Anyway, I was thinking of doing a followup on yesterday's post about slang, because...well, because I had more to say, of course. I realized after we posted that I didn't explain why we weren't sure if a reviewer saying "there's not a lot of slang" was a good thing or a bad thing. I think a lot of this comes from bad career parenting (<--making excuses). We started working at TokyoPop, where the standard practice was to have somebody translate it, and then have a good writer (alternatively written as "good" writer, depending on your opinion of the final product) come along and fix it up. Around that time, I think one of the main things rewriters did was "slang it up" (<--phrase coined by me, as far as I know). In fact, we helped a couple of friends get translating gigs at TokyoPop, and one of our friends was assigned GetBackers. We haven't actually seen the English version of GetBackers (and in fact, the only reason we got to see the Japanese manga is that the main thing we did as interns at TP was read manga and write summaries of it (it was a pretty sweet deal, except that we loathe writing summaries)), but we hear they did some pretty strange things as far as trying to get the characters to talk "street talk," or whatever it was supposed to be (not saying "whatever" out of callousness, but out of a sincere lack of knowledge).
So I don't know if it was because we're slightly illiterate and therefore don't know good writing or what, but we had this idea that if you could fit English colloquialisms (i.e. slang) into a translation, you were doing a pretty good job. I guess our reasoning behind it is that, like we said yesterday, they use slang in Japan, too. So we thought having slang was just making it a more "real" reflection of the dialogue. Or something.
It's really a very abstract concept, so I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around it. But I should also point out that back then, we trusted that rewriters knew what they were doing, and if something went wrong, it was because of blatant and deliberate deviation from the original text, because obviously they were hiring translators who knew what they were doing, too, and if a translator translates well, then it shouldn't be that difficult for the adaptation writer to accurately convey the sentiment in better phrasing. Oh, how little we knew back then. (Of course, we hated any rewriter that did blatantly and deliberately deviate from the original text. These days, we still disapprove of it as a practice, but since we've stopped trying to share manga with people it doesn't make much difference to us anymore and we can just ignore it.)
What was I talking about? Right. Slang. Even today, I still sometimes wonder if we could have improved a translation by being a little more creative with the language. It's really a very fine line. Actually, the wondering has gotten even more intense after working on Kingdom Hearts manga. We've learned that it's definitely possible to be creative in reconstructing a Japanese sentence in English, and still maintain the sentiment and attitude and everything that was conveyed...possibly even better, but that's too hard to determine.
There was actually kind of an "Aha!" moment when we were translating the Kingdom Hearts II manga, but I don't want to talk about it yet, because it's from a part that didn't manage to get released in English the first time around. So I'm mentioning it here in the hopes of helping me remember to talk about it when that second omnibus comes out. For now, suffice it to say that translating Pete and Hades has been a real learning experience.
Today I'm thankful for getting to watch more Doctor Who last night, remembering to track our package from CD Japan, words, Thin Mint Crunch thingies being very tasty, and having a Freschetta pizza to eat for dinner tonight.