Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena
double_dear

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Kazuma the Troublemaker

Kazuma was giving us more trouble today. He's like constant trouble, he's so hard to translate. Part of it is character voice, and part of it is the fact that there's a big chunk of his story that we don't know, and he insists on referring to it in ways that are difficult to make ambiguous and still retain the emotion involved. I think we've been pretty successful, though.

There was something else he did that nearly gave me a heart attack. He casts spells. Spells are usually fun, because they're a good chance to get all word-geeky. But then he makes it tricky, because Kazuma can't do anything without tormenting us, apparently. His first spell is "bakufu" (like the shogunate? ...No.), which has the kanji for bind and cloth. Okay, that's cool. "Binding cloth" is the obvious choice, but it doesn't really sound spell-like, does it? Wouldn't it be neat if there was some word in English that meant "binding cloth"? Well, as a matter of fact, there is. It's "bandage." That's even LESS spell-like, you stupid jerk! (<--unfairly venting our frustration at Kazuma) (I'm sorry Kazuma! It was just a joke!)

Okay, anyway, it's time to stop being mean to Kazuma, but the point is, now we knew that "bandage" means binding cloth (sort of; it's a cloth used for binding, hence a binding cloth), so let's go ahead and see if there are some synonyms that sound more spell-like. Checking the thesaurus...nothing. I mean, maybe tourniquet, but that just doesn't conjure the right image, either.

So we went to Wiktionary.org to see if we could find, like a Greek or Latin translation of "bandage" that might sound spell-like and still get the meaning across by being similar to English, but then we were like, "Dude, he's a Japanese shinki. He wouldn't be using Greek or Latin." "But Greek and Latin are to English was Chinese is to Japanese, right? It'll be fine!" Or it would be, if there were a Greek or Latin word for bandage that we could find on Wiktionary.

Then I remembered something! In Negima, the spells were all in a variety of languages, and that was kind of important to the whole magic system, which meant A)maybe the words themselves are phonetically important and translating it would take away their power, and B)since we left stuff in Greek and Latin for Negima (with an English translation beside it), we could totally leave spells in Japanese for Noragami! Victory!

...until we remembered Nora the Stray. This is where I froze up and felt like I might start hyperventilating. Maybe I should take that as a sign that I really need to loosen up. But the point is, if the words are phonetically important and translating them would take away their power, shouldn't we, like, not translate an important term like nora, especially since the very word nora makes shinki (including but not limited to troublemaker Kazuma) turn up their noses in disgust.

But the whole point of a stray is that they don't have a name, so it should be okay, right? Also, we've already been over the fact that translating nora makes it less confusing to the viewer/reader. Also also, spells like "bakufu" are kind of like interjections, and the reader knows "Oh it's a spell," and it makes more sense to just have the translation right there next to it, while nora is a noun that gets inserted into full sentences and stuff. So ultimately, we decided that maybe it's inconsistent and maybe it's not really, but either way, artistic license. Or something.

On a lighter note, there are times when we question a translation and don't have major existential crises over them. For example, I tweaked a line of Kazuma's (it's always Kazuma), and I asked, "Is that too casual?" to which Athena responded, "Um, I think Sherlock Holmes would say it." And that was the end of that. Without any prior discussion, we both acknowledged that Sherlock Holmes's (specifically the literary one's) manner of speech is an appropriate manner of speech to aim for when translating Kazuma, although we don't need to make it "quite so" British. (See what I did there? Because in the books, Sherlock Holmes says "Quite so" all the time. Ha, ha, ha.) Seriously, though, Holmes is polite and intelligent but not super stiff and formal, so he really does seem like a good match for Kazuma.

Today I'm thankful for getting a Lady Tsum, it being a time where we don't have to push ourselves, the summer event in Kingdom Hearts [chi] (even if these events do have a tendency to drive us crazy), helpful translations from Google Translate (I would never recommend machine translations for large amounts of text, but for two characters, it ended up pretty well this time), and Sherlock Holmes humor.
Tags: noragami, translating
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