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How do you prefer these type of words/phrases (English) translated in visual novels you read?


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There can be arguments and/or controversies about how things in certain visual novels. Some localization companies or even fantranslators have their own preferences.

1) Honorifics in general

Aka things like -chan, -san, -sama, -kun, -senpai etc.

This seems to be one of the more common ones. Do you want them written as is romanized (eg "Michiru-sama")? Or do you want English equivalents (eg Saotome-sensei -> Ms. Saotome)? Or do you want something more localized? Or do you just want them removed entirely? Or does it just depend on the setting or type of VN?

2) Onii-chan

This is a more specific question in relation to the above. Some translations prefer just romanizing "Onii-chan". Some will just go with the "Big Bro" or "big brother". More recently we've gotten stuff like "dude" or "broski". Which is your preference?

3) Referring to characters as ___dere in universe

Leaving that Fata Morgana controversy aside, occasionally a character will make a joke that another character is a tsundere or the sort. Would you want terms like these left as is? Or would you prefer some kinda of localization that makes fun of the trait without referring to the name in text? Or just have some kind of TL note?

4) Name Order

In Japanese, people will refer to full names as "Last Name First Name". In English, we would normally do that as "First Name Last Name". When a character refers to someone as full name, which order would you want? Similarly, if a character refers to a character by their last name would you want them to keep that in the translation? Or would changing it to their first name depending on the character or situation?

5) 仕方がない/Shikatanai OR 仕様がない/Shouganai

Whenever a character says it one common way it's translated is as "It can't be helped". However, there are many ways this could be translated, and some translators recently do it different. How would you prefer it?

6) さすが/Sasuga

Commonly translated as "As expected of ___". Similarly to Shiktanai/Shouganai, this tends to be translated to something that sounds similar like "This is ___, after all." What do you prefer?


7) Japanese jokes and puns

This is something more specific and tends to show up more certain in comedic visual novels. There are jokes that rely on making puns based on Japanese names, or other kinds of words. Would you prefer the jokes to just be told as is with some kind of translation note? Or do you prefer the joke to be changed to some kind of English equivalent?

Edited by NowItsAngeTime
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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Infernoplex said:

You planning on doing a VN project or something, Ange? xD

Not in the near future. 

But now that I've been enough on both the English and Japanese side, I've just been curious what exactly English translated only people (I suppose we'll call em EOPs) want. It seems like we only get to see what some of them want once a 'controversial' TL take is done (stuff like Broski, any MoeNovel TL, or the Fata Morgana tsundere thing)

I'm just always interested in thinking of discussion topics, it's just hard to come up with new ones these days.

Edited by NowItsAngeTime
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1) I have no hard feelings about this either way, as long as it's consistent throughout the translation of the work. So if the TLer decided to keep honorifics, they better stay there till the end.

2) Same opinion as with the honorifics. No hard feelings either way, as long as it's consistent and matches the tone of the character who's speaking it.

3) Depends on context. In some works, you can get creative about this. I guess "tsundere" would be fine to keep, but where does one draw the line? At "mayadere"? "Coodere"? Luckily, I don't think I've seen these rarer ones appear in dialogue or narration of some VN, but personally, I'm not sure I'd keep these if I worked on a VN where they appear. Some of these "dere" variants aren't as well known as "tsundere".

4) I prefer western order, for reasons.

5) Definitely something that doesn't need to be always TLed literally, except in cases where it makes sense for the character to speak that way (which rarely happens, really). Not saying one can't use "it can't be helped" for it, but I usually rewrite around it if I see it.

6) Same as with "shouganai/shikata ga nai".

7) Definitely 100% liberal. And it's the number one reason I hate puns in Japanese. They're the hardest to carry over in translation. You really need to find something in English that would work in a similar way. I'm not a fan of TL notes, so I'd rather see an English pun here instead.

Edited by Infernoplex
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Regarding honorifics and "Onii-chan" I'm really confused myself which is better. I don't like the inclusion of honorifics and "Onii-chan" because it makes it harder to recommend VNs to people who aren't already entrenched in Otaku media. To a certain extent I want to see VNs "get more popular in the west", to quote the Fuwa slogan, but it's hard to appeal to people outside of the niche when they see cringey stuff like "Onii-chan" all over the place. On the otherhand, we don't really have a culture of referring to people by their social rank (kouhai, senpai, Onii-chan, Onee-chan). Yes we have words like upper classman, underclassman, older brother, older sister. But often the context they are used in Japanese translated really awkwardly. In theory I think these translations are more friendly to outsiders looking to give VNs a try, but they also have their own bumps on the road. Constantly calling your older brother "older brother" is just awkward, and vernacularly terms like "bro" are usually used between friends that aren't technically related. Like the saying "Bros before hoes" (a vulgar, but accurate example), refers to male-friends who you feel so close to it is as though they are your brothers. 

I guess all I'm really saying is that I appreciate the complexity of both sides, and ultimately which ever choice a translator makes I respect so long as it's clear they clearly thought about it and are consistent with their choice.  

