Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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The debate raged on

I thought the discussion of translation notes might be over, but it came back, and we were maybe a little surprised to find someone else who seemed to be kind of against them. It occurred to us that the only people who were against them were translators, and as a translator who sometimes gets annoyed at writing translation notes, I can definitely see where that's coming from. Still, translations aren't made for the translators, they're made for the readers--that's why they pay us. So we got curious about it and performed a couple more extremely informal surveys. So far we don't have a lot a lot of responses, but the general consensus seems to be that translation notes are preferred. That's good; it makes me feel like we haven't been wasting our time writing all of them. So thanks, everybody!

There was a very important point made, however, by an editor we used to work with and will hopefully one day work with again, who pointed out that they should complement a translation, not be necessary to a translation. I confess, the debate got started when someone said that you shouldn't rely too much on translation notes. We happen to agree with this sentiment, but since we were the ones who suggested the possibility of a translation note, I got defensive. I mean, I like to think that after all this time we do have a fairly good sense of when a note is necessary, and that we can at least usually provide English dialogue that will make sense without them...

In this case, it all came up because we discovered that gyaru is the more common English spelling of the fashion phenomenon referred to as ギャル in Japanese, and this was a bit startling, as we'd been calling it "gal" for years. It also had us rolling our eyes, like back in college when people insisted on pronouncing Vandread as vandoreddo. A few people suggested that, because "gal" means something else in English, it might be confusing, and we were like, "That's okay, we'll have a translation note." I mean, in the context where it comes up, it should be pretty obvious that it's not just the slang for girl, and even if it's not, it wouldn't hurt the readers' understanding anymore than coming across a bizarro word like gyaru and being like, "What in the...?"

Anyway, the response was well you shouldn't rely too much on translation notes. I wonder if the person who said that had come across too many examples where the translator just gave up on finding any sort of English equivalent and just slapped a note on it, so now it's just a reflex whenever the term "translation note" comes up to say, "But--!" I can understand that; we have our own hot button topics, after all. And it's true that translation notes are not an excuse to phone it in with the writing. ...But we don't use them that way, so we don't like it being implied that we do. But the other translator did make it a point to say that that they were not trying to suggest that all translators who use notes are bad translators.

Today I'm thankful for managing to meet our work quota, getting to have a ward activity via Zoom, the opportunity to share fun facts with readers, getting to watch Miraculous Origins again, and Athena's Wizarding World crate arriving.
Tags: translating

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