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Author Topic: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...  (Read 17067 times)

Bregalad

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Unlike most people on this forum (and elsewhere) I am usually not very picky about what is a "good" and what is a "bad" translation, I can tolerate some level of freedom and do not consider that replacing "?!" by "!?" is an outrage to the original text and automatically makes a translation shitty.

HOWEVER I really do not appreciate translators that leaves japanese grammar particles such as "-san", "-sama" in translated text. I see this in anime subtitles all the time. I downloaded a brand new Chono Trigger translation for French language, supposedly a huge improvement from the previous available patches, as it was translated "directly from japanese". This is interesting and all, but they refer to Lenee as "Lenee-sama" which is just, horrible. This means that they were not able to translate the text properly, and had to leave things in japanese because of their incompetence to have an equivalent in the target language.

In this particular case it should have been translated something like "Her Majesty the Queen Leene" for example, to mark a form of respect. We do not use "-sama" as a mark of respect in any western language, and this should not be in the text, period.

justin3009

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2016, 10:04:58 am »
This is one of the many reasons why that I plan to work on Sailor Moon - Another Story in the near future and get a more cleaned up translation out.

The game does the whole -san, -chan and all that bit not too mention all the actual Crystal names and such are still their Japanese counterparts.  I'm thankful for what was there but it was just overall a sloppy way to incorporate it.  It's not bad, but it doesn't feel quite 'professional' in a sense and can leave the person playing confused.
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Gemini

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2016, 10:12:33 am »
To think that Altus uses this crap in their official Persona translations and some people back in the days of Innocent Sin begged me and Tom to keep them. Yuck.

Another suggestion would be: don't use Japanese quotation marks, they make no sense whatsoever.
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jink640

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2016, 11:40:04 am »
I agree completely. I know that the word "cringe" gets thrown around a lot on the internet, but there isn't much that will rattle me more than when I hear honorifics being thrown around in English.

Seihen

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2016, 06:57:37 pm »
This, a million times over. I think it's a bizarre misunderstanding among anime/manga/game fans that the suffixes actually matter more than they do. Not that it's totally their fault -- any and every program about Japan likes to talk about it like it's some sort of life-altering construct of Japanese culture.

But really, 90% of the time it rarely actually matters and the speaker probably isn't even aware of it. Since it does NOT exist in English, including it needlessly takes the reader out of the experience by asking them to try to process some sort of arcane aspect of a foreign culture. Considering it has no impact on the plot or character development, it's purely detrimental to the reader's interaction with the story.

SunGodPortal

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2016, 07:16:44 pm »
I think they add color, but I understand that many disagree with me.

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Considering it has no impact on the plot or character development, it's purely detrimental to the reader's interaction with the story.

Only if they are not aware that countries and cultures exist outside of the United States.
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STARWIN

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #6 on: April 24, 2016, 08:11:48 pm »
Since it does NOT exist in English, including it needlessly takes the reader out of the experience by asking them to try to process some sort of arcane aspect of a foreign culture.

Well, for most people a culture where english is used is also foreign. Any language being the current lingua franca should expect all kinds of abuse.

I think it is acceptable for a translation where what is written is also spoken, such as subtitles or games with voice acting. Unnecessary for pure text.

Seihen

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #7 on: April 24, 2016, 11:07:13 pm »
For anyone else interested in a discussion on the subject from a professional and fan translator, this article here is a good read.

https://missdream.org/editorials/professional-translation-and-the-american-manga-industry/

I don't agree with 100% of what she says, but I think it provides a slightly clearer explanation on the cultural context of -san, -sama, and more natural ways of dealing with them in translation.

Rotwang

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #8 on: April 25, 2016, 12:34:07 am »
Why make Japanese the exception, when in the English language we still say "Kaiser Wilhelm" or "Czar Nicholas II" or refer to French women as "Madame"? Who really gives a fuck when English is so bastardized anyway? This sounds more like a personal beef to me.

SunGodPortal

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #9 on: April 25, 2016, 12:44:11 am »
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Why make Japanese the exception, when in the English language we still say "Kaiser Wilhelm" or "Czar Nicholas II" or refer to French women as "Madame"? Who really gives a fuck when English is so bastardized anyway? This sounds more like a personal beef to me.

Yeah, English is pretty stupid. There's too many nonsensical variations on how letters should be pronounced and there are a number of letters that simply are not necessary or don't make sense:

c = s, k
q always has to have a u behind it (when it makes a ky or kw sound so there's no need for q in the first place)
i isn't necessary since y makes the same sounds AND more
x isn't necessary at all (eks, z)

Plus, any language that has silent letters is a least a little stupid. If they aren't supposed to be pronounced THEN DON'T FUCKING INCLUDE THEM!!! Get rid of them...
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Rotwang

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2016, 01:02:17 am »
Do yourself a favor and never try reading anything in Welsch, you might have an aneurysm.

jink640

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #11 on: April 25, 2016, 01:04:02 am »
Don't even get me started on why the hell knife has a K.

Rotwang

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2016, 01:11:16 am »
You mean to tell me it isn't pronounced k'NEEfay?

But seriously, English suffers from this thanks to the Norman invasion and the subsequent French corruption of the language. English and German were almost the same language before that happened. That's why we still have words like knight (Knecht) and light (Licht) where in the German equivalent you pronounce the parts that are silent in English. The French just couldn't handle that pronunciation and that's why it's like this today.

mevoid

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2016, 01:40:02 am »
What about f and ph. Why does ph have to exist?! It sounds EXACTLY like f. There is literally NO difference.