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1. Better stay with japanese honorifics
2. This one is okay with Onii-chan or big brother
3. Depens on the context
4. I prefer stay with the original order, because its a name
5. Its okay, if the context or meaning not truly changed
6. Same with 5
7, This one is really hard, better use liberal coz not anyone understand japanese pun

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On 3/29/2021 at 2:16 AM, NowItsAngeTime said:

5) 仕方がない/Shikatanai OR 仕様がない/Shouganai

Whenever a character says it one common way it's translated is as "It can't be helped". However, there are many ways this could be translated, and some translators recently do it different. How would you prefer it?

6) さすが/Sasuga

Commonly translated as "As expected of ___". Similarly to Shiktanai/Shouganai, this tends to be translated to something that sounds similar like "This is ___, after all." What do you prefer?

Why are these even questions? Are there people who honestly want every single shikataganai to be translated as "it can't be helped" and every sasuga as "As expected?"  Really? I mean that goes beyond even rigid translation, that's picking the very first choice in a dictionary every time and nothing short of insane.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/28/2021 at 7:16 PM, NowItsAngeTime said:

There can be arguments and/or controversies about how things in certain visual novels. Some localization companies or even fantranslators have their own preferences.

1) Honorifics in general

Aka things like -chan, -san, -sama, -kun, -senpai etc.

This seems to be one of the more common ones. Do you want them written as is romanized (eg "Michiru-sama")? Or do you want English equivalents (eg Saotome-sensei -> Ms. Saotome)? Or do you want something more localized? Or do you just want them removed entirely? Or does it just depend on the setting or type of VN?

2) Onii-chan

This is a more specific question in relation to the above. Some translations prefer just romanizing "Onii-chan". Some will just go with the "Big Bro" or "big brother". More recently we've gotten stuff like "dude" or "broski". Which is your preference?

3) Referring to characters as ___dere in universe

Leaving that Fata Morgana controversy aside, occasionally a character will make a joke that another character is a tsundere or the sort. Would you want terms like these left as is? Or would you prefer some kinda of localization that makes fun of the trait without referring to the name in text? Or just have some kind of TL note?

4) Name Order

In Japanese, people will refer to full names as "Last Name First Name". In English, we would normally do that as "First Name Last Name". When a character refers to someone as full name, which order would you want? Similarly, if a character refers to a character by their last name would you want them to keep that in the translation? Or would changing it to their first name depending on the character or situation?

5) 仕方がない/Shikatanai OR 仕様がない/Shouganai

Whenever a character says it one common way it's translated is as "It can't be helped". However, there are many ways this could be translated, and some translators recently do it different. How would you prefer it?

6) さすが/Sasuga

Commonly translated as "As expected of ___". Similarly to Shiktanai/Shouganai, this tends to be translated to something that sounds similar like "This is ___, after all." What do you prefer?


7) Japanese jokes and puns

This is something more specific and tends to show up more certain in comedic visual novels. There are jokes that rely on making puns based on Japanese names, or other kinds of words. Would you prefer the jokes to just be told as is with some kind of translation note? Or do you prefer the joke to be changed to some kind of English equivalent?

 

1: For honorifics i only think it's important if there are plot points in the vn where they change up how they refer to someone. If there are no such thing then it doesn't matter to me

2: Onii-chan should be left as is and that's because big brother just doesn't translate the cutesy context of onii-chan making it very neutral in comparison. 

3: Again, if it is a plot point and used then it should stay. It's not criminal to google something you're unfamiliar with. 

4: Never really thought about naming orders, but whatever makes the most sense within the context of the vn is my vote.

5: it can't be helped is fine isn't it? I mean people see that all the time in anime so it would not be surprising or feel out of place to a lot of people. Maybe people unfamiliar with vn's and anime? But no one should aim for those people specifically anyway. 

6: Exactly the same as the one above. People hear it a lot in anime so for readability it's best to use it in a way people are used to and is also true to the vn.

7:  I don't understand any of it, but i'd rather it be unless the translators can manage to write something to replace it with which makes sense within the context of the novel and the characters stay true to who they are. I can see some weird translator insert something they personally find hilarious (Likely something childish about memes)  which doesn't make sense in the story.

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1. Honorifics should always be preserved for me as it is always jarring for me to read -sama translated as dearest, or some other thing. Honorifics rarely translate well for me unless you preserve it as it is, and anyone who knows a lil bit about jap culture from watching anime, or something, honorifics are an easy thing to understand. I'm assuming that people who read VN's are usually the people who have already watched anime or read manga and naturally learned honorifics from them.

2. Onii-chan should be left as it is as it is almost always jarring to read "big brother". Onii-chan is a popular word in otaku media and it doesn't even need translation most of the time.

3. Should be preserved, same reasoning as 1, its an easy thing to understand for people who atleast knows something about japanese media.

4. Japanese order should be prioritized, and sometimes it makes no sense for the english one to be chosen in the story because sometimes in romcoms, and sometimes in romcoms calling someone by their first name is a plot point and it doesnt make sense in an english order name.

5 and 6: Readibility is prioritized here since well those words are about making a point and usually "it cant be helped" is easy and on the point.

7. Now this is the hard part, making an english equivalent is always best in here however it is incredibly hard as it will be the translators trying to interpret the character and making the joke fit while being funny. Its acceptable to make a japanese joke with a translation note for me as a form of compromise but translators should always try to make an english equivalent for readers.

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