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Alethea & Athena
3rd-Oct-2016 04:58 pm
Well, UQ Holder! is back with a vengeance. The first chapter for the new monthly schedule is extra long of course, and anybody who's following along with the story knows that it's about to start flashing back to the era of a certain pre-Holder series which was not known for its reticence. What I'm saying is, there was a lot of text to translate. Fortunately, there was also a fair share of action. There were also some flashbacks from that other series, so we pulled up those scripts to make sure the dialogue matched, and one of those scripts was ninety-nine pages long! Ninety. Nine. And this is with the short format, where the average script-length is about forty pages. That's two and a half times the average! I'll just be glad we're done with that one.

Anyway, something has been on my mind for a while, and I think I'd like to talk about it here. Mostly it's that sometimes I feel like I'm getting mixed signals about what words are okay to use and what words aren't okay to use. (Which reminds me, last week we discovered that "cram school" is a pejorative in the United States, so we apologize to anyone who was offended by our My Little Monster translations. We did have a heck of a time trying to come up with an alternative, though, my goodness.)

The point is this. Many years ago, I was informed that the word "crazy" is offensive and we should stop using it. I'm fond of hyperbole, so I was a little bummed out by that, but I also like the idea of trying to come up with new words to use, so I was okay with it.

Later, we read an article about how we shouldn't use the names of actual mental illnesses when the person being described doesn't actually have them, like saying things like, "I'm OCD like that," for example. The reasoning behind this is that by using the words when they don't officially apply, we're undermining the seriousness of the conditions. I can get behind that a little bit more, because there actually is a reason given.

But then, a while after that, I was thinking about the whole thing, I thought that if using a term when it doesn't really apply lessens its meaning, then wouldn't it be better to use the word "crazy" more? If I talk about the crazy traffic, and people understand that I just mean there were an awful lot of cars on the road, and that it's not a reflection of the mental state of any of the drivers, and the same thing happens in other sentences with that word, then "crazy" would lose the "mentally ill" connotation, right? And if I called something "crazy awesome," then I would be linking the word "crazy" to positive things, and therefore reduce the stigma, right? Or...not right? I really don't know.

Maybe all I'm saying is that a few weeks ago, we came across some dialogue where it would have been really nice if we could have used "crazy" as an adverb, and I wasn't quite as happy with the alternative.

Today I'm thankful for the noisiness being done, plans to have visitors later, managing to finish that chapter of UQ Holder, that really funny Studio C sketch about Jeremy, and our visitors being really sweet and offering to bring treats.
3rd-Oct-2016 11:28 pm (UTC)
(...this reminded me of another conversation when I was told offensive words should just be used more often to lessen their offensiveness...)

I can see the reasoning behind not saying "crazy" and I want to be sensitive to others who may take offense, regardless of whether I think they "should," but I haven't quite been able to eliminate this one from my own vocabulary yet. Realizing that it could be taken badly has made me think a bit more when I do want to use it and seek out alternatives when I can, so maybe that's something. As far as translations go, a quick computer search of my lettering folder reveals that approximately everything I've worked on uses the word "crazy" at some point (exaggeration, but seriously, the search brought up scripts for 41 different series, out of the ~60 I've ever worked on. Or is it that you're not supposed to use "crazy" as a synonym of "very"? But I can find examples of that too, in a number of the scripts I've spot-checked... Maybe you just have to judge the situation, the character speaking, and the audience and decide if/when it's appropriate? I think making an effort counts for something.
4th-Oct-2016 01:51 am (UTC)
(I think I know what you're referring to, and I was sort of considering incorporating my feelings on that, but it made everything too complicated.)

Ha ha, you pointed that out, so we checked our scripts, and it looks like we usually aren't as careful as this post makes it sound. I can guarantee you the word is not in our most recent full-volume translation, though! (We did use it in UQ Holder!, and rather insensitively, too.) Or the second most recent one, which is probably the one that set off this whole thing. (In fact, we don't use the word in that whole series so far.)

I generally agree that if someone finds a word offensive, the nice thing to do is to avoid using it. It gets tricky when we're translating, though, because as you say, it does have a lot to do with the situation and who's talking and everything. A lot of the characters we translate haven't had a lot of sensitivity (Tota would probably avoid the word if somebody pointed it out, but it never came up).

If I had the time, I would do a lot more thinking and research about all the different words that are offensive and why, because right now with all the polarizing going on, it seems like different groups are coming up with different sets of inappropriate vocabulary, and it's getting to be a little hard to keep up.
4th-Oct-2016 07:32 am (UTC)
Yes, "cram school" does come across as somewhat pejorative in English. (I think it derives from the special schools/live-in tutoring situations would-be students at elite British schools like Eton and Harrow would attend back in the nineteenth century to improve their skills if they'd already flunked the entrance exam once.) But since just about every manga and light novel I've read uses the phrase "cram school" whenever the concept happens to come up, there seems to be no standard term for it in English that sounds any less pejorative. And, as you noted, it would be a pretty major challenge to come up with one yourselves that conveys the same idea with more neutral connotations. Even if you try using something like "supplemental lessons" (which is what they actually are), that seems to be the term some translators use when students flunk their courses badly enough that they have to take make-up classes during summer vacation.
5th-Oct-2016 01:51 am (UTC)
That's what the internets tell us, anyway. We found one article that "explained" it, but I could write a rebuttal. I thought about doing just that today, but we got too distracted working on our real job, which didn't involve translating the term "juku" this time. Basically I think it boils down to the general notion permeating our society that school is an undesirable place to be, and anyone who has to (or weirder yet, wants to) go to extra school must be a pretty weird person, and "weird" has negative connotations for probably the same reason "cram school" does. Or similar, anyway.

You're right, though, "supplemental lessons" is a different thing. But don't worry; we came up with something.
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