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HonorificsSurvey

(8/1 update) Results of the honorifics survey

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Damn, the salt and burn in this thread makes me wish I carried a burn heal, along with some popcorn. Lazy? Grow up? Bad translators don't remove them? Heh. I got a happy meal for ya guys. Maybe it'll cheer y'all up and get rid of the QQ going around. <3

On topic. I used to not care, but it "feels" more "natural" without them the more I've read VNs. 

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1 minute ago, Kiriririri said:

Fantranslators can do what they think is the best but however, I believe that official translators who get paid to do this should remove honorifics because that is what their job is about.

In fact, I believe that the professional works I've read leave honorifics aside, while some fantranslators keep them, but it's hard to keep track of it so I might be wrong...

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5 minutes ago, Kiriririri said:

Fantranslators can do what they think is the best but however, I believe that official translators who get paid to do this should remove honorifics because that is what their job is about.

It's not unusual though, and has been done for years. The English dub for FLCL was well received for its faithfulness to the original script even with the inclusion of honorifics.

 

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34 minutes ago, Kiriririri said:

Tbh I don't mind what people think about this, everyone can have their own preference about this, readers and translators.

Fantranslators can do what they think is the best but however, I believe that official translators who get paid to do this should remove honorifics because that is what their job is about.

I believe that they can do what they want. There's no official rulebook for having them in or out other than having "official work" which is a shoddy excuse to prove a point. Translations can be good with them in and bad with them out. I'm paying "official companies" to translate a VN into a story that I can understand and enjoy with as little "distractions" in general (which vary from person to person.)

To each his own, but just because people that are "professionals" do it doesn't make it the end all be all golden standard, as much as people want it to be.

Edited by AdventSign
Spelling and adding on stuff.

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I'm mostly indifferent, I'll not rage either way, but I think honorifics should be removed. Like Kiri and Dergonu said, a translator's job is about localizing the material to fit the target language. Of course this is hard for a language like japanese, since it's so different from english also on a cultural level, but hey, no one said it was supposed to be easy. Leaving parts of he text untranslated because the target language "doesn't have anything like this" is a poor excuse of a translation imo.

And people only got hang up about honorifics because it's the only thing they understand. The amount of "original feeling" that got lost on translation of choice of first person pronoun, kanji puns, kanji+furigana wordplay, dialects and keigo is incredible. I once played an untranslated and unvoiced game where, in a ending, we can only notice one character is impersonating another is because he's using 俺 (ore, that said character never used before) instead of 儂 (washi). This will probably have to be severely adapted to even make sense in translation, since both only means "I"? Yes. Should we start to put ore/watashi/boku/atashi the same way we use honorifics to be closer to the original? Hell no.

Edited by MaggieROBOT

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Best you can do is go on majority. Not because everyone else is doing it or because it's right or wrong. Its about making it as accessible to as many readers as possible. How to do that has changed over the years. People find things distracting when they didn't used to be years ago because it's what we've gotten used to and call abnormalities or things that don't look or sound right cancerous and distracting and people are going to inevitably say they are because "insert reason here." That's the long and short of it. Some people have trouble processing things that are out of the norm for them which I don't hold against them, but it's not really fair to say that something is wrong purely because of that, right? It was never because official companies are doing it or because it's better with it out. Can we all agree on that at least? <3

Edited by AdventSign

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Guess not. </3
The never-ending war between honorifics and non honorifics continues to rage on and rustle people's jimmies daily with the salt and rage of dozens of men and women alike.
I have failed in providing world peace here at Fuwanovel. Mods, Admins, and God, forgive me for being unable to accomplish such a simple task.

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5 hours ago, Okarin said:

Why so serious.

When talking about Spanish culture and conditions in English (and you can replace Spain with any country, except it's mine), you don't really mix in Spanish words with English ones. And I warrant you that Spain has some things that are very different from English-speaking countries. Why should we do the same with Japanese?

In the end, the problem can be circumvented, but like Kiri says, it implies not being lazy, really. Things that change between countries are things like the food and so on, and they can mostly be adapted, not to be things they aren't (like rice ball -> hamburger), but to make some sense. After all, side notes about translation are very common, for example, explaining things like name-based jokes, or holidays.

