The Apothecary Diaries - Corrections Topic


  • Staff

    This is the dedicated topic for posting suggested corrections for The Apothecary Diaries.

    Currently in prepublication: Volume 1!



  • These aren't straight up corrections, but since they're suggestions regarding translation, I'm putting it here instead of the main discussion thread.

    Vol 1 part 1

    • What I wouldn’t give for some good street-stall kebabs. ► May I ask to consider refraining from loanwords, if they aren't from Chinese (the one emulated by the setting) or Japanese (the source language)? It's subjective, but for me it's distracting--like having people call Chinese-style fried rice 'risotto'. Perhaps a more generic 'meat skewers' would be better.

    • He visited both Lady Gyokuyou and Lady Lihua. ► This is another point that may have long term relevance. Choosing between the "intended" Chinese spelling of names (Yu Ye/Li Hua) or the onyomi (Gyokuyou/Rifa). Again a subjective matter, I think it's better to stick with either one instead of mixing.


  • Staff

    @nofairytale said in The Apothecary Diaries - Corrections Topic:

    This is another point that may have long term relevance. Choosing between the "intended" Chinese spelling of names (Yu Ye/Li Hua) or the onyomi (Gyokuyou/Rifa). Again a subjective matter, I think it's better to stick with either one instead of mixing.

    The romanizations of character names are by request of the publisher; essentially, the author put the intended reading in furigana, and we're to use that for the romanization. We'll double-check the source.



  • @myskaros Looking at the bookwalker preview as well as the WN, the furigana is in katakana, and when taken verbatim then it will be the onyomi form (instead of purely Japanese reading like "Rika" for 梨花). The English transliteration therefore can go either way.


  • Translators

    Hi @nofairytale,

    Thanks for your observations. While it's true that "kebabs" is a loan word in the sense that it ultimately derives from (probably) an Arabic source, I might argue it's well enough accepted in English that it shouldn't be considered "foreign" vocabulary any more than any other given word (all of which come from somewhere). But I do like the rendering "meat skewers," which I grant is somewhat more neutral in the overall context.

    There's an interesting thing to note about the Japanese text in this regard, actually. Once in a while, perfectly typical Japanese words will be glossed with distinctive, English-derived katakana. To take an example that stuck in my mind, in one scene Gyokuyou is said to be sitting on a 長椅子 (nagaisu), which is a couch or bench. Nagaisu is a pretty standard word in Japanese, and there's no evident reason at this moment not to simply let the characters be read that way, but in this particular case it's glossed as カウチ (kauchi), or "couch." This English-derived term is a lot less common, and sticks out for exactly the reason you describe. (I think I translated it as "chaise longue" in an effort to capture some of this unexpected exoticism.) So while I take your overall point about being mindful of how word origins may clash with a sense of place, the author seems to have their own distinct sensibility about this point.

    Then there's the names. I knew these would come up sooner rather than later :) As @myskaros says, we were directed by the publisher to essentially follow the readings provided in the text. However, the matter is a little more nuanced than that, because not all of the readings are actually derived from the on-yomi (Chinese-derived readings of kanji). In fact, quite a few of them aren't.

    For example, 梨花 is glossed not as リカ (rika, which as you say would be the on-yomi proper), but as リファ (rifua). (This is the case in both the Bookwalker and print LN editions; I can't speak to the web novel. It's possible the rendering changed.) Bearing in mind that the consonant represented as f in romaji often has closer to an h sound in Japanese, I think it's likely this reading is intended to represent the Mandarin pronunciation of the characters, "Lihua." This is also true of other characters, not least Maomao, whose name is transparently Chinese. (It would be Byoubyou by the on-yomi).

    Gyokuyou, however, is a different case. As you suggest, in Chinese the characters 玉葉 would be read "Yuye." It might be possible to approximate this in katakana, say as ユーイエ (yuuie). But that isn't what the author has done. Instead the gloss is ギョクヨウ (gyokuyou), which is the on-yomi of these characters. As we were asked to follow these glosses, that's what we've done. Yes, it produces a certain dissonance in the way the character names appear to be rendered. Again, this isn't entirely unlike the effect of the Japanese. I think the author may have their reasons for making this distinction, though I don't have any insider information and can only speculate.

    I hope that clears up some of our translation choices. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts!



  • @Kevin-S The thing about the names will come up, as you say, so better sooner than later, no? :3

    You're right about the ka/fa choice, I had assumed fa was the onyomi, but apparently it's not, and that the choice of pronunciation in the original isn't as straightforward as I thought.

    Still, I feel there is an extra level of dissonance in the English transliteration when some (like Lihua, Hongniang) uses the Mandarin transliteration, while others use Japanese transliteration (like Jinshi, Gyokuyou). Whereas for the Japanese readers, they're all just katakana, and read as the Japanese normally read katakana.

