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Confessions of a beginner translator

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cidjen
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Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:03 pm

Yo.

You may think it's weird, that I write this here, in English.

Also the comic I refer to is long posted and up and all.

Ever since I even started considering the thought of translating ... basically, anything ... I guess the job of a translator of a work of art is, to convey the meaning of what was on the author's mind, what the author meant. Basically trying to guess the author's frame of mind, when they were writing it, and translating it to terms that my audience would understand.

Translator of culture.

It's only natural that way, otherwise, any translation would be just fine, just using some automated tool.

This is why e.g. recently, the 'chicken' in the comic with the L33t D|_|d3, where Junko thinks he's peeking under her skirt, got translated to another animal ('swinia' = 'pig') Yah because that what you'd be called out in Poland if you did that (and a few more verbs, adjectives and nouns that are decidedly not SFW or PG-13).

Not even talking about the literal translation of 'Are you OK?' because that is a real context breaker (usually translated to 'stalo sie cos'='did someting happen')

That and that, however is not the one I wanted to call out to.

The one I want to talk about, is the one when Kimiko explains to Piro the history of Erika's first love and how it (was) ended, and how any one has the right to decide, whether they are the person, the other one is really happy with.

It goes on and on, and then, Kimko says

"You find happiness where you can".

That same Kimiko, who is called out for being super-realistic in her acting.
That same Kimiko, who got her acting job after numerous rejections, and was really anxious about that.
Because of her, the writer changed the script.
The same one who calls out the radio hosts for them being insensitive to their audience.

Well I guess the phrase "You find happiness where you can" can be understood like something positive, in English, for that type of person.
In English, it does not reek of desperation to find happiness. In English it sounds pretty neutral to positive.
Not in my language, however, I didn't think so.

In a semi-literal translation, the "You find happiness where you can" ("Szczescia sie szuka gdzie sie da") is more fitting to someone desperately trying to find one. So desperate, that she wouldn't care for what the others feel. Which *I* felt wasn't fitting for a character like her. Someone who 'gave up on that a long time ago', because the real world does not live to what she feels inside.

So I started thinking of a possible meaning behind these words. Warning all the below is highly YMMV and may not fit everybody's expectations.

First of all, the more to-the-letter translation of 'find' would be 'znalezc' (that word is the literal meaning of 'find').
'To find' in Polish is more like, the expected end result of a search, the only result of a search. So it means if you 'found' something, you are sure it is THE result you want. In English it's like, you can 'find' something, and then 'find' something else. Or so I was thinking (well given the usage of 'find' that I was familiar with).
Second problem is, 'find' translated to 'znalezc' it does not fit with the phraseology of 'where you can' in Polish (at least not to me anyway) (literally translated to Polish as an equivalent of 'wherever one can' or 'wherever it is to be found'. Find happiness wherever it is to be found? See what I was referring to earlier? This is desperation embodied.

So what to do...

I wanted to give this phrase a good, positive meaning, especially, that it was something that made Piro grow later. Would the meaning of 'find happiness wherever it's available' be a good thing to say to someone who 'maybe' become your boyfriend? That's self-depreciation... Which in my understanding, Kimiko wasn't doing either (she was trying to stop Piro from self-depreciating, right?).

So the phrase I chose for the meaning, was an English equivalent of...

'The best (kind of) happiness is (one)(what) you have just found'.
'Najlepsze szczescie to takie, ktore wlasnie znalazles'.

It's an uplifting, positive, heartwarming phrase. In Polish anyway.

And one that fits in the translation balloon pretty easily, at that.

And if you wonder why I am writing this, I guess this is what shoujo manga does to you...
(just in the midst of reading Namaikizakari...)
so, yeah. Not bottling up your thoughts is important :)
Translation to polish
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by paarfi » Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:25 pm

This kind of thing is the real value of human translation, particularly when you have a fluent/native speaker who understands the context and cares about getting the nuances across. I think you're doing the right thing, trying to get the real meaning across rather than just the words. That can be particularly tricky with Fred's writing, because he often leaves things deliberately open-ended and he loves dialogue with more than one layer of interpretation.

