Bakemonogatari – Hitagi Crab 003

Good lord! Has it really been A MONTH?! Needless to say, my porno game (that is, “eroge” for you fancy folks [though, Rewrite is all-ages]) habit has gotten out of hand.

A couple of things. First, take a gander at this poll from Baka Updates Manga.

This is an all-around bloody tragedy. This is almost the same thing as begging for a crappier translation. I see those people who voted “yes” in the same light as those fundies railing against healthcare reform and “socialism.” I just don’t understand. For the love of God why? Consider this: would Final Fantasy 7 have been better with Cloud-kun and Tifa-chan?

But… but honorifics have meaning! They tell you about the relationships between the characters and stuff!

First, I’d question how much anyone would actually know what any of those honorifics meant given that they don’t even speak the bloody the language (and if they did, why are they reading a translation). Also consider this: the Japanese translation of Harry Potter probably has additional honorifics stuck in them by the translator (as it should). Would then adding those honorifics back into the original English version make it for better reading? Do you really need Voldemort-sama and Sirius-dono? No, because one, it would read like ass, two, you understand (infer) everything about character relationships just find in plain old English; you don’t need honorifics.

Two, I added in a a table of contents which should make navigating easier and also some pictures of cute animals edited by the awesome Coal.

Three, either the Baka-Tsuki translator stopped giving a shit or someone else translated this chapter, because the translation they have up there is terrible. Not only have they completely forgone any sense of style, they also made numerous translation mistakes in meaning (propositional content). On the other hand, Buddy Waters’s translation didn’t make the same mistakes. Hmm…

Four, I’ve tested this thing on my computer, iPhone 4, and iPad. I’ve decided that for phones, 12pt font is best, and 10pt font for everything else. What I don’t have is an eReader. If you do, please report back your results. I’ve kept in 11pt font for good measure. Also, yes, I’m still interested in making this a ePub file.

Five, according to the stat count, my last release has been downloaded 304 times. As much as I’d like to think that Athos downloaded my translation 303 times (the last one by Coal), it means there were potentially 302 people who thought my translation was so bad that they couldn’t bear to come back to my blog to leave a comment on how shitty it is, or there were 302 people who thought my translation was so good that they don’t have any complaints. Help me out here guys. What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? Is totally meh?

Six, yes I would fucking love an editor. See sticky if you’re the guy (or gal) I’m looking for.

Clicky for the most up-to-date version.

If that doesn’t work, here’s a Mediafire link.

P.S. Oh yeah, I should say something about this chapter. I found writing Senjougahara’s lines a lot easier if I imagined her English voice to be like Glad0s’s. Mmm… If you’re a keen observer, you might notice that I had her not use contractions (i.e. did not -> didn’t). While she doesn’t exactly talk like book in Japanese, her speech is very feminine, yet direct, and she doesn’t speak unlike a (very sarcastic) high class lady (or at least, what I’d imagine one to sound like. I’ve never met one.) I tried to have her speak “properly” like a lady should.

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37 Comments to “Bakemonogatari – Hitagi Crab 003”

  1. Thank you based mogumogu

  2. Tired… Can’t concentrate…
    I’m with you about Senjougahara… against you about the honorifics…
    Reading inside a moving vehicle… you are mad…
    I’ll check the chapter tomorrow…

    Thank you…

  3. Re: ePub. Can you post a .tex sample? Something that contains most of the macros you used in the document, say the cover, the title page, the ToC and the first paragraph of the first chapter.

    Pandoc claims to convert LaTeX -> ePub, just need to make sure that their supported subset of the language aligns with what you’ve been using.

    Re: honorifics. I think they are more important in subtitles since there’s a certain dissonance when you hear the character say one thing and the translation is something different. Like when Person A calls Person B “Senjougahara-san” but the translation says “Hitagi”, because once you remove the honorific it makes more sense for someone in A’s position to refer to B using her given name.

    Besides, getting rid of the honorifics needlessly makes the translators’ job more difficult when working with scenes like the [SENJOUGAHARA-SAMA -> Senjougahara-chan -> eye poke] one. It really doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to get familiar with the handful of honorifics and their common uses.

