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Old 2007-05-15, 18:08   Link #21
cyth
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If you had a pack of elder sisters, "neesama-tachi" could simply translate as "elder sisters", but if you had a group of other people and your elder sister was it in, I guess it would be fine to translate as "elder sister and the others" or maybe find a specific characteristic of that group and name it as such, perhaps if they were a study group led by your elder sister, you could call them "the study group the elder sister is in", "your study group" or just "study group"... depends on the context again, and the person the character is speaking to. Then again, some fansubbers don't translate "neesama" and just leave it like that. When you're dealing with a pack of elder sisters and you want to keep neesama as "Nee-sama" and not as "elder sister" this could prove to be quite troublesome. Another reason why you should fully translate things when you can, I guess. No need to abandon common sense for a group of "Nee-sama~" weeaboo fetishists.

Is -tachi even a honorific? I always thought of it as just a language component for pluralization...
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Old 2007-05-15, 19:25   Link #22
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Indeed. I really can't find a situation where I would opt to use 'tachi' instead of pluralization. Honorifics have no equivalent and can be important for character and relationship development, so I think those should be left in. They're not hard to pick up through osmosis, and even if a viewer doesn't understand them, it won't harm their understanding of the show.

I'm honestly not sure how this is even still a discussion, since the only excuse for doing such a thing is pure laziness.
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Old 2007-05-15, 19:33   Link #23
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lol nice to see some decent discussion on the topic. After reading some of these posts, I guess it isn't so bad. I guess my issue was that i had to work around the -tachi in a long sentence, so I was annoyed at the additional cumbersomeness (is that a word?) of the line. I'm still going to somehow find a way to sneak it in there on any future project I might do.
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Old 2007-05-15, 19:44   Link #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tun View Post
lol nice to see some decent discussion on the topic. After reading some of these posts, I guess it isn't so bad. I guess my issue was that i had to work around the -tachi in a long sentence, so I was annoyed at the additional cumbersomeness (is that a word?) of the line. I'm still going to somehow find a way to sneak it in there on any future project I might do.
Perhaps you could choose some un-subbed long running show, and over the course of the show, slowly leave in more and more japanese into the subs as the show goes on. Make little translation note segments at the end of the show to explain which words you should have learned in this week's episode.

In the end, it might be a creative way to teach people japanese!

P.S. In a long sentence, if it's used in passing, I think a translation of "you guys" works pretty well. It leaves out the name mention, but it's not nearly as noticeable in a long sentence and brevity is key. Depends on the character speaking, though.
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Old 2007-05-15, 22:08   Link #25
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Ok, I think a few people have mentioned "leaving the honorifics in" now. My question: they are already in the dialogue, where you can't remove them from without being silly, so why do you feel the need to add them into the subtitles too? I mean, those who know what the different honorifics mean should be able to pick them up from listening the dialogue. And to those who don't know what they mean aren't going to benefit from having them in the subs. There already is a Japanese audio track, so what need is there for, even a partly, Japanese subtitle track?

I understand that the honorifics can sometimes be used to convey some subtle message that might be hard to translate, but how does just dumping that honorific into the translation solve the problem? By doing that you expect a lot more from the watcher than just "knowing what the honorifics are." They'd need to have quite a lot of in-depth understanding about their use, when the reality is that for many people it's just "-chan is for kids and girls, end of story."

Btw, I don't mean to troll; I'm fully aware there would probably be no end to whining if the honorifics were suddenly removed from fansubs. But still, I don't quite see the point of having them.
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Old 2007-05-15, 22:37   Link #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cythraul View Post
Ok, I think a few people have mentioned "leaving the honorifics in" now. My question: they are already in the dialogue, where you can't remove them from without being silly, so why do you feel the need to add them into the subtitles too? I mean, those who know what the different honorifics mean should be able to pick them up from listening the dialogue. And to those who don't know what they mean aren't going to benefit from having them in the subs. There already is a Japanese audio track, so what need is there for, even a partly, Japanese subtitle track?

