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  1. Like
    Zakamutt got a reaction from akaritan for a blog entry, Bad Fapanese: A Bathroom Diary (11月24日)   
    Well, long time no content here, eh. So, uhh, I started writing a diary when I poop. But it’s in bad Fapanese. I have some faint hope that seeing my amusing stumbles might inspire you to practice writing in Japanese. Yes, you over there in my target audience of maybe one person. The actual content of this entry is unlikely to inspire anyone, so it’s all the better that nobody will understand it anyway.
    For authenticity (and hopefully showing that it’s ok to mess up a bit or something) I have preserved all the grammatical and kanji errors I made, noting what I spotted reading through it again below.
    [1] I’m not even sure if the つつ grammar is any good here, but I made a more fundamental error. つつ needs to be attached to the actual stem of the verb in question (here 近づく), rather than what you get when I use ichidan verb rules on godan verbs. tl;dr this should be 近づきつつ.
    [2] While 一月 apparently can mean “one month”, it also means “January”. What I meant to write was 一ヶ月.
    [3] Pls decide if you want a chouon or not in the word you katakana’d because you don’t know the fapanese one, zaka.
    [4] I wrote this kanji wrong, using 良 as the right side.
    [5]感請 should be 感情 here.
    [6] I wrote 機 without the tree on the left and kinda wrong in general. I have recreated my failure in paint for you to enjoy.

    View the full article
  2. Like
    Zakamutt got a reaction from Makudomi for a blog entry, Bad Fapanese: A Bathroom Diary (11月24日)   
    Well, long time no content here, eh. So, uhh, I started writing a diary when I poop. But it’s in bad Fapanese. I have some faint hope that seeing my amusing stumbles might inspire you to practice writing in Japanese. Yes, you over there in my target audience of maybe one person. The actual content of this entry is unlikely to inspire anyone, so it’s all the better that nobody will understand it anyway.
    For authenticity (and hopefully showing that it’s ok to mess up a bit or something) I have preserved all the grammatical and kanji errors I made, noting what I spotted reading through it again below.
    [1] I’m not even sure if the つつ grammar is any good here, but I made a more fundamental error. つつ needs to be attached to the actual stem of the verb in question (here 近づく), rather than what you get when I use ichidan verb rules on godan verbs. tl;dr this should be 近づきつつ.
    [2] While 一月 apparently can mean “one month”, it also means “January”. What I meant to write was 一ヶ月.
    [3] Pls decide if you want a chouon or not in the word you katakana’d because you don’t know the fapanese one, zaka.
    [4] I wrote this kanji wrong, using 良 as the right side.
    [5]感請 should be 感情 here.
    [6] I wrote 機 without the tree on the left and kinda wrong in general. I have recreated my failure in paint for you to enjoy.

    View the full article
  3. Like
    Zakamutt reacted to Fred the Barber for a blog entry, What Is Editing? (baby don't hurt me)   
    My blog posts so far have mostly been about how to edit. That holds true for most every other VN editing blog I've ever seen as well. But I'm a really big believer in approaching any significant task from a "Why, What, How" perspective. So now, let's try to answer those first two questions.
    Even "What Is Editing" would be starting in too far (it made for a better title, so sue me). Let's start with this: why do translation projects, or even original fiction projects like novels, have editors?
    The goal of editing is to help the author achieve their goals.
    An author brings a whole lot of goals to the table: a story, characters with personalities and motivations, a setting, overarching motifs, style, ... probably a lot of other stuff I forgot. Anyway, you get the idea; there's a lot there which they're just trying to get out on paper (or bits, or whatever) and then into your brain.
    An editor doesn't bring any of that stuff. An editor instead strives to understand all of these things the author wants to communicate, finds the points where they can be better achieved, and refines the text to better achieve the author's goals. Although there's obviously some overlap, there are quite different skill sets involved in the raw writing and the editing, and thus the two roles are often fulfilled by two people.
    How about for a translated VN, rather than for, say, writing a novel? The story is roughly the same, actually. Although the translator has essentially the same goals as the editor in this case, the skill sets required are quite different, and thus differentiating the two roles is not uncommon and frequently beneficial to the project, for the same reasons as it is with original writing and editing.
    I'll also add that an original writer is usually considered "too close" to the original text to make a good editor. Even a writer who is also a great editor will benefit from having someone else edit their manuscript. I haven't heard the same thing said of translators, though, so that might not be relevant to this special case. But the skill set differentiation point still stands in the case of translation.
    Assuming you're satisfied with that explanation for Why, let's move on to What.
    Professional manuscript editing typically distinguishes four kinds of editing: developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proofreading. Those are ordered based on both the scope of changes they make, and also the chronological order in which you should do them: developmental editing is very macroscopic and happens first, while proofreading is very microscopic and happens last. Let's drill into each:
    Developmental Editing
    Developmental editing is, first, the act of identifying all of those authorial goals I mentioned, and second the act of cutting, rearranging, and adding large chunks (think: add this whole new scene, cut that whole character) in order to advance the author's goals.
