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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Unhappy Poor translation

    I have already complained about Japanese dubbing and subtitles in another post.

    Here is an example of why I mean when I say they are oversimplified and fail to carry the original feeling of what the actors actually say. These are extracts from the series Dark Angel :

    - Did you know he could play [piano] ?
    - Who cares ? => Japanese translation : 全然 (zenzen = not at all)

    - I want your absence
    - I leave you alone => わかった (wakatta = understood)

    [while receiving order from boss]
    -Sir ? => 何だ (nanda = what ?)
    - ...
    - Yes Sir ! => ええ (ee = yeah)
    - So that's clear then ?
    - Crystal, sir ! => やります yarimasu = I('ll) do (it)


    "move on", "away", "go now", etc.always translate 行け (ike = go !)

    - Why would you want to do that ? => 必要ないよ (hitsuyou naiyo = it's not necessary)

    - What did I just say ? => やめて (yamete = stop !)

    Imagine how boring it would be if we spoke English like the transaltion they give in Japanese. First I thought it was a way to make English-speakers look stupid or dull to the Japanese audience, but I later realised that Japanese people always speak like this. So that's just that they don't have other expressions. You rally have to say everything as it is, i.e. there is only one way of saying things and it's always description-like. All these expressions like "what did I just say !" ,"ok, I leave you alone then" can be translated in other European languages easily. Often, you say it exactly the same way. But try it in Japanese and you'll only meet blank stares of people wondering what you want to say. It happens to me almost everyday and it's very frustrating.

    I feel reduced to use only basic, uninteresting expression with always the same vocabulary. The only good thing is that it's easy to understand a daily-life conversation in Japanese. In French, it would be the opposite, because all everyday expressions are even more idiomatic or metaphored than in English. Eg. If you say in English "Do you live somewhere near Tokyo tower", i Japanese in become literally "Do you live near Tokyo tower" and in French "Do you live in the corner of Tokyo tower". That what makes French even more difficult for foreigners (as it is often unintelligible once translated in another language, even other Latin languages) and Japanese easier (but more boring ).

    I am not yet speaking of real idiomatic expression such as "I am on edge" or "It's raining cats and dogs", which generally all have equivalent in other European languages - especially between English and French, as English language come 50% from French, and for such expressions the number would be closer to 90% of similarity. They are again untranslatable in Japanese.

    Sometimes you find a equivalent , the same idea formulated differently ; For instance 猿も木から落ちる"saru mo ki kara ochiru" (monkeys also fall from trees), which would be "no one's perfect in English". You can't say it like this literally in Japanese : "daremo kanzen ja nai" - no one would understand you. But if they are equivalent, they never use them in film dubbing or subtitles. Why ? Because they never use them or they are too old-fashioned ? Reinvent new one then. I feel that Japanese language is dying. New words come from English or other languages, but Japanese don't make up new ones (even the slang is poor and unimaginative) and tend to forget about the real Japanese of the past (see the thread "Japanese gov. to purify the language"). Has Japan become an American colony after WWII ? Will the Japanese all speak an hybrid Japanese-English language in 50 years ? That would also mean the death of Japanes culture...
    Last edited by Maciamo; Aug 20, 2002 at 15:52.

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