I understand that the honorifics can sometimes be used to convey some subtle message that might be hard to translate, but how does just dumping that honorific into the translation solve the problem? By doing that you expect a lot more from the watcher than just "knowing what the honorifics are." They'd need to have quite a lot of in-depth understanding about their use, when the reality is that for many people it's just "-chan is for kids and girls, end of story."

Btw, I don't mean to troll; I'm fully aware there would probably be no end to whining if the honorifics were suddenly removed from fansubs. But still, I don't quite see the point of having them.
It's not a troll, it's a serious question, but the answer is simple:

If you can hear it, it should be in the subs.

The same reasoning you use could also be applied when a character simply says someone's name "Hikaru!!" etc... so then using your logic, that shouldn't be subbed either since people can clearly pick up people's names from the dialogue too.

Basically, it comes down to this. If I hear a character say "Hikari-chan!" I want the subs to read what I hear, "Hikari-chan". It doesn't matter whether you know the intricacies of "-chan", if you read something obviously different from what you hear, it's distracting.

So to sum up, I'd keep the honorifics because:

1. If you know their meaning, it gives a deeper understanding to the show.
2. If you sort of know the meaning, it corresponds to what you hear the characters saying.


This edges close to the debate over whether to sub things that are only borderline words, like "ara" or "eh"... which is one of taste, more than correctness.
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Old 2007-05-16, 05:11   Link #27
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If you can hear it, it should be in the subs.

yes we should translate people saying, "Unghhhhhh!" when they die. j/k


that shouldn't be subbed either since people can clearly pick up people's names from the dialogue too.


you are correct. I would leave names out when its obvious, but for the sake of the hearing impaired I also think it should be translated.

I don't quite see the point of having them

because its cute. and quarkboy likes it. why are all the lead character's red heads? why are there maids with glasses? because it is what it is. little visual spice to english subtitles is not a bad thing.
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Old 2007-05-16, 05:13   Link #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
It's not a troll, it's a serious question, but the answer is simple:

If you can hear it, it should be in the subs.

The same reasoning you use could also be applied when a character simply says someone's name "Hikaru!!" etc... so then using your logic, that shouldn't be subbed either since people can clearly pick up people's names from the dialogue too.

Basically, it comes down to this. If I hear a character say "Hikari-chan!" I want the subs to read what I hear, "Hikari-chan". It doesn't matter whether you know the intricacies of "-chan", if you read something obviously different from what you hear, it's distracting.

So to sum up, I'd keep the honorifics because:

1. If you know their meaning, it gives a deeper understanding to the show.
2. If you sort of know the meaning, it corresponds to what you hear the characters saying.


This edges close to the debate over whether to sub things that are only borderline words, like "ara" or "eh"... which is one of taste, more than correctness.
Hmm, I don't quite see it that way. The subtitle track should contain a complete translation of the audio track, and this does include stuff people can just as easily hear from the audio.

In your example I would put just "Hikari!" in the subs. Let's say it's Nagisa who's doing the shouting: Hikari-chan would be the normal way for her to refer to Hikari, so the honorific carries no additional meaning, and the line could be accurately translated simply by leaving it out. I think this is the case most of the time, and when it isn't, some other strategy can usually be found.

The "if you read something obviously different from what you hear, it's distracting" argument is a bit odd. Wouldn't your example be pretty much the the only case in your subs where the watchers can read what they hear? I'll agree that in that it'd be easier to notice that something has been "left out", but I don't see that as a reason for putting empty, almost syntactical forms of Japanese in English subtitles.

But yeah, I don't mean to tell anyone how to sub their shows. I was only converted to this viewpoint when working on a show set in historical Europe, where having Japanese honorifics would have been exceedingly silly. And once I'd learned not to use them, it became hard to understand why they should be used at all.

edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Potatochobit
because its cute
Now that's a reason I can accept
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Old 2007-05-16, 06:01   Link #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cythraul View Post
Hmm, I don't quite see it that way. The subtitle track should contain a complete translation of the audio track, and this does include stuff people can just as easily hear from the audio.

