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Manga: Lost in Translation [2011-07-22]

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Joined: 16 Feb 2009
Posts: 19
Location: Seattle, WA
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:42 am Reply with quote
I would like to have attended this because they touched on a few of my own "hot buttons" regarding manga translation.

I personally detest the use of "southern drawl" as it tends to make the characters look uneducated/ignorant, and is generally used for characters from Osaka or another Kansai city. I lived in Osaka for four years and married an Osaka guy, so it really irritates me. If a character is truly the equivalent of a 'southern hick' then that might be OK, but I have never read a manga where that was actually the case.

I am one of those who appreciate the use of honorifics, as it tells you a lot about the relationship between the characters, which is often very important in the plot. First name or last name, plus or minus -san/-chan/-kun--it can tell you a lot about the people and story. I'm not exactly sure why a reader would be upset about leaving it in, but many of us aren't happy when they are left out.

I also admit to sometimes going to a scanlation when the official translation doesn't really make sense to me, and almost every time the scanlated translation is better in that particular case. This actually happens quite frequently and makes me wonder about the background of the translator and how in touch they are with both Japanese AND American society.

I second the wish for the English translation of Saint Young Men. I know a lot of non-manga readers who would love that story!
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Joined: 11 Jan 2011
Posts: 522
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:55 am Reply with quote
I'm one of those readers who doesn't like the honorifics for the most part. It's actually the exception to the rule when I think they fit, and those are usually series like Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei or xxxHolic, which are about Japanese culture. This is probably the wrong image entirely, but I see them as a bit "stuffy", overly-formal that works for some mature Senien titles, but not most Shonen schlock.

Mainly because I never heard anyone using them growing up, and they just continue to sound odd to me. In fact I really don't read them, as when I read a name, I notice the name but the honorific is just dismissed by my brain as meaningless.I realize they can tell you about characters and interactions, but I could never really remember them or differentiate. Besides if it's good writing you should be able to pick up on these things with their interactions.

I'm really glad Viz doesn't do that with most of their shonen series, because it would just be weird. I realize the works come from Japan, but I see them usually more as an adventure story that happens to originate from Japan, and it takes me out of reading the story.

For southern drawl, I just dislike people writing out accents in print at all, it's difficult to those not familiar with an accent to understand what is being read.
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Joined: 11 Feb 2010
Posts: 1495
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:59 am Reply with quote
I'd say keep honorifics for the most part. I mean, I know they exist so I see no real reason to hide them.

My only peeve is when they use them in situations where an actual english translation would work, like addressing a teacher as "X-Sensei" when obviously "Mr/Ms. X" would work just the same
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Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 401
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:39 am Reply with quote
My stance on honorifics is simply, if the story takes place in Japan, it's fine to leave them in. No skin off my nose if the translator decides to leave them out either though. If the adaption is good enough, the translator should be able to convey the character relationships without them anyway.

Honorifics in a manga like, let's say, Monster, would be horribly out of place because it takes place in Germany! Rolling Eyes
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Joined: 04 Dec 2009
Posts: 61
Location: Portland, OR
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:27 pm Reply with quote
I tend to prefer it when they leave the honorifics in when the series is set in Japan as well. Viz's translation of Bleach, for instance, really irks me because the honorifics honestly make a big difference in how everyone is addressing one another, ESPECIALLY with Ichigo. He doesn't use honorifics for the most part - which is kind of rude, and he ALSO doesn't usually call people by their given names. This is not unusual of American teenagers, which made me question why they chose to change that. That's a major character quirk that they completely stumbled over.

I also prefer it when they leave them in the subtitles. I mean, you can HEAR THEM SAY IT. It's one thing if it's in the middle of a sentence or something but when someone shouts someones name - which would leave only their name in the subtitle, it's kind of jarring.

I hate hearing honorifics in dubs though. It just doesn't flow right in English.
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Jessica Hart

Joined: 12 Aug 2010
Posts: 207
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:33 pm Reply with quote
I don't really care one way or another; if I'm reading manga or subs then I don't mind honorifics. I only have a problem with them when they're in English dubs, like the Persona 3 and 4 video games Razz Those just sound awkward.
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Ashen Phoenix

Joined: 21 Jun 2006
Posts: 2256
PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:10 pm Reply with quote
Depending on the individual It's work itself, I like honorifics or I don't. I find it far too subjective in this regard to give a blanket statement like, "I always want them included" or "I see no point in having them," so I'll just leave it at that.

Moving on, I see nothing wrong for the most part with equating Southern accents to Osakan characters or ones of the Kansai region, since, really, I've never come across another written accent that comes close enough to distinguish between accented and non-accented English speech.

Flanagan also said that other challenges emerge with spacing issues like anime subtitles (2 lines at 32 characters per line, in the old days) versus manga dialogue balloons (with skinny, vertical balloons being especially infuriating).

Hoo boy. I can imagine. Many a time have I seen a very tightly-compressed word in some Viz manga that just screams to me, "this was not made with another written language in mind!!" So even as they can be visually awkward, I applaud any translator/letterer who goes to bat and tries their best with them. In some cases I've seen the words presented vertically which can be extremely difficult for the eye to process, so I'm torn over which if any of these methods is preferred over the other.

Part of me would absolutely love to pursue a career in translation since I find the "language barrier challenge" so fascinating and enjoyable to learn about.
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