    Obviously, that second half isn't applicable to VN translation. You're not going to cut whole scenes or change how characters behave. Those decisions have already long since been made by the original writers, hopefully with the help of an editor of their own ;).
    But the first half is essential, and is quite a bit harder in VN translation, since you generally can't actually talk to the writer. Read it all, understand the authorial goals, and build a strong, consistent interpretation of the plot, the characters, the motifs, the setting, the tone, everything you can think of. If you don't form an interpretation while translating/editing, you're liable to thwart the author's goals as part of your translation, and as a result accidentally obscure or entirely lose key points of the original intent. Of course, you'll occasionally make mistakes in your interpretation, resulting in mistakes in translation. But if you don't even form an interpretation, the result will actually be worse: you'll still make mistakes in the translation, and the resulting translation will certainly be internally inconsistent, but you won't notice those internal inconsistencies because you have no guiding interpretation. If you form a consistent interpretation and let it guide your translation, when the text goes against your interpretation, the resulting inconsistency means you'll notice it, correct your interpretation, and then go back and modify your translation to fit the corrected interpretation.
    Line Editing
    Line editing is about assessing and fixing the flow of a scene and the flow of a line. It's about logic, language, word choice, rhythm, the mechanics of a sentence, and the sound of human speech. It is not concerned with grammatical errors, punctuation, and spelling, but more with higher-level ideas like tone, emotion, and atmosphere. A line editor worries whether a sentence ought to be punchy or loquacious, not whether it has all the commas in all the right places.
    "Logic" probably seemed a bit out of place there, so let me give an example for that one in particular, since it's essential. For example, unless you're editing the VN equivalent of a Beckett play (and if you are, please point me to that VN, because I'm interested), one dialog line should generally be a logical response to the previous one. A canny line editor will ensure the logical flow from event to event, line to line, and even scene to scene, ensuring consistency of the narration.
    This is also where all that authorial intent mentioned above comes into play: an editor in this capacity should also be ensuring consistency of a line with those overarching goals. A good line editor will help ensure that characterization is consistent, for instance, or that a motif is not buried inappropriately. An editor, in their avatar as the keeper of consistency, is crucial to achieving those authorial goals.
    The prose side of line editing is also key simply because stilted speech, unnatural utterances, redundant repetition, awkward alliteration, and their ilk all kick you out of the immersion. Your brain wants to keep reading something when it flows well. And nothing hits softer than shitty prose.
    Line editing is the meat of VN editing. It's what most existing VN editing blogs are about, not coincidentally. If you're an editor for a VN, line editing is what you should be thinking about constantly.
    In addition to recommending other VN editing blogs, notably Darbury's blog (mostly about line editing, though all the punctuation ones are more about copy editing) and Moogy's now-ancient blog post (basically all about line editing), I'll also suggest you go read up on line editing in a general setting. A quick search for "what is line editing" will lead you to mountains of useful links. As a random example, this is one such useful link, and it's hilarious, well-written, and edifying: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/short-course-line-editing. There is a veritable sea of such articles on the internet. Read them.
    Copy Editing
    Copy editing is about the nuts and bolts of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It's not the same as proofreading, but it's getting close. The copy editor typically should select and enforce an appropriate style manual (AP, Chicago, MLA, take your pick). The copy editor is the person who gets mad when you write "I baked 7 blackbirds into that pie." instead of "I baked seven blackbirds into that pie.", and who calmly, patiently replaces all your misused hyphens in the middle of sentences with em-dashes.
    You're unlikely to have a dedicated copy editor on a VN project; if you've got the "editor" role, you're probably it. I think this is along the lines of what most people think of already when they hear "editing" anyway, but really the line editing is the most important to the enjoyment of the text. Still, the picky people among us can get awfully uppity if you start putting in stuff like ellipses with four dots and inconsistent use of the Oxford comma (sidebar for the attentive: I'm for it, as you've already noticed). Copy editing is a particularly thankless job, since it's not like you can do an exceptional job of copy editing and really salvage a bad manuscript, but poor copy editing can certainly hurt an otherwise-good manuscript. So it's worth investing the time in doing it carefully.
    One important recommendation for copy editing: take notes and build up a style document and glossary for your VN as you go. Are honorifics being used? What about name order? If you're going to romanize some words, is your romanization consistent? Do you 1) always write "senpai", 2) always write "sempai", or 3) mix and match? I don't care if it's 1 or 2, but it better not be 3. Write conventions like this in a shared document and make sure everybody knows about the conventions and the document.
