We still haven't heard back about the new format, and we really want to before we get back to work, because next is Hiyokoya, and if we have to do Hiyokoya, which is already one of our most time-consuming titles, with the new format, that takes two to four times as long to use, we may have to do something drastic. I wanted to think of a funny example of what a drastic something might be, but my imagination is not wanting to work so much right now. Ah well. At any rate, it may be for the best we haven't heard anything yet, because we're enjoying our little vacation.
This past week or so we've been thinking a lot about fans who want literal translations. I've once read a fan saying that they like to see bad grammar in a translation because then they know it's accurate, which is ridiculous because I could easily translate something as the opposite of what it said, and then throw in some bad grammar. The only way to know for sure if a translation is accurate is to learn Japanese yourself. If you're not ready to devote that much time to it, then you'll just have to trust that people know what they're doing.
Our policy on translating is to translate the lines how we understand them, based on our knowledge of Japanese, our knowledge of English, our use of dictionaries, what we know about the characters, and how the characters use their Japanese. We like to keep it as close to the feel of the Japanese as possible, but since we're not Japanese ourselves, it's true that sometimes we have to guess. And it's also possible that what we've thought was right all along is, in fact, wrong.
A few things have happened that indicate that there are some people who think that our way of translating is too "loose." So, for kicks, we decided to choose a page of manga at random and translate it literally. Okay, so not one-to-one literally; we still added a few pronouns that weren't in the original Japanese, and we made sure to change the grammar (most of the time) to subject-verb-object instead of subject-object-verb as it always is in Japanese (unless they add the subject afterward for clarification--darn that zero pronoun!) so that it's readable in English.
This is page 132 in (the original Enix printing of) volume 1 of Saiyuki. For those of you unfamiliar with the series, this scene has the four main characters traveling in the mountains, and the only place around with people is a temple. It's either stay the night there, or camp out.
Priest: Some sort of business!?
Hakkai: We are travelling persons, but...
Hakkai: Even for only this night, couldn't we humbly partake of being lodged in this direction?
Priest: As for this place, due to it being a sacred temple...
Priest: ...it will not go to the reason of inviting in persons of unknowable lineage!
Gojyo: (Feces!) Because of this, as for me, guys called priests are hated!!
Sanzo: Hmm, first ear.
Hakkai: We are bothered, yes? (Hmm)
Goku: Hey, my stomach is diminished! Sanzo!!
Ah, that was hilarious.
But on the other hand, it kind of makes it sound like the Japanese have limited intelligence (or like we have limited intelligence. hmm), when really they don't. They just talk about things differently. That's why one of the main questions we ask ourselves when translating is, "How would this person say it if they'd grown up speaking English?" Of course, that inevitably becomes, "How would they say it if they'd grown up speaking English the way we've grown up speaking English?" but we do our best. I hope.
Today I'm thankful for refrigerator space, surprise acts of service, Nanatsuiro Drops and its being made of warm fuzzies, literal translations making me feel better about when we're insecure about what we hope is a good translation, and that book on Japanese we got a long time ago that explains very well the meaning of "wa." I never did finish reading it. Hmm.