April 16th, 2014


Translator angst

Today is a day of asking ourselves, "What is wrong with us?" Most recently (as in, like, seriously a minute ago), we are lamenting our failure to buy any decent chocolate. We have Reese's eggs, but how long are those going to last? We only have two two-packs. Seriously, it's not even hard. It's called, you find the chocolate chip cookie dough and you buy it. Ugh.

The rest of it started last night when we made the mistake of looking up UQ Holder reviews. We just like to see how people are liking it, okay!? The problem is it reminds us of the existence of scanslations. There are scanslations for UQ Holder, which is ridiculous. The thing is being simul-pubbed--what possible reason could you have for needing a scanslation? We can think of three. First, one-upmanship (which is an odd word, because it seems like I made it up, but I feel like I've heard it before; maybe Dad said it? I'd believe some of our word sense came from Dad), be it one-upping the legal translation, getting it a couple days before the official release (even in Japan), or whathaveyou. Second, the possibility of getting revenue from ads, which would be so illegal. I guess it wouldn't be as illegal as stealing the official translation and getting ad revenue from that.

Third, you think the official translators are butchering the series. That, of course, would be a matter of opinion, and our opinion, obviously, is that we're not butchering. But everyone has a different fan aesthetic, so whatever I guess. The only reasonably valid argument I'd have against this possible reason is that Ken Akamatsu (apparently) requested us to translate it, so at least the author of the series has faith that we're not butchering it.

There is a fourth potential reason, which is that the scanslators, like us, are translation geeks and fans of UQ Holder, so it's like, "I like to translate stuff and I like UQ Holder, so I reeeeeally want to translate UQ Holder!" And that's fine, but keep it between you and your friends, okay? Or else you're bringing us back to reason number one, one-upmanship.

Oh right, the "What is wrong with us?" moment related to UQ Holder. There was a math-related translation error, that was kind of huge. In our defense, we were very braindead when we translated...wait, I'm thinking of the chapter after that. What was wrong with us?

Oh well. It gives me an opportunity to explain the difference between Japanese numbers and English numbers. In English, we usually express numbers like this: one, ten, a hundred, a thousand, a million, a billion. In Japanese, it's more like this: ichi (one), juu (ten), hyaku (a hundred), sen (a thousand), man (ten thousand), oku (a hundred million). See, in English, we multiply by ten until a thousand, and then we multiply by thousands. In Japanese, they multiply by ten until a man (ten thousand), and then it's man man (ten thousand ten thousands), or oku. So when you get into the really big numbers, it's easy to get the decimal point in the wrong place if you're not paying attention. Does it make our mistake right? No. But at least you can see why it happens.

Aaaanyway. On an almost completely unrelated note, we're still on book watch for our next assignment, and we had to send an email to our editor that started with "that awkward moment when..." So apparently the books have been lost in the ether, and now he's going to resend them. In the meantime, we finally remembered that we promised a friend we would re-translate some volumes of Saiyuki for her. (We translated them when we first got them for ourselves, but then, since we didn't send them to anyone else, we didn't have them backed up anywhere and they got lost when we switched computers and had a fire.) It only took a week and a half of books not showing up to remind us. We're sorry!

So we spent today translating the final volume of Saiyuki Reload, and it was awesome. But first, it again had us asking ourselves, "What is wrong with us?" Or rather, what was wrong with us?, because the obvious answer this time is lack of experience. Part of the text quoted a past volume, so we pulled up an older file to see how we translated it...and we were horrified. Okay, not horrified, but more like, "Really? Ew." It almost has us going, "That's it! Everybody give us back everything we translated before 2010! We have to fix it!" Ha ha ha, as if we had time for that. (Technically it seems like we might right now, but it's possible our editor overnighted the books we're waiting for.)

Then the volume turned out to be really hard because we were self-conscious. (Really hard, she says. As if we didn't finish the whole volume, including editing, in a day. That's beside the point, because there was a lot of action in that volume, which meant not a lot of actual translation work to be done.) It didn't help that there was a character who spoke with the same dialect as Hazel, but more vulgar, and we had to differentiate between the two. It actually wasn't that hard, because I remember always trying to maintain that Hazel is a gentleman--it was just tricky as far as dropping G's and stuff. This is why it's important to note that making someone a potty mouth is not always a good way to translate a dialect--someone else might come along who really is a potty mouth and uses the same dialect.

But anyway, it was Saiyuki, so the fun and awesomeness of it helped us feel better as far as our translator angst was concerned. I love this series, because one of the main themes seems to be, "Dude, seriously. Get over yourself."

Today I'm thankful for getting to revisit Saiyuki, at least having dulce de leche chip cookies if not chocolate, having a book that will hopefully help us write dialects properly for our professional translations should it come up again, having some idea of the status of the books we're waiting for, and having a Kamigami no Asobi playlist.