translation sfx



  • I think when you translate Japanese light novel it would be better to leave the sfx like ~san, ~chan, ~onii-chan, or etc. If it the unique japanese word like de gozaru, de arimasu, ~nya, any unique ending, sound effect, or the way of calling like goshujin-sama/aruji-dono. I prefer to leave it like that since it most preferable for the anime fans out there.


  • Member

    Most of that I wouldn't really call sfx (sound effects), though I think there are some interesting translation choices that can fall under that label, which is what I thought you were going to comment on from the title. I believe JP has a much more diverse selection of words/sounds for sfx and onomatopoeia than EN does, which can make for more difficult translation choices and varying approaches to dealing with it.

    As for your main topic, regarding things like honorifics (san, chan, etc), commonly occurring words and titles of address (onii, goshujin, etc), and speech quirks (nya, de gozaru). It's always an ongoing discussion, but it really comes down to personal preference and/or translation philosophy.

    So it's a valid suggestion, but it's not going to have universal agreement. Even though I'm an "anime fan," as you put it, my own personal preferences are pretty much the opposite of yours.

    I believe the different projects and different translators at JNC do or don't keep such things in on a case by case basis. So you might find one series is more in line with your preferences than another.


  • Member

    At a certain point, you have to ask yourself whether you're looking for a localization, a translation, or a catered service.

    What you're essentially saying is that "I have a set of words that I already know what they mean, and they don't translate well into English, so don't bother translating them." So how big is this list? 20 terms? 50 terms? If you learn a new one later, does that get added, or does JNC just have to "know" what the "average anime fan" knows and willfully leave those words untranslated?

    Basically, this is a very slippery slope, and you're asking for JNC to cater specifically to a very small demographic with a high point of entry. As a business, I would argue that it makes more sense to lean towards localization/translation; yes, the primary audience for these light novels is, at this point in time, people who are already invested in anime or light novels. However, catering to that specific demographic means deliberately making it harder to break into a new demographic.

    Translating everything means you won't alienate readers who haven't learned those Japanese phrases/terms, and it's not really going to lose readers who have.


  • Premium Member

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  • Premium Member

    @myskaros said in translation sfx:

    What you're essentially saying is that "I have a set of words that I already know what they mean, and they don't translate well into English, so don't bother translating them." So how big is this list? 20 terms? 50 terms? If you learn a new one later, does that get added, or does JNC just have to "know" what the "average anime fan" knows and willfully leave those words untranslated?

    So true. Like, Isekai was left in one of the volumes, and I had no idea what that term was without the added context of the sentence.

    Now leaving sound effect elements could be interesting. Isn't "guru guru" roll? I don't know if they've translated those SFX as onomotopeia or just changed it to "They rolled around and around".


  • Translators

    @terrence said in translation sfx:

    Now leaving sound effect elements could be interesting. Isn't "guru guru" roll? I don't know if they've translated those SFX as onomotopeia or just changed it to "They rolled around and around"

    We don't see that too often in LNs in my experience (that headache is primarily reserved for manga translators, haha), but in my view, as with most things, it would depend a lot on context. If it's a sound effect used in isolation for dramatic effect that we have a clear equivalent to in English (for instance, パチン), then I would use that equivalent (snap!). If it's one where we don't have a very clear equivalent to in English, then I probably would try to write it out in prose.

    This might not be the best example, but for instance, if an author was trying to set a scene with just a line of ザーザー (the sound of heavy rainfall) and nothing else... well, I think it's fair to say we don't really have an equivalent to that that's clear and evocative in the same way. We have "pitter-pat" or "drip drip" for light rainfall, but this isn't light rainfall. If you were illustrating a comic you could use "kshhhhhhh" or something similar for heavy rainfall in a pinch, but...

    Well, if you just saw "kshhhhhhh" in isolation, in prose, would you automatically think "rain"? There's a bunch of other things that could mean (maybe static, maybe wind, maybe... ripping paper?). Which means that just putting in the sound effect straight wouldn't be setting the scene the way the Japanese prose does. "Rain showered heavily on the ground below" or something like that (adjusted for context, obviously) would be the only way to get the same punch as a scene-setting line.

    Now, I've never actually run into that particular example, and I can't remember if I have ever seen anything like that working for J-Novel. But hypothetically that's probably how I would approach it if I did.


  • Premium Member

    @liz said in translation sfx:

    @terrence said in translation sfx:

    Well, if you just saw "kshhhhhhh" in isolation, in prose, would you automatically think "rain"?

    Great example. Yeah, I can see why you would want to set the stage instead of just "Ksssshhhh". xD

    I was just curious. I have noticed a few times in other media where characters mumble or say noises, but the translation just puts "...", like the SFX stand on their own, even if the character was saying semi-coherent stuff in their mumble.


  • Member

    Definitely a tough one and realistically I hate to admit it should probably stay as it is to reach the widest audience. Also funny that the original post for the topic clearly meant suffix and omitted the vowels and extra f, but chose sfx which obviously has its own meaning and totally changed the direction of the discussion.

    But 'on topic', personally I would prefer titles, honorifics, etc. to be expressed with a semblance of their original form because it is difficult to always translate the meaning into English well--and therefore more meaning is preserved with them; however, as indicated by @myskaros, it's true that prior knowledge is required to appropriately make sense of them and there is absolutely no consistency in available prior knowledge. As such, I can only appreciate the efforts to make translations make sense for the widest variety of readers. If new people can't get into the novels because there is too much "jargon", it only hurts everyone who wants to read them in English.

    As far as sound effects are concerned, I've gotta say that @liz pretty much nailed it. (Which is good since (s)he is a member of the translators group). Although, you could always do both with the rain example? ...Leave the sfx and also include something like "...the sound of heavy rain could be heard pelting the ground..." in order to both maintain the author's original intent, building the scene in a way that is more flexibly interpreted, and also help to introduce (or reinforce) the reader's knowledge of typical sfx selections in Japan.

    Anyway, not sure why I bothered to write so much--just got into rambling... but figured it'd be nice to chime in on the conversation.


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