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HonorificsSurvey

(8/1 update) Results of the honorifics survey

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Personally, I'm fine either way.  The only things I really care about in the event that honorifics are taken out are consistency and making sure the alternatives fit(like instead of using "sensei" for a doctor they put just "Doctor").  That said, I understand that there are cases where it could be really hard.  One such case that comes to mind is referring to an older sibling.  In English there's really no alternative to something like "Onii-chan" since I've never met someone who calls their brother "Brother" or "Older Brother".  However this are alternatives to things like "Aniki" that people use.  The most common of which is "Bro"(something I've been called by my siblings before).

That said, there's usually no need for them when used in modern settings like a HS.  I mean, the only time I've ever seen someone say "sir" or "ma'am" to someone of relatively the same age(where in Japan something like -san might be used) is when it's in an official context.  Take for instance my job, and pretty much every job I've ever had.  When I talked to my bosses, I was fairly casual with them and referred to them by name.  The only times when I used something like "sir" or "ma'am" is when it was something beyond them simply telling me of something they want me to do like when I get in trouble or I'm going through an annual performance review.

And like it was stated earlier, I can recognize that there are times even in a modern setting where it would be best to keep them in.  But it's so rare that I can only name the Princess Evangile example from earlier since the use of a certain honorific became a recurring joke.

But this is just the opinion of someone who is not able to understand Japanese in any form with the rare exception of a word here or there, nor do I work on VNs in any capacity.  I simply read them for entertainment.  In truth, the only thing about me that could possibly hold any weight is the fact that I studied the english language as my focus in college/university(school beyond 12th grade).

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If you want to see what a militarised society means, take a look at Evangelion. Permanent crisis state. They nailed it better than just anyone in Japanese media. Far better than Key's Rewrite (Guardian and whatnot), for example.

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Here we go again. Whenever anybody mentions this topic, it will produce a lot of replies, but not consensus. The reason seems to be there is no single definitive answer. It depends on a number of factors:

The VN itself: some VNs makes heavy use of honorifics to tell about interpersonal relationships or personalities. Others just add -san to everybody.

Target audience: are you translating for a steam VN where it's the first VN people will read or is it a fan translation for people who read 30+ VNs already.

Personal taste: we will never agree on acceptable loss of accuracy vs natural sounding English. Going to the extreme of either is bad, but where is the right balance?

 

We spent a while considering this issue for Musumaker, or in broader terms: what to do about hard to translate contents. We ended up deciding to keep honorifics because they play a role and would result in a severe loss of insights in heroine personalities if they are cut. If honorifics are translated to English in a way to preserve the meaning, the result would be that most of the meaning would be lost anyway and it would sound much worse than keeping honorifics.

It does come with a problem though, which is we can't except the reader to know all of them. The answer is a list where each honorific is written and explained. There is a twist to this though. Because the VN engine is fairly diverse, it allows displaying a png in the corner and if you move the mouse to it, it will pop up with another png. This allows adding the explanations ingame the first time a word is used and remove the need to jump in and out of the VN. This system can also be used for other hard to translate words like Tanabata.

 

The goal of a translation is to give the same reading experience to the English speaking VN readers as Japanese get by reading the Japanese version. Diverting too much from the original contents in order to make "natural English" will lose the story while being too literal might keep all the story elements, but results in a written English, which isn't a pleasure to read. It's a question about finding the right balance between those two. Spamming words the reader needs to look up (even in the popup approach) will hurts reading pleasure, but never explaining anything hurts the understanding when some common knowledge about cultural references is needed to figure out what goes on.

 

My conclusion is the same as every thread about a topic like this one: there is no single right answer, which universally applies to every single VN ever released. It is a topic to consider for every single translation project and even for a specific translation we will likely never get everybody to agree on honorifics.

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I had a related issue with my current project, set in a fantasy country based on Russia. While not as convoluted as Japanese honorifics, Russian has its own politeness registers—and I had to decide whether to render people's full names (first name plus patronymic/matronymic), just their first names (I don't know any Russians who call other Russians just by their official full-length first name) or the nickname derived from first name/patronymic/surname that close friends would use. 

In the end I went with the first option because as a Russian writing about people who are supposed to be the fantasy equivalent of such, it felt extremely weird to have people not mind the tu-vous distinction and use first names with total strangers. The characters aren't supposed to be speaking English, after all. 

So I guess my stance on honorifics is that if the characters are supposedly speaking Japanese or a conlang based on it, I'd rather they were kept in, but for non-Japanese/Japanese-derived settings, it's kind of embarrassing. 

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4 hours ago, Satsuki said:

Keep the honorific as it, or at least, if you want to translate them, do it in a smart way.

And by that I mean, stop calling your classmates "Mr" and "Miss". No one does that.

Unless they're a school full of ojou-samas, but then how do you translate ojou-sama... ;)

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1 hour ago, ittaku said:

Unless they're a school full of ojou-samas, but then how do you translate ojou-sama... ;)

'Young mistress' in the personal (servant to female master), 'milady' (in the lower case because it isn't a recognition of a formal title) is workable for when speaking from a non-subservient position.  Overall, though, without an ear for nuance, it is a pain in the butt.

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Am I the only one wondering who the thread starter is? It's somebody who signed up, started the thread and then left. The person haven't even logged in during the nearly 48 hours since this thread was started, making me wonder if that person even reads the replies. Who is collecting the votes and why is it gathered?