    [Here’s an example. Tried Pandoc’s online converter thing. Gave me an instant error about “/begin{docment}”, possibly the most basic line in LaTex. Not a good sign. – rsy]

  4. Also, the PDFs look fine on the latest Kindle. Both the 10pt and the 12pt version are readable (if smaller than the default font size), page flipping is fast. Line spacing seems a little tight though.

    [This is good to hear. – rsy]

  5. Complaints~

    I see a few minor reading errors just in reading 001 that should be looked over by you.
    ————————————-

    In 001 in the first paragraph of the story on page 4

    [“We were in the same class in our first,second, and now third years but I had yet to see her yet even try to run”]

    was distracting at

    [“…but I had yet to see her yet even try to run.”]

    since it seems like too much of a random thought that Its doesn’t flow from the rest of the sentence naturally.
    ———————————————————–

    The [“Like that”] at the end of the continuation of the paragraph from page 5 that starts on page 6 is there just taking up page space.

    Last paragraph of page 6 a sentence has a error

    [“…,and although not a singe word had been exchanged between the us,…”]

    Just take out that [the] because its interrupting the sentence flow as its read.

    ———————————————-

    I like the Durarara! novel translations from

    http://anni-fiesta.livejournal.com/

    they could maybe give you better help or just pointers on your translations if you asked nicely

    [I still haven’t done any real editing. My previous editor left me a farewell present with her editing suggestions before she left. I should probably get on that next. I took a look at the Durarara! translation. I’ve yet to be impressed by a fan LN translation and this time wasn’t any better. – rsy]

  6. Thanks

    I like your translation and don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s easy to read unlike the alternatives over at kaien.ii-subs.net or baka tsuki (buddywaters version was pretty good though).

    I also agree with you on honorifics.

  7. So, you’re not keeping honorifics?

    Dropped.

    [It’s always hard to decide what to do with troll comments. Well, let’s just say that I also suggest anata (TL note: anata means you, as in Kuro Loli-dono [I switched your name around because Asian naming order is superior]) also drop any other translation because they all changed the myriad of various Japanese pronouns into their single English counterparts. They’re all totally unfaithful the the original glorious Nihongo, which only an esteemed individual such as anata could appreciate. – rsy]

  8. >Stupidly believes honorifics somehow makes a translation crappier when they do add additional meaning/connotations that’s closer to the original. Also, makes characters cuter, childish, younger, etc (chan or even kun). Shows politeness, reverence, above equal standing, etc (san to sama/dono). -insert various other honorifics and their reasoning here-.
    >Thinks there’s any fitting equivalent for senpai or that Arararagi-kun can be anything else other than “senpai” for Kanbaru.
    >Thinks his audience ARE idiots who can’t or don’t already have a solid grasp over Japanese honorifics, something simple yet meaningful and something they encounter on a daily basis and greatly prefer

    Honestly, I think you’re terrible. I seriously don’t believe majority fans deserve this kind of inferior translation. This is a Nisio Isin work, and localizing by removing the all the “foreign” culture or flavor is downright wrong. Some of the greatest pleasures in reading light novels are really for the anime/manga-like story/premise, characters/archetypes, comedy/jokes/wordplay/puns, Japanese culture, and otaku subculture.

    Honorifics generally are/can be contributing factors in all of the aforementioned, especially for characters/archetypes. People like to know a character more and make their own interpretations and assessment of a character, from how a character addresses others, what kind of honorifics he/she uses, whether or not he/she use any honorifics, is the use of honorifics (or not) true or relevant to an archetype, and so on. Point is, one of the main goal of a translation is to deliver the same experience the original audience gets, and localizing is one method that goes against that goal, especially when the translation comes off as if the translation was done by a translator suffering from xenophobia.

    Since your attitude is so against honorifics, I can infer that you’re going to “localize” otaku terms (like tsundere, moe, etc). That’s really bad and actually would make the translation crappier.

    [General rule of thumb – if English Wikipedia and/or TV Tropes has an article on it, it’s free game. In other words, your tsunderes and moes are safe. If there’s a perfectly good English equivalent (i.e. seme = pitcher uke = catcher), they’ll be opted for unless there’s some specific reason not to.

