adamstan reacted to Zakamutt for a blog entry, Translation by example #1: わた死
I recommend reading this one on my blog as forum formatting makes tables look like shite. Your choice though.
I’ve mentioned earlier that I think one of the reasons there haven’t been a lot of translation blogs on Fuwanovel is that a lot of advice the editing blogs are peddling could equally well be applied when translating. But how would that look? In this blog (and maybe series, but me and regular effort don’t tend to get along), I’ll try to show you the process of translating with an eye to using the structure of English writing rather than following the Japanese.
The great thing about being the translator rather than the editor (or editing while knowing Japanese, but that’s a luxury) is that you don’t have to go ask the translator if the structure of the Japanese prose, when copied, looks weird. You can just make the adjustment yourself, without worrying that you’re distorting the original meaning too much.
This post is primarily aimed at translators, but should hopefully be useful for editors as well. It is probable that some of the patterns shown here could just as well have been picked up by an editing blog; the main difference will be that I can also show how it looks in Japanese.
I am by no means perfect, and any comments or suggestions are appreciated.
In the spirit of leading by example, I’ll be quoting my in-occasional-progress translation of 私は今日ここで死にます (Watashi wa Kyou Koko de Shinimasu; ‘This is where I die today’). Me and Asonn have settled on the shorthand “shinimasu”, but the author’s comments actually use わた死 (“Watashi” with the last syllable using the kanji for ‘death’ that appears in “Shinimasu”). Thus the title.
Let’s start with three lines from the very beginning of the novel. Our protagonist 京介 (Kyousuke) has just seen a girl jump off a bridge, gone after her by jumping himself, and managed to get her out of the river and onto land. The reader doesn’t know this yet, however – the start just talks about what you’d do if you saw someone about to kill themselves.
Japanese Literalish translation Adapted translation 「入水自殺、か」 “Suicide by drowning, huh.” “Tried to drown yourself, huh…” ぽつりと呟きつつ、腕の中でぐったりとしている“それ”を見る。 While mumbling a few words in a staccato manner, I look at “that” resting limply in my arms. I look at the girl resting limply in my arms. まだあどけない顔をした少女だ。 It is a girl with a face that is yet cherubic*. Face innocent as a newborn babe’s. The adaptated first line is based on trying to get nuance right. While I mostly did it on instinct, we can motivate it more logically. In English, the literal version feels like something you’d say when starting to talk about a topic – I’d expect Kyou-boi to expound on the subject of suicide by drowning afterward. But in context he’s commenting on the specific act the girl in his arms has attempted. Another consideration is brought by the second line, which shows that Kyousuke is looking at said girl while saying this. So we’re looking for a line that sounds reasonable spoken to a person that can’t hear it. Which is a weird category now that I think of it, but not entirely uncommon. The ellipsis is questionable, especially when cutting ellipses is something editors do all the time in j>e translation, but I have a reason; it’ll be in the next line analysis.
The second line features a thing frequently found in Japanese visual novel writing that doesn’t really agree with English style conventions at all: describing speech after it’s already been said. Frequently this is entirely redundant information in a visual novel due to speaker tags, but in some cases it will contain some kind of judgement or opinion of the viewpoint character that you might want to preserve. These kinds of redundant lines is a good reason to ask whoever’s doing technical work on your translation if you can just plain remove lines (for example, they might be able to program something that detects the translated line being exactly “SKIP” and cuts those lines.) However, it should be noted that cutting these redundant lines will change the flow of a text. If it’s frequently used in a passage, you may end up with a very different feel than the Japanese ― perhaps this is worth it, but it’s something to take into consideration. わた死 doesn’t do this that frequently, however, so we probably don’t need to worry.
This gives a bit of motivation for adding the ellipsis in line #1; it makes the line more mutter-y in a way that doesn’t make it look weird. This is one strategy for dealing with structural incompatibility: move the piece of information where it does fit.
There’s more. The line doesn’t mention “that” being a girl, revealing this in the next line. I’m not sure why the author did this －maybe the lines read better in Japanese that way, and Japanese lines in succession often depend on each other － but the technique just looks weird in English. Thus, we move the information from line 3 to line 2 in our adaptation.
The third line is annoying because while we technically do have a word that fits あどけない fairly well, cherubic － angelic, innocent, and youthful － few people are likely to know it and it doesn’t really fit the register the Japanese word uses. As such I’ve tried to reword it, though honestly I’m not really satisfied. I’m also not entirely sure if I’m missing a nuance of まだ (yet in the literalish translation) I should be getting; it’s probably just consonant with あどけない as “still looking young”, but it could also be referring to her state of unconsciousness causing it or something. The next line that I’m not showing talks about her looking young for her age though, so we can at least use that. The other thing of structural interest is that we’ve moved the “girl” piece of information to the second line, as mentioned.
…Man this took a while and I only did three lines. I think I’m just going to post. Like, comment, watch the Shinimasu translation progress here, design a double-sided daki with both Yukas on it for me if you’re feeling generous.
As a bonus, have a few other examples of describing things after-the-fact and how I’ve currently handled them:
As you can see the pattern isn’t limited to just speech. Here I decide to go IN and use context to write a line half new.
Another thinking version.
And here’s one with 返す. Also this has mixed speech and narration, which I’ve tried to work into the English as well. Though I’m going to go change this to present tense now since I picked that later, fuck.
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adamstan reacted to SeniorBlitz for a blog entry, YU-NO - The Girl that Chants Love at the Edge of the World [VN Review]
Wow! Another review blog? So fucking creative, I’m right? But yeah, I decided to create a blog about… stuff?