    Proofreading is the final stage of this pipeline. The role includes checking for grammatical errors, spelling errors, punctuation errors, typos, and perhaps some more exotic things like incorrect English dialect. It's straightforward and mechanical. Like copy editing, it is essentially thankless. It is, nonetheless, important. While you're making big sweeping edits doing all the stuff above, you're going to create tons of errors at this level. They need to be fixed. Make sure you have someone (preferably not the "editor", because they're too close to the text) do a proofreading sweep. You can lump it into QC if you like, but make sure that whoever is assigned to do this is looking at it carefully. Check. Every. Single. Word. There are errors in there, I guarantee you, and they're embarrassing. Getting the number of errors down to near-zero before you release your translation is going to make both you and your audience happier.
    In Summary
    There's not one editor; there are four. In an ideal world, with original fiction, you'd actually have someone separate filling each role. For a translation you don't need a developmental editor, leaving you needing three editors. In the non-ideal world you live in, you've probably got at least two of those roles to yourself. Push for someone else to handle proofreading, at least (call it "QC" if you have to), and make sure said person has the necessary ability and attention to detail. If you're the "editor", then you're almost certainly doing both line editing and copy editing. When that happens, make sure you keep a balance amongst all the things you need to do: for instance, spend 10% of your effort trying to understand what the author is trying to achieve, 88% of your effort on line editing (it's the meat, after all), and 2% on copy editing the little details like punctuation, romanization, etc.
    And If You Can Only Remember One Thing
    Focus on line editing.
  4. Like
    Zakamutt reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, Other Oddball Punctuation in VNs: A Final Roundup   
    It's sad but true: we've finally come to the end of our tour of Japanese punctuation for VN editors. But before we bid adieu, there are a few more types we have yet to cover. None merit full blog posts, however, so I offer them up here in a bit of a punctuation grab bag. Reach in if you dare.
    The placeholder:  〇
    The 〇 is typically used to censor offensive language by replacing one of the characters in a word. It's the equivalent of writing "f*ck" or "sh-t" or in English. Everyone knows what's being said, but we can all pretend we didn't say it. Kumbaya, amirite? Cursing really isn't a thing in Japanese, of course, so these marks get used either for our naughtiest bits — think "cock" and "dick," or "pussy" and "cunt" — or certain other socially offensive terms. You might be surprised to see censoring in the middle of an H-scene that, in all other respects, has spared no detail or volume of liquid, but there you go. Just think of them as pixel mosaics for written text.
    As for editing these bad boys, you should almost always just go with uncensored English. Fuck yeah. The one situation where you might want to consider doing otherwise is when a VN also bleeps these words in the VO. In that case, you'd also be justified in using the censored English equivalent with either *, -, or _ replacing vowels as needed. Pick only one wildcard and be consistent in its use.
    Another use for these characters in Japanese is to mask portions of real-life names or places — e.g., Bu〇er King. This is done both out of a sense of propriety and to avoid the wrath of real-life lawyers. You'll conceivably see the names of celebrities, bands, games, movies, etc. all masked in this fashion. Thankfully, there's a long tradition of this in Western literature as well, most notably in the Victorian era — "I sent my butler out to the renowned psychic, Madame G—, to seek her advice on the matter." Our best course of action during editing is to mimic the Japanese, but do so in the English tradition, replacing the omitted portion with an em-dash — two if the excised text is particularly long.
    Sometimes, rather than use 〇 for masking, a VN writer will choose to come up with soundalike parody names for the person, place, or thing being referenced. And so you'll end up with people talking about anime like Wagonball Z and Tailor Moon. If the VN chooses this option, then so should you. Do your best to come up with witty replacements in English.
    More rarely, you'll see a double 〇〇 all by its lonesome. This just stands for "word goes here." It's a literal placeholder. If you encounter it in narration, you can usually replace it with a few underscores, like _________. If it appears in voiced dialogue, possible options include "blahblah," "yada yada," "blankity-blank," or whatever else you can think up.
    Parentheses: ( )
    In VNs, these typically indicate a line should be read as internal monologue, or in some cases, a stage whisper.
    The meaning is clear in both languages, so best to keep these as they are. Unless, of course, your text engine is one of those rare snowflakes that can output English italics. In that case, use those.
    Bedazzlers: ★☆♪♫❤❆❀✿❁
    Okay, they're not actually called "bedazzlers," but it's a good a name as any. You know what I'm talking about, right? That big ol' box of typographical Lucky Charms that gets dumped right onto VN text to provide some wacky flavor to the proceedings. Hearts, stars, flowers, snowflakes, music notes, Zodiac signs, etc. 
    Some common uses include:
    - A music note at the end of a line to show it's being sung. ("Fly me to the moon♪")
    - A heart somewhere in a line to indicate puppy love at its most disgusting. ("He's so dreeeamy❤")
    - A name or term being bracketed by stars to show that it's extrasupervery OMGmagical. ("Aha! I've transformed into ☆Magical Girl Bertha☆")
    - A tiny gun so we can commit suicide after enduring all the above.
    These little pretties are self-explanatory enough that I tend to leave them as is. Japan's gotta Japan, right? But use your best judgement; if you feel like they're getting in the way of the of the English narrative, go ahead and prune them back — or omit them entirely.