In your example I would put just "Hikari!" in the subs. Let's say it's Nagisa who's doing the shouting: Hikari-chan would be the normal way for her to refer to Hikari, so the honorific carries no additional meaning, and the line could be accurately translated simply by leaving it out. I think this is the case most of the time, and when it isn't, some other strategy can usually be found.

The "if you read something obviously different from what you hear, it's distracting" argument is a bit odd. Wouldn't your example be pretty much the the only case in your subs where the watchers can read what they hear? I'll agree that in that it'd be easier to notice that something has been "left out", but I don't see that as a reason for putting empty, almost syntactical forms of Japanese in English subtitles.
Well, it's always a balance. But in the case of honorifics I think that for many of them it's a lot more than syntactical. The case of "-tachi", which IS just syntactical, I've already stated should be translated and not left as -tachi.

Also, honorifics and the way people address other people in anime can be very significant over long running shows.

As a personal example, in Pretty Cure Max Heart, Hikari refers to both Nagisa and Honoka as "Nagisa-san" and "Honoka-san" consistently throughout the entire show, whereas Nagisa calls Hikari "Hikari" and Honoka calls her "Hikari-san". The subtle distance that Hikari has with the main characters is shown that way through more than 40 episodes, until (at a point I haven't gotten to in my subs, BTW) there is a point where she switches to dropping the -san on the names. It's obviously an emotional moment, and if I don't keep the honorifics consistent to the japanese there would be no way for the english viewer to understand the difference (except a clunky translator note).
Not to mention the variety of romance anime where there are important stages in the relationships marked by the honorifics (the the first/last name calling) used by the partners.
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Old 2007-05-16, 06:14   Link #30
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another point that i didnt see anyone touch on is when to translate I, you or me.

alot of japanese tend to say their own names when talking.

like, "Yayoi loves you!" when speaking of her own affections.

which in proper english would be, "I love you!"

or even grammatically, "I, Yayoi, love you!"

i think its important to keep the name in the text, so I would go with the third choice in most dramatic cases and the other two in casual instances.
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Old 2007-05-16, 06:56   Link #31
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I'd never say my own name in a 'normal' sentence though.. ("I myself" is more common to emphasize)
And i don't really think that japanese mean to emphasize (?) that it really is their own feeling or opinion.. rather.. i conceive it as a quite humble way of saying it.. as if they're speaking about themselves in 3rd person..

So translating the name will not be an accurate translation, rather the opposite.
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Old 2007-05-16, 07:15   Link #32
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Saying something like: "I, Ronnie, am posting this message." would imho, mean that you do not know my name, and that I am providing my name to you as a piece of extra information which is not critical to the sentence/thing I'm saying. Or perhaps as tjerk says, overly emphasizing one's own identity.

Referring to yourself or your listener in third person is something that simply isn't normally done in English (nor in Dutch for that matter.) So I usually change third person references in Japanese of such a nature into first or second person.

I understand that this creates an easily noticeable incongruity between the subtitles and the spoken dialogue. However, anyone who is vaguely aware of who the characters are and what is going on, should also realize that the character was saying his own (or his listener's) name in direct conversation. That, along with the sub saying 'I' or 'you' rather than the name should lead anyone listening well enough to notice to realizing the Japanese can use names for first and second person subjects.

Yayoi btw? Tokimeki Memorial? ;-)
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Old 2007-05-16, 07:23   Link #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quarkboy View Post
Also, honorifics and the way people address other people in anime can be very significant over long running shows.

