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Post Reply Do english subtitles frustrate you sometimes?
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Posted 7/25/16
After watching so much anime ive got a pretty basic understanding of Japanese.

Sometimes you can tell the subtitles are completely back to front to what is being said even if it would make sense for the english to be in the same order as japanese or sometimes they use words or phrases in english that are "loosely" translated to different words and arent as funny as if they use the actual words that were said.

or just phrases translated a particular way that i feel doesnt have the impact that it could translated differently.

clearly im not qualified to be a translator in any way shape or form and i dont want to take anything away from the people who do the work but what do others think?
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Posted 7/25/16
From what I understand, there's about three things that determine how they redub and subtitle shows: lip flaps, intoxicants, and a deep rooted self-loathing of wasting their lives on a BA in Humanities.

They are looking to make the subtitles 'understandable' at a basic level to people that might not have a grasp on any aspect of the language they're subtitling, the jokes in the show don't make sense to other audiences, or it's just a lot of work.

Is this frustrating? Yes. I have little to no sympathy. It's one of my great flaws, I suppose. Especially when they use subtitles that don't stand out against the shows they're in.
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Posted 7/25/16 , edited 8/6/16
There is a difference between translating word-for-word from one language to another, or translating the sense of what was said. I've run into this when working through translators with people face to face.

I can frequently tell when an anime tries to translate literally word for word because the English comes out sort of mangled. It's almost like the company gives a transcription of the dialogue to a translator who just goes through and does it word for word with only a minor attempt to reorganize the sentences into English format. Also the meaning may not be completely clear. For instance someone might use a common saying in their language which translated word for word into English just confuses things because we don't have the same saying - although we might have a saying that implies the same thing.

Yet translating on the fly, where you try to give the sense of what's being said but not word for word, can also create confusion - especially when translating things that are legally important. Sometimes the translator tries to adapt the translation to his customer - but this can create problems for instance if you are dealing with health issues, and cultural issues. There have been instances where a translator did not tell the patient exactly what a doctor says because it's unlucky in that culture to discuss death or things like that.

With anime translations, I find it annoying when there are obvious discrepancies - for instance I was watching Food Wars! yesterday and they were translating a nickname for one of the characters - but the subtitle translation and the nickname showing in the anime which was actually in English were different. And like the OP says - when you hear an obvious English word used in the voice acting but a different word is used in the subtitles.
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Posted 7/25/16 , edited 8/6/16
After watching so much anime and studying Japanese language I can see what you talk about. (I passed the Japanese proficiency test 3, so it's nothing awesome.)

Yes, sometimes the subtitles are off, or so I think (but I'm no native English speaker, so I could be wrong).

Sometimes, the same word in Japanese has a lot of meanings derived from the context. So in those cases sometimes the choice made by the translators is correct, and sometimes isn't.

Keep in mind too that what is important when someone is translating anime, is not only to translate exactly what each character said word by word, but what they meant and their way of speaking. A translator need to mix what it's literally said and what that meant, that's no easy task.

If you see the series that started Crunchy and what they did in their first couple of years, there's a lot of mistakes in some animes. But they improved rapidly. They still need to improve, there's always room for that. Even if the translator does a good job, someone could think: - Hey, I would have choose "X" as a translation in this case-.

If you could put some examples, would be perfect to judge the translator's choice. But even if I do that, that would be only my opinion... The same applies if others join in to check this...

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Posted 7/25/16 , edited 7/25/16
i get the nickname part completely!

quickest thing that comes to mind is JoJo's bizarre adventure. There was 2 "brothers" that were always together Oingo and Boingo.