There really isn't any point in adapting food names, since you'll find that the original names are used more often than not in the West...  It is just like borscht is borscht and enchiladas are enchiladas... there literally is no point in translating most cultural food names, regardless of the language  (ingredient names it often makes sense to translate, since Western versions will often be under the translated name).  In English, most foreign food names are treated as the name for that food in modern times, including in cases where it has a close relative to a food we already know.  Chinese food is the one that breaks that tendency almost constantly, since most Chinese food was Americanized a long time ago.   However, it is just that... an exception.  You'll almost never see that with Japanese food here (ex. tempura is tempura, oyakodon is oyakodon, etc).

I'm not going to weigh in on honorifics in general, but I will say that if you are dealing with a jidaigeki type based in old Japan, taking out the honorifics often makes large swathes of the story incomprehensible.  In stories based in modern Japan, honorifics can mostly be substituted or ignored, save in ones where the difference in social status and the character's use of a particular honorific effects the events occurring deeply.  In cases like this 'Mr' or 'Ms' really isn't an adequate substitute, unfortunately... 

Not that most people who don't know Japanese will pick up on that level of subtlety, but there are some capable of reading the social cues without actually knowing Japanese. 

Edit: 70% of all newbie translators will be honorific fanatics... so be tolerant.  In the end, the only time a translator is obligated to do anything is when s/he is being paid to do it, so our complaints one way or another are pissing in the wind.

Edit2: I am mildly curious about how editors/translators nowadays get around the inevitable 'honorific argument' that occurs in an obligatory fashion in almost every charage in existence with one or more of the heroines, where they converse on how to call one another...  I've seen a few really really awkward suggestions for dealing with it, but it gives me a headache just thinking about it.  One of the reasons I will never tl a charage.

Edit3: ... looking back, it is pretty hilarious to see how viewpoints have changed.  Back when I first started translating, anyone who suggested removing honorifics at all (much less categorically) was just ignored or made fun of.  Now it has sort of reversed itself... lol

 

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58 minutes ago, Clephas said:

Edit2: I am mildly curious about how editors/translators nowadays get around the inevitable 'honorific argument' that occurs in an obligatory fashion in almost every charage in existence with one or more of the heroines, where they converse on how to call one another...  I've seen a few really really awkward suggestions for dealing with it, but it gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Same with me. I can't think of a good way to do it without butchering the scene or sounding way more awkward than with honorifics in place. That's why I was surprised by this Dergonu's statement:

8 hours ago, Dergonu said:

unless it simply cannot be avoided, which is incredibly rare.

It should have disclaimer: "except for charages and moeges" ;) And, unfortunately, if there are even few scenes that require it, it applies to whole game, as incosistency is probably even worse.

 

Edited by adamstan

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1 hour ago, adamstan said:

Same with me. I can't think of a good way to do it without butchering the scene or sounding way more awkward than with honorifics in place. That's why I was surprised by this Dergonu's statement:

It should have disclaimer: "except for charages and moeges" ;) And, unfortunately, if there are even few scenes that require it, it applies to whole game, as incosistency is probably even worse.

 

In the end, if you aren't the one translating it, you should just shut up about this issue... because, after all, it is a matter of style and opinion, not morality or an absolute standard.  Complaining about a poor translation (easy mistakes, literalism taken to extremes, etc) is one thing, but complaining about a style issue is both pointless and causes unnecessary annoyance to all sides. 

Personally, this is my chart of standards:

Based in old (pre-WWII) Japan= Keeping honorifics is necessary

Situation is layered with meaning reliant on honorifics- case-by-case (honestly, consistency is important, but Japanese high society and politics place a lot of importance on interplay involving specific manners of speech and honorifics.  However, even most ojousama-ge don't actually need the honorifics)

Modern Japan, not involved with complex high society issues- Doesn't need honorifics/loss of meaning in eliminating them is minimal

Based outside of Japan or in another world- No point in honorifics (usually Western ones are fine for ones like this)

What that comes down to is that categorically ignoring/eliminating honorifics is not always a good idea.  That said, the Japanese tag them on even in Western settings and fantasy settings, and modern Japanese society is a lot more flat-planed when it comes to this kind of thing than old Japan was.  As such, outside of a few odd/unique situations or settings, there is no real need to keep the honorifics in most modern Japanese settings (meaning 90% of all VNs). 

I will however, bash gladly anyone who eliminates honorifics and titles in something like Miburo or Sengoku Koihime, because it actively harms the storytelling.  That particular situation I mentioned is an annoying one, but it is just one common scene, so screwing around with it won't cause any real problems with most VNs. 

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I had to drop Persona 4 because of honorifics. That annoying bear screaming shit the whole fight was painful.
I still have nightmares.


