Impress your friends

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Unread postby Raven » March 31st, 2009, 5:05 am

Before I type up my answer though ... well, don't make it sound like you have to give up your precious time to indulge the topic. If you don't have time or not interest ... well, just don't response.



First, I don't hate the English language, criticizing/making negative comment about something doesn't mean I think it's crappy. I don't know why most people find it so hard to draw that line, "thing I don't like is crappy", that doesn't apply to me.

English is a "practical" language, business language, I think that's a fact that most people accept around the world. And being too descriptive about certain thing is a limitation in literature writing, that's what all my English teachers, from the AP literature in highschool to the advance composition professor in university and I agree with them. You don't agree because you just simply think otherwise, or because you're just too proud about the English language, that's fine, chalk that up as a personal opinion, but I believe it's well founded and hard to change opinion. If you don't want to think it as a "weakness or limitation" of English, just think being concise and clean is a "strong point and make English what it is", that's fine by me, no problem with two interpretation for the samething.

Does this mean I hate English? No. Am I accusing English doesn't have literature power? No. So is there a need for you to defend it from me? I hope not. The fact that I really enjoy mirrormoon work (which I hope you're aware -is- in English) should be more than enough to prove the language capability. I don't really think we really argue on the same context here.


Second, no need for sarcastic comment like "it's monotonous - let move on" ...etc... It's not the first time I have this type of conservation, and I use the word mono-tone all the times and you have the honor of the first one ever correcting me. To be frank, you'll see a whole bunch of misspelling in my post if it's not for Firefox, I bet you'll find grammatical mistake as well. But the point is, I believe you understand what I mean without straining your eyes, I think that's enough, let move on.


Third, I hope you can look at the argument with a moderate respective, since from what I can see you take my word and bend them to the extreme level. When I said as close to the original as possible, I'm sure as hell don't mean thing like particle, direct translation, word for word matching ...etc... Following your argument I would have say something like the translation should follow Japanese construct as well, like "I, curry, eat" or "curry, eat, I" and probably any translation from an Asian language would not make use about half the tense we have in English. No, that's not what I meant since it makes absolute no sense to me, I bet it doesn't make any sense to you either so let not push the argument that way. What you basically descripe is the exact reason why electronic translators all fail misery when it comes to translating literature.


What I meant is more of contextual understanding of the word and the way it sounds, the word can still make a contextual meaning while retaining a part of the original charm. The concept of using foreign word without involving the need of dictionary is not really a strange concept, especially in colloquial language. I have a few Mexican friends that speak perfectly proper English, their English is probably even better than mine. When we talk however, it's common for them to refer to me as "amigos" and I don't see any problem with that, in fact the word "amigos" for "some reason" feel a lot more friendlier and show a higher level of affectionate if they had use the word "my friend". Something it's not only the "equivalent" meaning that is taken into account, but there are more "contextual" sense that is ... well, not really possible to describe in word, it's more like of something you "feel" rather "understand".


I don't know if you're an Asian, but if you are you should have a good idea what I'm saying because again, it's hard for me to describe it. For example, in my language I always refer to my parents as "mother and father" whether it's pronounce or possessive adjective. So basically I would say something like this "Mother, can Mother give son Mother's pencil" instead of "mom, can you give me your pencil?". I'm fully aware that "there is nothing wrong" with the latter sentence, but as a "person" I have this weird-indescribable feeling that's I'm not respecting my mother, and of course, no need to say how ridiculous the first sentence sounds. I guess you can say I have the same feeling of something is lost if the translation change the Japanese honorific suffix, no matter how justifiable the replacement is. I guess it's something you won't understand unless you have an oriental language as your birth language. You can study the language all you want, but I think there are something you won't feel or understand unless it's your default language.




*DISCLAIMER* What I have been saying up to this point are basic reasoning in term of formal language, it has nothing to do with my obsession with Japanese culture or my level of Otakuness*END DISCLAIMER*

Ok, with that out of the way let have a more "contextual" debate as in on this board. Frankly, I don't think your argument is incorrect, rather ... it's just out of place. And yes, this will involve some Otakuism (yes, I know it's not a word, but you can guess what it means, moving on).