Thanks again for doing this.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by darrin » Fri Oct 05, 2018 11:28 am

I want to echo paarfi's thanks as well, and offer my appreciation for your hard work. Translation is notorious in that there's no upper limit to the effort you can put into it while still being dissatisfied with the results as you describe above. ;)
cidjen wrote:
Thu Oct 04, 2018 2:03 pm
This is why e.g. recently, the 'chicken' in the comic with the L33t D|_|d3, where Junko thinks he's peeking under her skirt, got translated to another animal ('swinia' = 'pig') Yah because that what you'd be called out in Poland if you did that (and a few more verbs, adjectives and nouns that are decidedly not SFW or PG-13).
You don't mention this, so I don't want to assume that you didn't take this into account, but I think it's worth pointing out that a large part of the humor there is because the scene itself is about a mistranslation. Junko's "chikan" was described somewhere (I assume forums, not sure now sorry) as meaning something like "pervert" (Google says "substitution", presumably there are double vowels or some other quirk I'm not entering properly). Largo mishears this as "chicken" (she's been speaking English to him and Leet Dude, so he doesn't catch that she's switched back to Japanese). "Chicken" in English being a mild insult ("coward") adds a bit to the gag but I'm not sure it's essential to it (let alone his assumption being an animal word).

Not that any of that helps; finding a word phonetically similar to "chikan" is going to be a chore even if you don't limit yourself to animals. I'm going by Russian and hoping there are Polish cognates; the closest I could think of was "Cygan" -- and then you'd face the new difficulty of convincing readers, particularly Roma ones, that Cygan ("gypsy") is not to be construed as an insult here, it's just Polish-speaking Largo confused by what she's actually saying.

tldr: Translation can be very hard, thanks for your hard work. :lol:

(OT: If you are still interested in tackling rescripts in addition to the true comics, my offer still stands of being happy to help explain or assist with anything in mine -- although I may reserve the right to say of the bottom ten or twenty "that one's crap, you can skip it" 8-). As a fairly fluent but far from native speaker of Russian I have at least an amateur appreciation for the difficulties involved... The rescripter faces the additional challenge of trying to squeeze their wackiness into speech bubbles designed for completely different circumstances; while that can occasionally lead to something unexpectedly awesome, more often it feels like cutting corners in the speech itself. ;))
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:02 pm

Hi @darrin,
welp thanks for doing the research :) but

no, 'cygan', where I'm from (and fairly similar in other regions of Poland I think) is not a good match here... This 'c' word is not something you call a peek-up-ing male - its usage in polish is more akin (and historically so) to a 'liar'. There is even a polish phrasal 'cyganic' = to lie. (actually historically it has been used as to depict someone as a liar/thief, but that has mellowed slightly in my era- and with the recent radicalization, it may be going radical again, sadly).
To casually say to someone 'ty cyganie' *might* not be more insulting than calling them 'a pig', but due to the meanings, does not fit the usage here.

And there is also the question, as you said, of 'hurting' the Roma community like that (the 'c' word is much more insulting to them, they don't call themselves with that word and take offense at it (and it's hard to blame them for this really) (they only appear to be using it in their songs, akin to the way only the Afro community is allowed to use the n* word in their culture that way) (Apologies to whoever feels insulted by that already, but historically, such was the usage and meaning I recall, it is no joke, those times are over and er... yeah. Basically please understand, that I tried to convey the meaning here, not offend anybody. Sorry, please do not take offense.)).

In this light, I stand by my decision to go the 'animal' (pig) route anyway and recognize it as being correct :)
(if someone knows a homophone of similar meaning (a 'peeping tom' or a 'jerk') in english or .jp (swinia - pronounced as 'schfee-nyaa' :) I could use the insight :) TIA :) )

Welp,

there is another slightly annoying problem I will be facing (although it's far away still) - which is the question of, clubbing...

