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Alethea & Athena
Back to bite 
4th-Jun-2015 06:09 pm
Oh man, we got a late start today. I'm not even sure how it happened! We didn't start working until it was practically lunch time! I guess it was a combination of new story at Kingdom Hearts [chi] and reading too many internet articles. Oh yeah, and there was a survey. It was kind of an interesting survey, and kind of a silly survey, but I guess that's how most surveys are (except for the ones that ask me to write detailed descriptions of my day at Disneyland). I think it also asked me not to tell other people about the questions, but I'm pretty sure it's safe to say it's about being an anime fan.

Anyway, there was an interesting thing last night. Since Kingdom Hearts [chi] was down for maintenance, as it always is on Wednesday, we went to a certain blog that reviews UQ Holder every week, as we always do on Wednesday. A lot of silly things get said in the comments, but we usually just read them and discuss among ourselves the validity of what was said (as perceived by us). But last night, we couldn't stay quiet any longer!

Why? Because someone suggested that we personally may regret a certain translation choice in the future. And they didn't even capitalize "the Twins" when they mentioned us! In this case, the word in question was "homunculus." The commenter suggested it was the wrong choice because...of something involving how homunculi are made and how the character that was being called a homunculus didn't really count as one. So if a real homunculus comes up later, then boy oh boy are we going to be embarrassed. (They didn't say it like that; I'm exaggerating for humorous(?) effect--not to disparage the commenter, but for my own personal amusement in wording choices.)

Now of course we'll be the first to tell you that we have regretted some translation choices when information was revealed later in a series, but there's a very important thing that needs to be considered when trying to determine whether a translator made the right choice or not: the original Japanese text. And in fact, the word "homunculus" was the word in the Japanese text, spelled out in furi-katakana (by which I mean furigana that uses katakana instead of hiragana) (or would it be furi-gatakana?).

So here's the really funny thing about the whole incident: we were translating a new chapter of UQ Holder! today, and lo and behold, there was a word that we regretted our previous handling of. I was going to tell all about it in this very LJ post, but then I remembered that nobody's (legally) read the chapter yet, so I shouldn't because of spoilers. But I can at least tell the first half of what went wrong.

The important thing to remember about UQ Holder! is that all of the main characters are immortal, so one of the fun(?) things the author gets to do is kill them off repeatedly. So now the characters are in a situation where they're training to get more powerful, and their trainer explains that when they're killed, they must regenerate quickly or somebody can just dump them in the ocean and be done with them. She also explains that, in order to inspire awe (through fear or beauty), when they regenerate, they should use some kind of special effect. For "special effect", she used the word "enshutsu", which usually gets something like "production" for a dictionary entry. And based on how it was used in the context, we thought it would be okay to just brush it aside and not really translate it.

Then it came up again, and we were like, "Oh. Maybe it would have been a good idea to have translated that into a specific word. Hm." So we worked around it, and we think it's okay, but there you have it.

Today I'm thankful for being able to work with past mistakes, finishing Say I Love You (now our crazy deadline crush is down to one! it's on Tuesday), getting to translate another fun chapter of UQ Holder!, being done with work for today, and not having to work too too late despite our late start.
4th-Jun-2015 10:46 pm (UTC)
I got My Little Monster! And I read a little bit of it on the walk back from the comic shop. But now I have to do some more work and then maybe I'll stay up late to read it since I took a nap today... anyway.

Since UQ Holder is being simulpubbed before it's paperpubbed(?), maybe you could still change the word for the print edition (or send a note to the editor telling them to change it—I'm pretty certain they do an editing pass and don't just print the pages straight from CR so they'd be making changes here and there anyway). Assuming the "production" word didn't come up in a much-earlier chapter that's already gone to print...

Poor, poor reviewer who doesn't know they're wrong about the homunculus. Maybe someday they'll learn.
5th-Jun-2015 02:52 am (UTC)
Yay! Here's hoping you can read the rest of it soon! Good luck with work!

We actually did try something like that with volume two, and I think it would probably work if there's not any weird diacritical marks involved. But I think we worked around it pretty well, and for all their attention to every little word choice, I don't think many fans will notice (unless they read this post and know to look for it).

Yeah, we commented to them to let them know and thank them for their concern. We haven't managed to care enough to see if they replied, though.
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