As part of my formal study I'm using the "Breaking into Japanese Literature" by Giles Muray as my reading practice. You can google the book and see what's it about. Basically it contains classical novel and short stories. This is "formal" literature in "written" form. And really, its translation is "exactly" how you like it I suppose. Very clean, with precise reference and no "onii-chan" translation so to speak. It's a good book to understand the language and it's recommended to me by an English teacher who taught English in Japan for 7 years, and he's heading the English Second Language department at a college right now in the US. (And yes, this guy also agree with me about the "limitation" of English like mentioned). However, do I want a visual novel to translate in the same way? No. For two reasons:

- First, as I mentioned before and I'm sure you're aware, in any language not just Japanese or English Colloquial literature is much different from formal written literature. And Visual Novel, for the most part, are Colloquial form. I think you're trying to apply the formal written standard to a Colloquial form ... which to me doesn't make sense.

- Second, yes, it's just part of Otakuism. Common, why do you think people here discuss about things "moe, Gah" ...etc... to begin with? And all of these suffix pronounces can't be denied of having great associate with Otakuism. It's what I think most of us here interested in more or less. Saber is so cute I won't call her any different than Saber-chan, and whenever Shriou suddenly adds a "-san" after her name, you'll know he's in trouble. :p


So ... sound argument maybe, but at the wrong place. If you like formal translation, pick up a formal literature book. In my "personal opinion", visual novel is much better with a literal and animeish translation. :wink:
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Re: Impress your friends

Unread postby mewarmo990 » March 31st, 2009, 8:33 am

Well, I'll offer my opinion to the OP since I would really rather not jump into the linguistics debate, especially when self-proclaimed otaku without an accurate understanding of the differences between Japanese and other languages/cultures are claiming otherwise and making fools of themselves.

ILPPendant wrote:As I see it, these are the criteria necessary to make this "normal-friendly", in order of priority:
  • Expunge (ooh, isn't that a lovely word?) honourifics and other unnecessary Japanese words.
  • Heggs? Replace the "haa"s and "fufufu"s with sighs, pants and chuckles. ...I never, ever thought I'd type something like that.
  • Remove the ero scenes. This is, of course, optional and could make a bit of a mess, but the 15-rated Realta Nua managed it somehow. Perhaps one could reverse-engineer its solution?
  • Consider changing the narrative tense. I simply can't deny that TakaJun's decision to keep Shirou's narration in the present tense worked very well but it is at odds with Western practice. Food for thought, perhaps?


  • As I see it, there is no way to completely eliminate honorifics/suffixes and still maintain the full connotations of the character interactions. The problem here lies with the cultural aspect of the Japanese language itself, and there's no need for me to explain what's already been repeated over the last 3 pages. That said, it isn't unthinkable nor impossible to substitute the honorifics since many official manga translations are successfully doing it, but you should still be aware of what is being lost in translation.
  • The sound effects could indeed be revised... maybe one could narrate them in the third person. Instead of "fu fu fu" you could just say that "Sakura chuckled sinisterly" or something.
  • I am fairly certain that a patch to remove the ero scenes is already floating around somewhere, if the option doesn't already exist in mirror-moon's English installer. It's been done with other type-moon fan translations, so this is reasonable.
  • As someone who translates and edits Japanese light novels for the online fan community, I can understand your issue with the narrative tense. The present tense is used in many Japanese narratives, so it can be awkward for a Western reader even though it doesn't really distort the meaning if translated correctly. When I translate light novels, I usually use the English past tense myself. Nonetheless, in the case of visual novels I see no real reason to change the way it's been up to this point, especially since the player is in the perspective of the narrator, who is experiencing the plot's events in real time.


