Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Thinking about translation

This morning, Kodansha Comics posted an interview with the creator of Noragami! Or rather, a translation of an interview manga somebody else did. It's fun and has some neat information, but it had us wondering the whole time we read it: why didn't WE get to translate it? Probably because all our editors know we're ridiculously busy. Boo. We would have made time for Noragami. And due to the usual occupational hazard, I spent a good deal of time wondering what the source material said...

Anyway, we got into an email discussion with lyschan about Noragami subtitles, and that got me wondering about what the new Fruits Basket translation is going to look like. Mostly because of the Akito actually being a woman thing. I do think I've explained our opinion on this matter several times, but in case somebody missed it, we think that all characters should refer to Akito as "he" until such time as it becomes okay not to do so without incurring the wrath of Ren, and includes in private conversations among the characters that know the truth. Because the fact is, if you switch back and forth, you're bound to slip up, because that's how humans are, and if Shigure, Ayame, Hatori, or Kureno (yeah, right, like Kureno's going to be talking about anything with anyone) were to slip up in front of Ren, that would be a nightmare, or if another Sohma, let's say Isuzu, happened to overhear them, that would lead to all kinds of complications. So it's best just to use masculine pronouns.

But our discussion about Noragami translations involved an observation we made that some translators and creative writers have a fear of presenting things incorrectly, so a translator who knows the truth about Akito might be reluctant to indicate that maybe he or she does not know the truth. It kind of reminds me of when we were doing the new translations for Negima, and Asuna was asking about the Thousand-whatsisname, so as a little jab at the previous translation, we had her ask about the Southern Master or whatever he's called, because one of the fans' biggest complaints about the original Negima translation was that it rendered Thousand Master as Southern Master. We thought all the fans would be like, "Ah ha ha, I see what you did there!", but when the book came out, the reaction seemed to be more like, "Oh my gosh, please tell me they're not making that mistake again!" (Athena says it was more like, "I think that was intentional; let's hope it was.")

So we definitely understand if the new translator wants to try to avoid using pronouns at all costs. But that's just highly impractical. It would sound completely unnatural! ...Well, I guess it's possible that it wouldn't; I haven't read Fruits Basket in a long time, and maybe the conversations about Akito are brief enough that it could be worked around. It's not my problem now, anyway, but New Translator, if you happen to read this, our advice to you would be to not worry about the fans who already know the plot twists, and go ahead and use masculine pronouns for Akito until otherwise appropriate.

Speaking of Fruits Basket, we had been withholding our strategy for Tohru's speech pattern as a bit of leverage to convince whoever rescued it to let us translate it again, but since that's not going to happen anyway, here's what we wanted to do: We would have gone back and read the volume about Katsuya, and first figured out how to convey his unique speech pattern (which isn't really that unique; it's just polite verb conjugations with sarcastic content, if we remember correctly) and then tweaked it a little bit to make it sound off for Tohru. I think this probably would have resulted in having smart guy Katsuya using big words, and Tohru using big words incorrectly, like "intermediate family" instead of "immediate family". It would have been really hard to do consistently, though, because it's not a kind of speech pattern that we're used to using or hearing. So I guess we can be grateful that it's not our problem.

Today I'm thankful for getting to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, making fairly good progress on work today, getting to read a neat Noragami interview, remembering to order new jeans, and getting to wear our soft fuzzy slippers.
Tags: fruits basket, noragami, translating

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