January 13, 2013


I've gotten to the point where I keep spotting places where I think the subs translated the Japanese badly.

One example of that is in the second episode of Dog Days 2, at 13:00. Calloway says kokoroimashita, I'm pretty sure it is, in response to an order from Couverte. Commie translated that as "Understood", but it seems to me that "It would be my pleasure" or "I'd be happy to" would be more accurate.

And in fact, all through this series I keep running into places where I think Commie's translator just filled in something that made sense in context but which wasn't really a translation of what was said.

It's frustrating, because I'm not remotely good enough yet to watch without subtitles, so I'm dependent on them.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 10:41 AM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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1 I remember when I hit that point working for ADV.

So in the bad old days, there wasn't any kind of review done on translations whatsoever. A translator would turn in a translation and it was essentially the subtitler's (and the director's, on the dub end, but in a completely separate process) job to work out what needed to be subtitled where. Sometimes you'd have lines in your translation that made absolutely no sense, or ones where the translation was "????"... in fairness, you didn't always have a Japanese script to work off of (and they ain't always accurate even when you do), and back then people were listening to VHS tapes we sent out. So sometimes you went and asked poor Hiroko from the art department, since she was the only Japanese speaker on the staff, to see if she could figure it out. And if she couldn't, well, you did what you had to do.

That sucked. It wasn't so bad if you had a good translator, since there would be very few holes in the script and you could deal with what was there. It was still okay if the translator was indifferent but at least took copious notes. But, well, some of the translators were bad. Actually a whole lot of them were bad, and the company didn't really have any way to tell that a particular translator was bad.

I got to the point where I could tell "hey, this line is wrong" or even "this is almost right but not quiiiite" without necessarily being able to do anything about it, and that was a little frustrating. Eventually we hired a full-time translator and I could run things past her... and I'd ask her about one line and a whole scene would need to be fixed... and then another... and we eventually got to the point where I'd just run everything past her so that she could check it.

In retrospect I realize how much of an amazing luxury that was! Not only did it fix the outright problems, but it let me be a lot more aggressive in using language for characterization or mood. I could make subtle changes for connotation without worrying that I was missing the same thing on the Japanese end (and, for that matter, sometimes we'd find that it HAD been missed on the Japanese end and I had to scramble for a subtle change for connotation, but hey! That was a lot of fun.)

I wonder if "that would be my pleasure" is a little less formal than the situation requires here. He clearly didn't say "tashikomarimashita", which would be the conventional response and for which "Understood" or "As you command" would have worked just fine, but it's clearly a parallel construct and implying a master-servant relationship. But at the same time, the more accurate translation is hard to formal up any further without getting downright stilted.

If it's any consolation, Crunchy's subs also said "Understood"...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at January 13, 2013 12:38 PM (GJQTS)

2 Trying to loop a single line on Crunchyroll is painful, but I think his line is "kokoroemashita", from the verb "kokoroeru" = "to understand/consent/agree".


Posted by: J Greely at January 13, 2013 01:13 PM (+cEg2)


If so, then Commie's translator is smarter than I am after all.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 13, 2013 01:52 PM (+rSRq)

4 I've had worse. In Zero no Tsukaima, Doki's translator turned phrases like "iku yo!" or "boku datte!" (in a combat situation) into "spirits of fire!".

Posted by: Jordi Vermeulen at January 13, 2013 02:01 PM (AJZdn)

5 In Vividread Operation Akane says "Haiiiiii" a lot, and Commie translated that several different ways.

Posted by: Mauser at January 13, 2013 03:41 PM (cZPoz)

6 The fortunate aspect of the adventure is that one can start watching raws before you've got a functional language.

Back in 1991 or so, I bought a VHS tape of Disney's Beauty and The Beast in English. I think I watched it about 20 times. Not sure if it helped any, but it was quite fun.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at January 13, 2013 04:12 PM (RqRa5)

7 Is that when you were still in Russia?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 13, 2013 04:23 PM (+rSRq)

8 Yes. It was also for the (future) benefit of my daughter, who was 2 at the time. She still failed a placement test when we moved, and was stuck in an ESL program. I had to pull levers and grease wheels to rescue her.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at January 13, 2013 04:50 PM (RqRa5)

...I had to pull levers and grease wheels to rescue her.
I wonder what future, digital-only generations will use as a replacement for that for metaphor...

Posted by: Siergen at January 13, 2013 05:11 PM (Ao4Kw)

10 Oh, I thought your daughter was born here.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 13, 2013 05:35 PM (+rSRq)

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