Half the fun in the buildup to the Cave of Evil, relies on the 'clubbing' joke which is (as of yet) untranslatable to Polish without destroying it... because, in English, the 'club' has all the meanings of (an organized group, a venue for the organized group of people, a venue for event(s) and a hand-held weapon/sports equipment). In Polish, the 'klub' word does not have the 'weapon' meaning at all, altogether. Therefore to go 'clubbing' does not have the joke as Largo has fun with, with his baseball c... I mean, bat. This joke will unfortunately be lost in translation... and will be haunting me in t/n. (side note due to 'popularity' of a baseball bat in Poland among the, erm, pseudo-fans-hooligans of football (I mean, soccer!) there is even a meaning of someone using the bat 'bejzbol' = hooligan)

To the memory of the unknown joke let us light this candle...(^)

Regarding the rescripts, I certainly will tackle them when their time comes :) And if I need something explained, I certainly will be asking :) Thank you :)
Translation to polish
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by darrin » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:10 pm

cidjen wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:02 pm
This 'c' word is not something you call a peek-up-ing male [...]
Well, yeah, neither is 'chicken' in English. Again, that's kind of the point, Largo is confused, but he also doesn't even get how confused he actually ought to be (because he didn't even get that Junko wasn't actually yelling in English). He wasn't even aware Junko thought Leet Dude was "peek-up-ing" until she explains that aspect to him.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:16 pm

There is another one which is daunting me as a translator right now: the question of 'saving'.

This one word is used in english in the comic, as all-encompassing homonym of (helping someone, rescuing someone, delivering someone from peril, writing the game state to disk)... it is essential to this context... well to this entire game world...

Unfortunately, the word that has the meaning of 'writing the game state' ('zachowac') is syntactically awkward in this context - there is no fitting translation of 'thank you for the save' that would fit the meaning of 'saving the game' AND 'saving one from peril'; because the literal translation of 'dzieki za zachowanie' is more akin to, how it's used in a prayer ('...deliver us from evil...') and considered 'old speak' (could have been used in such context maybe in 1800's or 1920's at most, if I recall the language history lessons correctly...), and without more context, this word (zachowanie) also means 'behavior'. It is (to me) slightly awkward to use it that way.

There are more places where the usage is on the same level of awkward (e.g. where Yuki says 'Did I just... save her?') in context meaning 'helped', but with the all-encompassing super-meaning of 'having saved the game' which does not fit the polish word in this context.
IDK.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:29 pm

darrin wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:10 pm
cidjen wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:02 pm
This 'c' word is not something you call a peek-up-ing male [...]
Well, yeah, neither is 'chicken' in English. Again, that's kind of the point, Largo is confused, but he also doesn't even get how confused he actually ought to be (because he didn't even get that Junko wasn't actually yelling in English). He wasn't even aware Junko thought Leet Dude was "peek-up-ing" until she explains that aspect to him.
Yeah, I get that - thank you - but still, this context does not fit. It may be another lost joke this way... (^) (I'm sorry...) but I (well I'm male, but bear with me) know no woman, that would call someone trying to peep up her skirt, a 'c'-word, it just does not fit this context... japanese or not, it just does not fit culturally, at all.

Now I am the destroyer of the jokes... (^) (^)

But, I also inserted some cultural references of my youth here and there, hopefully redeeming myself :)

(like where Largo observes Kimiko dealing with the Moeko-man... and gasps 'Such power!' and then talks to Piro about this, 'she possesses a formidable power!' - this got translated to a citation from a well known polish song from my youth 'ona ma siłę, nie wiesz jak wielką' (song name : Zanim zrozumiesz)
For context:Show
( this song is about someone breaking up a relationship, and then realizing that was a mistake, but the woman has already moved on, therefore 'she has the power you don't know')
I hope to get more such fanservice in in the future ;) )
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by darrin » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:01 pm

cidjen wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:29 pm
this context does not fit.
I am really not making myself clear here. I apologize for that. I am trying to explain that it doesn't "fit" in the original either. There is no (English-speaking) woman that would call someone trying to peep up her skirt a "chicken". It doesn't fit the context as you say, and doesn't fit culturally.

