A couple of notes before we get started. The new first blog post covers a few of the more common Japanese grammar things that will be coming up. We did not define "particles" there, so they are defined in this post, but we're thinking of changing both of those things. Second, I don't remember if we listed a page number for the manga page we're talking about, but if we did, it will be different than the one we listed before, even though it's the same page. That was a clerical error on our part which has now been rectified (we hope).
And now, without further ado, here is the latest post!
Welcome back to Translating with the Twins, the blog where we walk you through the manga translation process! (Disclaimer: This is specifically the translation process of the authors of this blog. Mileage may vary.) This week, we'll continue to translate from Edens Zero chapter 1, page 32! You may remember it looked like this:
[picture to be inserted]
(This page and the rest of the chapter are available as a free (and legal!) sample in Japanese here: https://pocket.shonenmagazine.com/episode/10834108156631275048) (The English chapter is available here: https://kodanshacomics.com/series/edens-zero/)
The numbers all correspond with text that reads as follows:
1.Neru / maeni / karihen / shitoko[HEART]
6.Ore / no / kami / ga / naku / natta!!!
7.Maikeru / taihen / da!!!
9.tte / Dare / mo / inee!!!
We dealt with Item 1 last week, so let's move on to Item 2! And while we're at it, we'll do 3 and 4, because, as you may have noticed, they are basically the same.
I think most manga readers will be aware that these items of text are sound effects, often considered to be a bane of translators' lives. Our own experience is that, in most cases, they get to be easier to deal with when you get more used to them and get the hang of “translating” them. The word “translate” is used a bit more loosely when it comes to sound effects, because...well, take the sound of knocking on the door. In English, we would call it “knock knock.” In Japanese, they call it “kon kon.” But if you're watching an anime, either dubbed or subtitled, you're just going to hear the same sound effect, and it will sound exactly the same no matter what language the characters are speaking. On the other hand, there might be a difference in how you, as a person using a voice box, would imitate that sound.
Anyway, philosophical debate aside, we take several different approaches to sound effects, depending on the sound and the situation. This particular sound effect is an interesting case, though. Normally, “gata gata” is a pretty straightforward sound—it's the standard sound that, in English, we would call “rattling” (specifically in the context of heavy things rattling, like big windows or robot limbs). So, with this particular sound, because there's kind of a one-to-one relationship between the Japanese and English onomatopoeia, in most cases, we would probably just translate it as “rattle rattle” and leave it at that.
On the other hand, from the staging and coloring and the expressions on the faces and everything, it looks like the rattling comes from the robots shaking in fear. “Rattle rattle” doesn't really convey that psychologically...so we may try and find a sound effect that does. Something like “shiver” or “shudder” might work, but on the other hand, that doesn't sound like a robot shaking. So we're just going to hope that the art conveys the fear of the situation, and that the readers will read “rattle” and think of the sound instead of focusing on the letters or anything like that. This is a great example of where translation is subjective.
Kami means “hair.” The word can mean other things, but thanks to the kanji character provided, we know that here it means “hair.” But if Shiki (that's this character's name) ran out and suddenly shouted, “Hair!” we would all be like, “What!?” To my ears, that sounds like there's a mysterious clump of hair that may or may not be attacking. Fortunately for us, Shiki is going to elaborate on his thought, so we could just leave it as “Hair!!!” and it wouldn't be too confusing. On the other hand, we might add a “my”, because he's clearly introducing the topic of his immediate concern, and the context gives us clues as to what specifically that topic is.
First, in previous pages, Shiki's hair was much longer, and here we see it is short, and even sparkling to draw attention to that fact. Second, we have Shiki's next line.
6.Ore / no / kami / ga / naku / natta!!!
Here is where we get technical again. First, we'll look at that “ga.” “Ga” is not easily translated into English. It's something called a particle, which is a small part of speech, something like a preposition. In this sentence, ga's main job is to tell us the subject—the word it comes right after. The subject here, then, is kami (hair). The two words before kami describe the hair, narrowing down the possibilities of what hair we're talking about. “Ore” is a first-person pronoun, which is a fancy way of saying it means “I,” however, it can also mean “me” or “my” when followed by certain particles. In this case, it is in fact followed by “no,” which is basically the Japanese version of 's—it makes the possessive. So “ore no” means “my.” And now we know that the subject is “my hair.”
