You rarely see comedic duos on Comedy Central, all comedians in America are basically solo acts.

I distinctly remember thinking how to translate when Kagami was making a tsukkomi, while referencing the fact that she is the tsukkomi character. a.f.k largely ignored this reference and translated it as something like "response". Ambiguous and humorless to be sure, but at least it didn't confuse the audience or break the flow of the show.

While I agree that "localization" is hard to swallow, it's often necessary when you're dealing with such different languages and cultures. In fact, I applaud a.f.k simply because they choose to take on such insane projects like Lucky Star and SZS and produce some results. There was one other group who competed with a.f.k for SZS and finished way faster, but were largely ignored due to "inferior" subs.

Since you know some Japanese, it's hard to get the POV of an average leecher. Sure, "localizing" preserves like 30% of the comedy, but that's better than the 0% you're probably going to get by literal translation. If you're proficient enough in language and culture to tell what's missing all the time and despair about it, here a novel idea- why not watch raws?
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Old 2008-02-28, 21:02   Link #56
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A fan work is unlicensed and illegal; furthermore, a translated work is inferior to a original one even if a professional translator did. Thus, to learn Japanese and to read a original one is the best.
Really? I thought all languages were essentially identical except for certain words and pronunciation. I also agree that spending years (or at the very least, several months) to learn Japanese (not fluently, still.) is the best approach in reading a light novel. It's much more prudent and efficient than going down to the local bookstore or even shopping online and reading a translation in the language you already speak that may or may not be dramatically different from the original.
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I would like to add a compliment in the part of "unlicensed/illegal."
There are many translated works by some amateurs on the Web. They charge a reader for a fee. Needless to say, they are not unlicensed. Although I do not know the law in your country, they are considered illgal in our country. If we try to get them, we will be arrested. Therefore, what I trully meant in the part is that it is not worthwhile to discuss their work infringing an author, reagardless of their translational quality. I am very afraid that illegal activities spoil an author's motivation.
I'm actually quite sure that many sites featuring fantranslated works are generally free, and often remove the material from the site when it is licensed in R1 (most often the first English-speaking area in which a manga is licensed.)
Authors in Japan wouldn't particularly care as much either, as their works are bought often only in Japan, and sales outside of Japan affect them very slightly, as en entirely different entity is directing its sales in other languages.
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I distinctly remember thinking how to translate when Kagami was making a tsukkomi, while referencing the fact that she is the tsukkomi character. a.f.k largely ignored this reference and translated it as something like "response". Ambiguous and humorless to be sure, but at least it didn't confuse the audience or break the flow of the show.

While I agree that "localization" is hard to swallow, it's often necessary when you're dealing with such different languages and cultures. In fact, I applaud a.f.k simply because they choose to take on such insane projects like Lucky Star and SZS and produce some results. There was one other group who competed with a.f.k for SZS and finished way faster, but were largely ignored due to "inferior" subs.
I agree here. Lucky Star and Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei are extremely difficult (maybe impossible) series to both stay true to the original work and be easily comprehensible to the target audience (people outside of Japan with little to no understanding of the Japanese language.)
As such, many fansub groups are faced with this problem, several groups keep certain aspects of the original Japanese language, often with a translator's note, such as honorifics, certain words, phrases, etc. While several groups do not, translating Kagami-sama or Kamina-sama as "Kagami the Great" or "Lord Kamina",
tsukkomi as "Straight man" or "Punch line character", tsuntsun and deredere as "hostile" and "affectionate", respectively, -san as Mr./Ms./Mrs., etc.
Though I prefer the former, due to my basic understanding of the language, I agree that the greater majority of the world and watchers of anime do not, and it's necessary to make several changes in anime, manga, and light novel translation.
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Old 2008-02-29, 12:21   Link #57
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Originally Posted by tripperazn View Post
Japanese humor to me strikes me as not all that different from your example with Hamlet and Klingon. The concept of manzai and the tsukkomi and boke roles are completely foreign to the West. You rarely see comedic duos on Comedy Central, all comedians in America are basically solo acts.
Does no one remember Abbott&Costello? Gracie&Allen? Laurel&Hardy? Martin&Lewis? Comedy duos were the norm in America - in fact, they are barely distinguishable from the Tsukkomi and Boke roles (though they more often switched out who was who). Its only in recent years that stand-alone comedians seem to have swamped the field.

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If you're proficient enough in language and culture to tell what's missing all the time and despair about it, here a novel idea- why not watch raws?
Because I share my watching with people who are not-proficient in Japanese (e.g. my sansei wife) and we both think subtitles on *any* foreign material should strive to convey as much of the original meaning as possible. And for the same reason as its important to do so when translating, say, at a business or political meeting. Too much localization and you're just doing a redux on "What's Up, Tiger Lilly?".

I'm not saying there isn't an audience for that level of localization ... just that I and the people I watch with prefer little or no 'localization' in watching foreign films. One reason to watch foreign films is to get some shadowy grasp of different cultures, to get out of the easy comfort zone. Now pass those "donuts" and "sandwiches" they eat all the time on Pokemon .

Last edited by Vexx; 2008-02-29 at 14:38.
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Old 2008-02-29, 14:37   Link #58
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Does no one remember Abbott&Costello? Gracie&Allen? Laurel&Hardy? Martin&Lewis? Comedy duos were the norm in America - in fact, they are barely distinguishable from the Tsukkomi and Boke roles (though they more often switched out who was who). Its only in recent years that stand-alone comedians seem to have swamped the field.