"Good job, Chie-chan"     
*shudder*

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4 minutes ago, 1P1A said:

I had to drop Persona 4 because of honorifics. That annoying bear screaming shit the whole fight was painful.
I still have nightmares.


"Good job, Chie-chan"     
*shudder*

English dubs shouldn't keep honorifics... *shudders*

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I'm watching this new anime about the body cells, where every character is either a red blood cell or a white ones. One of these red cells calls the other "senpai", and since they don't have different names, how would it be a good way to translate it without using "senpai"?

What makes me cringe the most is not using or not using honorifics, but when the translator uses "miss" or "mr." every time someone uses "-san", even if it is between two friends. Nobody does that in real life, right?

Edited by Silvz

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What needs to be accepted is that translation is a lossy process and will never be a 100% faithful reproduction since it's impossible to convey all nuances, cultural references etc in another language. On that I'm sure most of us agree. What isn't understood well enough, unless you've been a translator yourself, is something that Clephas has said - the honorifics themselves may serve a purpose in the story and often do. To that end, what matters more - to weigh in with my opinion - is how much localisation the original text can "tolerate". Given translation's "lossy" nature, if honorifics are a huge part of the story - and they often are in charage where characters alter their speech according to familiarity and over time - then there will be far more loss in the story should the honorifics not have an English equivalent (and they usually don't.) That still doesn't make it wrong to remove honorifics if that's the style one wishes to go with; it's just much harder to convey the nuance in the original text without them. I've done it both ways now, and leaving honorifics in makes it extremely easy while removing them when they're a big part of the story itself is many many times trickier to get right without losing a significant part of the story. So in my case, I'd say it depends entirely on how important they are to the story as to whether I'd prefer to leave them in. I'm currently working on a translation without them and most of the team discussion is spent trying to nut out what would otherwise be a simple part of the translation as they actually play a big part in this charage. This one doesn't "tolerate" the loss as well as other ones might, so we have to work much harder to try and fill that loss.

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1 hour ago, Silvz said:

I'm watching this new anime about the body cells, where every character is either a red blood cell or a white ones. One of these red cells calls the other "senpai", and since they don't have different names, how would it be a good way to translate it without using "senpai"?

What makes me cringe the most is not using or not using honorifics, but when the translator uses "miss" or "mr." every time someone uses "-san", even if it is between two friends. Nobody does that in real life, right?

In school, we had to use Mr or Mrs, so I guess it could work for teachers.

Edited by AdventSign

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Given the demographics of the vn readers in the west, keeping or cutting honorifics is not much more than a stylistic choice.

Honorifics is something not too problematic, but it made me think how some hard situations (like kanji puns) are handled.

Edited by Norleas

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In a way, it's up to whether or not the honorifics becomes a really big deal in the VN's story. It's much easier to be rid of honorifics from the English translation generally, but there are times when the charm of the dialogue disappears with it. It's not always lazy, or weeb. Sometimes it's actually important.

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6 hours ago, ittaku said:

What needs to be accepted is that translation is a lossy process and will never be a 100% faithful reproduction since it's impossible to convey all nuances, cultural references etc in another language. On that I'm sure most of us agree. What isn't understood well enough, unless you've been a translator yourself, is something that Clephas has said - the honorifics themselves may serve a purpose in the story and often do. To that end, what matters more - to weigh in with my opinion - is how much localisation the original text can "tolerate". Given translation's "lossy" nature, if honorifics are a huge part of the story - and they often are in charage where characters alter their speech according to familiarity and over time - then there will be far more loss in the story should the honorifics not have an English equivalent (and they usually don't.) That still doesn't make it wrong to remove honorifics if that's the style one wishes to go with; it's just much harder to convey the nuance in the original text without them. I've done it both ways now, and leaving honorifics in makes it extremely easy while removing them when they're a big part of the story itself is many many times trickier to get right without losing a significant part of the story. So in my case, I'd say it depends entirely on how important they are to the story as to whether I'd prefer to leave them in. I'm currently working on a translation without them and most of the team discussion is spent trying to nut out what would otherwise be a simple part of the translation as they actually play a big part in this charage. This one doesn't "tolerate" the loss as well as other ones might, so we have to work much harder to try and fill that loss.

Is this the project you're talking about?

