September 28th, 2005

twins

BRILLIANT!!!

So tonight I thought I'd take some time to talk about some the hardships of translating. I say, as if translating is some arduous task. Ah well.

We actually haven't done any translating today, but we're planning to retranslate something we had worked on shortly before our harddrive got wiped, and so we remembered the term ビバーク. Upon looking this up, we get "bivouac." We thought, "Yes! Bivouac! ...what is that?" Actually it was more along the lines of, "What the heck!? We don't speak French!(Anymore, in Athena's case.)"

We weren't online at the time, so we couldn't look it up, either. We did try looking it up in Athena's French-English dictionary (inherited from Grandpa), and lo and behold, the verb bivouaquer translates to "to bivouac." This was most frustrating.

So we looked it up tonight, since we're finally online and we remembered, and we looked it up at the Japanese-English dictionary at Infoseek, and the entry said it was, of course, a bivouac. But! It had a little Japanese explanation in parentheses, saying that a bivouac is a certain kind of 露営(roei). Yes! Roei! That will help! So we look it up, and of course it's a bivouac.

It actually kind of reminds me of the time one of our Japanese professors (one of the ones who is still a little uncomfortable speaking English) had to explain to the entire class (so there were only five people) what "rapport" means. Athena now tells me that about a week ago she remembered the French pronunciation and suddenly it all made sense. And now we're both probably far more amused than anyone reading this.

Anyway, there are also terms that you know exactly what they mean, but not how to translate them. I've been thinking it might be fun to post one or two here every so often, as we come across them while we're working. These are terms that will hold up translations for a very long time, so they're frustrating enough to want to complain to everyone about them. But then by the time I get to LJ, I've usually forgotten about it.

I think the most memorable one is "yabai," which is usually worst when used to refer to someone who seems criminally insane. It mainly means "dangerous, risky, etc." (Also, anyone who's seen the Urasai after...I forget which episode of Saiyuki Reload may recall that young people these days are using it to mean "cool." It's da bomb. Or not.) We've been able to translate Daisuke as saying "Not good!" which we felt was really good, but I don't know if it stayed that way.

But what keeps reminding me that I've been wanting to post about this is Final Fantasy IX. In Madain Sari, Zidane is telling Eiko that he and Garnet are more than just friends--they're a team. We could just imagine if it was us translating it. "We're more than just friends! We're...nakama? But that means friend!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!" And then we'd look it up in all our dictionaries for some synonyms until finally we came up with, "Team! That's it! BRILLIANT!!!" "And look! Look at this! Watch!" And Athena would read what I typed (Vivi's part of the team, too) "BRILLIANT!!!!"

And that's what it would have been like if we had translated FFIX. Maybe. Depending on how smart we were feeling by the time we got to that point. And now we have scared Mimsy out of the room with our yelling of "BRILLIANT!!"

So tonight I'm thankful for the word brilliant, for Japanese language dictionaries, English language dictionaries, French-English dictionaries, and pineapple-guava juice.