Because I share my watching with people who are not-proficient in Japanese (e.g. my sansei wife) and we both think subtitles on *any* foreign material should strive to convey as much of the original meaning as possible. And for the same reason as its important to do so when translating, say, at a business or political meeting. Too much localization and you're just doing a redux on "What's Up, Tiger Lilly?".
I don't know who they are, but Wikipedia says that if they were alive today, both Abbott and Costello would be well over 100 years old. So, I guess the veracity of your point rests on how recent you consider "recent years" to be. Granted, I'm not a big fan of the American comedy scene, but I don't remember ever seeing a duo in my lifetime.

That was kind of my point, the goal is to convey the original meaning to those unfamiliar with the culture and language, which often involves changing the wording or phrasing. Japanese relies much more on subtext and is just generally an indirect language that depends on context. Often, context needs to be restated every now and then in English and a strong, pronounced point made in naturally indirect Japanese needs to be intensified directly in English. Saying that "too localized" is like "What's Up, Tiger Lilly?", is like saying "too literal" makes you no better a translator than Babelfish.
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Old 2008-02-29, 16:20   Link #59
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I don't know who they are, but Wikipedia says that if they were alive today, both Abbott and Costello would be well over 100 years old. So, I guess the veracity of your point rests on how recent you consider "recent years" to be. Granted, I'm not a big fan of the American comedy scene, but I don't remember ever seeing a duo in my lifetime.
Well, in America there is plenty of access to 20th Century classics (cable channels, etc), so there's really no barrier to access. Have you heard of the Marx Brothers? They hail from a few decades before. Sonny&Cher? The Smothers Brothers? (each had a variety show in the '70s that was a pretty classic manzai act).
Okay, but if you're not familiar with American comedy, be wary of saying something is "alien" or "unapproachable" by Americans

Quote:
That was kind of my point, the goal is to convey the original meaning to those unfamiliar with the culture and language, which often involves changing the wording or phrasing. Japanese relies much more on subtext and is just generally an indirect language that depends on context. Often, context needs to be restated every now and then in English and a strong, pronounced point made in naturally indirect Japanese needs to be intensified directly in English.
What you're describing is what "localization" should be -- ibeing "truer" to the source material by using the tools in the local language to convey the intent. The problem I encounter too often is that what is labeled "localization" often *changes* the intent or flavor of the original meaning -- sometimes to the point where you're wondering whether someone's personal ego is overriding the ego-less goal of channeling the creator's product.
Actually changing the entirety of a piece of dialog or inserting a gag where no such hilarity existed in the original line.
Imaginary example, "ohayo"-->"good morning"-->"hey, hows it going"-->"wassup, bitches!" The last one might be funny and "localized" but... it wasn't there in the original. My shorthand gag for it is the "donuts and candy" the "localized" Pokemon characters thrive on (mochi, nigiri, and vendor stand foods).
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Saying that "too localized" is like "What's Up, Tiger Lilly?", is like saying "too literal" makes you no better a translator than Babelfish.
Except that Babelfish makes frequent literal mistakes (especially with kanji readings) - not a great analogy. A literal translation would accurately replace the words and simply restructure the grammar --- but would miss any idiom, proverb, or implicit punnery.

I feel like we mostly agree what a translation *should* be ... but we may vary on how we perceive the term "localization". I've seen it used more often than I'd like as an excuse for translators to insert their own ideas into a translation. When I'm viewing a show about Japanese people in Japanese places .... I rather expect to hear the honorifics, the right names for food, even the appropriate idioms (most people aren't idiots and most japanese idioms aren't incomprehensible). Puns are definitely tougher to deal with and sometimes a creative interpretation or footnote may be necessary (manga translations resort to this in the appendix at times).

Right now I'm thinking of translating (or helping to translate) Ookami to Koushinryou ... and one of the bigger head scratches is how to convey the main character Horo's style of speech. Its important to her character definition but its an Edo-period courtesan style -- not simple to convey the inherent "classy erotic flirtiness" in English, either by dialect/accent or by adding words

Last edited by Vexx; 2008-02-29 at 16:32.
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Old 2008-02-29, 17:51   Link #60
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*truncated for space*

Right now I'm thinking of translating (or helping to translate) Ookami to Koushinryou ... and one of the bigger head scratches is how to convey the main character Horo's style of speech. Its important to her character definition but its an Edo-period courtesan style -- not simple to convey the inherent "classy erotic flirtiness" in English, either by dialect/accent or by adding words
True, but by that definition, I don't feel that a.f.k was crossing any lines with their works. Humor in general never translates well, especially not this cultural black humor that you have in LS and SZS when catering to English speaking audiences. That's translation Hell and nigh impossible to do.

Indeed, Spice and Wolf is definitely going to be tough, requiring brilliance in both translation and edits. The archaic speech in Omamori Himari was basically converted into Middle English. But then again Samurai speech =/= Oiran Kotoba. Most notably for the lack of the feminine aspect of Horo's chosen dialect, as elaborated on by Tri-Ring IIRC. Also, it can't be anything too fancy/arcane, otherwise the meaning will be completely lost on the reader, who may not be as well read in classics as you. At worst, they may not be able to understand your translation at all. I've seen the thread, but haven't read Makube's translations in detail yet.
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