Seihen

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2016, 01:55:00 am »
Why make Japanese the exception, when in the English language we still say "Kaiser Wilhelm" or "Czar Nicholas II" or refer to French women as "Madame"? Who really gives a fuck when English is so bastardized anyway? This sounds more like a personal beef to me.

Umm... I'm not sure I understand where you're going here. "Madame" is a word in the English language. It may have been borrowed from French, but it's still considered an English word now. So the usage of it isn't necessarily wrong.
Czar is also an English word and so is kaiser (ever eaten a kaiser roll?).

For that reason, the usage of "sushi" and "karaoke" in an English translation would be perfectly okay. The issue is when you simply toss in foreign language into your English script when it either has a proper English translation ("What time is it?" "Well, let me check my ude-dokei!" -- use "watch" instead) or has no semantic value (is it really necessary to translate slight differences in speech patterns between men and women?).

And for the people complaining about phonics... umm.. wow, this thread got derailed fast.

mz

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2016, 02:13:56 am »
"Madame" is a word in the English language. It may have been borrowed from French, but it's still considered an English word now. So the usage of it isn't necessarily wrong. Czar is also an English word and so is kaiser (ever eaten a kaiser roll?).

For that reason, the usage of "sushi" and "karaoke" in an English translation would be perfectly okay.
You make it sound like someone created the English language once and then set it on stone.

Madame, Czar, and all, became English words because people started to use them. If enough people use san, sama and all, they'll become English words too.

It doesn't matter if there's already another "proper English translation", if people use the new imported word more, the old "proper English translation" is forgotten and the new imported word becomes the "proper English translation" from that point on.

The word tsunami is a good example: no one used it before 2004, you had tidal waves or seismic sea waves. In Spanish we had "maremotos", but I've never heard that word used again since then...
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SunGodPortal

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2016, 02:21:21 am »
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And for the people complaining about phonics... umm.. wow, this thread got derailed fast.

That happens. If four people are sitting at a picnic table talking about the same thing but two start a tangent they are not expected to move to another table. :)
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Seihen

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2016, 02:56:17 am »
The word tsunami is a good example: no one used it before 2004, you had tidal waves or seismic sea waves. In Spanish we had "maremotos", but I've never heard that word used again since then...

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tsunami

The word tsunami has been used in the English language since the early 1900s. I knew the word before I ever even knew any Japanese as a child growing up in the 1980s/1990s in America. So no, the word wasn't a new borrowing.

As for the rest of your points, if you assume that "just using a Japanese word is totally okay because the reader should spend 3 hours researching Japanese culture," you're either an awful translator or don't care about readability.

Bregalad

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2016, 03:21:20 am »
Glad I am not the only one who think this is an annoyance.

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Only if they are not aware that countries and cultures exist outside of the United States.
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Why make Japanese the exception, when in the English language we still say "Kaiser Wilhelm" or "Czar Nicholas II" or refer to French women as "Madame"? Who really gives a fuck when English is so bastardized anyway? This sounds more like a personal beef to me.
I was talking about a FRENCH translation, however the principle applies to english as well.

(I am pretty sure the Russian emperor's title should be written "Tsar". "Czar" sounds like a Hungarian spelling, or something.)

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But seriously, English suffers from this thanks to the Norman invasion and the subsequent French corruption of the language.
I guess you have no idea at which extent modern French has been corrupted by English the last 20 years. Many false friends, like "abuse", which in french, means "using too much a product", is constantly used by the media for its english meaning "using violence of someone else", which in turns makes the population use it that way.

In the professional world it's even worse, we are flooded with things like "management", "marketing", "leadership", etc...

But perhaps we're relatively privileged in international comparison, French is the only language I know that have another word than "Computer" (or a close derivative) to mention a computer.

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The French just couldn't handle that pronunciation and that's why it's like this today.
I cannot know how it was in the middle ages, but today, definitely not. As a French native which learned both German and English as foreign languages, I can assure you that German pronunciation is dead simple and is absolutely no problem for us. (The German phonemes are almost exclusively a subset of the French phonemes, the only exception is 'H' sound which exists in German and not in French). English pronunciation, on the other hand, is extremely tough and I probably won't be ever able to get it "right".
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 03:35:15 am by Bregalad »

mz

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Re: Message for translators: Please no NOT use -san / -sama / etc...
« Reply #19 on: April 25, 2016, 03:36:35 am »
The word tsunami has been used in the English language since the early 1900s. I knew the word before I ever even knew any Japanese as a child growing up in the 1980s/1990s in America. So no, the word wasn't a new borrowing.
Eh, OK. I should have only spoken for Spanish.

Still, the point is the same. Imagine a Seihen in 1897 creating a forum thread saying "Stop using the word tsunami, we already have a proper English translation for tidal waves, it's not okay to make the reader spend 3 hours researching Japanese culture" etc etc.

That's what you would look like for someone reading this thread in the future when these "awful" translations of anime/manga/dorama have become very popular and everyone knows what is san or sama.

Surely in your translations you use words like "smiley" instead of emoji, "pornographic anime" instead of hentai, etc. Those proper English translations must be a blast to read.
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