    I contend that honorifics are not a cultural issue but a linguistic one. English has no honorifics but I doubt Americans are dumber than the Japanese when it comes to the subtleties in interpersonal relationships. English speakers just express these subtleties in different ways. For example, I highly doubt you talk to your teacher/boss/customers the same way you talk to your friends. How we express them however, is another issue, but the point being, they’re not as expressed in an overt, morphological manner. Another issue is the fact that by opting to use honorifics, I have an obligation to, by the very same logic, to also keep in all the various Japanese pronouns (“ananta” “anta” “kimi” kisama” “omae” “teme” just for the modern “you”, there’s also historical ones that are like “thou”) which would of course would sound ridiculous. I can’t deal with the cognitive dissonance.

    Pick up a modern book translated by one of the high profile translators (Jay Rubin, Alfred Birnbaum, Philip Gabriel). Of those I’ve had the chance to read, honorifics were never opted for. These are guys who live and breathe Japanese literature and they would no way in hell ignore such a big issue. I’m going to follow their judgement.

    BUT (there’s always a but), I won’t say honorifics should NEVER be used. Time and place and with good reason. – rsy

    P.S. I always find it funny that people rage on this issue (because it’s not faithful to the original!) when EVERYTHING else gets a free pass. Personally, and this is just me, I think the author cares more about his writing not reading like a middle-schooler’s Twilight fanfic than the sans, kuns, and chans.]

  9. I think you are extremely full of yourself to think that your translation is better than someone else’s when you are literally take away something from the writing of the book.

    [I’ve been following the other translations as I’ve been writing and the honorifics issue aside, I’ve found myself keeping in more stuff and translating more literally than the other translations where they opted to paraphrase for simpler wording and sentence structure. – rsy]

  10. Looks like it’s actually the \={o} in Sen\-j\={o}\-ga\-ha\-ra that Pandoc chokes on. But even once you remove that bit the output is abismal. So much for that plan.

    Will try LaTeX -> HTML -> ePub next.

  11. Ha… ha ha ha… Ah… damn it. I was hoping for a peaceful agreement about the honorifics, but this went out of hand very quickly. Am I too late?

    I hope I’ve made it clear in the past that I favor ease of reading over translation accuracy. I’ll be blunt. I don’t have a problem with disrespecting the author if being accurate makes my reading become a chore. Bear in mind, however, that this is strictly a matter of enjoyment value over damage control. That means that if by making it easier to read I’d have to butcher the source material to the point of leaving stuff out, ruining the joke or getting the character wrong, then screw ease of reading.

    With that out of the way, I’m gonna go ahead and say that you can’t win this argument. I’m sorry, but in the illustrious words of Red Mage Statscowski: “I’m prepared to passionately argue this point until nothing makes sense anymore. If that doesn’t work, then the hours upon hours of whining will.”

    You cannot take away the honorifics in a Japanese setting! You know this. I know you know this. You must know how often dialogue between japanese characters revolve around untranslatable content regarding honorifics, last names or verbal ticks. I’m not talking about characters -using them-, I’m talking about characters -alluding to them-. If we are talking about manga -the main target of the poll-, this goes way beyond popular preference and becomes a downright necessity from a scanlator’s point of view in sheer profit/loss terms.

    I could go deeper into this (by god, could I go deeper into this!), but to be honest, I don’t mind if you want to leave them out. The only way it affects me as a reader is the occasional translation note every time the dialogue refers to a naming convention or makes a joke about a cultural reference that isn’t there. Of course the frequency of such an occurrence might be slightly higher than normal given Koyomi’s personality and Nisio Isin style of writing, but it’s not like it’s a comedy manga or anything.

    I do want to point out, however, that what scanlators and fansubbers are giving us are translations, not localizations. They (usually) don’t get paid for what they do, and therefore have no obligation to go the extra mile for us. With time, readers have grown used to this, and subconsciously turned compromise into appreciation for the culture. The results of that poll might not only consist of people who want something closer to the source material, but also those who understand how inconvenient it is for editors to leave out honorifics, so I believe you should avoid prying further into this subject so as to not misinterpret their concern.

    Whew, alright. About part 3. I know I said I agree with Senjougahara not using contraptions, but after reading it myself I really feel that you should tone it down a level or two. It is one thing to be foul mouthed and abusive, but if this becomes the only way to interact with people for her, I’m afraid that it’ll eventually make her look way too stuck-up for her to ever become appealing to the reader. I suggest either making it sound slightly less forced overall, or make her speech moderately more casual after she becomes friendlier with Koyomi. Just a thought.