    Full stop.
    Not the punctuation; the whole series of punctuation articles. We're done. If I think of any more oddball Japanese punctuation marks worth discussing, I'll add them to the end of this post. But otherwise: happy f〇cking editing!
  5. Like
    Zakamutt got a reaction from Fred the Barber for a blog entry, Cooking With Zaka: a Super-Legit Tomato Sauce Narrative   
    Oh shit, I’m cooking today and it’s like one hour til I have to start. I really should have remembered to take something out of the freezer to thaw… I really don’t want to thaw something in the microwave, so my options are basically gradually peeling off a block of ground meat in the pan (huge pain), krögarpytt (brand of frozen mix of potato, onion and various meats, plus lots of things I’d have to look at the ingredients list for), or… oh yes, my saviour – that lovely meaty cylindrical thing I first had back in Eastern Europe.
    Regrettably, I am not speaking of dicks.
    The frozen ćevapčići lidl sells in 1kg bags is both delicious and affordable, but we’ve had it a few too many times recently. I should probably cook something else… maybe I’ll change the condiments from rice to pasta or fries… fuck fries turning them is a huge pain… meh fuck pasta too… okay it’s rice again… wait, I could make a sauce! …but what exactly? It’s not like I have the time to make tomato sauce from scratch, and frankly it’s not like it’s that great anyway (I’ve done it according to a legit recipe once!).
    Well, if you don’t like a recipe you can always change it! I quickly search the fridge and find a fairly small red onion, garlic (not an option, was rotting), and okay that was all I was looking for in the fridge to begin with. Next I reach for the box of strained tomatoes I know is in the larder next to the fridge. Surprisingly it has not been abducted by aliens (maybe the red on the packaging scared them off), allowing me to wrest it from the depths of the… just kidding, it was at chest height on the second shelf.
    I get a bouillon cube, a knife, put some rapeseed oil in a saucepan, and set to business; the business is making the bouillon cube submit to my knife (not the easiest), and cutting the onions.
    I managed to not cry.
    The preparation of the ćevapčići and rice was easy (and irrelevant). Anyway, the sauce. I heat the oil at medium-high for a bit, pop in a piece of onion to see if it’s ready, and the bubbling around it assures me that this is the case. I put in the rest of the onion and stir it around a bit, lower the heat, and pour in some of the strained tomato and the semi-powdered bouillon cube (it did not submit fully, but I was able to impose strict limits on its military and generally destroy its infrastructure), let it boil, add salt (used a lot, which was a bad idea – try not to do that, the bouillon cube prolly has it already), white pepper, and finally the x-factor ingredient I just had to put in: chili flakes. A bit too many, I reflected after I had thrown in a bunch. After letting it boil slightly and stirring it around a bit, I decided it was done, used a spoon to try it, and was promptly greeted with something strong and edible, probably in that order.
    It was actually not too bad, and if nothing else it proves that whipping something up on your own isn’t necessarily too bad. At least if you’re a Zaka. I may or may not make it ever again, but I’ll probably take it a bit easier with the chili flakes and use less salt.
    Thus concludes this episode of Cooking With Zaka.
    1 bouillon cube 1 red onion strained tomatoes white pepper salt (maybe) chili flakes / seeds / whatever rapeseed oil (olive oil might be better) Serve with other stuff, if you actually think it’s worth trying. There are probably better recipes.

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  6. Like
    Zakamutt reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, A Few Thoughts on Cheese   
    You need to know something about me: I love cheese. Lovelovelove it.
    Don’t know what to get me for my birthday? Cheese. Want to cheer me up at the end of a long day? Cheese. Watching the timer tick down on the bad guy’s bomb and you don’t know which wire to cut? Cheese. That doesn’t even make sense and I don’t care. You know why? Cheese.
    And since you were kind enough to bring up the topic of cheese, I’ll go one step further and say the following: not much in life measures up to a good unpasteurized cheese. Something really rich and complex and made from raw milk. The good stuff. The real stuff. Something that makes you feel (and smell) like you’ve died and gone to cheese heaven. I’m talking cheese with a capital C.
    But here’s the problem: I live in the United States, and here on this side of the pond, the FDA takes a dim view of unpasteurized dairy products such as these. In fact, it’s actually illegal to import or sell certain kinds of raw milk cheese here in the States — a traditional Camembert, for instance. There’s been some debate among foodies about the factual basis for that decision, but since I don’t know much about the science one way or the other, I’ll leave those debates to wiser minds than mine.
    Anyway, in theory, the FDA ban shouldn’t really affect me much. The kinds of raw milk cheeses I prefer — funky, nuanced, mature — all pass these FDA requirements with flying colors. Yup, I should just be able to buy my curds and be on my whey. (Yeah, I did just write that. And no, I’m not taking it back.) But the reality of things isn’t nearly so kind. Most big chain supermarkets won’t carry unpasteurized cheeses at all, regardless of their provenance or if they’ve been approved for sale by the FDA. And why should they? Too much work for too little reward. Not only does unpasteurized cheese carry a certain stigma of food-borne illness, it requires extra care in shipping, handling, staff education, selling — and the demand just isn’t there yet to justify such efforts.
