Translation Pet Peeves



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Peace

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So I've been reading a fan translation of the Problem Children light novels series lately. And they do things that just irk me. Things like: leaving words in romanized Japanese (like [insert Japanese name of animal here]mimi, kawai, or sound effects) and leaving honorifics (-san, -chan, etc.). I know this is just a fan translation, but the feeling still remains.

So I ask you, fellow members of Kingdom Hearts Insider: What are some of your pet peeves (or as George Carlin calls them "Major Psychotic Fucking Hatreds") when it comes to translated works, whether it be cartoons, comics, or novels? Or even include non-English (or non-whatever your native language is) words being used incorrectly.
 

Muke

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Interesting topic!
I also don't like it when they keep the honorifics. It's really jarring to me, I dunno why xD
 

catcake

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I don't mind honorifics since there really aren't exact equivalents to use in English and it carries the meanings better. But nothing else should be left untranslated, if I see "kawaii" in any translation I'm dropping it bye.
 

VoidGear.

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I don't mind honorifics since there really aren't exact equivalents to use in English and it carries the meanings better. But nothing else should be left untranslated, if I see "kawaii" in any translation I'm dropping it bye.
Yes!!! Shit like kawaiiiii is absolutely awful
 

FudgemintGuardian

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When simple things aren't translated or are given romanized Japanese (sound effects, words with a blatant equivalent, etc.)
I can't remember what I was reading, but one time there was a fan translation that would put romanizations next to the sound effects and then at the bottom of the page have what the they translate to. Couldn't this person have, oh I don't know, just put the frigging translation next to the sound effects to begin with?!

I usually hate it when honorifics are kept. It's vary jarring, especially when names are said constantly.



 

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I'm actually a fan of honorifics but I understand that it can sound a bit weird. Sometimes though, they're just badly needed to show, e.g., the respect a character has for another character, like older people in high school and such.
 

maryadavies

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I don't mind honorifics, or attempts to localize 'em ("Mr Monster" comes to mind in one anime I have)

Me tho; I do NOT like overly literal translations. Please, if you're going to translate, you may have to localize just a tad since some puns/jokes do not translate very well. Getting that right is just a really fine balance...
 

Peace

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Oh. Just thought of another one. I also hate it when the name order (last name, then first name) is kept. To me that just serves to confuse and/or piss off people.

Again, something I noticed with the Problem Children english dub. I'm starting to get the sense that Problem Children is cursed with shitty adaptations.

I'm actually a fan of honorifics but I understand that it can sound a bit weird. Sometimes though, they're just badly needed to show, e.g., the respect a character has for another character, like older people in high school and such.
I think you can get around honorifics if you just adjust the way one character speaks to another. Like I don't talk to my grandma the same way I talk to my friends.

But it is kinda tough when the younger character only refers to the older as "Senpai."

I do NOT like overly literal translations. Please, if you're going to translate, you may have to localize just a tad since some puns/jokes do not translate very well. Getting that right is just a really fine balance...
This too. Especially if they try to keep the sentence structure of the original language. Seriously, what the hell?
 

FudgemintGuardian

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maryadavies

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Haha Fudge. Some of those reasons why that guy mentioned is why I don't watch TV-Nihon and prefer Over-Time/EXCITE! subs for my toku fansubs now a days. TV-Nihon tends to do most of those sins, tho I don't mind karaoke that keeps the words on screen and just changes colors. A lot of newer guys do that now, at least the legit ones, tho they still can be overly literal at times if you got a bad one!

(You can google'em but I won't link them here. The usual reason.)

There's a fansub sin I have to mention. RIPPING translations off CR and stuff like that. That..that's not fansubbing. Translate, please.
 

Noir

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One of the things I find unfortunate when translating from another language is the inability to transfer one joke to English because of awkward translation. It can't be avoided though.
One example is Daedalic Entertainment, a German Video Game Developer. One of their games, Edna & Harvey, apparently displays some pretty hilarious comedy in the original German version, after talking to a close friend of mine from Germany. However, she explained that with the translation to English, a lot of the original humour would disappear. Which is entirely a shame.
 

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I try not to be too picky, especially since I long ago stopped watching/reading fan translations (the US companies have provided us legal alternatives for most of it), but I am irked by translatable words being left untranslated. Even among legal translations, there seems to be a lot of inconsistency there. Like there'll be two very similar terms, one will be translated, the other will be left untranslated with no apparent reason. It's very unprofessional.