    Other than that, pretty much all I said about part 2 applies here, too. One or two slip-ups, but overall easier to read than part 1. Keep up the good work.

    [There are some very good points in here. Let’s start off by saying that I am in no way out to convert people to “anti-honorificisim” because I know full well how useless it is. Logic completely goes out the window when it comes to this shit. But I’m going to have to address this thing sooner or later, so I took the opportunity to do it now.

    1. The fact that the setting is in Japan has no bearing on leaving honorifics in or not. Because by this logic, they should be speaking in Japanese as they’re Japanese in Japan after all, and there should be no translation in the first place. Yes, conversations will inevitably turn to the characters talking about honorifics and it’ll be a giant bitch to translate (I fear the coming lines), but the SAME EXACT THING goes for PUNS and PRONOUNS (and other stuff I can’t think of at the moment.) I am pretty sure we have an agreement on that puns and pronouns should not be left in (in the best case scenario that is) so why do honorifics have special status?

    Fire up gg’s Bakemonogatari sub episode 1. gg left honorifics in (they usually don’t) but in their words, “It’s a show for otaku anyway lolz,” but never mind that, jump to 17:42. Araragi says: “Oshino, two years ago, this chick-” to which Hitagi replies: “Don’t call me ‘this chick’.” You can probably already guess the issue here is “this chick,” which in Japanese was nothing of the sort. The pronoun “koitsu” is literally the 2nd person pronoun (you) or the 3rd person pronoun (she), except with a negative, confrontational connotation. There’s no direct translation in English so by the standards of a very vocal minority of anime fans, the best translation of this line would actually be “Oshino, two years ago, koitsu- TL note: koitsu means she, with a confrontational connotation”. Is “this chick” perfect translation? Nope. But it’s completely workable, and no one, not even /a/ complained (I don’t think anyone even noticed.)

    2. I fully appreciate the fact that editors and translators are working with limited time and they’re doing this for free (I am one of them after all). Yes, leaving in honorifics and other stuff is easier and less time consuming, and it’s much less of a head-ache, but this time saving device has now somehow become the de facto golden standard of translation. It’s like if everyone ate McDonald’s because they’re poor, and now the Big Mac is the new steak dinner, and a real steak dinner gets scoffed at.

    Look at Poster 41. Ignoring everything else, by not using honorifics, I’m now a “terrible” person and fans don’t deserve “this kind of inferior translation.” And after I spent so much time on this *sniff* 😦 Honestly, anime fans are barking up the wrong tree. Where was Poster 41 when this atrocity was made? Why isn’t he commenting on Baka-Tsuki’s crappy translation, calling them “terrible” and saying that fans deserve better than “(that) kind of inferior translation”? Fan translators push out shitty translations all the time and people lap it up like caviar, but when someone doesn’t use honorifics, he’s now the fucking devil and people don’t deserve his “inferior translation.”

    make her speech moderately more casual after she becomes friendlier with Koyomi.

    3. This might actually be a pretty good idea. I’ll have to keep it in mind. – rsy]

  12. >Thinks I’m a troll
    Nope. People who disagree and hate your decision and deicing to express their hate/disappointment != trolls.

    >Using typical failed slippery slope rhetorics and unwitty mockery anti-honorific side always use

    Oh, wow. And none of them are relevant to the main only subject being discussed as usual. But I’ll amuse you. Personal Japanese pronouns cross the middle ground, they aren’t natural/smooth enough to be in an English translation, even one perceives them from a loan word standpoint. They used made known or pointed out with a TL note instead. if the context warrants it.

    This is unlike honorifics (simply suffix and name noun/pronoun), otaku slang (treated as slang or genre savvy knowledge within the otaku subculture), or cultural terminologies (respecting real-world reference, names of things unique to Japanese culture, myths, history, etc) which are generally acceptable and don’t cause dissonance. Moreover, “I” may be a shitty equivalent that is severing lacking in making a statement or gender expression , but it’s still an equivalent, something majority of honorifics lack. Even the vast majority of fan translation and even professional translation don’t keep Japanese pronouns for the reason I’ve said, but do keep honorifics and other lingo/cultural words, and that is the typical and expected translation convention/guideline. Point is, there’s a middle ground and honorifics does not cross that line, and is one acceptable translation convention that minimizes loss in meaning/context that arise from language and cultural barrier, especially when the target language is lacking and has no equivalent in both areas.

