May 14th, 2014


Of circumflexes and star children

Today we are learning that there are limits to how fancy you should be in romanizations. Or something. I don't know what went wrong. All we know is that there's a character in UQ Holder! whose name has been misspelled in the official translation ALL THIS TIME! and we had no idea until about a week ago. It's mostly not our fault, I think! In fact, I don't really think it's anyone's fault, except maybe the fault of file transfers.

Okay, so this guy is named Chao Xinzai. Since the name is definitely the Chinese pronunciation of the kanji and not the Japanese, we thought, "Oh! Oh! We can be all linguistically correct and use the pinyin system to romanize his name!" We were so proud of ourselves, especially after such a long time of looking at all the official merchandise with romanizations of Ku Fei's name (and her pactio card! it's right there in the series! ...about 28-ish volumes in) where they spell it Gu instead of Ku.

Our Japanese word processor even tells us the pinyin reading of all the kanji, so it was really easy to find out how it was supposed to be spelled, and spell it "right."

The problem (we think) is that, according to this word processor, the pinyin reading of the zai kanji in Xinzai has a circumflex over the A. (That's the little carroty thing, for those of you unfamiliar with the terms for diacritical marks, she explains, as if she hadn't just looked it up herself a week ago. In my defense, at least I know the term "diacritical marks." ...Now hold on a sec while I go look that up to make sure I'm using it right. ...Oh good, I am. The point is, the A is supposed to look like this: â.)

So we think what happened is when we sent the text file with the translation, it moji-baked (from moji-bake, meaning roughly "garbled characters") and got left out of the name entirely, thus changing Xinzâi's name to Xinzi. We only found out about it when we were reading a review of last week's chapter, and we were horrified. (We do have a penchant for overreaction.) And we couldn't check to see if that's how it was spelled in the official version, because we don't have the right kind of Crunchyroll membership! (It would be pretty easy to get one of course, but we really don't read our manga in English, so we've never seen a point. Although we did use one of our all-access guest passes for another thing that we could talk about now if we weren't distracted. It had expired.)

Well, as it so happened, Xinzâi introduced himself again in this week's chapter of UQ Holder!, and we were finally able to confirm our fears. It was spelled wrong...again. ...Maybe I shouldn't emphasize that again, seeing as how I wasn't able to confirm that it happened a first time. And it's possible that it was only spelled wrong this time, because we tried to explain (when we turned in the translation) what the deal was and created even more confusion by explaining badly! Aaaaaaaahhhhh!

Anyway, it's possible that, after we explained it, our boss asked the publishers what they wanted to do, and the publishers said, "Consistency!" and so that's how it got left that way. And we agree that consistency is important, but we're like, "They only said his name, like, once before! And it changes the pronunciation of his name! And it's WROOOONG!!! *weep*"

So I don't know. At least we can explain to everyone reading our LiveJournal that his name is Xinzâi. And it means "Star Child," which is fun on many levels! Not the least of which being, that's the record label that did the music for Love Hina and Negima!. And the kanji for "child" is the one they tend to use for animals, rather than people, which is so fitting for this guy.

As for the other thing...well, we did a guest translation! Woohoo! The regular translator for The Heroic Legend of Arslan was prevented from translating Chapter 11, and since our boss knows we work quick, she asked us to step in. We had seen mention of it on manga sites, but we had no idea it was Hiromu Arakawa! That was kind of exciting. So we used an all-access guest pass to access the previous chapters to get a feel for the previous translation style. It was a hard translation, though, because it's all warfare and politics and whatnot. It's a pretty interesting series, though, and now we're contemplating buying the Japanese tankobon. It all depends on how wealthy we're feeling the next time we order manga...especially considering that apparently it's based on novels that have reached volume 14 and still aren't done...

Anyway, today I'm thankful for realizing that a mistake has been made (that's the only way to fix it!), probably still having time to fix it before the English graphic novel comes out, handy Wikipedia pages that tell us that that thing is called a circumflex, getting introduced to another shiny new manga, and the preview feature on LJ that will tell us (before we post) whether or not all our circumflexed A's are working.