Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena
double_dear

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Onomatopoeia

For work-related reasons, we have been reading manga in English, and I was noticing something. Other translators seem to be afraid to use preexisting onomatopoeia, despite the fact that the definition of onomatopoeia is basically "sound effect." Of course, by "other translators," I'm really only speaking for the one series, but I'm only noticing it because we recently had an editor who referred to a time we used "creak" as a sound effect and said, "I hate this as a sound effect." (Athena says she's noticed it about manga in general; we have read other series in English in the past.) Creak literally is a sound effect! For crying out loud! Arrrgh!

So in this series I'm seeing things like "nok nok" instead of "knock knock," and "krakle krakle" instead of "crackle crackle." The latter was more annoying, because it would actually be pronounced "KRAY-kll," not "crackle." And you know, if you just prefer it that way, it's okay; just make sure the pronunciation is going to work. Make that a double K in the middle, or take off the E.

I really just want translators to know that, while we don't have them to nearly the extent they do in Japanese, the English language does have words that are legitimately sound effects. Creak, knock, crackle, sizzle, whoosh, thump, bump, buzz, croak, etc. etc. etc. That's what onomatopoeia is, and you should totally remember that word because it's ridiculously hard to spell, so it makes you sound super-duper smart. It's okay to use sound effects that will pass the spellchecker. I mean, if you forbade all of them, you would have to nix things like "flash" and "blush" and "leap" that we all keep using for things that the Japanese language has a sound for and we don't.

Okay, minor rant over. The short version is this: Onomatopoeia. Look it up.

Today I'm thankful for having time for some workreation, Reese's Pieces eggs, making it to and from the grocery store before it rained, managing to spell onomatopoeia correctly the first time I typed it in this post, and the lovely rainy weather we had today.
Tags: language geekiness, translating
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