When translators do this, it becomes a bit of a learning curve to watch anime/read manga. A new watcher/reader isn't going to what terms like "senpai" mean. I'm still not sure that even I do. I do not know the Japanese language at all, so I won't even begin to claim to.
 

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So I've been reading a fan translation of the Problem Children light novels series lately. And they do things that just irk me. Things like: leaving words in romanized Japanese (like [insert Japanese name of animal here]mimi, kawai, or sound effects) and leaving honorifics (-san, -chan, etc.). I know this is just a fan translation, but the feeling still remains.

So I ask you, fellow members of Kingdom Hearts Insider: What are some of your pet peeves (or as George Carlin calls them "Major Psychotic diddlying Hatreds") when it comes to translated works, whether it be cartoons, comics, or novels? Or even include non-English (or non-whatever your native language is) words being used incorrectly.
Honorifics are commonly left in with modern localization [Persona comes to mind [senpai etc], many manga publishing companies keep them and have a page to explain them and other cultural jokes] to keep the cultural identity.
Sound effects are also sometimes kept to keep that onomatopoeia that Japanese use as opposed to the American version [like kira kira to sparkle sparkle shit like that].

Something I hate more in translation is when they choose to sub an anime and leave the romanized Japanese but then translate it at the top. It isn't helping anyone. If you want to teach Japanese through anime, great, but don't do it in actual episodes for watching. I would also like to note that sometimes [especially for honorifics and other words like, idk "moe" which is a concept that Americans don't really know [outside of anime watchers]] there is not an English equivalent, so it's easier to leave the integrity and identity of the media at hand.
 

halfmango

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Honorifics are commonly left in with modern localization [Persona comes to mind [senpai etc], many manga publishing companies keep them and have a page to explain them and other cultural jokes] to keep the cultural identity.
Sound effects are also sometimes kept to keep that onomatopoeia that Japanese use as opposed to the American version [like kira kira to sparkle sparkle shit like that].

Something I hate more in translation is when they choose to sub an anime and leave the romanized Japanese but then translate it at the top. It isn't helping anyone. If you want to teach Japanese through anime, great, but don't do it in actual episodes for watching. I would also like to note that sometimes [especially for honorifics and other words like, idk "moe" which is a concept that Americans don't really know [outside of anime watchers]] there is not an English equivalent, so it's easier to leave the integrity and identity of the media at hand.
This. The problem with languages is that they don't match 100% to each other, especially when the culture is different. In similar manner it's much easier to translate Japanese to Korean and vice versa because they have honorifics/words of similar meaning and nuances, but that doesn't really apply to languages of other culture like English, German, Indonesian, etc.

And translating itself isn't an easy work, because raw-translating doesn't deliver the message that the author intends, but too much interpretation can lead to breaking off or simply not making too much sense. And jokes/culture unique words are crazy stuffs.
 

SoulXaldin

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I don't know if this is an anime only thing but, the greatest annoyance I have with translation (in terms of video games) is how they are too lazy to have voices sync up with the dialogue at times. NSUNS4 has the prominent example of this. It's flapping mouths galore. And I would be even more surprised if anime did this too since it seems like it doesn't happen.
 

Peace

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Finally had some time off to watch those videos, FudgemintGuardian. And yeah those illustrate pretty much everything here. And to be honest Annoyance, I forgot about the Persona games when I made this thread. lol.

Another thing I don't like when they don't translate the songs. I'm okay with them not doing the intros anymore. Although, it's appreciated if they do. But if it's the characters themselves singing, that's what takes me out of it because I have to process that it's not in English anymore and try to listen to the Japanese. Then after the song, it goes back to everyone speaking English and no one questions it. That's why I dropped watching the dub of Fuuka and K-On. And it's weird too since if a song comes out, there's a fandub of it within a week or so.
 

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Another argument to be made for honorifics is based on the audience. My assumption is that viewers who are dedicated enough to the medium to search out fansubs (as opposed to professional subs available for more mainstream anime) are more likely to recognize Japanese honorifics and possibly even prefer them, whether for added nuance or a sense of cultural identity as Annoyance points out. Of course this doesn't extend to all fansub viewers--InnerPeace and other commentators make that clear. But it's at least conceivable--the YouTube poster even points in his 4th video to fans who prefer "shinigami" to "death god" and "daimyo" to "feudal lord."