The point is that things will always be lost in translation when moving across any languages, especially in this case. Some knowledge of Japanese culture and language is required to enjoy even a translation of F/SN. It was written for Japanese players, and the scenario writer had no need to explain cultural trivia that should be common knowledge for the game's intended audience. It's just not practical to create a so-called "normal-friendly" translation short of significantly rewriting the existing scenarios.
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Unread postby ILPPendant » March 31st, 2009, 3:53 pm

Raven wrote:Before I type up my answer though ... well, don't make it sound like you have to give up your precious time to indulge the topic. If you don't have time or not interest ... well, just don't response.

If I didn't want to give up my precious time, I wouldn't have responded to begin with. However, I created this topic so the least I can do is reply when people address me. Besides, there may be no accounting for taste but I do enjoy the process of reading an argument and formulating a strong counter-argument.



Raven wrote:First, I don't hate the English language, criticizing/making negative comment about something doesn't mean I think it's crappy. I don't know why most people find it so hard to draw that line, "thing I don't like is crappy", that doesn't apply to me.

English is a "practical" language, business language, I think that's a fact that most people accept around the world. And being too descriptive about certain thing is a limitation in literature writing, that's what all my English teachers, from the AP literature in highschool to the advance composition professor in university and I agree with them. You don't agree because you just simply think otherwise, or because you're just too proud about the English language, that's fine, chalk that up as a personal opinion, but I believe it's well founded and hard to change opinion. If you don't want to think it as a "weakness or limitation" of English, just think being concise and clean is a "strong point and make English what it is", that's fine by me, no problem with two interpretation for the samething.

Does this mean I hate English? No. Am I accusing English doesn't have literature power? No. So is there a need for you to defend it from me? I hope not. The fact that I really enjoy mirrormoon work (which I hope you're aware -is- in English) should be more than enough to prove the language capability. I don't really think we really argue on the same context here.

ILPPendant: Defender of the English Language has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
Now, the thing is, having read that I'm not entirely sure I understood your original objection so please spell it out for me just to be sure.

I never consider myself "proud" of English; I certainly enjoy playing with it and constructing vast, complex and borderline impenetrable sentences (as I'm sure you've noticed) but that's just a personal idiosyncrasy of someone who hates... well... monotonous language. (Ah I kill me.)



Raven wrote:Second, no need for sarcastic comment like "it's monotonous - let move on" ...etc... It's not the first time I have this type of conservation, and I use the word mono-tone all the times and you have the honor of the first one ever correcting me. To be frank, you'll see a whole bunch of misspelling in my post if it's not for Firefox, I bet you'll find grammatical mistake as well. But the point is, I believe you understand what I mean without straining your eyes, I think that's enough, let move on.

Ah... yeah... sorry about that. It was past two in the morning when I wrote that and as such didn't receive my usual obsessive phrase-tweaking. It wasn't meant to be sarcasm, when I said moving on I meant literally "let's move on to the next paragraph" which I wanted to address as well. As they say across the pond: my bad.
Anyway technically monotonous is semantically correct but I just feel that it conveys the wrong impression based on what seem to be your criticisms.



Raven wrote:Third, I hope you can look at the argument with a moderate respective, since from what I can see you take my word and bend them to the extreme level. When I said as close to the original as possible, I'm sure as hell don't mean thing like particle, direct translation, word for word matching ...etc... Following your argument I would have say something like the translation should follow Japanese construct as well, like "I, curry, eat" or "curry, eat, I" and probably any translation from an Asian language would not make use about half the tense we have in English. No, that's not what I meant since it makes absolute no sense to me, I bet it doesn't make any sense to you either so let not push the argument that way. What you basically descripe is the exact reason why electronic translators all fail misery when it comes to translating literature.

Perspective or respect? (No sarcasm; honest enquiry)
It's a real danger of a reductio ad absurdum that it may degenerate into a straw man fallacy. However, I'm actively stating that we take the principle of inclusion to its logical extreme. As soon as you make allowances for one category of "untranslatable", you must make allowances for the others or you come across as inconsistent when put up against serious critical examination. It's funny you should mention word order because I remember hearing of a fan translation group that actually did preserve the Japanese one (can't remember the name though). Quite what they were smoking I'm not sure, needless to say, we instinctively avoided doing that when translating from Latin in prep school so they've got no excuse.



