Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Negima! part two

We finally got a day to just focus on work today, but sadly we had other things to do (like go to the store), so we're not as caught up as I hoped we'd be. Oh well. I mentioned we'd have a Part 2 to our Negima! post, so let's do it!

Negima the Omnibus

That's probably not exactly right grammar-wise, but when you're thinking of titles, it's important to have fun.

So Negima! Omnibuses. As I mentioned before, reading the English version of Negima! sparked our egotistical...ness, and so we were constantly like, "Well, I would have translated it this way blah blah blah." We may or may not have been vaguely aware that even Del Rey Manga wasn't entirely happy with the way the English adaptations turned out. It kind of makes me sad, thinking back, because the people who did the earlier volumes probably worked hard on it. I mean, we happen to know that there are translators who phone it in practically all the time, but we can't assume that's what they did. And based on what we read, it definitely looks like they put effort into it.

Ultimately, I think the problem, as always, is artistic differences. There were some parts where it looked like the original translator didn't manage to find what a tricky construction meant and similar issues, but overall I think it was artistic differences. So the question becomes, "How different can your 'art' be before it no longer counts as a translation?" In this case, we're pretty sure the line was crossed, but mostly by the adaptation writer, not the translator. I mean, it's one thing to come up with a creative turn of phrase, or a metaphor or something that wasn't really in the original but conveys the sentiment really well...and it's an entirely different thing to insert your own commentary into the characters' dialogue. For example, there was the part where Negi comes up to talk to Asuna, and she says, "Oh good. I was tired of being clothed." I mean, sure, the readers are probably all thinking, "Uh-oh, Negi's talking to Asuna again. Losing her clothes in T minus 5, 4, 3..." but that doesn't mean you should have Asuna point it out. If the readers are already thinking it, the comment is a bit superfluous.

What we noticed when we did the new translation for the omnibus is that the first three volumes didn't make either of us feel as dirty reading them in Japanese as we did reading them in English. Yes, Ken Akamatsu was waaaaay over the top with the fan service, but the adaptation writer seemed to play up the sex angle, which made it even worse. Especially because the main love interest was a ten-year-old boy.

I think I'm losing focus. Right, so we read Negima! in English and wanted to "fix" everything, and then we got our chance! Yay! ...Except that it was Negima!, which is kind of a nightmare to translate.

The experience was pretty educational. Technically, we were being paid to re-adapt the script, so we thought we should at least look at the original translation, if not use any of it. And actually, we did try to use as much of it as we could. There were several times where we were like, "Well, it's not how I would have translated it, but it's not bad." There may even have been some lines that we thought were really good, but of course I'm too egotistical to have bothered remembering them. I should probably point out that "as much as we could" may not be an accurate reflection of how much of the translation actually worked--remember, "artistic differences."

Let's see, what else do I remember about translating the omnibuses? The main thing is that's where we mastered a new translation technique. The idea may or may not have crossed our minds before, but we had come to the conclusion that in Japanese, they use onomatopoeia to emphasize something, while in English, we use metaphors. So when Chamo said something about Negi's schedule being packed and used a sound to describe it (I don't remember which sound--Athena says she thinks it was gatchiri, but it might have been misshiri), we decided he should say something like, "Your schedule's packed tighter than..." And somehow we ended up going all the way with it and coming up with "a contortionist in a suitcase." We realized we might have gone overboard with the liberties, and it's possible that the editors changed it, but we figured it matched Chamo's character enough that it was okay to use it. It just made us giggle too much to be able to come up with anything else.

Oh! There was also the lexicon entry about witch hunts. We could really tell that a translator, an adaptation writer, or an editor did not agree with what that entry had to say, because the changes were blatant. (To give whoever it was the benefit of the doubt, lexicons are extremely difficult to translate, so it's possible that the translation rendered it incomprehensible enough that whoever wrote the final version had no choice but to fill in the blanks with their own ideas.) The entry was about how a lot of people blame the Christian church for all witch hunts, but that idea shows a lack of understanding of history. It goes on to cite examples of Christian leaders who encouraged their parishes not to take part in such torch-and-pitchforkery, and explains that they only reason the Christian church started getting involved is that they were losing influence and accusing someone of witchcraft is a great way to get rid of political rivals--in other words, witch hunts were more political than religious.

The adapted version turned it all around and said, "Christianity is totally to blame for witch hunts, and even when they stopped doing it so much, it was only a gradual decline." Or something like that. Our Box o'Negima is Packed, or we'd check.

Right, that's one thing I forgot to mention when talking about Negima! before. When Del Rey sent us the series, it came in a nice box that fit all the books rather nicely, with room for a few more. So we didn't bother putting the books on a shelf--we just kept them in that box. The box came to be known as our Box o'Negima (or alternatively, Box-o-Negima). We started out by keeping it in our spare bedroom, but as the series went on and there kept being flashback after flashback, it found a permanent-until-our-apartment-burned-down spot by the computer, so we could more easily grab a volume and find the dialogue we needed to insert into the flashback script. (It kept that spot even after we finished the series, mainly because we're terrible housekeepers.)

But back to the lexicon thing--we were sad, because the lexicons were always different enough that we had to translate them from scratch instead of using what they already had. (Not that that is any reflection of the other translators' skill, because those lexicons are hard. We discovered that the translator usually had found all the quotes (almost always, Athena thinks) to get the "official" translation of, say, Ovid's Metamorphoses, but we didn't know that, so we looked them all up anyway.) That was the worst example, of course. I mean, I understand wanting to change stuff so that it doesn't convey a message you disagree with, and even when you decline to translate something that's likely to have objectionable content, sometimes a small thing like this will come up. But I think in the case of the lexicons it bothers me because they were so obviously thoroughly researched, and it really came across (whether or not it was actually the case) that whoever did the research behind that entry knew more about the subject than whoever wrote the English version. And, to be fair, as a Christian, I don't like to see religion vilified (though of course I realize that there are lots and lots of people who have done terrible things "in the name of religion").

Okay, I think that covers it. On to a different series next time!

Today I'm thankful for finally finishing the first draft of that translation, getting to go to Lumosity today, successfully luring Page off of the keyboard so we could actually play the games there, having more pizza Pringles, and peanut butter M&Ms.
Tags: multi-part series 2, negima, translating

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