Translation, more like scriptwriting

Grizzmon, you’re not the one we’re looking for!{Grizzmon, you made a promise!}
Stop it already!{Well excuse me!}
Please get along…{I’m gonna cry….}
How come you get along?{Why are you crying?}
Don’t tell anyone, okay?{Be nice, okay?}
We’ll get scolded if they find out we’re together!{We found something neat together!}
Don’t listen to the strangers!{Please don’t hurt the strangers!}
You saw it too!{You guys have also been forsaken!}

13 minutes into the Frontier movie. And here I thought WPP’s translation wouldn’t be horrible this time, judging by the first couple of minutes…

8 Responses to Translation, more like scriptwriting

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wait, WHAT!?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Oh, like in the Blitzmon’s debut episode, where Chakmon’s “Matte!” (=Wait!) was translated into “Ganbatte!” (=”Good luck!” or “Do your best!”) *facepalm*.

    Honestly, I know veeeery few Japanese words and phrases after watching anime for years. I’ve never attented a Japanese language course (even though I really should) but even so, I still knew better than the folks at WPP T_T. I tried watching a few of their episodes, but the blatantly obvious mistranslations (like the one above) and the constantly appearing scenes that had not been translated at all irked me to no end. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for the folks who have watched ALL of WPP’s Frontier episodes or say “Wow, you actually had the PATIENCE to suffer through that D:<?"

  3. Anonymous says:

    I remember trying to make it through WPP’s original subs on a few occasions. I was never able to make it past episode 05. Absolutely nothing made any sense. The worst part was that I actually blamed Frontier as a series for its horrible writing, when the true blame should have gone to WPP’s complete inability to speak the Japanese language.

    That’s why I’m so happy to see you guys hard at work on the Frontier film, so their horrid translations can forever be erased from relevancy. Keep up the good work, you guys! I can’t wait to read the updated (and accurate) script!

  4. Actar says:

    So, how much can liberal translations get away with before becoming scriptwriting? This is the issue that I have because more often than not, liberal translations stray too far away from the original dialogue, but its supporters say it’s fine as it’s all in a bid to sound more ‘natural’.

    • Honestly, that’s quite the subjective issue and usually comes down to a case-by-case basis, I think. Generally speaking, though, I think people just complain too much about that stuff. Other than the very extreme ends of the scale (from full-literal usually involving leaving words untranslated, to abuse of slang or memes in contexts it’s uncalled for, a common trait of far-liberal translations, though that’s often just trolling), I’m fine with pretty much anything, with my personal preference lying somewhere in the middle, gravitating towards liberal in some aspects and towards literal in others (for example, while I prefer honorifics to be kept, it’s not a big deal and I will generally take flow over absolute accuracy.)

    • YF-23 says:

      If you want to put it that way then all translation is scriptwriting, because when you get down to it, you simply cannot translate from one language to another without losing some nuance and cultural particularities. No translation is perfect, especially when it comes to two languages so wildly different as Japanese and English, and societies as wildly different as Japan’s and any “western” society. If you want what you read to be entirely faithful to the original, you really need to learn Japanese, and there’s no way around that. Moreover, to get the experience *as the producing staff intended* (boy what a sacred cow this is!), you also need to have an upbringing that suits their perception of the average viewer. You not only have to be Japanese, but you also need to be of a specific Japanese upbringing.

      Really I think now you’re just used to seeing stuff like the phrases commonly associated as the most accurate translations to often-used phrases, like honorifics, perhaps even untranslated stuff accompanied by translator’s notes explaining the nuances, that you just associate it with the fun times you have watching anime so you want it there. Which is ok on a personal level, I’m used to the stuff as well. But that does not mean that translations have to use poor or clunky English, or leave stuff untranslated (honorifics included!). These are bad translations, either because they are bad in the language they translate to (which stands out all the more so when that’s repeated to stay in line with standardised translations for specific lines), or because they are half-translations. And as a culmination of that, the translator ends up true to the words, but not their meaning or the emotion they are meant to evoke, which misses the point hilariously. If you want to get across the way a character treats another, don’t use direct translations, and don’t leave stuff that carry this meaning untranslated assuming that a person watching knows what they mean. If you are watching anime for the first time, the translation should not make you look up what -san and -kun (and- dear lord- kisama!) mean. It should not demand that the person watching integrates themselves in the subculture of people who have immersed themselves so much in the recognition of Japanese honorifics that they understand half-instinctively the nuances they carry.

