August 21st, 2014


Translation stuff

I had been thinking about doing a post about practical translations for a few days now (well, for a while, actually, but I had to wait until My Little Monster 3 came out, and I wasn't keeping track of when that happened), but then I got distracted by Disneyland. It was a nice distraction, anyway.

So practical translations. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a translation "practical." We chose the adjective because those translations just kind of feel practical. Like, they're accurate, and may even convey an emotion, but they're...lacking in flavor, I guess? We suspect it's the kind of translation that interpreters use by necessity--they need to keep it short, and communication is more important than nuance. They're not necessarily a bad thing (and in fact we went with a slightly practical (I felt) translation just today). But they can be dangerous.

Case in point: My Little Monster 3. At one point, Shizuku says, "答えは決まってるのに期待だけさせるなんていちばんひどいことでしょう?" The official English translation is, "If I already know the answer, it would be mean for me to lead you on." It's an accurate translation, and if you really look at the phrase "lead you on," it still conveys the nuance of getting one's hopes up (期待だけさせる). It leaves out the bit about how it would be the number one mean thing for her to do, but that's not super important, so okay. We might have translated it to something like, "If I already know the answer, the meanest thing I could do would be to get your hopes up." Unless! we were over-thinking things and came up with the phrase "lead you on," and were like, "Yes! American colloquialisms! Win!"

...So thinking about it, the practicality of the translation isn't necessarily what caused us so much trouble later, and there's a distinct possibility we might have caused the same problem for ourselves if we had been the translators on volume three. On the other hand, this was in the anime, too, and I kind of remembered that. But if we hadn't seen the anime...

Anyway, the point is, the line does come up later, and we find out that Shizuku made that comment based on past experience where she got her hopes up, but not in a situation that would really be described as "being led on," because it was more of an isolated incident, and not a constant, "I promise, I promise, I promise" kind of thing.

And so, sometimes tweaking has to be done. We tend to get it into our heads that if you're paying attention to all the nuance that you can avoid those situations, but maybe it happens to us more than we remember. Maybe we'll start keeping track. We know it happened a couple of times in Sherlock Bones. I think I made an entry about the typo that we didn't realize was a typo. There was another time where we suspected even as we turned in the translation that future information would reveal that tweaking would need to be done, but we didn't have the next volume so we couldn't read ahead to find out and fix it. (It involved an important piece of evidence that first comes up in volume six.) Mystery manga is probably the worst for that kind of thing.

Today I'm thankful for finishing our second draft of Say I Love You., chocolate rocks to help us get through our little bit of overtime (we're taking time out to babysit tomorrow, and we'd rather work late on Thursday than Friday), kids that are old enough (and nice enough) to follow instructions, the lovely pink and green color scheme on the Japanese cover to volume four of Say I Love You., and Page being so cute on the giant plush snake.