    Sure, there are specialty cheese shops where one can go to buy the good stuff. (They’re called cheesemongers, which sounds pretty baller if you ask me.) And if you’re in the know, you might even have ways of getting some unadulterated cheese from the curd-loving community — unofficial food co-ops and that sort of thing. But for many people, unpasteurized cheese is simply something they don’t know much about or have easy access to. And so, they don’t buy it.

    This obviously poses a problem for cheese importers. Their business model is simple: acquire product from cheesemakers overseas, ship it to the United States, then repackage and sell it for enough to cover the costs of importing — plus a small profit. If the potential market is too small, however, it’s often not worth the cost of bringing the cheese over at all; they’d never recoup their initial investment. In that scenario, the importers go out of business, and we’re all stuck eating great big orange hunks of Velveeta™ brand cheeze food product instead.
    So what some importers have started doing, in partnership with the international cheesemakers themselves, is offering alternate pasteurized versions of these very same cheeses for import and resale in America. They’re a little different from the originals — the pasteurization process has stripped away some of the quirkiness and complexity that made the cheeses so interesting in the first place — but they’re products that the big supermarket chains are now willing to stock and sell. And for many people, a good pasteurized cheese that’s somewhat close to the original is better than no cheese at all. As a bonus, the sales volume generated by the pasteurized cheeses often (but not always) allows the importers to bring over the unpasteurized version to those specialty shops stateside.
    Win-win, right? Depends who you ask.
    For example, a foodie friend of mine is absolutely livid, saying this whole pasteurized cheese business has left a bad taste in his mouth. He’s so upset, in fact, that he’s vowed never to support these particular cheese importers again. “Don’t you get it, Darbury?” he demands of me. “This is cheese censorship!”
    He’s a good guy, my friend, but he has a flair for the dramatic.
    “They’re selling people bastardized versions of these cheeses. Shoppers see Camembert on the label, but they’re not actually getting the real unpasteurized Camembert that people in France are eating. It might have started out that way, but they sucked the soul out of it for the sake of more sales here in America. And unless people research their cheese ahead of time, they won’t even know they’re not getting the real thing. The cheese importers are lying to us for a quick buck!”
    Like I said, dramatic.
    While I can’t swear to it, I tell him, I doubt the import companies are trying to systematically deceive the cheese eaters of America. I mean, the Camembert says “pasteurized” right there on the label. How much more notice do they have to give consumers? A giant red sticker that says, “WARNING! THIS CAMEMBERT IS NOT THE SAME AS THE UNPASTEURIZED CAMEMBERT YOU CAN GET IN FRANCE! IF YOU HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR YOURSELF, DON’T BUY THIS”? Besides, I say, now people are getting exposed to all sorts of different cheeses they might not have had access to otherwise. And even if those cheeses aren’t the pure and unadulterated experiences of the originals, they’re pretty close. Plus, those pasteurized alternatives are broadening the market for cheese in general, which means more foreign cheesemakers will be interested in importing their products to the States in the future. And hey, once the public demand is large enough, more big supermarkets might consider carrying unpasteurized cheese.
    “What, do you work for the cheese importers or something? Why are you sticking up for them? They’re just rolling around in big piles of money and Brie right now, laughing at us. People deserve the cheeses that their makers originally intended. Simple as that. Either give us the original cheese, or don’t bother. Anything else is disrespectful to the vision of the dairy farmer. Anyway, I’m not interested in expanding the general audience for dairy products. I just want to be able to buy the cheeses I like, the way that I like them.”
    But wait, I say. Aren’t a lot of the cheese importers also bringing over the unpasteurized originals as part of the deal that lets them sell the pasteurized versions?
    “Seriously, Darbury — how much are they paying you to say stuff like this? There’s no guarantee they’ll ever bring over that original cheese. They just dump the pasteurized version on store shelves with some vague promise that, if enough people buy it, they might bring over the unpasteurized one. Whatever. And even when they do follow through, they do a crap-ass job of it. You know about Casu Marzu, right? It’s this amazing cheese made in Sardinia, filled with thousands of live, wriggling maggots. Sounds totally intense, right? You cut it open and they all come pouring out. But when the importers bring that cheese to America, you know what? There are no maggots in it. None.”
    Well yeah, I say. I think that’s against every single customs regulation on the books. You can’t bring live maggots into the country. It’s straight up illegal. And kind of disgusting.
    “Duh. Of course it is. Unlike some people, Darbury, I try to actually know what I’m talking about before I open my big mouth. What I’m trying to tell you is that if the importers really cared about what the cheese-enthusiast community thought, they’d put maggots back into the cheese before reselling it here. But they don’t. Because they’re greedy and lazy. And that’s why they’ll never see another dollar of my money.”