Raven wrote:What I meant is more of contextual understanding of the word and the way it sounds, the word can still make a contextual meaning while retaining a part of the original charm. The concept of using foreign word without involving the need of dictionary is not really a strange concept, especially in colloquial language. I have a few Mexican friends that speak perfectly proper English, their English is probably even better than mine. When we talk however, it's common for them to refer to me as "amigos" and I don't see any problem with that, in fact the word "amigos" for "some reason" feel a lot more friendlier and show a higher level of affectionate if they had use the word "my friend". Something it's not only the "equivalent" meaning that is taken into account, but there are more "contextual" sense that is ... well, not really possible to describe in word, it's more like of something you "feel" rather "understand".

You've described a point where things get murky. What you've stumbled upon is English doing what English does best: robbing other languages blind. However, all is not lost since there's actually a rather easy explanation. You're consciously using amigos in the midst of an English sentence (I presume you're speaking English but unless your speaking Spanish it applies just as well to Danish of Russian) - it's acting like a loanword. Amigo (I guess) just means friend in Spanish but as you point out, you've assigned a meaning to it that wasn't there in the original Spanish word. That's fine, but it's also not what this I'm trying to get at. Could you use amigos if you were all speaking Spanish and expect you or at least other people to interpret the same meaning from it? It's the eternal misery of the Academie francaise* that French people take it upon themselves to introduce English into the language to make up for what they perceive as its deficits.

Rest assured I know exactly what you're talking about and in this case I would expect you not to translate amigos. This is partly because practically everyone in the Western world knows more or less what the word means anyway - there's no problem in comprehension. This is also because you are actively using a Spanish word despite speaking English and thus my complaints don't apply. Now on the other hand, if you were speaking Spanish to each other and insisted on retaining amigos...



Raven wrote:I don't know if you're an Asian, but if you are you should have a good idea what I'm saying because again, it's hard for me to describe it. For example, in my language I always refer to my parents as "mother and father" whether it's pronounce or possessive adjective. So basically I would say something like this "Mother, can Mother give son Mother's pencil" instead of "mom, can you give me your pencil?". I'm fully aware that "there is nothing wrong" with the latter sentence, but as a "person" I have this weird-indescribable feeling that's I'm not respecting my mother, and of course, no need to say how ridiculous the first sentence sounds. I guess you can say I have the same feeling of something is lost if the translation change the Japanese honorific suffix, no matter how justifiable the replacement is. I guess it's something you won't understand unless you have an oriental language as your birth language. You can study the language all you want, but I think there are something you won't feel or understand unless it's your default language.

Again, I get what you're saying here. This seems to be a unique point of Far Eastern languages that are built on politeness rather than pure grammar, but as you mention, this is absent in Western languages. Unfortunately, your Far Eastern (I guess?) background clearly gives you a disadvantage when dealing in pure English if what is natural English feels unnatural to you; this is why only native speakers are supposed to translate into their language, otherwise we wouldn't have proper naturalised English. You see, to a native English speaker adding those familial honourifics does not preserve the meaning and feeling, but rather adds to and emphasises something which isn't there. As sins go, for a translator it's almost cardinal.



Raven wrote:*DISCLAIMER* What I have been saying up to this point are basic reasoning in term of formal language, it has nothing to do with my obsession with Japanese culture or my level of Otakuness*END DISCLAIMER*

QFT, though in my case it's more an obsession with languages in general rather than a specific culture.