    One reason why I feel the dissonance is because the Japanese reading of Chinese characters is not based on modern-day Mandarin reading, but Middle Chinese readings (I don't fully understand it myself but this page gives a decent explanation imo).

    The choice of using the Mandarin spelling Lihua rather than Japanese syllables Rifa is quite straightforward. In most Chinese dialects as well, 梨 is li and 花 is hua/hwa. But when it comes to Gyokuyou, why not use the Hokkien Giok Yap, considering the Japanese reading gyoku is presumably based on giok?

    And so on... which makes me think that for consistency, perhaps maintaining the Japanese syllables would be a better course, rather than trying to guess which Chinese dialect is most proper. That, IIRC, is how it's done with many English translations of Japanese adaptation of Three Kingdoms (with Ryuubi Gentoku / Soso Motoku / Kan'u Unchou / Shoukatsu Koumei etc).

    That said, I only feel this because I'm quite familiar with both Mandarin and Hokkien transliteration. As with the kebab case, which I'm probably more fussy with due to familiarity with the nuance between kebab and kushiyaki (food is srs bizness for Asians, you see :P).

    I can certainly understand your choices better now, even if it still doesn't sit completely right for me, but I also understand that you first and foremost translate for the American audience with a whole different set of linguistic sensibilities.

    In any case, thanks for letting me get on this soapbox!


  • Translators

    Hi @nofairytale,

    Thanks for clarifying further about some of your perspectives. Let me address a couple of the points you make.

    @nofairytale said in The Apothecary Diaries - Corrections Topic:

    Still, I feel there is an extra level of dissonance in the English transliteration when some (like Lihua, Hongniang) uses the Mandarin transliteration, while others use Japanese transliteration (like Jinshi, Gyokuyou). Whereas for the Japanese readers, they're all just katakana, and read as the Japanese normally read katakana.

    I think you're making a significant assumption about the impact a particular language/transliteration choice would have on a Japanese reader. (I'm assuming here that you're not a native speaker of Japanese yourself; my apologies if that assumption isn't correct.) I'm a non-native myself, so after a point I can only speculate, but I have to think a native reader of Japanese would be perfectly cognizant of the difference between standard on-yomi (like "Gyokuyou") and a non-standard reading that's been imposed on characters that don't typically have that reading ("Rifa"). In other words, I think even for a Japanese reader of the Japanese text, more contrast may exist than you're supposing.

    But when it comes to Gyokuyou, why not use the Hokkien Giok Yap, considering the Japanese reading gyoku is presumably based on giok?

    I actually considered the possibility of using another, alternate dialect for rendering "Gyokuyou" and a couple of the other names, for exactly the reason you're describing. However, the name "Gyokuyou" in particular was one where the publisher specifically asked us to follow the katakana rendering, so that foreclosed on the idea of playing with other types of transliteration.

    That, IIRC, is how it's done with many English translations of Japanese adaptation of Three Kingdoms (with Ryuubi Gentoku / Soso Motoku / Kan'u Unchou / Shoukatsu Koumei etc).

    Do you find that this produces a feeling of "dissonance" for you like the issues you're raising here? Or are you able to accept the (Chinese, or at the very least Chinese-originated) characters having patently Japanese names as long as they're represented consistently as patently Japanese? (Sorry, I know in text alone this question probably sounds aggressive. But I mean it; I'm genuinely curious about how you react to this sort of juxtaposition.)


  • Translators

    Not being native Japanese, I can't speak for them, but Gyokuyou also showed up in Twelve Kingdoms, so my assumption has been that it's seen as a standard 'Chinese name' and I didn't distinguish between it and the other character names.

    Personally, I think my instinct would be that figuring out the correct Chinese readings is too much work, and I'd probably have consistently gone for a straight romanization of the rubi (so Rifa, not Lihua or Rika.) But that's less preference as a reader and more just doing whatever was easiest. This book has enough terminology nightmares, you don't wanna stop to research every new character name on top of that.



  • @Kevin-S said in The Apothecary Diaries - Corrections Topic:

    I think you're making a significant assumption about the impact a particular language/transliteration choice would have on a Japanese reader. (I'm assuming here that you're not a native speaker of Japanese yourself; my apologies if that assumption isn't correct.) I'm a non-native myself, so after a point I can only speculate, but I have to think a native reader of Japanese would be perfectly cognizant of the difference between standard on-yomi (like "Gyokuyou") and a non-standard reading that's been imposed on characters that don't typically have that reading ("Rifa"). In other words, I think even for a Japanese reader of the Japanese text, more contrast may exist than you're supposing.

