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Saki manga TL issues




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Saffire
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 10:43 am Reply with quote
So I've been reading Saki, which is being released to little fanfare digitally on Amazon. Which is unfortunate, because I think it's a fun series that deserves a little more attention. Two volumes in, I think the release looks good, the series is entertaining, and...there's some serious problems with the translation.

First off, I acknowledge that translating mahjong manga is a special kind of hell. There's a lot of specific terminology that perpetually threatens to overwhelm anyone not familiar with the game, and I'm sympathetic to the desire to translate it in a way that doesn't break new readers. But I don't think this does a good job of striking a balance.

The biggest problem is how much they mix English and Japanese terms together. "Ippatsu tsumo, all simple, pinfu, mixed triple chow, one dora" is a lazy translation of "Ippatsu tsumo tanpin sanshoku dora". "Ippatsu tsumo" isn't even difficult, "one-shot self draw" or "first try self draw". I'm also not crazy about their insistence on using "flower on the mountaintop" instead of just "rinshan kaihou" since they're not shy about using Japanese elsewhere. They need to pick one way or the other. I'm not sure exactly what tools are available in Amazon's ebook format, but if there's any way to pop up translations of terms and relevant scoring info on the page that would be really cool.

People familiar with mahjong will probably notice the use of the Chinese term "chow" instead of the Japanese "chi", which is another minor gripe. Similarly, the TL used "pung" and "kong" instead of "pon" and "kan". This is Japanese mahjong, I'd prefer using the Japanese terms.

There's also a couple times where they just flub completely. Saki drops a flush (all tiles are the same suit) hand in the first volume and the TL note indicates that it is "concealed self-draw, worth 6 han", which is definitely not true. Being a concealed flush is, but nowhere on the page is the flush mentioned. And when a similar hand drops in the second volume, it's "menchin" (the Japanese term for a concealed flush) instead, so there's some inconsistency there as well.

In the second volume, Yuuki is about to flip for reverse dora and mentioned that if she gets one, it's a sanbaiman (a scoring tier worth 24000/36000 points). The TL cuts the sanbaiman reference and just translates it as "If I get a reverse dora, it's 24000!". Which is fine, except Yuuki is dealer, so it should have been 36000. So two panels later, when she declares "Too bad, 24000!" (because she ends up at the lower tier, which is 16000 * 1.5 dealer bonus), it doesn't scan correctly at all.

It's all kind of a shame, because the release looks nice and I love the series and want to support it. But they really need to clean up the translation work. And maybe list their releases more than two weeks in advance. That would be nice as well.
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:27 am Reply with quote
@Saffire

I just noticed that your current avatar is Mahjong related. I think that is the problem. All of the problems you cited are mahjong related. It makes me feel a bit sorry for the translator as they have to be not only capable of translation but of a deep understanding of mahjong terms. I suspect the publisher didn't want to bother with the additional specialty and just told their regular translator to "do your best".

I'm not trying to down play your concerns, they should make the effort to get it right. However, I really doubt there are a lot of people who would know the difference reading the manga. I know when I watched the anime, all I needed to know was did the person win or lose and was what they did routine or something special.

Maybe you should contact the publisher and offer your services.
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Saffire
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:16 am Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
@Saffire

I just noticed that your current avatar is Mahjong related. I think that is the problem.
It's a Saki avatar, and I do like mahjong so yes, there is some minor bias. Razz

Like I said, I'm fully aware that translating mahjong manga for a non-mahjong audience is a special kind of hell even if you know the game, and on its own I could deal with some of this stuff like the Chinese terms. But there's also a lot that seems like things that should be caught by an editor regardless, like consistent translation of terms and making sure things read correctly. Saki does require extra effort but I do kind of expect that effort to be put in. (And if they're not doing it now, they're probably not going to spend more to hire another person. Laughing)
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:07 pm Reply with quote
I have a couple of mahjong sets, but I've never played myself. I was never able to find anyone who actually played the game. The closest I ever came was a co-worker who said his grandmother played all the time as she lived in Miami.

Both sets are antiques dating from the 1920s and I'm not sure they have all the same tiles used today. They are made of bone and bamboo dovetailed together.
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Saffire
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:29 am Reply with quote
Oh cool. I don't know much about appraising tiles but antique bone sets can be quite valuable.

Likewise, I've never had anyone nearby that was interested but I've dabbled some online. I've never quite mastered counting points like I should since the game client handles it for you. :p
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:31 pm Reply with quote
I gather that the new versions have a few extra tiles. The main change is the addition of multiple different hands and the scoring.

I read up on the subject when I got these sets. It became something of a fad in the US back in the 1920s. At that time most of the sets were made in China. However, Chinese cattle did not have large enough bones and they had to import cow bone from US slaughter houses.

In addition to all the tiles, each set has a little canister with discs in it to show which hand it was a little box with very small Chinese dice and a bunch of bone strips with various numbers of dots on each end in either red or black. I think the strips were used to keep score.
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hyojodoji



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 7:38 am Reply with quote
Alan45 wrote:
...and a bunch of bone strips with various numbers of dots on each end in either red or black. I think the strips were used to keep score.

Yes, those sticks seem to be tenbō (ten is 'score', is 'stick'), and tenbō are used to keep score. Tenbō is also called chóumă.
 
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Alan45
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 4:32 pm Reply with quote
Thanks, I appreciate the information.
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