Raven wrote:As part of my formal study I'm using the "Breaking into Japanese Literature" by Giles Muray as my reading practice. You can google the book and see what's it about. Basically it contains classical novel and short stories. This is "formal" literature in "written" form. And really, its translation is "exactly" how you like it I suppose. Very clean, with precise reference and no "onii-chan" translation so to speak. It's a good book to understand the language and it's recommended to me by an English teacher who taught English in Japan for 7 years, and he's heading the English Second Language department at a college right now in the US. (And yes, this guy also agree with me about the "limitation" of English like mentioned). However, do I want a visual novel to translate in the same way? No. For two reasons:

- First, as I mentioned before and I'm sure you're aware, in any language not just Japanese or English Colloquial literature is much different from formal written literature. And Visual Novel, for the most part, are Colloquial form. I think you're trying to apply the formal written standard to a Colloquial form ... which to me doesn't make sense.

- Second, yes, it's just part of Otakuism. Common, why do you think people here discuss about things "moe, Gah" ...etc... to begin with? And all of these suffix pronounces can't be denied of having great associate with Otakuism. It's what I think most of us here interested in more or less. Saber is so cute I won't call her any different than Saber-chan, and whenever Shriou suddenly adds a "-san" after her name, you'll know he's in trouble. :p


So ... sound argument maybe, but at the wrong place. If you like formal translation, pick up a formal literature book. In my "personal opinion", visual novel is much better with a literal and animeish translation. :wink:

No matter what, a translation is a translation and a reader should be getting exactly the same experience in the source language as the target language. A formal translation is in my view a very academic and serious affair; it's suited for business documents, scientific papers and literature when it's to be criticised by academics. A colloquial translation can afford to be much looser but just because it's informal, it doesn't mean we should let our standards of good English plummet.

Your second point is perhaps the ultimate motivation for such opposition: we've always done it and rationalised it this way, so why stop now? Your arguments are by far the most thought-out I've encountered but the meat of them is still the same reason as everyone else: it's too hard to translate effectively so we'll leave it in.

On a final point: as they say for Lipton Ice Tea, don't knock it until you've tried it. Just for an example, read the original Dark Horse translations of Oh My Goddess! and compare them to modern scanlations. The former read very nicely but the latter are just bland and flat.



*This board does not like French accents.

EDIT: @v: Muhahahaha!!!
Last edited by ILPPendant on April 1st, 2009, 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby that one guy » March 31st, 2009, 4:55 pm

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Unread postby Raven » April 2nd, 2009, 4:17 am

You've described a point where things get murky. What you've stumbled upon is English doing what English does best: robbing other languages blind. However, all is not lost since there's actually a rather easy explanation. You're consciously using amigos in the midst of an English sentence (I presume you're speaking English but unless your speaking Spanish it applies just as well to Danish of Russian) - it's acting like a loanword. Amigo (I guess) just means friend in Spanish but as you point out, you've assigned a meaning to it that wasn't there in the original Spanish word. That's fine, but it's also not what this I'm trying to get at.


Maybe exactly that, they want to compromise the lacking in English maybe because they (not only me) feel the word "friend" and "its sounding" does not convey our attachment to the fullest extend. It's undeniable that certain language is built in certain way, just like French is considered a romantic language, English is a business language. For once, they don't call all of their foreign friends amigos, so in a way even to them (speakers) the word friend still describe a formality. Also, I believe when it comes to colloquial context, the most important thing in language is the meaning intended by the speaker and the interpretation of the listener, dictionary meanings take a back seat. That's why things like suggestion, implication, sarcasm mostly exist in Colloquial language, if dictionary meaning is applied in full force, they would have no place to exist.

The reason I said "borrow word" is common because it exists in pretty much all languages (all the I know of) and not just English. The way they borrow is of course different. I'm sure you notice, usually when a speaker decide to borrow a foreign word it's usually because they want to inflect the emotion carried by the word to higher decree. The modern language of my people also borrow a lot of English word (in colloquial form) but from what I see, they're borrowed for the exact opposite purpose, to "reduce" the implication of the word. Usually when an English word is used, it's because the speaker find it too embarrassing to use the equivalent word in our language since they carry a heavier emotional level.