    Wait, I say. Hold up. You want them to put maggots back into the cheese?
    “Yeah. The original cheese had maggots before it was imported, so it should have maggots when I buy it here. Anything else is a lie.”
    But they’re not even the same maggots, I say. Replacement maggots are no more authentic than the absence of maggots would be.
    “Stop arguing semantics with me, Darbury. Censorship is censorship. If there aren’t any maggots in it, then it’s not Casu Marzu. And I won’t support cheese censorship. This is how Nazi Germany started.”
    I slowly back away.
    “Don’t let them win, Darbury! If you really care about cheese, it’s time to buy a cow and a couple of goats and learn how to make your own raw milk cheese. That way, you don’t have to sit around waiting for whatever those lying cheese importers are willing to foist on you.”
    Then my friend throws a smoke bomb at the ground directly in front of him and vanishes, bad-ass ninja style.
    "Don't let them win, Darburrrryyyyyy..."
    Like I said, dramatic.
    I’m glad he disappeared when he did, because what I was going to say next would have driven him completely over the edge. Here’s the thing: while I love raw milk cheese, I also enjoy having the pasteurized option available to me. For various reasons, most of my cheese eating is done in public places like trains or planes, and I’d prefer not to have random people look over and catch me noshing on something that smells like an elk just shat out a gangrenous foot. Certain things should be enjoyed in the privacy of one’s home; it’s just common courtesy. I don’t want to be That Guy on the Train, and those pasteurized cheeses go a long way toward helping me not be Him.
    There’s more I could say about cheese, but — crap! — I just remembered this was supposed to be a blog about visual novels. Sorry! I honestly don’t know what came over me. Never sit down to write a post when you’re feeling hungry, amirite?
    Lesson learned. Next time, I promise I’ll write something about visual novels. Unlike this blog post, which was clearly about cheese.
  7. Like
    Zakamutt reacted to Clephas for a blog entry, Books: The Malazan Book of the Fallen series   
    The Malazan Book of the Fallen is perhaps one of the most complex series I've ever read... and that is saying a lot.  It is high fantasy in the sense that it is based in a fantasy world that is unbelievably complex (it makes Game of Thrones look simple at times) and it has the combined moral ambiguity and dark humor of Glen Cook's Black Company series as well.
    However, where Steven Erikson shines the most is in his world-building... and in his character-creation.  This is perfectly natural, as he is an anthropologist, and it tends to show in the way he portrays societies, nations, cultures, and people.  There is no 'good' or 'evil' in this series, in the classic black and white sense that most high fantasy writers seem to prefer.  While many characters are cruel, brutal, or tyrannical, he quite simply doesn't make flat characters that only exist to fulfill a specific role in the series. 
    As an example... Cotillion, the God who is the Patron of Assassins (also known as the Rope), is perhaps one of the most ambiguous characters in the series.  Many of the gods in this universe are petty, obsessive, cruel, or otherwise 'trashy' individuals despite their worshipers views of them, but Cotillion, despite being the patron of one of the most socially 'evil' professions in existence, is an individual who is as capable of compassion and giving unexpected gifts as any of the supposedly 'good' gods.  Considering that he starts the series as an antagonist, this development of his character is perhaps one of the more obvious elements of deep character development I observed in the series.
    Erikson, throughout the series, uses various techniques to develop various characters.  My single favorite character in the series, Anomander Rake, never has any first-person time.  This is despite the fact that he is perhaps one of the  most influential beings in the entire universe in which they are based.  The opinions of others and reading about his interactions with the various characters are your sole points of reference on him... but he is subtly built up to be one of the most amazing representations of virtue - hidden behind a darker mien - that you see in the entire series.
    This is a man who has spent over three hundred thousand years doing his level best to keep his followers from committing collective suicide as a result of their racial despair at the abandonment of Mother Dark, the goddess that was once their patron.  He leads them by example, rather than by command.  He never asks more of them than they are willing to give, and when one of them finds joy, he is always the first to give them his blessings, even if it costs him their services in the most vital of times.  In many ways, he is the very representative of divine compassion in the series (as he is technically an Ascendant and is worshiped by many of the race he was born from), as opposed to the odd representation of human compassion and folly that is the Paran family.  In many ways, his departure from the stage is the defining moment for us, the readers... but his most defining moment came long before that, when he made the decisions that led up to that point. 
    Another oddly ambiguous but admirable character is the God of Death, Hood.  Hood is... perhaps the most ironic character in the series, by far.  Originally, he was the King of the Jaghut, a race that abandoned society and racial unity because of how pointless they came to see it.  Being the King of such a race would have been an ironic oxymoron in and of itself, but the fact that he became the God of Death by first declaring war on the concept, leading an army against it, only to die and drag an impossible victory from the ashes of defeat, creating the afterlife as it is known during the series.  He is frequently indifferent, cruel, and/or petty in his treatment of others... but some of this is because he himself has been dead for hundreds of thousands of years and is more or less stuck carrying out a role that is almost anathema to his original reason for 'living'. 
