Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena
double_dear

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Chaaaaaaan

Arrrrgh, we went to Facebook this morning to play Legend Cards, and somebody linked to an essay about how nice it is to finally have a different kind of princess. Or more like, "Guys, don't write off Brave just because it's a princess movie! It's so much better than all those other princess movies!" Or something like that. To be fair, I couldn't really say for sure, because we didn't make it to the end of it before we had to look away. So maybe it turned out to be something we totally would have agreed with if we'd just had more patience.

Aaaanyway, I was going to talk about -chan. I'm still in kind of a, "Ugh, who cares anymore!" kind of mood about everything, so Athena's really pushing to go play Theatrhythm instead, but I guess we should be a little bit responsible. We've been super escapist lately and we're not sure if what we need is to keep escaping for a little while or to stop being such slackers.

But anyway, chan. My first question about -chan, and I keep thinking about going to Twitter to see if we can actually get people to answer this, but not wanting to exacerbate our angry-at-the-world-ness (or "anger at the world," if you want to use "proper English"), is how do all the people who are against using Japanese name suffixes feel about the use of, for example, Monsieur in works like The Three Musketeers? It seems to be a pretty common practice, and yet we never see people complaining about it being lazy translating. Though to be fair, it's not like we read a lot of translated works, or any kind of reviews or anything of translations from anything other than Japanese. So for all we know, people complain about it all the time.

Right, I guess I should mention where this came from. Obviously it has to do with the complaints about the Sailor Moon manga translations. The critic pointed out repeatedly that they disagree with the use of "honorifics," specifically mentioning -chan every time, and also saying that people in the translation community disrespect manga translations precisely because they leave in all the titles in Japanese, which they consider to be lazy translating. They contest that every single Japanese title can be accurately translated into English, which we think is blatantly false (we've seen the Princess Tutu subtitles; Senior Mytho (for example) just is not something anybody says).

This particular critic also kept repeating that -chan is used only because the speaker wants to sound cute. We read that and thought, "Wow, that is so wrong." Actually, it was more like, (because we usually give people the benefit of the doubt for at least two seconds) "Really? ...No... no. No. Noooooooo."

See, we've been translating Higurashi, with a lot of Dr. Irie. He calls Satoko "Satoko-chan," and he is definitely not trying to sound cute. Of course, there are apparently a lot of scenes in the original visual novels where he's chasing Satoko around with maid costumes that he wants to force her to wear, and in those situations, yeah, he might want to sound cute, but when he's talking inside his head about saving Satoko from her abusive family and various other extremely serious and dark subjects, he still calls her Satoko-chan, and we're pretty sure he's not just trying to lighten the mood (inside his head) by sounding cute.

We can also look at Keiichi for an example. He calls everyone but Rika by their name, and Rika is Rika-chan. Keiichi is not the type to want to be called cute. In this case, we think he calls her Rika-chan to say that he thinks she is cute. This theory is reinforced by an exchange in the Ace Attorney games, where Phoenix asks Pearl if he can call her Pearls, because she's just too cute to only be called Pearl. In the Japanese version, he calls her Harumi-chan. All he did was add a -chan.

Aha!, you might think. See? Ace Attorney translated a -chan perfectly well! Well, yes it did, but here's how: it renamed all the characters. What if Pearl was still Harumi? I guess Phoenix (or Naruhodo now) could call her Haru, but that probably wouldn't carry the same nuance. It's like if I had a friend named Pamela (which I do), and I called her Pam (which I do). Of course, I don't mean to say that I don't think Pam is adorable, but when you hear me calling her Pam instead of Pamela, you don't think, "Oh they must be good friends." You're more likely to think, "Oh, that's a girl who goes by Pam." ...At least that's how we'd think of it.

Let's go back to Higurashi. Rena's real name is Reina, but everyone calls her Rena, probably because she asks people to call her that. (Incidentally, we often kick ourselves for not spelling that as Lenna. We found out too late that she was named after the Final Fantasy V character.) And that's kind of how we think of nicknames--not as terms of endearment so much as what people call people.

And another thing! I guess, since an "honorific" can be defined as a "title," you could technically say that "chan" is an honorific, but really it's a diminutive, which Wiktionary defines as a word expressing smallness, youth, unimportance or endearment. Wow, that fits chan to a tee, because I think I've seen it used in every one of those contexts. But the point is it's not used to elevate.

It's also not used, as I've been saying, to show the speaker's personality, so much as what the speaker feels about the addressee. In a sense, that is an indication of personality, but you know what we mean. And come to think of it, just about everyone in Host Club who calls people chan is definitely trying to sound cute, but Host Club is not an indication of the entire Japanese culture (says the girl trying to use Higurashi as an example of everything).

Anyway...we have more to say about the translation of Japanese titles (how in the world could anyone possibly translate -kun into normal sounding English?), but I'm done typing for now.

Today I'm thankful for getting to have a lovely time celebrating Mom's birthday last night, everyone enjoying the handbell game on Wii Music, getting to take home some leftover Texas sheet cake, getting to read manga today, and the meeting on Saturday only actually being two hours long.
Tags: higurashi, translating
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  • We did it!

    We did it! We finished our translation of Noragami and got it turned in on time, and we didn't have to work all day to do it! We even had time to…

  • Good times

    We started the latest Noragami today and oh my goodness, you guuuyyyyyys...! I mean, I can't say anything, because it would be spoilers, but this…

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    We were just trying to get our work done when people kept texting, and then we heard the gate open, and we were like, "Why is everyone talking to us…