    Also, if your attitude is like that over Eastern name order, then you must hate them and must use Western name order instead despite this series being set in Japan and the name order characters used are important and relevant to the setting. And if that’s the case, you’ve failed even harder.

    [Okay. I admit it. I had a good chuckle at the last line. Ignoring your completely made up facts, just know that honorifics do cause dissonance, they sound like ass surrounded by English prose which is why I’m opting out. I said I wasn’t out to convert people so I’ll just leave it at that. – rsy]

  13. My view on use of sans, kuns, and chans is they would not be used by the youth of English speaking areas in conversation so they would really just be a distraction to unfamiliar readers, but if you are reading a light novel then its assumed your a manga/anime/etc fan and at least know of these 3 and how they are used when seen in fan translations.

  14. Just so you know, choosing Harry Potter wasn’t the best example. There are no added honourifics, but since it’s set in England, I don’t see how that can be used to argue for dropping ALL honourifics from a Japanese setting. Even more importantly though, “Mr.” is translated in several ways (ミスター・氏・夫) depending on where/how it’s used.

    Using authors like Murakami as a comparison for light novels could also be debatable – the impression I got from the one Murakami book I tried to read in Japanese is that he doesn’t use many honourifics in the first place – though I haven’t read enough Japanese literature in English or Japanese to really comment on any translation conventions.

    [The point I was trying to make is that the claim “honorifics are necessary for understanding relationships” is false. I’ve never read the Japanese translation and just assumed (I probably shouldn’t have). I’m surprised, but not too surprised given that there’s tons of E to J media out there and the fact that every student has to study English that they can probably get away with it. – rsy]

  15. I didn’t say it in the above post of mine but I do appreciate your goal of making your translation as professional when someone is reading as possible.

    [Thanks for this comment. Your appreciation is much appreciated. – rsy]

  16. You have no idea how much I’d love to try winning an argument against you, but I’ll stand by what I said. I won’t encourage this discussion anymore. To be honest, I think you shouldn’t have brought this up if you wanted more people to comment on your progress. I personally would’ve waited until your translation had become a necessity rather than the alternative.

    But, then again, I know first hand just how fun it is to rant. It depends on what you feel is most important.

    Plus it’s fun reading material.

  17. >> The point I was trying to make is that the claim “honorifics are necessary for understanding relationships” is false.

    Personally, I’d say that “it depends”, both on the text and on the target audience that you’re translating for.

    I’ve come across a text where the only way e.g. “Sempai” (used as an address term) could be translated would have been to completely localize the work, as in I’d argue that a translator would need to change the characters’ names to English ones as well (in order to keep the relationships as ‘intact’ as possible).

    Deciding what to do with honourifics is also difficult in manga such as “Reaching You” (君に届け) where changes in the usage of address terms is used to convey the changing relationships between the main group of characters.

    >> I’m surprised, but not too surprised given that there’s tons of E to J media out there and the fact that every student has to study English that they can probably get away with it.

    No, I wouldn’t say that was the case. The translation had ミスター as something used by the Professors, as in ミスター・ポッター, i.e. generally when the students got into trouble (I can’t quite remember if it was used e.g. when Harry met the various Ministers of Magic). And that’s what’s happened in my own experience studying in an English speaking country. I’ve also taught in a Japanese school in Japan, and what teachers did there when admonishing students is quite different, so I’d say that the translator simply chose to represent a part of British school culture with that choice of ‘translation’.

    Of course, katakana makes it easier for Japanese translators to do that. Just as the roman alphabet makes it easier for English translators to use the honourifics such as ‘Monsieur’ and ‘Herr’.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to convince you to change your approach or anything. You’ve chosen a line to draw and I respect that.

    But the argument that “if one must keep in honorifics, then by the very same logic one must also keep in the plethora of different pronouns in Japanese for simple English ones” isn’t a particularly strong one. By the same logic, if you want to localise, then should you not change all the names into English equivalents?

    That’s why, to me, it depends.

    (p.s. that ‘amateur virgin’ debacle drove me up the wall too…)

    [Qualifiers, qualifiers. We’re on an agreement that everything in translation depends on the situation at hand. What I find is that MOST of the time, honorifics are not necessary.