As a personal example, in Pretty Cure Max Heart, Hikari refers to both Nagisa and Honoka as "Nagisa-san" and "Honoka-san" consistently throughout the entire show, whereas Nagisa calls Hikari "Hikari" and Honoka calls her "Hikari-san". The subtle distance that Hikari has with the main characters is shown that way through more than 40 episodes, until (at a point I haven't gotten to in my subs, BTW) there is a point where she switches to dropping the -san on the names. It's obviously an emotional moment, and if I don't keep the honorifics consistent to the japanese there would be no way for the english viewer to understand the difference (except a clunky translator note).
Not to mention the variety of romance anime where there are important stages in the relationships marked by the honorifics (the the first/last name calling) used by the partners.
The optimal way to handle this, I feel, would be to change the character's "voice" (speech patterns, word choices) to comply with the increased closeness. Using honorifics like this is, in the end, just the Japanese way of showing how relationships evolve; the concept of getting closer to someone isn't foreign to or impossible to communicate in English. The means are simply different. Though I guess doing this would place a huge burden on the editors and might require more liberties in the translation than many seem willing to take.

Then again, it's something you would have to do if you don't want, say, a maid living in Victorian England speaking like a Japanese school girl. (I don't remember how iitran has handled this, I'm not referring to their subs. I don't even remember how the character in the series spoke. This is just an example.) Maybe something that's based on a western book originally would be better. Imagine if Sense and Sensibility was turned into anime and it used the method you described to show how Marianne and Willoughby's relationship develops...
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Old 2007-05-16, 16:31   Link #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potatochobit View Post
another point that i didnt see anyone touch on is when to translate I, you or me.

alot of japanese tend to say their own names when talking.

like, "Yayoi loves you!" when speaking of her own affections.

which in proper english would be, "I love you!"

or even grammatically, "I, Yayoi, love you!"
What about the way that respectful servants, sidekicks or henchmen seem to refer to themselves? It is common for such a character to not only say their name, but also to prefix their name with "kono", which would literally translate to them saying something like "This Soluzar is your humble servant, my lord Potatochobit."

Would you literally translate that, too? It doesn't seem natural in English to me at all. Mind you, you'll notice that I'm also a fan of the translation style in which the subs would say "my lord Potatochobit" instead of "Potatochobit-sama". I would just go with "I am your..." instead of "This Soluzar is"

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to sub anime, because it doesn't affect my viewing experience too much if you do things in a way other than I prefer. I'm just tossing something out there.

From your given example, I would assume you only sub super-cute stuff, because that habit is not at all unversal.
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Old 2007-05-16, 17:28   Link #35
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I feel that keeping names in the subtitles aid the literal translation. Of course it's not needed at all, but it adds into the "complete" experience, for example, "watashi Marsd-sama...", could possibly be TL'd as "I the Great/Lord Marsd, ...", or "I, Marsd-sama, ..." They'd both be just as good and they're just the preference of the tl/editing team if used consistently throughout the entire series. The correct tone and phrasing of sentences also depend very much on the context, like Soluzar pointed out, most probably the authority level or respect. Servant->master, master->other masters, master->servant, normal student->teacher, student talking back to teacher, and so on.

And also, would anyone puralize japanese words that are left in, "Toushi+s", "-sama+s" and so on?
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Old 2007-05-16, 19:42   Link #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potatochobit View Post
alot of japanese tend to say their own names when talking.

like, "Yayoi loves you!" when speaking of her own affections.

which in proper english would be, "I love you!"

or even grammatically, "I, Yayoi, love you!"
I think that statement's a bit of an over generalisation. Sure, some Japanese do refer to themselves in the third-person, but such a way of addressing one’s self tends to only be used by younger females (in my personal experience, anyway). You can hear it a fair bit within anime, often as a device which is part and parcel of making a character’s personality appear more ‘cutesy,’ for want of a better word. I’m personally an advocate of not translating such occurrences of third-person usage to refer to one's self literally, even if part of the cute sentiment is lost in translation. However, admittedly, I would perhaps flout such a rule in the case of a scene of elevated drama (like you mentioned), for additional emphasis and whatnot (of course including the first-person singular pronoun before the name itself).