    Similarly non-native here, and with nowhere near enough Japanese proficiency to translate stuff. Point taken and acceded to 😃

    Do you find that this produces a feeling of "dissonance" for you like the issues you're raising here? Or are you able to accept the (Chinese, or at the very least Chinese-originated) characters having patently Japanese names as long as they're represented consistently as patently Japanese? (Sorry, I know in text alone this question probably sounds aggressive. But I mean it; I'm genuinely curious about how you react to this sort of juxtaposition.)

    I don't, since they're all in the same "system", and my mind can therefore map out which characters are which. So I just accept it as an alternate transliteration system, having been exposed to the existence of various romanization and dialects on Chinese and Arabic. I would find it weird, however, if an adaptation would write Liu Bei (pinyin) for one character, Ts'ao Ts'ao (Wade-Giles) for another, and Kwan Ie (Hokkien) for yet another. Unless the different systems are used in settings where different systems are actually used, like a modern-day city where ethnic Chinese people of different origins meet.


  • Premium Member

    53%

    Princess Lingli, the stepsister of the deceased prince ...

    Technically "stepsister" should be "half sister."


  • Premium Member

    15% - This girl does know how to use the carrot - Considering the age of the "girl" in question and Maomao's own age, would "woman" or "lady" be more appropriate here?

    69% - She chopped some bread into cubes - Bread? Considering the setting, did the original actually use bread, or did it refer to something like a wheat bun?


  • Translators

    @nofairytale said in The Apothecary Diaries - Corrections Topic:

    I would find it weird, however, if an adaptation would write Liu Bei (pinyin) for one character, Ts'ao Ts'ao (Wade-Giles) for another, and Kwan Ie (Hokkien) for yet another. Unless the different systems are used in settings where different systems are actually used, like a modern-day city where ethnic Chinese people of different origins meet.

    Ah, but given the author's emphasis on Gyokuyou's having "western blood" and repeated remarks about how striking she looks, I think exactly such an ethnic (?) distinction could be in view.

    69% - She chopped some bread into cubes - Bread? Considering the setting, did the original actually use bread, or did it refer to something like a wheat bun?

    @zwabbit This is an interesting question, because the answer is sort of "both." You might have noticed in one of my posts above, I talk about how the author sometimes glosses words with unusual readings. This is essentially one of those cases. The text has 麺麭 (menpou, a pretty obscure word in Japanese meaning either a wheat bun, or bread more generally), but it's glossed パン (pan), the standard Japanese word for "bread." I agree bread seems a little surprising in the setting, and it's possible the use of the term is either tongue-in-cheek or intended purely to clarify, but as I said in the discussion thread, this story doesn't seem to be set in a specific time or place in Earth's history, and Hyuuga-sensei certainly has room to bring in details that might otherwise seem anachronistic.


  • Premium Member

    Vol 1 Part 3 86%
    "Do you think the woman can win out over..." - This sentence came off as very contorted. I sort of get what you guys are trying to pack into it, but the flow stumbles. Might I suggest a rewording to something like - "Do you think that a woman who killed her own child by ignoring Consort Gyokuyou's advice has any chance of winning against her?"


  • Premium Member

    I think this could also work:

    “Do you think the woman can win out over Consort Gyokuyou, even though she ignored that very consort’s advice and killed her own child doing so?”


  • Premium Member

    While that solves part of the awkwardness, the usage of "the woman" instead of "a woman" or "this woman" still sounds unnatural. Using the here sounds extremely awkward if you try to read it aloud as actual dialogue.


  • Premium Member

    Volume 1 - Part 4:

    • [57%] making some medicine with herbs she had to hand. ► It should be on hand?
    • [73%] Chapter 16: The Garden Party (Part One) ► The usual title format is missing.

  • Premium Member

    Vol 1 Part 4 41%
    "Was this all the more his face could get him?" - Is this supposed to be, "Was this all his face could get him?" The "the more" seems extraneous.


  • Premium Member

    just relaying this. At 8% of Part 1 "that most noble family" should be "noblest"

    76% part 4 "charcoal grill" should be "brazier" as it is gonna be plot points at various places in the story and heating things up is one the uses for a brazier.


  • Premium Member

    part 4 76 and 96% Something else the silver pin and mans silver hairpin really gives the wrong image. If can't use kanzashi then something more descriptive to show what it is. Just saying pin makes it sound like it is just that a pin and around as small. Something along the lines of ornamental or decorative hairpin and maybe something to show that it is bigger and longer than a regular pin/hairclip size thing. Assuming you are trying to aim at people who wouldn't know what a Kanzashi is though still seems like it be fine to leave it as kanzashi at worst with a little description next to it saying a long ornamental hairpin.



  • @heimdal7 on kanzashi, I looked up the item in my native language in wiki, then changed the language to English, and apparently it's called a hair stick?


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