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19 minutes ago, tymmur said:

Am I the only one wondering who the thread starter is? It's somebody who signed up, started the thread and then left. The person haven't even logged in during the nearly 48 hours since this thread was started, making me wonder if that person even reads the replies. Who is collecting the votes and why is it gathered?

It's just an Anon from the 4chan VNTLs. Basically, another pointless honorific argument came up and someone made a strawpoll then this happened.

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As for me 4chan here is already lost cause in the first place, so other than to check VNTS I didn't browse much on there lol. As for the topic itself, more or less I'm just neutral with honorific here and besides I already understand the Japanese honorific anyway, so it didn't matter whether we have original honorific or localized honorific. Although considering that I understand Japan's honorific here, I slightly prefer the former though for consistency.

PS - Seeing that the vote was required us to login using Google and I'm too lazy to do that, I decided to not vote on the topic here lol.

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Of course I am reading the replies. As of now, there are 691 responses to the survey. Requiring google login is a necessity, because that's the only protection against duplicate replies which google forms offer. There's no IP or cookies check. It's this or everyone being able to reply as many times as they want.

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Oh damn, even I didn't vote to keep in honorifics for non-Japanese settings. Still, if I had to choose between keeping them entirely or losing them entirely, I'd definitely go with the former.

I wasn't sure how popular the removal of honorifics was gonna be for Japanese settings, but I'm a bit relieved to see that they're mostly viewed favorably.

 

:mare:

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Honorifics and last-name, first-name swapping is necessary for Japanese audio with translated text, because it helps understand who the fuck is talking to whom. Imagine the audio going "Senpaaaai!" and the only thing in the text box is the protag's name.

That's confusing and annoys me.

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1 hour ago, Kenshin_sama said:

I wasn't sure how popular the removal of honorifics was gonna be for Japanese settings, but I'm a bit relieved to see that they're mostly viewed favorably.

I wasn't worried like that at all. After all I have known the result for a few years already :sachi:

 

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1 hour ago, Dreamysyu said:

So, the results show that VNs are mostly played by weebs. Nothing new.

The poll shows that most respondents were weebs.  The difference is pretty crucial.  A very particular type of fan hangs out in VN communities and responds to polls like this.

Edited by sanahtlig

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2 hours ago, sanahtlig said:

The poll shows that most respondents were weebs.  The difference is pretty crucial.  A very particular type of fan hangs out in VN communities and responds to polls like this.

Sorry but almost everyone who plays VN in general are weebs not just VN communities.

 

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3 hours ago, Dreamysyu said:

So, the results show that VNs are mostly played by weebs. Nothing new.

We do not have any evidence that any of the VN readers are weebs, at least not if we go by the Urban Dictionary definition.

Quote

Some of them also use Japanese honorifics, for example when they attach the "-chan" honorific to the names of people or characters they like or find cute, or when they use the "-sama" honorific to show they respect someone.

Pay attention to the word "use". The survey asks if people want to read honorifics, not if they want to use them themselves. There is a big difference. My guess is that the vast majority of the "want honorific" voters doesn't actually say honorifics themselves.

Quote

He occasionally uses romanized Japanese words instead of English equivalents, such as "kawaii" instead of "cute" and "baka" instead of "dumb" or "jerk" (it has both meanings).

Using Japanese words like they are English doesn't seem to overrun the forum either. It can happen, but not in a regular conversation. I think I did once or twice to use it as a pun/point for something, kind of like saying "Me fail English. That's unpossible". We all know there is a message to intentionally writing the sentence incorrectly, in which case it doesn't match the weeb definition.

 

That's one of the hard things about surveys: figure out what you can conclude based on the results. There is actually a real science to this and this survey tells us very little other than the numbers themselves. Claiming VN readers are weebs are about as accurate as claiming VN readers are left handed. None of those claims can be ruled out, but we do not have any data to support either claim either.

 

Had I made the survey questions, then I would have asked for OELVNs and translated from Japanese VNs. Why? Because wanting honorifics in a VN written by say an American, which possibly takes place in America is a strong weeb indicator. Wanting honorifics in a translation where honorifics is used in the original, particularly if used diversely, as in choice of honorific carries a meaning is a completely different story. The questions in the survey were not detailed enough to dig into this specific issue, meaning we can't jump to any conclusions.

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4 hours ago, Dreamysyu said:

So, the results show that VNs are mostly played by weebs. Nothing new.

The results show that a survey posted exclusively in weeb communities is mostly taken by weebs.

1 hour ago, KT89 said:

Sorry but almost everyone who plays VN in general are weebs not just VN communities.

Largely, yeah, though the degrees of weebness varies. I take umbrage with the survey giver stating that the target group are those "interested enough" in VNs to be part of a community, as if anyone not in a community lacks interest or isn't as big of a fan. There are a large number of dedicated VN fans who don't participate in any community (I know a few who were big enough fans of VNs to begin fan translating some without ever being a member of a community) as well as a number of members of the community who only casually read VNs. 

Basically, this survey was utterly meaningless from the start, but I'm sure we all knew that already.

Edited by Decay

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7 hours ago, tymmur said:

I wasn't worried like that at all. After all I have known the result for a few years already :sachi:

 

That blog post was brilliant, thank you for bringing it up. So, everything has been said years ago ;)

Edited by adamstan

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