April 22, 2015

Translation notes

When I was plundering Dog Days S3 last night, I was going through the [FBI] sub that I just downloaded. Previously I had been watching HorribleSubs (i.e. stolen from Funimation or Crunchyroll) with which I have not been totally satisfied. Anyway, I started jotting down notes, and here they are:

In episode 5, HorribleSubs translated moribito as "Forest People", which is a literal translation. FBI translated that as "dryads", which I like better even though it's less precise.

In episode 6, HorribleSubs translated omiai as "arranged marriage meeting". FBI had it as "engagement meeting" which is a lot better.

FBI translated shin ryu as "Divinegon", which is weird, instead of as "true dragon". (But they weren't consistent about it.)

Ep 6, during his period of anonymity, Horriblesubs translated all references to Lief as "they". That's a little too politically correct to me since it was blatantly obvious that the challenger was male. FBI uses "he" and "him".

Ep 6, Horriblesubs makes his name "Leaf Lang du Sha Halver". FBI says "Lief Langue de Chat Halver" -- which is at least more classy.

Ep 7, The Genoise call Godwin o-chan which is difficult to translate. The chan honorific is very familiar and can be taken as insulting depending on circumstances. One place you'll run into it is tou-chan referring to one's father, which is best translated as "Daddy". In this case, with the Genoise using it for Godwin, it is a bit too familiar and is just a touch mocking. The reason they can get away with it is that they're not under his command, and none of them give anything away to him in combat ability or magic, and he knows it. As Gaul's personal guard, the Genoise arguably rank him in terms of status, so they're talking "down", as it were. HorribleSubs made it "old man"; which at least conveys the familiarity and a degree of rudeness. FBI dodged the whole issue and just used "Godwin" instead.

Ep 7, when Godwin announces the duel, he uses Kisamara to refer to his soldiers. FBI makes that "Soldiers". Horriblesubs didn't translate it. So? Kisamara is the plural of kisama which is one of the word that means "you". It's also extremely rude and hostile; often it's fighting words. It's also thug-speak; it's something you'd hear more often from someone using ore than from boku. Most of the characters in DBZ use it to each other, for instance. It's just about the strongest in the language and it's worse than temee.

Ep 7, when Nanami gets MCSA'ed, and Noir announces it. Horriblesubs says, "Nice fanservice from Prince Leaf to the Galette Knights." FBI says, "Prince Lief, the Galettian Knights are grateful for your performance!" She actually used the word "sabisu", which has always meant "fan service" in this show, so FBI is dodging another one.

Jaune's accent drives me nuts. I think it's Kansai-ben. It's the same dialect as Hayate speaks in Nanoha Strikers. (Which doesn't make any sense since she grew up in the same city as Nanoha and Nanoha speaks with a vanilla Tokyo accent.) As to Jaune, TVTropes says, "Osaka-ben is generally used to indicate a fun loving, impatient, loud, boisterous personality" -- which perfectly describes Jaune.

Ep 9, sorabito. Horriblesub took that one literally, too, thus "sky people". FBI used "sylphs", which is classier.

In case you're interested, the disease is 病魔 byouma.

Horriblesubs calls the miniature Farine's "avatars". FBI calls them "sprites", which again I think is better.

Horriblesubs "songstress" -> FBI "diva". Dunno about that one.

Horriblesubs "disciple" -> FBI "apostle".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Japanese at 03:12 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 596 words, total size 4 kb.

1 "o-chan" is like... "pops". Very familiar if you're using it to talk to your actual dad, not quite disrespectful but absolutely informal. Used to an older man, you're either indicating a close relationship (and being a bit cheeky) or talking to a stranger and being REALLY cheeky. "Old man" works fine here too.

"kisama", hm. It is not -just- used in the fighting-words sense. In fact it is also a formal and completely correct form of address within the military (Japanese military dialect has quite a few things like that). So it's actually completely normal for a general to use that term for his troops, right? (That used to throw me for a loop, though. "Huh? Did I just hear that?")

Gender ambiguity within the context of pronouns is hellishly hard to translate properly. The real key question is, do you really need it? Basically "is it important that the speaking characters not know the gender of this person?" If it is, you've got no choice - either you go with stilted speech or you spoil the surprise. If it's not, screw it, use the proper pronoun and go on with life.

(This is even more difficult if the character in question is using inappropriate pronouns of their own. Reni from Sakura Wars, for example, looks like a boy, uses "boku", and is completely androgynous right up until a bath scene exposes her secret...)

I don't like "engagement meeting", honestly. The key is that the process is often not voluntary for both parties (at least, it's something one or the other is doing in response to family pressure and not on their own accord; it's something fundamentally different from a date.) "Arranged marriage interview" might work better. I'll agree that it's a mouthful though.

"Apostle" is literally correct (interestingly, same term they used for the Angels in Eva.)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 22, 2015 04:04 PM (zJsIy)


I wasn't aware of that military usage of Kisama. My main exposure to it was in DBZ, where Piccolo, Goku, Vegita and several others use it to address each other.

In that usage, it's definitely thug-ben.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 22, 2015 04:09 PM (+rSRq)

3 Is the military usage a holdover of the historical one?  "Kisama" used to be very polite, IIRC.  Both the "ki" and "sama" kanji that make it up are positive terms... the "sama" is the same one as all the awestruck "onee-sama"s and "kami-sama"s we hear in anime.  

I always imagined it taking a negative turn in the same way Han Solo called Leia "your Highness" and "your Worship"...

Posted by: Mikeski at April 22, 2015 06:09 PM (aLP9q)

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