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Alethea & Athena
It's like cooking 
8th-Sep-2017 09:50 pm
Another day of work, work, work. There haven't been any new developments, really, except for the very important (yet uneventful) development of making sure Page will be taken care of while we're on the other side of the globe. So that's good.

But anyway, I figure now's as good a time as any to talk about the translation analogy I came up with several weeks ago. It was around the time we were working on Fire Force volume 7, so maybe it was about a month ago? It feels like so much longer...

Okay, so while we were living with Mom and Steve, they would regularly watch MasterChef, which is a reality show in which home cooks compete to be the best chef in America. I think the prize is to publish a cookbook and get a bunch of money or something? That wasn't important. The important thing is that there was one challenge where Gordon Ramsay (one of the judges and super famous chef) recreated...I think it was a pork soup of some kind. There was a story about him on a fishing boat in a storm in Thailand or Taiwan or Vietnam... I'm sorry; I don't always have a great memory for details. But anyway, it was the best dish he'd ever had in his whole life, so he figured out how to make it himself.

And for this challenge on MasterChef, he made the soup for the contestants who were left (they were down to about four by this time, but that's not really important, either), and the contestants then had to go and recreate it themselves without using a recipe. I mean, I'm sure if they had one, they could have used a basic recipe for pork soup, but they had to rely on their palates and their knowledge of food and cooking in order to recreate the dish the most faithfully.

Translating is something like that, I think. You have the original text, and if you look up the words in a J-E dictionary, you get the denotation (the literal, bare bones meaning of the word(s)), which is kind of like the main ingredients. If you look it up in Japanese language dictionary, you can get the connotation (what everyone thinks about when they hear the word, in addition to its literal meaning), which is part of the seasoning. Then there's conjugations, auxiliary verbs, intonation (which you actually can get to an extent in Japanese text), etc. etc. etc. In order to recreate the manga most faithfully, you have to learn to identify all the different flavors involved, and then you have to know how to cook them up in English to get just the right taste.

And there you have it! I thought it was a pretty good analogy, but when we explained it to Gaston he didn't seem to get it. So if it's confusing, let's talk about it!

Today I'm thankful for mostly finishing our work today, new socks, my orthodontist appointment going well, having a plan for Page's caretaking while we're on vacation, and having a lovely time watching anime tonight.
10th-Sep-2017 10:57 pm (UTC)
That sounds like a fine analogy to me! And conjugations/auxillary verbs/intonation/etc are like the cooking/preparation method or something? I've been thinking a bit more about connotation recently (for English-language words) because of my housemate. Her English is great, she's got a very broad vocabulary, but every so often she'll ask about a word or say something that doesn't seem quite right The other day she wanted to know if she could call some small cuts on her foot "wounds" and I was like, well technically yeah... but it sounds like a mock-serious joke when they're so minor. But I like words and figuring out how to explain them, so it's a good exercise! Connotation is also the thing that makes me believe it's better to translate into rather than out of one's native language. It seems a bit easier to pick up connotation from an existing text than to put it in, and so putting it in would require the most-fluent language ability...

Travel approaching soon, eee!! I'm so glad you've got Page's care figured out for the time you'll be gone!
10th-Sep-2017 11:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm not sure exactly what would be what, because I don't cook, but that sounds about right, since those are things you do to words.

Definitely agreed on it being better to translate into your native language. Most importantly, if it's your native language, you're more likely to know what sounds natural...which is why it's also important to read something again after you've translated it (just thinking about some translations we've seen that didn't sound natural, that we think were done by native English-speakers).

I think that's where the "recreating a dish" analogy works again, because sometimes what we see is what we're currently calling "functional translation." It has all the important information, so it's passable as far as a means of communication, but you have to really educate your "palate" to understand all the different spices and techniques that are used. I think part of the problem is that even people who know two languages enough to get around in a foreign country sometimes still have the impression that some things are just going to be different and weird, so they just say, "Well, that's what it is, so we'll go with it," without trying to understand why it might be like that. And that's one of the reasons we think translators have trouble with comedy.
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