      • Actar says:

        You do have a very sound argument there, but I have to respectfully disagree with certain points that you have brought up.

        There are two forms of subtitling, Dynamic Equivalence (Liberal Translating) and Formal Equivalence (Literal Translating). With literal translating, you sacrifice readability for accuracy and accuracy for readability for liberal translating. I would propose that neither is technically wrong and whichever one prefers is up to the individual. Not to mention, a host of other factors need to be taken into account as well, such as the translator’s personal preferences, the source material, the target audience, etc… However, personally speaking, I find myself favoring the literal form of translating and here are some of the reasons as to why:

        An argument for leaving in the honorifics is that most of the time, ‘liberal’ translators simply remove them without doing anything. If they can just be arbitrarily taken out like that, why not just leave them in? People who can make meaning out of them can, and those who don’t can just ignore them. I could go on about cognitive dissonance and what not, but I’ll skip all that.

        Whatever the case, one of the things that you are dealing with when it comes to foreign cultural products is indeed the fact that it comes from another country. What I believe shouldn’t be done is localization (which I differentiate from translating). Sure you can ‘translate’ stuff like the honorifics, as bizarre as it will inevitably end up sounding. But what about the other cultural terms and practices that have to “demand the person watching to integrate themselves” into the culture of another country? Where does one draw this line? Idioms? Puns? Food? Traditions? Names? Locations? What is “Golden Week’? What is ‘omotenashi’? What is ‘onee-sama’? What is ‘otaku’? Should one ‘translate’ wasabi as ‘Japanese horseradish’? Then are sushi ‘pieces of assorted fish on rice wrapped with seaweed’?

        If you ask me, you can’t have your cake and eat it – watching Japanese anime without wanting any of the ‘Japaneseness’. I for one don’t watch American TV shows without expecting to learn some of America’s culture. Fido? Independence Day? Philly Cheesesteak? Yup.

        Another point that I would like to make is that despite the difference in languages, words still have meaning. There is a reason as to why a character chooses to use 恥かしい as opposed to 面目ない, 馬鹿 as opposed to 間抜け, 助平 as opposed to 変態. Yes, you can translate the ‘intention’ of the characters, for instance, “うるさい” as “Stop that!”. However, one can also say “Stop that!” in Japanese as well ((それを)止めて, 止めなさい, 止めろ, etc…) and make perfect sense in that context. Yet, the character didn’t. A simplistic example, I know. But I believe that there is at least some significance in the words that characters use.

        Also, it would also be great if you could provide some examples where a direct (or at least more literal) translation were to “hilariously” miss the point. As I myself aspire to be a translator one day, it would be great to learn and perhaps be able to see the value and reasoning behind more ‘liberal’ translations. But if you are talking about spelling things out for the viewer that are not explicitly stated in the dialogue, I would call that spoon-feeding. Because many times, words do not (and need not) entirely convey the full intention of a character as you have still have the context, body language, tone of voice, etc… to consider. This happens in almost every other language, even in English.

        Again, I’m not saying that subtitles should be 100% literal to the point of disrupting the flow, readability and understandability. Sometimes liberties are necessary to avoid awkward phrasing, but I would propose that some effort must be made to at least bring across what was said in the Japanese script…

        But, in the end, that’s just my opinion. And you are entitled to yours too.

        All in all, I guess what it all boils down to is what you consider to be a good translation. One that respects the source material more and is more accurate to it aimed at die-hard fans? Or one that is easy for new members of the target audience to get into? That would be up to the individual to decide.

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