Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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More about quality

We're doing a late-night bug hunt in Animal Crossing tonight, so no reports on giraffe stags yet! ...Because I know so many of you were dying to know how it was going.

Anyway, I feel like I have more to say about the whole "quality writing" debate, so I guess I'll just say it. I wanted to explain why I don't think it's possible for a non-native speaker to accurately judge the quality of writing in any language. I mean, if they've been at it for long enough, I'm sure they will have some idea, but...I'm getting ahead of myself.

To me, an important part of good writing is that it feels natural. Like, however the characters talk, whether it's formal or casual or flowery or vulgar, whether they use the common vernacular or like to use a whole lot of big words, it has to sound natural. But with a foreign language, if something doesn't sound natural to me, it might be because I'm not familiar with that turn of phrase. For example, in English, the phrases "maybe you could" and "you might could" mean the same thing and could be translated the same way. A good translator will know the difference and be able to translate them accordingly, but whether or not either one sounds more organic for the character speaking...that might be a little harder to tell.

So yeah. If you have enough experience, and you're a really good reader/listener, maybe it's possible to tell if something sounds normal or not, but for another example, we've been working on this new series and there's a chipper high school girl using what seems like, to us non-native speakers, some big words. She's not the egghead type, but that doesn't mean she's not smart, so it's not necessarily out of character, especially since we know she's going to school on a scholarship, which might have required extra study (...we should maybe look into how that kind of thing works before we turn the translation in without a note). Nevertheless, when we come across these big words, we can't help but wonder, "Does this sound natural to a Japanese reader?" Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. But we don't know ourselves.

And that's why we don't feel like we're in a position to judge the quality of writing. Well, that, and the fact that it's generally very subjective. Clearly a lot of people think movies like Frozen were well-written, despite my strong opinion to the contrary. Different people are always looking for different markers of quality--what's important to one person doesn't matter to another.

But enough rambling! We have bugs to hunt!

Today I'm thankful for finishing our work quota, getting to watch a couple more episodes of Wizards, the weather being cooler today, the yummy pizza we had for dinner, and Inkari alpacas. I forgot to mention those. I may need to post about them tomorrow.
Tags: thinking, translation


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