As for the “-tachi” discussion, like many others, I understand your plight. But nevertheless, I really could not bring myself to use “-tachi” within any translation. I'm probably stating the obvious, but I'll say it anyway: although finding the right wording can be tricky at times, I think it’s just an inevitable part of translation that we need to accept and overcome the best we can in the target language. The honorific debate is another story altogether. I prefer keeping them intact for ‘cultured’ viewers, but I’d definitely opt for not using them should I be delivering a professional translation/translation geared towards those who don't possess basic cultural knowledge (not to say that all fansub viewers are versed in cultural understanding of Japan, of course).

Anyhow, just my two cents or whatever!

Last edited by Edge; 2007-05-16 at 19:51. Reason: Clarification
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Old 2007-05-16, 21:22   Link #37
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Originally Posted by Potatochobit View Post
If you can hear it, it should be in the subs.

yes we should translate people saying, "Unghhhhhh!" when they die. j/k
lol sasuga Potato

You know, I am a bit surprised at this "people should know by now what ____ means" piece that has been going around for quite some time. While in some cases I run across that japanese word that just doesn't have an english counterpart, sometimes I would translate the word to the best possible making-sense way in english as much as possible without ruining the basis of the original sentence. But guess what? Most of the time my raw translations don't make it into the script. Why?

The editors. The dreaded QC'ers. Those who get the script after you finish translating. Most of the time I see my sentence-that-was-translated-from-my-heart get crunched into a "This is shorter, makes more sense(wtf? lol), and any dumb person can read it" sentence. No offense to the editors and whoever gets the script after I'm done, I've worked with some great people but the end product is, most of the time, not what I envisioned. This is what hurts me as a translator as what I've perfected gets botched to dust, which then we have the viewers say "oh, those were bad translations" or "I like ___ subs better, they have better translations". Most of the time these are the same viewers who are "expected to know what most basic japanese words mean".

So in the end the translator gets the brunt of the criticism, and life gets more unfair. Sigh. lol.

What people should realize is that it's not just the translator that makes out those subs, there are editors and QC'ers and in some cases the Typesetters, and in the end the result is the product of a group, the subs are a result of the group, and the group is the one responsible. So when people stop saying "_____'s TLer has bad translations" then I'll think of pushing "-tachi" and others onto subs with full recommendation.

But until then,

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Old 2007-05-17, 03:37   Link #38
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here's the idea: make 2 subtitle choices: normal one and the more otaku(?)-friendly one
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Old 2007-05-17, 06:29   Link #39
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Only works in the case of softsubs, and requires a lot more work.

Though I have often been of the opinion that with the large number of anime fanboys who wish to learn a little more Japanese, there should be "learner-subs" or something of the sort.

Imagine that... a soft-subbed fansub of something simple like Doraemon (or stuff similar to Bottle Fairy and Pokemon only unlicenced) or that series form the 80s jfs mentioned before (Kiteretsu Daihyakku iirc). Only it has extra subtitle tracks with the Japanese conversation displayed in the top. (offering a choice between romaji, kana-only or kanji+kana) Accompanied by a PDF containing extensive TL-notes, I bet that a lot of people would love watching such a thing. Enjoying anime whilst improving one's familiarity with Japanese even moreso than is the case with normal fansubs. You could even re-watch it after the first viewing with the English subs switched off but the Japanese subs switched on. =)

That's just a tangent off this topic that came to mind after reading edo's post, and the divide between subbing for the public at large, and subbing for the hardcore Japanophiles.
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Old 2007-05-17, 15:17   Link #40
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I kinda like that idea, actually. I think a more effective (but slower and more tedious) way would be to find a few words that occur very frequently, put those in romaaji with kana/kanji in parentheses, an English translation the first time it's used, and have them appear that way throughout the series. Each episode introduces more and more vocabulary. This wouldn't do much for grammar unless you use your ears a lot, but your vocabulary would explode in a very short amount of time. Repetition is the mother of retention, and by only doing a few words at a time you avoid overloading people too soon.
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