TERRIBLE translation mistake

  • I thought about putting this as part of my Japanese lesson this week since I'm going to be using a couple of unusual translations to focus on particle use, but it really doesn't fit with where I was going with that. Anyway, this one is so screwed up I have to bring it up. To anyone that doesn't know, it would just go straight through without a thought.

    I don't want to be "that guy" that always complains because things aren't "exact", but really wish people would take the time to look up the simple stuff. I can understand not being able to read long, drawn-out lines of kanji when no particles or substantial conjugation is used to signify words. I struggle with this from time to time myself, and even make simple mistakes overlooking words occasionally which change the entire text. However, I can't understand how anybody can mess up a lone kanji. It's too easy to look them up. If you don't want to do that, there are A LOT of kanji in anime which are never translated. If you don't know, and don't want to look it up, DON'T JUST THROW SOME RANDOM THOUGHT UP ON THE SCREEN TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU TRIED!!! Just leave it untranslated. Hell, just call on me and I'll tell you what it says.

    For the sake of anyone not Funimation related and just curious what I'm referring to, OR...if @Sophie or @JayHairston would like to direct this comment to whoever is doing the translation for "Anime Gataris", at approximately 20:30 of episode 10 there is a sign being held up that says "アリス命". Rather than looking up the kanji (they were able to read Arisu) they threw up a translator note which says "Arisu FTW". The only way those letters have any correlation is if you read them backwards to form WTF!!! The actual word is いのち spelled in romaji (for those that don't read Japanese) that is inochi, and means life. The sign actually translates to "Arisu life".

    I don't mind if some signs go untranslated, although this one does add a nice touch to the scene if translated correctly, but bad translations with signs, letters, text messages, etc...are a major pet peeve. For anyone that can't read it, it would just fall into the background as irrelevant, but in instances like this it jumps of the screen at anyone that can.

    This was the reason that I avoided subtitles for YEARS while learning the language because there's so much variation in the way things are translated, and a lot of time even go a completely different direction than what is said. I even understand that a lot of things can't be translated correctly and even remotely make sense to an English speaking viewer, but neither of those is the case here. This is an instance where, given the option to translate incorrectly or not translate at all, not translating at all would have been the better bet.

    I know this sounds like a rant, and probably is, but I'm hopeful that this message actually gets to somewhere that can change the practice. As I said, I don't care if it is skipped completely with things that aren't going to make any difference to the plot, and can understand that most viewers would appreciate translation of long written messages. All I'm asking is that these things be translated correctly when possible and necessary. If not possible, and not necessary, leave it alone. This instance was completely possible (and very simple), but not necessary for the show, and somebody made a bad decision that it was more important to throw a random phrase up that wasn't even close.

    I'm done complaining for now. Time to get back to my shows.

  • Heard of Gataris, have not watched it. For clarification, they translated the sign as "Arisu For The Win", yet, it should be recognized as "Arisu life"?

  • @P.J. said in TERRIBLE translation mistake:

    Heard of Gataris, have not watched it. For clarification, they translated the sign as "Arisu For The Win", yet, it should be recognized as "Arisu life"?

    Something like that. I know it may sound nit-picky to some, but I'm actually a stickler when it comes to written materials. When things like this happen, it drives me absolutely crazy because it would be so easy to actually do it correctly. With voice scripts there are a lot more things which have to be considered which may limit how a statement can be translated (mouth flaps, time it takes to make a credible sentence, or concepts which aren't easily translated across cultures). I can understand those, and for the most part don't really look into them very hard unless I just happen to have seen both the raw and dub and know that it could've been done differently. That's what really messed me up with the Fall season, but I blame myself for having watched both versions of several series. I generally advise anyone not to watch more than a single version of any series because I know the differences can be extremely annoying.

    That particular kanji has a great deal of cultural significance as well. You'll read online rumors (they're not true in this case) about it. If you take the two lower characters of 命 they signify a man and woman together for life. The rumors talk about tattoos of this, and that is completely false. However, it does signify a sort of commitment in this regard.

    Even with any other writing, I'd much prefer that they avoid translating if it meant differing from what is actually written. Sometimes the translation is necessary for plot points, but in those cases it wouldn't make sense to change it too far from the original because it would alter the story. However, if it's not really necessary, and you're going to write something completely different anyway, then why even bother?

    It's kind of like if a sign said something like "Chicken soup five for a dollar" and someone translated that as "Eat at Joe's". Unless the MC is SUPER hyped about finding a bargain on chicken soup or looking for restaurant advice, then why bother making such a change. It's being changed for no reason, and has no significance to the story whether translated or left alone.

    I was discussing this earlier with someone that viewed it from the other side, and I'll admit that I haven't seen the anime episode they were referring to. However, apparently in one of the early episodes of The Morose Mononokean there is a list of rules which Funimation didn't bother to translate all the way. They translated one rule which had significance to the episode, and left the others without so much as a mention, only showing the Japanese version of the list. To me, this makes perfect sense because the others really have no bearing on the episode. I'd be more upset if they were incorrectly translated than left alone, and the important part had a translators note to allow the viewer to know about the rule. My point is, why make something up which is inaccurate when leaving it alone and correctly advising the viewer of the important part would satisfy the need without having to falsify the information.

    Again, I haven't seen the episode, but feel that whoever translated that list did exactly what was called for. I would be just as happy if it were accurately translated as long as it didn't block the entire screen. I can't stand it when they put translators notes up which block out everything else on the screen. That's another pet peeve of mine which has no bearing on this particular thread, but can often understand why it is necessary.

