Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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We had an interesting translation experience today. Actually, it started about a week ago. Or if you want to get really technical, it started...a lot longer ago, when we translated a certain volume of Sherlock Bones. The last chapter in the volume was the first half of a case, which finished in the volume we translated most recently.

The point is there was a typo. We didn't think much of it, even though the title of the case indicated that there would be a typo, because there was already another typo, and because the two words were similar enough that as non-native Japanese speakers, we couldn't really tell the difference. Neither of the words comes up a lot in manga, or at least not in any of the manga we've translated, and the contexts were such that the words seemed interchangeable maybe. Or that maybe it was just a typo and we should just translate it in a way that made sense. I think that's the key right there--our job is always to translate so it makes sense. And by not being native speakers, we didn't realize that it sounded a little off, and that it wasn't supposed to make sense. Usually stuff like that becomes obvious soon enough that it's not a problem, but this time they didn't point it out until the next volume, and so we ended up having to make a bunch of corrections.

Of course there are always important clues and foreshadowing even in non-mystery manga where it can be helpful to know what happens later on in the story so as not to lose it in translation, but it's usually our opinion that if you translate it faithfully to the source material, it usually works out. This is one time where it really didn't. Just goes to show that we can always stand to improve our vocabulary. And when the title of a case indicates that key evidence is going to be in a typo, pay attention to every word in the text where the typo could be found.

And since we're talking about little translation incidents already, there was something I didn't think to bring up when we were reviewing +ANIMA. It was in volume one. Husky was part of a circus troupe masquerading as a mermaid princess, and he confronted the leader of the circus about something or other, and one of his demands was that he wanted real pearls as part of his costume instead of fake ones. He said to the circus master that the fake pearls "lessen his value as a princess."

When we're translating, sometimes scenes are really fun to read out loud, and we usually do it in English because it's easier for us to say. Sometimes we do it before we've even typed a translation of the line. This was one of those cases, and the line came out more as, "I'm supposed to be a princess!" We felt it got the sentiment across very well, even if it changed the nuance, so we left a note in the translation providing our adapted line as an alternate. That may or may not have set a precedent leading to the new style guide telling translators to always provide a literal translation, and give an alternate if necessary.

Anyway, the original nuance probably would have made more sense in the Japanese. This is where I talk like an expert when I'm really not. But in college, we did read chapters from the Tale of Genji, and we have seen anime and video games that take place in Heian Japan, so we know that, in Japan, most (if not all--not 100% sure) female nobility are referred to as hime, regardless of their relationship to the emperor. In other words, they're all princesses, but some of them are worth more than others. So in Japanese, you can be a princess and still only be able to afford fake pearls. But in American English, you're either super rich royalty or not royalty. Of course there are exceptions, like a deposed princess or something, but you get the idea.

Today I'm thankful for the yummy candy corn Mom bought today, managing to get through editing that chapter despite distractions, getting to play Ace Attorney last night (oh my goodness, we found out the character designer is going to be at the Ace Attorney cosplay gathering at Japan Expo and were sorely tempted to see if we could go), Mojo coming back (he had made himself extra scarce the past few days; we weren't sure if it was because of Page or toddlers), and getting to have cookies at our favorite fast food place yesterday.
Tags: plus anima, sherdock, translating

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