The translation for those 2 was something so different its not funny... for the life of me i cant remember but it was just wrong

edit - actually i just read that was because of copyright reasons.. so thats my bad
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Posted 7/25/16 , edited 8/6/16
Many Japanese colloquial expressions don't translate directly and Japanese word order is different from English. There also differing approaches to translation, so I think it's pretty normal to occasionally disagree with the way something is translated. You will also find that your ideas on how something should be translated will change either because of increasing proficiency with the language or a better grasp of the culture.
It's just the nature of the beast.
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Posted 7/25/16

fringewalker wrote:

Many Japanese colloquial expressions don't translate directly and Japanese word order is different from English. There also differing approaches to translation, so I think it's pretty normal to occasionally disagree with the way something is translated. You will also find that your ideas on how something should be translated will change either because of increasing proficiency with the language or a better grasp of the culture.
It's just the nature of the beast.


That's so true...
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Posted 7/25/16

Bailey86 wrote:

i get the nickname part completely!

quickest thing that comes to mind is JoJo's bizarre adventure. There was 2 "brothers" that were always together Oingo and Boingo.

The translation for those 2 was something so different its not funny... for the life of me i cant remember but it was just wrong

edit - actually i just read that was because of copyright reasons.. so thats my bad


Yeah. Going from being named after the band that sang Weird Science to being named after a The Police album is pretty shocking.
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Posted 7/25/16

gornotck wrote:


Bailey86 wrote:

i get the nickname part completely!

quickest thing that comes to mind is JoJo's bizarre adventure. There was 2 "brothers" that were always together Oingo and Boingo.

The translation for those 2 was something so different its not funny... for the life of me i cant remember but it was just wrong

edit - actually i just read that was because of copyright reasons.. so thats my bad


Yeah. Going from being named after the band that sang Weird Science to being named after a The Police album is pretty shocking.


At least they kept the music theme.
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Posted 7/25/16
sometimes, i think some subbers try too hard with the translation, using expressions that is rarely used in real life.
example: cloud 9, hold your horses, etc.. simple is best.
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Posted 7/25/16 , edited 7/25/16

IgnatiusSp wrote:


gornotck wrote:


Bailey86 wrote:

i get the nickname part completely!

quickest thing that comes to mind is JoJo's bizarre adventure. There was 2 "brothers" that were always together Oingo and Boingo.

The translation for those 2 was something so different its not funny... for the life of me i cant remember but it was just wrong

edit - actually i just read that was because of copyright reasons.. so thats my bad


Yeah. Going from being named after the band that sang Weird Science to being named after a The Police album is pretty shocking.


At least they kept the music theme.


Looking over it, I think it's a weak album, though it seems strangely popular. Maybe I just am not big on The Police.

It would be weird if they didn't keep the music theme. Jojo is all about every single character being named after something involving music.


namealreadytaken wrote:

sometimes, i think some subbers try too hard with the translation, using expressions that is rarely used in real life.
example: cloud 9, hold your horses, etc.. simple is best.


I...use those phrases. They're rare?
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Posted 7/25/16

namealreadytaken wrote:

sometimes, i think some subbers try too hard with the translation, using expressions that is rarely used in real life.
example: cloud 9, hold your horses, etc.. simple is best.


I hear people use those phrases all the time and use them myself. I hear at least one of those two phrases every day. So it's news to me that they are rarely used.
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Posted 7/25/16
What I find annoying that some common expressions like the ones for leaving/coming back home (ittekimasu, itterasshai, etc) are frequently translated to fit the context, even if in my opinion it isn't necessary.

I guess the more I'll learn on Japanese language the more I'll get annoyed by translations.
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Posted 7/25/16
sometimes, when its a joke.
lawdog 
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Posted 7/25/16
Ignoring honorifics ticks me off, because they're so important, and just don't translate. When it comes to jokes, I'd rather an actual translation, with a subtitled explanation, or an explanation of the actual joke with a localization, because I've seen some pretty good attempts at localizations, as there are some close parallels. But when it's not close, go with the Japanese.

One of the really annoying things: When they'll mistranslate the Engrish or actual English words that pop up in Japanese. Those are truly WTF moments in translation.
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