  • I don't know if anyone is even reading this, but the same happened at the end of one of the Kino episodes. While the gist was "semi-accurate" for the most part, during the "anime afterword country" segment it uses the phrase "inspirational comment". While I understand that what it was trying to say is that there is an inspirational comment here, it didn't explain what that was. The phrase used was more of a well-wishing for the future that the reader be able to make a change for the better. Without remembering exactly what was said, I can't get any closer than that. I do remember that the language used was about as formal as you can get without going into the realm of keigo. This only stood out because of the use of itadakimasu as the closing for the sentence. It wasn't required, but reflects a lot stronger degree of sincerity than would normally be used, especially in a writing intended for a general audience.

  • I gotta say I disagree with you on the idea of not translating writing if it isn't an exact translation. As you have pointed out many times, a lot of Kanji have special meanings, which don't have a nice translation to English. None of the issues you have brought up come even close to changing the general meaning of what was written. I mean dubbed shows are supposed to be for people who don't speak Japanese, or know that much about Japanese culture, so changing the Kanji from "life", which has special meaning in Japan, to "FTW", which has more meaning here, isn't that big of a deal. This doesn't seem that different from when people were freaking out about certain dubbed lines in some shows over the past year.

    I think it is a much bigger issue when watching something and text just isn't translated. It's pretty irritating to me when written things aren't translated. I give simuldubs a pretty big pass on this, since they have so little time, but home video releases (Morose Mononokean is a home video release right?) should have this stuff in them.

  • @Dalmation1013 I don't disagree that the translation should be available if that's what the viewers want. I believe it should be correct though. The kanji has a specific meaning, but not necessarily the word. The word simply points at a specific "kind of life". To simply say "life" doesn't really convey the whole meaning if looking at it from an accuracy perspective, but does actually match.

    Languages, both Japanese and English, do this a lot where a word is case specific, and would never be completely conveyed within a reasonable amount of space for a translator note to explain all the implications. However, I would assume that most viewers would prefer that written translation be at least similar in meaning to what is actually there when it is possible to do so.

    Over the last year, I've noticed rather regularly that anime will show phones with text conversations. It may have been regular prior to that, but I don't know that I was really paying attention. In those messages, A LOT of liberty is taken with translation, but it seems like a reasonable exchange to keep it within the scope of the show without explaining every detail which would take a considerable amount of space. Messages like that aren't what really bother me because it's rather easy to see that the effort was made to get the relevant information out there without looking like the opening scene from a Star Wars movie. The same would apply to the Morose Mononokean list mentioned, and in all honesty, viewers that don't speak the language most likely won't notice the excess info is even there unless it's mentioned in the script. I don't recall seeing anyone complaining about additional untranslated texts, and assume this is because it was simply unnoticed because the translators notes gave enough to appear relevant to the show.

    The same applies to the constant use of the word おめでとう, this would be pronounced omedeto with long o sounds, and means congratulations. I often see this written in school or slice of life anime without a translation, but have never been asked for a translation because it just falls to the background. I've always wondered why it seems that nobody notices that word because it's regularly written in HUGE letters on blackboards and bulletin boards. IMO, this is a word which is used regularly enough that it should always have a translation associated with it for non-speakers, but rarely does.

    My complaint isn't that translations shouldn't be given for the sake of a dub audience. I completely agree that they should be there. However, I find it excruciatingly irritating when an accurate translation could easily be given without interfering with the show, but the decision is made to stray from that. If there were something as simple as a space restriction, or would have taken an unusual amount of text to convey the thought, it would have slipped right by without so much as a mention of the change.

    For example, see my mention of the translation from Kino's Journey. It's not that the text wasn't translated accurately which I found issue with. It was simply that it called a "well-wishing" an "inspirational comment". Again, I haven't seen anything mentioned from anyone wanting accurate translation for "inspirational comment", and given that the pause button was used frequently just so others could read the subs, I don't really complain that there was much of a difference. Timing of the text was rather short, so I can understand them not wanting to add the entire message because it would have placed more restriction on the viewer. In all honesty, it likely would have taken nearly a paragraph of text to convey the message as anything more than stating that something was said, and the messages were coming rather quickly anyway. Especially since this was a rather popular show for the Fall season, I would have assumed that someone would have noticed and said something if they were actually concerned about the reduced message. In instances such as this, rather than saying "inspirational comment" or "well-wishing", it makes more sense to me to completely remove any translator note indicating that something was said which isn't explained anyway. The text would flow more freely (how often are you talking to someone about something and they just throw "inspirational comment" in there as a sentence out of nowhere?), and the reader isn't losing anything because they're not going to know what it says regardless of whether the phrase "inspirational comment" or "well-wishing" is used.

    I'm not saying that there should be no translations made for written material. In the case of the Kino episode that would have been a nightmare for any English speaker. I'm simply saying that discretion in whether to actually change things, translate accurately, or ignore unnecessary items completely, is not always being used properly when dealing with translation of written materials such as signs, letters, texts. It's just as easy to point out instances where proper editing has been used with any of those options, and more than satisfy sub/dub viewers (based on the lack of comments of things missing). There are reasons to make changes, and I think I've covered most of them in this thread, but this particular instance had no viable reason to make a change from an accurate translation.

    It was mentioned that translations for signs were wanted (understandably), but isn't it preferable to know what it actually says rather than be provided with a known false statement? I personally would rather not be told anything when compared to being told something which is false.

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