Hence Largo's confusion (well, among the other things he is also confused about at this point :lol:).
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:06 pm

darrin wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:01 pm
cidjen wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 4:29 pm
this context does not fit.
I am really not making myself clear here. I apologize for that. I am trying to explain that it doesn't "fit" in the original either. There is no (English-speaking) woman that would call someone trying to peep up her skirt a "chicken". It doesn't fit the context as you say, and doesn't fit culturally.

Hence Largo's confusion (well, among the other things he is also confused about at this point :lol:).
I get that :) the thing is, it does not even fit as a joke in polish, given the 'potential' meanings of the 'c' word, it comes out, like, really, really offensive...
well the 'chicken' did sort of fit (as in, playing a game of chicken?) which sort-of pointed me down the 'animal' road...

the other translation of that would be 'tchórz' (coward) which /may/ have been more in line for the 'game of chicken' type of usage (you know, the one where the who gets off the head-on collision by moving off the path, is the 'chicken') and incidentally it also has an animal that is spelled the same way in polish, an animal akin to a polecat...), that actually (coward) I think would fit the skirt-lifting offense, hmm.

And now it set my mind in that direction... i think I might have the way to make it actually funny again :)
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Sat Oct 06, 2018 11:28 am

cidjen wrote:
Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:06 pm

And now it set my mind in that direction... i think I might have the way to make it actually funny again :)
Hah yeah, so this joke is now saved :)

I suppose in the process, I 'accidentally' taught Junko one more language that Largo hopefully does not know (the French word 'touché' loosely meaning 'gotcha!', can be misheard in polish as 'tchórz' which means 'coward').

But now the joke translated almost itself :)
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by GouryG » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:53 am

That's pretty good, I know that sometimes translations can be difficult. I sometimes run into that with translations of stuff from english to spanish. You sometimes need reword things to maintain the proper context.

I remember one time on the old IMDB message boards a German user asked for a clarification on a pun in the movie Last Action Hero that didn't translate very well. He was asking about the scene in the beginning where Slater was trying to enter the building and a cop was blocking his path. Slater then said to him, Do you want to be a farmer? Then he$ dropkicks him in the balls and says, Here's a couple of achers. I had to explain the play on words where he switched achers for acres and that even though they sound the same there are totally different meanings.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by paarfi » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:46 am

Yeah, I helped out on the Lang8 site for people trying to learn English for a few months. One Korean guy was trying to watch Shrek in English, and while he knew all the words, he didn't have the cultural context to understand a lot of the jokes. You can know what "I'll be here till Thursday" and "Try the veal" mean, but you're not going know why that's said in response to applause (or why that's funny) unless you have a little familiarity with 50's nightclub comedians and such. It was an interesting eye-opener for me.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:18 pm

Uhuh,
this is why I wrote above : to translate a work of art is like, being a translator of culture.

Luckily, Poland is not that far from the Western influences, so certain contexts translate very nicely.

But I can see how translators struggle with Japan and China to West and vice versa. Welp why did we make the history so complicated.
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by richvh » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:46 pm

darrin wrote:You don't mention this, so I don't want to assume that you didn't take this into account, but I think it's worth pointing out that a large part of the humor there is because the scene itself is about a mistranslation. Junko's "chikan" was described somewhere (I assume forums, not sure now sorry) as meaning something like "pervert" (Google says "substitution", presumably there are double vowels or some other quirk I'm not entering properly).
The difference between chikan "masher, molester, pervert" and chikan "substitution, replacement" is a matter of what kanji are used to write each word. (There might be a difference in tonal accent, but that's not something edict records, and to the best of my knowledge most Japanese-Japanese language dictionaries don't indicate tonal accents, either, partly because it can vary from one region of Japan to another.) The below may not display properly, depending on your system settings:

痴漢 【ちかん】 (n) masher, molester, pervert, (P)
置換 【ちかん】 (n,vs) (1) substitution, replacement, (2) (math) permutation, (3) (chem) substitution, displacement

The (P) in the first one indicates that it was in a list of high frequency words that Jim Breen used some time ago, derived from newspaper usage, so I don't know why Google Translate would preferentially choose the second to translate "chikan" (though it is in general pretty horrible at translating non-European languages.)

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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by darrin » Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:13 am

richvh wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:46 pm
The difference between chikan "masher, molester, pervert" and chikan "substitution, replacement" is a matter of what kanji are used to write each word.
Ooh, excellent, thanks tremendously for this. I mean I knew it would be something like this, but I don't know Japanese kanji at all, and in particular still see no way to get google translate to generate the complete list of possible kanji ("homophones" so to speak) for a given Roman-transliterated entry. (This was the subject of a similar debate a dozen or so story discussion threads back, where I was trying to explain my frustration with google refusing to give me the "correct" translation of an Irish word because I couldn't easily enter it with the correct diacritics.)
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by richvh » Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:32 am

I suggest using wwwjdic.com for lists of kanji used for homophones, though you'll have to have a way enter the kana to generate it, as entering Latin characters will result in an attempt to translate English to Japanese.

If you're using a Windows computer, you can use the character map accessory to input characters with diacritics.

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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by darrin » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:14 am

richvh wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 9:32 am
I suggest using wwwjdic.com for lists of kanji used for homophones, though you'll have to have a way enter the kana to generate it, as entering Latin characters will result in an attempt to translate English to Japanese.

If you're using a Windows computer, you can use the character map accessory to input characters with diacritics.
Thanks again. That's pretty much the state of affairs I would have expected; most of these tools, including google translate, are (understandably) oriented toward folks who actually have some familiarity with the languages in question, rather than a casual user just trying to get a one-off for a given word. The issue with the Irish I mentioned was that I couldn't be 100% sure from the comic font which diacritics were intended, and not knowing Irish at all, I couldn't make anything like an intelligent guess (even if I could have been bothered at the time to dig into the character map to enter them).
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by paarfi » Thu Nov 01, 2018 2:57 pm

I'm going to have to get back on getting the transcripts up-to-date. At this rate, cidjen is going to catch up in no time. :P
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:46 pm

Chapter 8 onwards, will publish 4 pages per day :)

AND, will start on Sunday... 4th November, save the date :)
Right now, Ch7 .pl is in countdown to disaster .... ;) and I have the publishing queue filled up to 11th November :)

And yes my aim is to catch up in no-time ;)

At least until Lapo has the raws with bubbles defined (that is until about 1359)

(Though I'm cheating here a bit, skipping a lot of OOC DPD's and all SGD's... I will still do OSE and Omake... maybe some of guests...
I Suppose, there will be time enough to patch up the DPD's, when I catch up with the story. )

EDIT: IF anyone here, even not knowing .pl, had suggestions which DPDs I shouldn't have skipped, please pm me ;)
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Re: Confessions of a beginner translator

Post by cidjen » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:32 pm

And,
I decided to change my joke on translation of 'chikan!' in [773] and [777] again.

Because it dawned on me, that in .pl, this 'chikan' word accidentally sounds the same as 'szykanowac' - meaning here, harassing someone (the word itself comes to polish from english 'chicane'; which 'accidentally' has similar meaning in .en too - one of the examples in Google translate reads 'she could not chicane me into admitting the promise of marriage' ); The sound of this and this meaning, is an even better match for what Largo can hear here, and what Junko may be meaning, than trying to teach Junko french ;)
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