No matter what, a translation is a translation and a reader should be getting exactly the same experience in the source language as the target language. A formal translation is in my view a very academic and serious affair; it's suited for business documents, scientific papers and literature when it's to be criticised by academics. A colloquial translation can afford to be much looser but just because it's informal, it doesn't mean we should let our standards of good English plummet.



No, what you just said is just a common way to express a round robin way in a debate. You say that Colloquial can be less formal, but pretty much what you said right after that is "but it should still be as formal as writen English". You know, the typical "I understand BUT .... (by implication) I don't". While my Mexican friends say "Let's go for dinner amigo", they would probably NEVER write something "I had lunch with my amigo" in a formal essay. And seriously, would I consider something like that or the Japanese honorific -suffix a "letting the good standard English plummet". Nope, I would think you're using a lumberjack's axe to kill a chicken here.


And this is where out point will be different than most: to me a good translation is one that can retain the "legitimate" integrity of the original script as much as possible. You said that because these honorific do not exist in English, they should be removed to make the translation feel more nature to English speaker. This is the point that I'm 101% disagree with you and I won't change my opinion even if hell froze over. It's exactly why I said it's to understand Japanese through English, not turning Japanese into English. It does not matter whether an American is aware of these context or not, if the honorific is a part of the original feeling and a legitimate cultural point, than the reader will have to acknowledge and accept it, if you don't like it that means you're in the wrong territory. This is mostly unique to colloquial language. If you're trying to see how "two Japanese are talking to each other" then it should feel like "two Japanese are talking to each other", not "two Americans talking to each others". What the translators can do is provide an encyclopedia or reference list explaining what the term are instead of changing their translation. For example, Minori's translation of Wind-Breath of Heart did a very good job, and I believe a few mirrormoon's work also have something similar.



I'm not sure if you had noticed but my first response to this topic was in Feb when you first made it, and I still maintain what I said back then is that for "what you're trying to do", I think "you're using the wrong approach". I had been trying to teach myself Japanese for the past three years, and a result of this self-study it was pretty directionless in the beginning, or rather there was a period of time I had to search for a way of study. I bought helluva lots of books and I have everything from formal academic books that's used in college teaching of Japanese, to Colloquial books, picture books, to books that employ a manga/anime approach to studying. And they're all different. You made a sound argument and one can not tell you that's you wrong, but they can say you're applying it into the wrong place. You can go to a college evening pizza party, hanging around and then file a complain about the participant are not using "good" or "proper English", the one who read your complain will have to agree that people are not using "good English", but then he/she will probably tell you that there is no reason for people to use formal English like they're in a business meeting during a college pizza party. Of course, I'm not saying it like one is a "lower form" comparing to the other, it's just an appropriate context for each situation. And I believe the usual translation style give the characters and story in visual novel a certain and unique charm.



Again, if you want to introduce people into the culture or language, go with a formal academic approach. It's ok if you want to use this approach, but what is not Ok if you want to use a VN/Manga approach and formalize it like an academic approach. Like I said, people should have some genuin interest if they want to dive into this area, and if they do I think they'll come to appreciate the differences from the formal language. There is no point, if it's because the good story you're after, I can assure you there are many good short story and classical literature in Japanese that have been formally translated into English exactly the way you want, use them.


I think we reach a point in which neither can accept or deny the other arguments for one reason or another. At least, for me I already said I won't say you're wrong. but again, you apply it into the wrong place. I just want to provide a closure, so this is my cue.
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Unread postby radical_number6 » April 2nd, 2009, 8:28 am

go get a double triple quadruple bilinguist (screw the spelling, Yaaarrrrrr), go get a literature and world language professor ( i think there's such a person), and you'll get your answer. nuff said.

but truthfully, unless you can only speak english, then can help but be ignorant (its true!!!), but truthfully, english doesnt have chops to be as poetic or flowery or literallycccyyy when its come to literature. the prove doesnt have to come from asian language. even some europeans languages have more chops than english. yea, i said chops alot. deal with it. lol.
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