Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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A look at the process

I know you've all heard this before, but oh my gosh, you guys, Noragami is hard. We started our edit of volume three today, and we were being all, "Yeah, we're going to keep our expectations low and say we'll probably make it through one chapter today." As the day went on, we started to worry that even that was too much to hope for. Fortunately, things picked up, and we did manage to make it through one chapter.

To give you an idea of the insanely difficult sentences we have to deal with, here's one we got really stuck on today: はい。 For those of you who can't read Japanese, that's "hai." That was the whole sentence, and we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the best way to render it in English. It was ridiculous. It was really only like, maybe five minutes at the most, but for "hai," that's a long time.

See, the problem is this. I'm sure most of you know that "hai" means yes. So the obvious solution would seem to be to just translate it to yes, right? Wrong! (I think.) Because when someone gives you a command in English, you don't usually respond with just "yes." You respond with something like, "Yes, sir," "Yes, ma'am," "Yes, Your Majesty," "Yes, Mother," "Yes, Dear," etc. etc. etc. In other words, "Yes, Person I Am Addressing But Not By Name." Athena just pointed out the possibility of using the addressee's name anyway, but it just doesn't seem right in the context.

The problem then is to either A)figure out the most appropriate term of address, or B)figure out a workaround. Normally A would be super easy. Are they talking to a man? Then "Yes, sir." If it's a woman, "Yes, Ma'am," unless it's a woman like Captain Gates in Castle, who prefers to be called Sir. Well, the addressee in question is Bishamonten, and she doesn't really seem like a sir or a ma'am. At least not from Kazuma, who was the speaker. I mean, she's tough but she doesn't seem the type to deliberately ask her minions to call her sir--she doesn't seem to mind being reminded of her femininity. And ma'am is just too formal (and informal at the same time) for these particular characters.

So we tried to find a workaround. We tried "Right away," but somehow that didn't seem to fit, like "right away" means Kazuma is going to go off and make some sort of preparations, but he didn't do that. "Of course" was another option, but that seems like maybe it needs a form of address again, or like, extra obsequious or something. And Kazuma is not obsequious.

We actually had something that we had put in as a placeholder when we typed up our first draft, and that was "milady." We were wary of it..."wary" makes it sound like we were afraid it would jump out and bite us, which kind of makes sense if you equate the term with Milady from The Three Musketeers, but anyway we weren't sure it was the best choice, because it might be a little over the top. But not as over the top as, say, O Oneness. "Yes, O Oneness." Yeeeah, that would not accurately reflect the relationship between Bishamonten and Kazuma. Milady seems a little obsequious, too, come to think of it, but maybe not too servile?

Anyway, it seemed like it might work, because we're dealing with Japanese deities, which kind of makes them historical characters, so it would be okay to use more historic nobility-related terms, right? But on the other hand, Bishamonten and her shinki have pretty modern-looking uniforms. "Yes, Captain." "Yes, Commander." "Yes, my lord"...hey, that one kind of works because of the whole deity thing, and then since lady is the female version "milady" wouldn't be too bad a choice after all...

The real difficulty arises in that Kazuma clearly has a bit closer of a relationship to Bishamonten than just servant to master. So of course we want to reflect that, and I feel like milady kind of succeeds in that, maybe...

So, in case you haven't figured it out, so far we've decided to go with, "Yes, milady," but we're still not married to the idea. And the thing of it is, we could probably write an essay(?) like this for something on just about every page of Chapter 8 of Noragami. Okay, that's probably exaggerating some, but anyway, now you can see what kind of thought process goes into our editing. So on the one hand, I think it's important to think about these things when trying to translate characters, but on the other hand I fully acknowledge the likely possibility that we are seriously overthinking the whole thing. Also, if anyone has any better ideas, feel free to share!

Today I'm thankful for making it through our edit of Chapter 8 after all, getting to watch Nobunaga Concerto today, realizing that the costumes we want to make will actually be pretty simple to make if we can get the rest of the material we need, getting to read manga last night, and being almost done with laundry.
Tags: noragami, translating

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