I was actually going to do a Lamento –Beyond The Void- review, but, I have yet to finish Bardo’s route, so I choosed the next best thing…
YU-NO… I was really interested in this game since it created one of my favorite genres and also because it has similar themes to the Zero Escape series.
So, during my vacation I got around to marathoning the shit out of it reading it. So without further ado…
(Remake's cover art)
0. The Premise:
The story begins with the disappearance of the protagonist’s father, which were an eccentric historian and a really bad father figure. xoP
One day, he mysteriously receives a package from his (supposedly) dead dad (Pun intended), containing a bunch of strange objects and whose purpose were yet to be discovered.
After wandering around town he arrives at a local landmark “Triangle Mountain” where he finds a strange blonde woman who abruptly kisses him, and disappears.
Things only go downhill as he is suddenly confronted by a former friend and colleague of his father named Ryuuzouji, his step mother Ayumi, while one of his colleagues Kanna is watching them (it makes sense in context).
When Ryuuzouji pulls out a gun and demands the package that he gained from his old man, thing suddenly turn bizzare as space time seems to distort itself and he suddenly finds himself alone at the base of Triangle Mountain.
Takuya (Aka the MC) runs home and after rummaging through the package he discover that one of the devices included was actually some sort of dimensional travel that allowed him to jump between alternate dimensions with the usage of special jewels.
Takuya decides to use the device to look for answers…
1. The Plot:
The story is really good, the routes branches out pretty early, and they each build off of each other to create a really nice mystery with sci-fi elements. Most of the characters are pretty nice; Takuya’s perverseness can get really annoying sometimes though.
There are a total of six routes in the game, one for the Teacher Mitsuki, a kind hearted woman that works as an assistant for the director Ryuuzouji, she seems to have a past with Takuya and Eriko, a delinquent-ish school nurse who doesn’t really care the ethics of teacher, she goes for walks during her worktime, smokes without a care in the world, things that you would expect a teacher not to do; His step-mother Ayumi a hardworking woman that have been taking care of Takuya after his father disappearance; Mio which is the best girl one of Takuya’s classmates, she acts pretty cold towards him and mostly spend her time investigating the mysteries of Triangle mountain; Kaori a reporter whose intentions are very unclear, Kanna a mysterious girl who seems to be related to Takuya somehow, and the True route.
Another plus is that the routes are pretty unique on it, Mitsuko/Eriko’s have you investigating a murder, Ayumi’s a scheme against her, Mio’s the secret of Triangle Mountain, etc. They are all pretty nice. One thing that was really annoying was the excessive use of panchira during event CGs even in more serious events.
The way that the device is implemented in the narration is pretty neat; sometimes you’ll need items from other routes so you can properly advance the story, though this pretty much makes this a guide game, so have a walkthrough by your side.
The gameplay consists of a point-and-click, so you’ll spend most of your time clicking around, doing some puzzles, collecting items, etc. There is barely any direct choice making; you’ll mostly chose where to go which trigger certain events that will lead you to new branches.
(The Divergence Map / Flowchart)
There’s a flowchart to keep track of which paths you have already explored and whatnot, you can use it with the jewels (that are pretty much “checkpoints”) so you don’t have to replay everything from the beginning.
3. Art and Music:
YU-NO’s art is extremely pretty, there is a lot of detail to the even CGs and some even has animated details. The backgrounds and character appearances are very distinct and unique, no complains here.
(Mio Investigating the mountain)
The music is also really great, the tracks are fitting and not repetitive, each of the heroine also have their own BG theme. "Bonds" and "Touch" are one of my favorites.
I really liked all routes in this game, though I wish there was more backstory revealed about the heroines, since Mio’s and Eriko’s are mostly implied…
(Event with Kaori during one of the routes)
Mitsuki/Eriko’s: This route is mostly centered around Ryuuzouji and urban legend related to his house. The route only properly starts after an event with Takuya and Mitsuki in the school Lab Room (nothing dirty silly :yumiko:), it is an introductory route, some terms and info here will be used on other route. Also this Arc doesn’t have the most positive of endings…
Ayumi: Her route is focused on a scheme that her co-worker seems to be planning against her. Takuya spends the majority of her route trying to convince Ayumi that she is in danger and her naivety can make you cringe a little. This Arc should be played second.
Mio: Probably my favorite route, Mio is a really nice character; her route is centered on the secrets of Triangle Mountain, so Takuya spends most of his time with her investigating and looking for clues. This Arc takes from both Mitsuki’s and Ayumi’s respective routes, so this should be played after them.
Kaori: Her route is mostly here to explain a plot point, and is also the shortest route. Though I really liked Kaori’s character, she was very mischievous and cunning.
Kanna: Her route should be played before the true route, since it reveals a lot of important info about Takuya’s father. She shares a branch with Kaori for a while, so things mostly get interesting in the end of the Path.
True Route: Very hit-or-miss, the game takes a turn to whole different genre and it seems like a totally different, unrelated tale for a while. There is a lot of info dump that comes by the end of it which doesn’t make things better.
After finishing the routes, you’ll unlock bonus content like side stories, CG gallery, extended endings for Ayumi, Mio & Kanna, which is always a plus (Though 100% the game can be a chore).
Overall, YU-NO is a pretty good game that becomes very hit-or-miss during the final path, though I’d still recommend you check it out for it's value and contribution to the VN world.
Special Thanks to @MaggieROBOT for the help!
adamstan 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.
ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?
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.
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.