If a big part of the time spent on team discussion is on how to remove honorifics while keeping relationship nuances, you're better off trying to convince the project leader that is better to not remove them. Like you said, charage doesn't tolerate the loss of honorifics and if you are all having a hard time trying to remove them then you're better off leaving them in.

Edited by El Mugaro

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6 hours ago, ittaku said:

To that end, what matters more - to weigh in with my opinion - is how much localisation the original text can "tolerate". Given translation's "lossy" nature, if honorifics are a huge part of the story - and they often are in charage where characters alter their speech according to familiarity and over time - then there will be far more loss in the story should the honorifics not have an English equivalent (and they usually don't.) That still doesn't make it wrong to remove honorifics if that's the style one wishes to go with; it's just much harder to convey the nuance in the original text without them.

That's exactly the point I was trying to make too, but you, as translator, conveyed it much better.

6 hours ago, ittaku said:

I've done it both ways now, and leaving honorifics in makes it extremely easy

Maybe that's why some call it "lazy"... but then sometimes it is "lesser evil" ;)

 

21 minutes ago, El Mugaro said:

If a big part of the time spent on team discussion is on how to remove honorifics while keeping relationship nuances, you're better off trying to convince the project leader to leave them in. Like you said, charage doesn't tolerate the loss of honorifics and if you are all having a hard time trying to remove them then you're better off leaving them in.

On the other hand - if they come up with good solution, that will make really interesting read.

Edited by adamstan

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47 minutes ago, El Mugaro said:

Is this the project you're talking about?

If a big part of the time spent on team discussion is on how to remove honorifics while keeping relationship nuances, you're better off trying to convince the project leader that is better to not remove them. Like you said, charage doesn't tolerate the loss of honorifics and if you are all having a hard time trying to remove them then you're better off leaving them in.

That's the only project I'm currently working on. However we've nutted out most of the issues; that was the point of the discussion. I played the entire game through first to get a feel for how much localisation it would "tolerate" and then we tackled the parts that wouldn't work in team meetings and added our agreed upon solutions to our style guide.

 

39 minutes ago, adamstan said:

On the other hand - if they come up with good solution, that will make really interesting read.

I hope you think so when we're done.

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19 hours ago, Dergonu said:

Leaving in something like honorifics, which is completely alien in English, is objectively a bad idea, unless it simply cannot be avoided, which is incredibly rare.

Incredibly nitty nitpick: honorifics are not completely alien in English.  We actually have an almost identical concept.  It's just that it's such a small part of the language that it's almost died out, because the situations that spawned it relate to social structures that basically haven't existed for hundreds of years; whereas in Japan it's still highly relevant to daily life.

When you're in court, what do you call the judge?  Your honor.  The judge is introduced as The honorable so-and-so.  And it is always only for other people.  Consider this classic Three Stooges bit.  Why is it funny?  Because everyone knows that you call a judge your honor to show proper respect, and you certainly never call them "Mister Court".  And because the very idea of anyone using this form of address as My honor is inherently ridiculous.  No judge ever refers to him or her self as my honor.  It simply is not done.  They always refer to themselves in an impersonal way as the court.

Likewise, when was the last time any Pope ever referred to himself as My Holiness?  Does the Queen of England refer to herself as My Majesty?  Certainly not.  That's what the royal we is for; it is a humbling form of address, implying it isn't even really a person talking but a mouthpiece on behalf of the nation itself.

Now, honorifics in Japanese indicate precise levels of respect and/or familiarity between the speaker and whoever they're referring to.  Not adding one when you need to, or using an overly informal one, is insulting.  When you get right down to it, forms of address like Your Grace are almost exactly the same in English in this respect as honorifics in Japanese, and they're even often combined with the individual's name in a very similar way.  Someone who is entitled to be called Your Grace will be very put out if you don't do it.  And while today, very few people could tell you the precise difference between Your Grace and Your Excellency, that did not used to be the case.

They're not exactly the same: It is more common in English to use the honorific alone, because usually when you need one, it's unambiguous who it refers to.  But if there happens to be more than one judge in the room, you fall back to Judge So-and-so which is even more like an honorific.

So yes, English actually has honorifics.  They're like the appendix of English; basically useless, but still technically there.  So unimportant that most people wouldn't even recognize that that's what it is.  (Hell, for years I would have said we didn't have honorifics.)

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13 minutes ago, Nandemonai said:

Incredibly nitty nitpick: honorifics are not completely alien in English.  We actually have an almost identical concept.  It's just that it's such a small part of the language that it's almost died out, because the situations that spawned it relate to social structures that basically haven't existed for hundreds of years; whereas in Japan it's still highly relevant to daily life.