    In the series, there are degrees of racial and societal foolishness that dwarf what we have experienced... for example, the T'lan Imass.  Once a race of human forerunners (intelligent tool and weapon users), when they discovered the nature of the Jaghut Tyrants that had enslaved them at times, they made themselves undead as a race for the sole purpose of committing genocide upon the Jaghut, most of whom just wanted to be left alone... thus ending the Imass as a race and condemning themselves to an endless existence as what amounts to dust-aspected revenants with weapons of stone. 
    Another example are the Tiste Liosan, who took their racial father's sense of justice and twisted into a dogmatic religious belief in the fundamental justice of themselves as a people, regardless of their actual actions. 
    Erikson's world is full of dichtonomy, corruption of ideals, hidden compassion, hidden glory, and dirt-covered heroism.  At times, men and women of the worst sort will willingly give of themselves and at others, seeming pillars of virtue will commit horrifying sims or fall completely out of grace.
    In other words, the Malazan Book of the Fallen is a series that rejects absolutes.  That is perhaps what makes it so much fun to read, as it is for the most part told through the eyes of various soldiers, many of whom are neither admirable nor good.  The Bridgeburners, who are a presence in just about every book in the series, define the series' human heart, in many ways balancing out the more... changeable beings that float around them.  At times, I even felt tempted to interpret them as the voice of 'modern man' in a world of ancients, though that is probably not entirely correct.
    In any case, this is a series that is generally fun to read and provides a lot of food for thought. 
  8. Like
    Zakamutt reacted to Darbury for a blog entry, POLL: To San or Not to San (Honorifics in VNs)   
    I just had an extra big breakfast, so I thought I'd pull up a chair and solve one of the most hotly debated issues facing the English-speaking VN community today. No, no need for thanks. Just name a stadium or sandwich after me at some point. Or both.

    Ready? Here we go. Honorifics or no honorifics? Should translated visual novels maintain the traditional Japanese cavalcade of name suffixes — san, kun, chan, sama, and so forth? Or should they adopt a more familiar Western approach, dropping honorifics entirely and/or replacing them with English titles — Mr., Mrs., Sir, etc. — only where situationally appropriate?
    San? Or sans san?

    I've thought long and hard on the matter and I think I've finally figured it out. Here's the answer you've all been waiting for.


    Haven't you been reading this blog? Did you really think a self-professed amateur VN editor would suddenly crack the code wide open and save the day? I’m quite literally an idiot. My wife will back me up on that one. And besides, this isn't some question with an obvious answer, like "Should I put ketchup on my steak?" (Answer: No. And if you do, you're an awful person who probably pushes elderly nuns in front of buses when you think no one's looking, then steals their mangled nun panties.)
    In fact, that question doesn't even have an answer, per se; it has a decision tree. Imagine your friend asks you, "Should I get a tattoo?" There are a lot of considerations to run through before you can give an answer. What kind of job do they have? Bankers and bartenders each have different leeway when it comes to full-sleeve tats. What's the context of their question? Is your friend asking you this over coffee? Or looking up at you from a vomit-filled toilet bowl in a way off-Strip Vegas casino? And what's the tattoo of? If it's Tweety Bird, then it's off to prison with them, along with all the steak-on-ketchup panty sniffers.
    Same for honorifics. There's no one-size-fits-all answer — only questions and considerations. And the first big branch of that decision tree: Who are your readers and why do they read VNs?
    The Battle Lines Are Drawn
    By and large, we can break VN readers down into two camps: story-seekers and culture-seekers. It’s an overgeneralization, of course — there’s some drift and overlap between these two groups — but it will give us a useful starting point for our discussion.
    Story-seekers tend to read visual novels for the plot, for the romance, for the giant mechs, for the faps, and for THE FEELS, MAN, THE FEELS. The fact that these stories are Japanese in origin is kinda cool, but secondary to the overall experience. As a group, they value readability over verisimilitude. They don’t get their stolen nun panties in a bunch because Ixrec’s translation of Rewrite doesn’t capture every last nuance of the Japanese, or even gets a few lines wrong at times. They just sit back and enjoy the ride. And for them, honorifics are often just weeaboo speedbumps that interfere with said ride.
    Culture-seekers, on the other hand, tend to read VNs not only for the story, but to indulge their passion for Japanese culture. They might speak Japanese, or they might be in the process of learning to do so. Visual novels are often a means to an end: they read VNs in part to practice their Japanese. (And they practice Japanese to read VNs. Loopity-loopity-loop.) Culture-seekers enjoy the inherent Japanese-ness of the medium — seeing the subtle social interplay of honorifics at work, for example — so for them, stripping away “san” to please some Naruto-watching noobs is like throwing away part of the story.