On those YouTube videos FudgemintGuardian shared: I agree with some of the points he makes and would probably prefer reading his subtitles to some of the ones he contrasts them with, but he has an obvious axe to grind. He puts way too much weight on four translation studies papers (whom he repeatedly refers to as "the top people in translation studies") to designate what is RIGHT and WRONG in translation. Trouble is, translation isn't all one thing, anymore than writing is, and different forms can appear in different contexts. I personally think fansubs are a fascinating new form of translation, and even if I don't like all of the trends that are developing (e.g. explanatory notes on the screen), I think it's worthwhile studying on its own.

If you want to watch an official sub that adopts many of the practices of fansubs, you can check out the Chinese anime The King's Avatar. The subs are alright for readability, but they make some embarrassing mistakes such as changing character and place names between episodes and directly translating names such as "Blade Master Annoying Nighttime Rain" (later changed to "Sword Saint Troubling Rain"). It's also a pretty subpar show imo, but according to the YouTube comments I am apparently in the minority in that opinion.
 

UmbraTsuki

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I'm actually a fan of honorifics but I understand that it can sound a bit weird. Sometimes though, they're just badly needed to show, e.g., the respect a character has for another character, like older people in high school and such.
This.

Another argument to be made for honorifics is based on the audience. My assumption is that viewers who are dedicated enough to the medium to search out fansubs (as opposed to professional subs available for more mainstream anime) are more likely to recognize Japanese honorifics and possibly even prefer them, whether for added nuance or a sense of cultural identity as Annoyance points out. Of course this doesn't extend to all fansub viewers--InnerPeace and other commentators make that clear. But it's at least conceivable--the YouTube poster even points in his 4th video to fans who prefer "shinigami" to "death god" and "daimyo" to "feudal lord."
This as well. I feel like some words shouldn't be translated. For example, in Naruto, "ninja" and "kunoichi" both have similar meanings/have equal significance. I don't remember at all what the fan translations or official translations were since it's been too long, but I believe if "ninja" is going to stay "ninja," "kunoichi" should be the same. Especially since it's one word, and that one word has no single-word English equivalent.

Basically, some things shouldn't be translated.
The worst fansub I saw was for No. 6. I had to sit through that entire show (it was 11 episodes, but still) seeing Nezumi's name translated to "rat." It's his name. Don't do that. His name means rat, but his name is not rat.

Side note, I think part of the reason honorifics sound ridiculous is thanks to people seriously misusing them and forcing them to sound ridiculous. I'll admit I was guilty of that as a young teen, and... *shudders*. Never again.

I suppose if it's subtitles or a dub, using honorifics doesn't really fit in, but I think when it comes to text translations (like for manga), they should be kept.
 

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With manga and Japanese novels, I have a stance about how they should be translated. If the setting is Japan, honorifics should be left in-tact. Romanized animal names should not unless we are talking about spirits and demons.

Acceptable: Nekomata. There is not actual translation without taking away what the creature is.
Not Acceptable: Neko. Not many non-native readers knows that 'neko' means 'cat'. So substitute the respective translation for the work.

If the series takes place in someplace like say England. DO NOT KEEP THE HONORIFICS! NOBODY in England or most English-speaking countries use san, chan, kun, dono, sama, sensei, sempai or kohai. They are very out of place which is one of the reasons they are NOT included in Black Butler's English adaption. It is the same with Final Fantasy XII, a game that is primarily Western Fantasy based.

Cardcaptor Sakura is a prime example of how translations should work. The honorifics are left intact but animals are referred to as the animal would be in English. Tomoyo doesn't say kawaii in Romaji, but uses various English equivalents. Leaving the Japanese Katakana background sound effects however is perfectly fine because to edit it you have to erase sooo much of the image and you lose the onomatopoeia effect. Which a lot of times, their sound effects actually sound closer to the sound they represent than the English Comic Book equivalents.

Really though, translations should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

On a related note: Subbing errors. Yuki Usagi DOES NOT mean 'Yukitoad'. [glares at NIS America for screwing up CCS subs] Yuki Usagi is Snow Bunny. Kero calls Yukito Snow Bunny NOT Yukitoad.
 

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Kobayashi's Dragon Maid is a prime example of bad dubbing. The dialogue is absolutely embarrassing and every time the characters speak, it sounds like an Abridged series mocking SJWs.
 
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