When you're in court, what do you call the judge?  Your honor.  The judge is introduced as The honorable so-and-so.  And it is always only for other people.  Consider this classic Three Stooges bit.  Why is it funny?  Because everyone knows that you call a judge your honor to show proper respect, and you certainly never call them "Mister Court".  And because the very idea of anyone using this form of address as My honor is inherently ridiculous.  No judge ever refers to him or her self as my honor.  It simply is not done.  They always refer to themselves in an impersonal way as the court.

Likewise, when was the last time any Pope ever referred to himself as My Holiness?  Does the Queen of England refer to herself as My Majesty?  Certainly not.  That's what the royal we is for; it is a humbling form of address, implying it isn't even really a person talking but a mouthpiece on behalf of the nation itself.

Now, honorifics in Japanese indicate precise levels of respect and/or familiarity between the speaker and whoever they're referring to.  Not adding one when you need to, or using an overly informal one, is insulting.  When you get right down to it, forms of address like Your Grace are almost exactly the same in English in this respect as honorifics in Japanese, and they're even often combined with the individual's name in a very similar way.  Someone who is entitled to be called Your Grace will be very put out if you don't do it.  And while today, very few people could tell you the precise difference between Your Grace and Your Excellency, that did not used to be the case.

They're not exactly the same: It is more common in English to use the honorific alone, because usually when you need one, it's unambiguous who it refers to.  But if there happens to be more than one judge in the room, you fall back to Judge So-and-so which is even more like an honorific.

So yes, English actually has honorifics.  They're like the appendix of English; basically useless, but still technically there.  So unimportant that most people wouldn't even recognize that that's what it is.  (Hell, for years I would have said we didn't have honorifics.)

People are probably going to argue that it's not the same, but you're right on that. Never thought of it that way, but it isn't alien at all and at times is mixed into other things, such as Mr and Mrs or Sir and Madam. Your example and insight is pretty dead on. Well, I learned something from this thread at least.

People are quick to point out "official rules" and alienate ideas or things that are out of the norm to them and though I don't mind them doing so, it's not exactly true saying to "take them out unless you have to." The higher up you go and the more rules that are pushed on you, the more critical and judgmental people will be of other's work with the "rules" you know. Sadly, it seems to have happened to quite a bit of people on this thread, some of which are quite salty.

Edited by AdventSign

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Yep.  It took more than ten years of shooting the breeze about the differences between Japanese and English before I realized that English actually does have honorifics.  Military ranks are a good one, too.  In Japanese, they say the equivalent of Sergeant Bob.  They don't say Sergeant Bob-san.  The sergeant part is the honorific.  Well, we pretty much do exactly the same thing, except we invert the word order so the honorific comes first.

When people were first trying to computerize speech recognition and the like, they went to the experts in the world of linguistics and tried to use the commonly-accepted facts as the truth.  Come to find out linguistics was full of inaccuracies and oversimplifications.  People don't pause between words, for instance.  What we actually do is draw out the last sound for awhile, then launch into the next word.  Try it; pausing. between. words. makes. you. sound. like. a. robot.  There are lot more phonemes than people thought, too.  Most vowels make more than two sounds, for instance.

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1 hour ago, Nandemonai said:

Yep.  It took more than ten years of shooting the breeze about the differences between Japanese and English before I realized that English actually does have honorifics.  Military ranks are a good one, too.  In Japanese, they say the equivalent of Sergeant Bob.  They don't say Sergeant Bob-san.  The sergeant part is the honorific.  Well, we pretty much do exactly the same thing, except we invert the word order so the honorific comes first.

When people were first trying to computerize speech recognition and the like, they went to the experts in the world of linguistics and tried to use the commonly-accepted facts as the truth.  Come to find out linguistics was full of inaccuracies and oversimplifications.  People don't pause between words, for instance.  What we actually do is draw out the last sound for awhile, then launch into the next word.  Try it; pausing. between. words. makes. you. sound. like. a. robot.  There are lot more phonemes than people thought, too.  Most vowels make more than two sounds, for instance.

Whoa!  No.  Just, NO.  Military ranks are NOT honorifics, and if you try to use them as such you'll run into trouble.

In fact, the military in general is a very poor place to look for 'normal' behaviors, in language or elsewhere.  The demands and practices of a military organization are different than, normal society, and you should not attempt to treat them the same.

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