Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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So...stuff. Right, now that Missions of Love 2 has been out for a while, we can probably talk about it without spoiling too much stuff. Some of you might remember several months back when we were going off on another rant about how it's not necessarily lazy translating to leave Japanese name honorifics in an English translation, because sometimes they just don't translate. We had to bite our tongues (metaphorically) when writing that, because Missions of Love is such a great example of how the use of honorifics by certain characters in relation to other characters shows relationship dynamics that can't really be translated by saying, "An American speaker would just do it like this." People who say it's lazy translating say that there's always a way to show those dynamics without leaving in things like -san, but that's not true, because you always have to be careful when using the word "always."

So let's talk about name honorifics in Missions of Love. We'll start with Yukina, because she's the main character. She doesn't use them. She just doesn't, because that's who she is. Things like -san are used to elevate the person whose name it's attached to, and Yukina never elevates other people. I think she has respect for people as fellow human beings, and she will use titles like Sensei, but she doesn't think anyone is above her. When she first starts the whole thing with Shigure, she calls him Kitami. Not Kitami-kun, even though -kun is one of the less respecting honorifics, it still shows some little respect.

In volume two, she starts calling him Shigure, because people who are supposed to be in love call each other by their first names. If we were to try to translate that into a more Western vocabulary...well, we've gotten into the habit of calling people by their last names, and Yukina is the type of person who would do that, even as a middle school student. So in her case, it would probably work to just have her do her normal thing, but that's exactly because she doesn't use titles.

Shigure. When he's being fake, he uses all the proper terms of respect. That means calling Yukina "Himuro-san," even though he hardly respects her enough to actually call her -san. It's been a long time since we've translated volume two, but we think he just refuses to call her by name at all when they're alone. She's "you," which is another Japanese culture thing that probably almost never comes across in translation (unless specifically pointed out--"I have a name, you know!" kind of thing). It's like a refusal to acknowledge that someone is worth calling by name, first or last. (If you read the series, you might notice that Shigure never refers to Akira by name (again, first or last).) So how would that go in a Western setting? Miss Himuro in public? In a middle school, that doesn't really seem to work.

You could say, that because in Western society, we call people by their first names to show an amicable relationship, maybe he should call her Yukina in public. Well that won't work, because volume two is where he starts calling her Yukina, and she reacts to hearing him call her by her first name. It could be possible that he could have a pet name for her, but that gets all kinds of mushy, and nobody wants to go there. Especially because if we tried to come up with a nickname, it would have to be a different nickname, and sound more romantic, than whatever Akira would be calling her becaaause...

Akira is one of the few people who thinks fondly enough of Yukina to call her Yukina-chan. In this case, since Akira is the cute one, it's possible that he's using -chan "just to sound cute," but since he refers to the new character who shows up in volume three as "Mizuno-san," I'm pretty sure he's using it as a term of endearment. (You'll also notice he never calls Shigure by name, but he does refer to him as Kitami-kun a few times, mostly before he starts to hate him.) But since -chan is used for little girls in general, he would have a more generic nickname for Yukina, if he had one, which would be how we'd translate it if we didn't want to use -chan.

Maybe something like Yuki for Shigure and Kiki or Nana for Akira... Hmmm... I guess it could work...but only because Yukina actually lends itself to nicknames, unlike things like Mami. Fortunately, nobody in the series would call her Mami-chan...except for Yukina's mother, who's the type to call any girl she meets -chan. And it would be very forward of Yukina's mother to randomly call Mami by a nickname. It might work if there was a line like, "Mami-chan, ne?" which would be translated to something like, "[I'll call you] Mimi then!" Hmmm... Thinking about it some more, would it slow the readers down to see a name that's so different from "Yukina"? So it's possible that it could work in this series to translate out all the name honorifics.

But then it wouldn't come across that there's another girl that Shigure calls by first name. The first time you hear anything about Mami is when Shigure says her name...and that's all you get. If we translated that to a nickname, everyone would just think that was her name. Unless we did like in Ace Attorney and changed all the names. Then we could make it work a lot better. In other words, it's possible to translate name honorifics, but you're always going to run into a snag.

Have we ever mentioned that one of the interesting differences between Disneyland California and Tokyo Disneyland is the cast members' name tags? In California, all the name tags have the cast member's given name, because that's what we call people we're on friendly terms with in America. But in Japan, all the name tags have the cast member's surname, because it's (usually) very impolite to call someone by their given name when you don't know them at all.

Today I'm thankful for getting through another happy(?) volume of Missions of Love, getting to have lots of interesting conversation last night, being reminded how grateful I am to have the standards I have in my life, having plans to order cute little mini pizzas tonight, and not having to take home all the leftover cookies (there were about a million of them).
Tags: language geekiness, missions of love

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