    As a translator or editor, you will inevitably piss off one of these camps. Sorry, that’s just how it is. You’re dealing with two groups of people who have inherently different motivations for reading the same work. And you can only translate/edit one way. Sucks, right? To extend my steak metaphor, it’s like owning a restaurant that, for logistical reasons, can only cook its steaks to one temperature — rare or well-done. And it’s up to you to pick which. If you go with rare, all the well-done lovers will give your little bistro one-star reviews on Yelp. And if you choose well-done, the folks who like their steaks blue and bloody will come at you with knives drawn.

    In a way, this becomes sort of liberating. No matter what you do, you will annoy a good chunk of your audience. This is fait accompli. So you’re now free to do what you actually think is right for the work, knowing it won’t really affect the outcome much.
    Of course, you’re also probably in one of those two camps yourself. (I know I am.) As such, you probably have an clear bias toward a particular approach — san or sans san. And you know what? That’s fine. Recognize your bias. Embrace it. Make friends with the fact that you prefer to translate/edit one way or the other. Then remember the advice I gave a few blog entries back: You are not your audience. Your close friends are not your audience. The message boards you follow are not your audience.
    Your audience is your audience; its needs may differ from yours. And the novel is the novel; its needs may also differ from yours.
    So here’s what I propose: Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach to every VN, just accept that, all things being equal, you will probably prefer one approach to editing/translation over the other. And then leave yourself open to the possibility of changing that approach based on the specific needs of the VN and the audience for that VN. Handle it the same way you would that friend asking about the tattoo. Is getting inked right for them right now? And is including honorifics right for the audience and right for the novel?
    Let’s walk through some questions you might ask yourself while making that decision:
    Who’s the primary audience for the VN?
    Are your readers primarily story-seekers or culture-seekers? Is your VN some niche title that appeals only to otakus, or is it a game with broad crossover appeal? A stronger case could be made for honorifics in the former situation; less so in the latter
    What's the setting of the visual novel?
    If your characters are all alien catgirls on a spaceship 23,000,000 light years from Earth, it's harder to justify keeping in honorifics than if you’ve got a cast of high school students in modern-day Japan.
    Are the honorifics plot-relevant?
    Is there any good story-related reason for all the sans and kuns to be there? Is the central conflict of the VN about whether the protagonist and his best girl are ready to go first name-only? If so, you have a better case for keeping honorifics than if they're just there as subtle social shading.
    Is the visual novel voiced?
    This one's common sense. You’ll have an easier time not including honorifics if the reader isn’t hearing them in VO. And vice versa.
    How annoying are the honorifics?
    This one is totally subjective, but it needs to be asked. Some writers tend to favor narration over dialogue, so their scripts will have fewer honorifics to deal with. Other writers love the rhythms of slice-of-life dialogue, so their prose might be a minefield of sans and chans. Read the script aloud. How jarring is it to the ear?
    Is this an OELVN?
    Stop it. Just stop it already. You don’t need honorifics. You’re writing a novel in English for an English-speaking audience, for crissakes. Don’t make me come back there.
    Run down the decision tree. Be honest with yourself. Is there enough evidence to make you reconsider your approach to this novel? Are you an anti-honorific type editing a VN set in feudal Japan, where one missing “sama” could mean the difference between life or death for the characters? Consider keeping them in. Are you a pro-honorific person translating a VN about competitive bread baking in Paris? Consider ditching them.
    Full Disclosure
    I’m a story-seeker. Given my druthers, I will choose to omit honorifics from a VN for the sake of more readable English prose. I’m fairly certain that if it’s possible to translate Murakami and Kurosawa into English without honorifics, it should be more than possible to do the same for some random high school moege.
    I admit you might be losing a certain amount content by omitting those honorifics — clues about the social standing of various characters in relation to one another, not to mention their personalities — but as far as I'm concerned, it’s content that can either be (a) baked into the script via other contextual clues, or (b) written off as redundant — that is to say, most of what those honorifics are communicating will already be apparent through the rest of the dialogue and on-screen action.
    I also admit that my sans-san approach won’t be the right one in every situation. Same goes for the opposite approach. Every work and every audience demands its own solution. Your job is to stop for a moment and ask yourself what that solution is.
    And then be willing to listen to the answer.
  9. Like
    Zakamutt got a reaction from Darbury for a blog entry, Ameliorating Hyperprocrastination Death-spiral Syndrome   
    So, a while ago one of my contacts at the mental health clinic told me it might be a good idea for me to visit a counselor at same. I did, and then eventually rather a range of things happened. They are currently still happening, albeit somewhat slowly. My problem, as I described, was mostly […]
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  10. Like
    Zakamutt got a reaction from Funyarinpa for a blog entry, Ameliorating Hyperprocrastination Death-spiral Syndrome   
    So, a while ago one of my contacts at the mental health clinic told me it might be a good idea for me to visit a counselor at same. I did, and then eventually rather a range of things happened. They are currently still happening, albeit somewhat slowly. My problem, as I described, was mostly […]
    View the full article
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