So what about Shiki's hair? It “naku natta.” Natta is the past tense of naru, which means “to become.” Naku...is complicated. It comes from “nai,” which is the negative form “aru,” which means “to be” or “to exist.” So the negative of it would be “to not be,” or “to not exist,” but grammatically, while “aru” is a verb, “nai” is more like an adjective, so you might translate it to “nonexistent,” but you probably wouldn't in most cases. Anyway, the point of that being, as an adjective, it connects to the verb naru (become) by dropping the I at the end and replacing it with ku. That gives you “naku naru,” which means “to become nonexistent.” In other words, something that was there has become “no longer there.” And now we know, Shiki's hair has disappeared.
We would translate these lines together as, “My hair!!! My hair is gone!”
Of course there are other ways to translate it, like, “My hair disappeared!” which could be kind of funny, too, and this is a good place to get a laugh from the readers. But I think for us, personally, the way we know Shiki, “My hair is gone!” seems the most natural and in-character. I also like that it's quick and to the point, since Shiki is clearly alarmed and would want to get the information across as quickly as possible.
7.Maikeru/ taihen / da!!!
Maikeru is the name Michael. Shiki is calling out to his little robot buddy. “Taihen” is a fun word, where by fun we mean you can tell how much we enjoy it by the uncomfortable grimace on our faces when we talk about how much fun it is to translate. The kanji characters used to write it translate literally to “big strange,” and it usually refers to something extremely out of the ordinary. When somebody runs up and says, “Taihen!” or “Taihen da!” they mean something big has happened that may or may not require immediate attention. “Da” roughly mean “it is,” as in “It's a big incident!”
We've dealt with “taihen da” in a variety of ways—as long as you can get the idea across that something big is going on, there are any number of options, so choose the one that fits the character and the situation. In this case, we know that the incident in question is the disappearance of Shiki's hair. Something like, “It's terrible!”, “It's awful!”, “You need to see this!”...they all work, so this is going to be based on what feels right...which, I admit, is something that changes by the minute, so we should probably tell you that the translations we come up with on this blog may not end up exactly the same way as they did the first time we translated these things.
This time, we're going to go with, “Michael! It's awful!!!”
Another sound effect. “Shaa” can be the sound of many, many things, so this is a case where you have to look at the picture and see if you can figure out what movement is making that sound. Here, it's fairly obvious—his feet are skidding across the floor as he races to tell his friends about what has happened to him. So this would be a “skiiiid” or a “skshhh” or just whatever you think skidding sounds like. Maybe “skrrsh”. Be creative. Have fun.
9.tte / Dare mo / inee!!!
The usage of “tte” employed here is one that you have to kind of figure out by intuition. We tried to look it up to see if we could get any kind of official-sounding definition of it as used in this context, but we could not. If you look it up in a J-E dictionary, you'll get something like, “He said, you said, she said, I said,” etc. It is a casual particle (meaning try not to use it in polite speech) used to indicate that what came before it was a quotation. So a literal translation of it might be, “...I said,” referring to what Shiki said in the last panel.
But really what he means is, he was talking, but now he's making a realization that is going to derail his original topic. Any interjection that gets that across will work, such as, “Hey!” “Whoa!” “Uh!” “Wait!” etc. etc.
So what is his realization? Let's go into it. “Dare” means “who,” but when followed by “mo,” it means “everyone”...or, if the verb following it is negative, it means “no one.” The verb here is “inee,” which is a very casual way of saying “inai,” which is the negative of “iru,” which means “to be” or “to exist,” but only when referring to living things. So the sentence is “everyone is nonexistent,” or “no one exists.” In this case, Shiki is only speaking of the people he expects to be where he is standing, but who are not. In other words, “Everybody's gone!” but we like to go with, “There's nobody here!”
Of course, there's no Japanese word in the original that corresponds to “here,” but based on how he brought up the topic, and how he moved from one place to another, we feel it's safe to assume that he expected to find people in that spot and did not. So his problem is that there's no one in the spot where he intended to start spreading his strange news. Based on the laws of physics, we can be pretty sure that if he were to go elsewhere, he would be likely to find those people, so specifying that there's no one “here” doesn't contradict the story in any way, and we feel it sounds more natural. So that's our version.
The page script will read like so:
1.I'll just do some offline edits before I go to sleep[HEART]
6.My hair's gone!!!
7.Michael, it's awful!!!
9.Hey! There's nobody here!!!
Tadah! Again, feel free to ask any questions, give your own suggestions, or whatever! But be nice!
And tune in next week, for a whole new manga page!
And there you have it. As you may have guessed, we're thinking of posting these things weekly. Let us know if you think that's a good pace.
Today I'm thankful for finally having the motivation to get back to this blog, also having the time and (most importantly) the energy for it, finally having a lunar rover and satellite on our island in Animal Crossing, also having a star pochette, and getting to try out some new shows today (maybe more on those tomorrow).