Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Seeing myself in an unflattering light

So last night, we were looking for information on the Kodansha USA panel at Comic Con, so off we went to Twitter, because we couldn't find anything anywhere else, and we figured somebody live tweeted it. At Twitter, we discovered that a bunch of Psych cast members are on Twitter, so despite our lack of plans to return to Twitter, we followed them! Ha!

But more importantly, we did find some tweets from the Kodansha panel, and we learned something that we thought was very interesting. It's probably old news to people who actually follow English manga sites, but we keep ourselves out of the loop, so it was new news to us that people are unhappy with the recent Sailor Moon manga translations. Of course, this made us feel a little smug, because, as you all know, we were very upset to find out that Kodansha was re-releasing the series and not letting us translate it.

So we wanted to know more. A quick Google search led us to what appears to be the source of the vitriol, and we started reading. At first, when the author of the site listed general problems, we were like, "Yeah, they probably wouldn't have had that problem if we translated it." But then we kept reading the specific examples, and quickly became less impressed with this person's evaluation.

It was kind of an eye-opening experience, really, because a lot of the stuff they said was exactly the type of stuff we say to ourselves when we're on fault-finding missions, like when we read Funimation's Host Club subtitles. It was like, "Wow, so that's what it looks like to other people when we do that. Ew; we need to not be like that."

On the other hand, because we have the same tendencies, we were able to recognize the comments for what they were: fault-finding. They were clearly looking for things that were wrong with the translation, and when you look for that stuff, you're going to find it, because nobody's perfect. The really scary thing about it, though, was the thought of somebody reading our translations the same way.

See, a lot of the "problems" with the translation had to do with what the critic called "unnatural wording." There were some examples that really were very awkward, but a lot of the phrases that they used as examples sounded perfectly fine to us. So on the one hand, I'm thinking, "This person doesn't know what they're talking about," on the other hand, I'm wondering if all the scripts we turn in, that we thought sounded really good, actually sound terrible. We think that what happened was, when you're not reading something to enjoy it, you don't really get into the world of it, and so things sound stranger than they normally would. For example, the word "puppy." If you think about it, that's a really weird word. But if you're not thinking about it, you're like, "Oh, puppy! Yay! Puppies!"

There were also a lot of contradictory complaints. A lot of, "They shouldn't have left that star in; they only do that in Japan, and it doesn't make sense in English," alongside, "And there they go again putting hyphens where there weren't any in the original Japanese." Well, of course there weren't any hyphens in the original Japanese--Japanese, as a language, doesn't use hyphens. Period. That's pretty close to saying, "They shouldn't put spaces between those words, because they never use spaces in the original Japanese."

...Okay, so I just realized that I'm fault-finding the fault-finder. I like to think it's from a sense of justice--they're accusing the translator unfairly, and I have to explain why they're being unfair. But the point is, it seemed like a lot of the problems they had were more with stylistic choices than anything else. It's true there were some things that were clunky and ought to have been handled differently, but they don't need to go online and make big long lists of the worst offenses.

We have a whole other post in the works about what they had to say about the use of "-chan." We're strongly considering writing it and offering it as a guest column to one of the many manga blogs out there. ...But that takes a little more effort than we might be willing to give. We'll see how strongly we feel about it after we write the thing.

Today I'm thankful for having a lovely chat with Mom today, getting to take the day off, having a day to sleep in (since we're waking up early tomorrow), getting a super adorable Seraphine card in Legend Cards, and not starving to death even though we didn't have breakfast (we don't have enough milk for cereal, and we didn't want to have Poptarts, because it's way too hot, and we didn't want to walk to the store for the same reason).
Tags: sailor moon, translating

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