    I think it’s a good point that you brought up proper nouns. I’ve already written about them in my About page if you really want to look, and I’ll add a few more things here. Let’s start by saying that I write under the philosophy of “If it sounds bad, you’re doing it wrong.” Honorifics surrounded normal English sound bloody terrible. However, for most people who would argue about this stuff in the first place, since they’re so used to, they essentially turn a blind eye to it. You can experience the terribleness again yourself (assuming you don’t know Korean) by picking up the scanlations out there for The Breaker. You probably already know this but Korean is very similar to Japanese when it comes to honorifics. Now, when text is surrounded by not those familiar sans kuns and chans but by whatever the hell the Korean equivalents are, it’s not so nice anymore. Those untranslated and/or left over pieces of Korean actually got in the way of enjoyment. When I was reading, I was constantly thinking that I don’t give a shit about Korean! I just want to read the goddamn story!

    Proper nouns don’t have this problem of sounding bad. No one bats an eyelash at “Aragorn” even though it is patently not a normal American name. Because they sound fine, I leave them in. Now, why do they sound fine? This probably gets into linguistics and philosophy and I have to admit I don’t really know. But if you just think about, proper nouns are essentially different than other words. The essential “meaning” of a proper noun (to which referent the proper noun points to) lies not within the semantics and/or pragmatics of the word but within it’s phonetic content. Sophia HAS to be Sophia (and maybe Sohpie). You can’t call her “wisdom.” By changing the phonetic content, you’d be changing the “meaning”. – rsy]

  18. >>[General rule of thumb – if English Wikipedia and/or TV Tropes has an article on it, it’s free game. In other words, your tsunderes and moes are safe. If there’s a perfectly good English equivalent (i.e. seme = pitcher uke = catcher), they’ll be opted for unless there’s some specific reason not to.

    Then why aren’t you including honorifics then? Most common honorifics and atypical ones don’t have equivalents, much less a good alternative.

    >>I contend that honorifics are not a cultural issue but a linguistic one. English has no honorifics but I doubt Americans are dumber than the Japanese when it comes to the subtleties in interpersonal relationships. English speakers just express these subtleties in different ways. For example, I highly doubt you talk to your teacher/boss/customers the same way you talk to your friends. How we express them however, is another issue, but the point being, they’re not as expressed in an overt, morphological manner. Another issue is the fact that by opting to use honorifics, I have an obligation to, by the very same logic, to also keep in all the various Japanese pronouns (“ananta” “anta” “kimi” kisama” “omae” “teme” just for the modern “you”, there’s also historical ones that are like “thou”) which would of course would sound ridiculous. I can’t deal with the cognitive dissonance.

    It’s not a matter of being dumber or not to grasp the subtleties, but the fact that not having them will deteriorate and make it not as true to the original intended meaning or relationship the characters have or how they view one another.

    And obligation to use pronouns if you use honorifics? That’s a bullshit and a really poor excuse to make honorific seem unreasonable and ridiculous to keep.You aren’t and honorifics and pronouns are two separate topics. Recall your main audience here. Even the most average of them all anime/manga fan wouldn’t find honorifics to cause any sort of dissonance. Just look at the poll here. Many want it and the blatant hit is they like it.

    >>Pick up a modern book translated by one of the high profile translators (Jay Rubin, Alfred Birnbaum, Philip Gabriel). Of those I’ve had the chance to read, honorifics were never opted for. These are guys who live and breathe Japanese literature and they would no way in hell ignore such a big issue. I’m going to follow their judgement.

    I could care less and many others could care less how “professional” translators go about doing a typical localization for the general mass of xenophobia readers. Fan translations aren’t tied down by publisher’s policies or (inferior) translation philosophies. There’s a translation convention within anime/manga fan translation, with leeway and general acceptance for such things as honorifics, cultural terms, and otaku lingo because the mediums within the otaku subculture uses them constantly and popularized knowledge and expression gives them a sort of special meaning and symbol that lets people go by their literal definition/translation and also any nuance or additional context by comparing and contrast one’s own knowledge (be it genre savvy or to build up one’s genre savvy level) and feeling from past characters and usage.

    >>BUT (there’s always a but), I won’t say honorifics should NEVER be used. Time and place and with good reason. – rsy

    It’s rare when there’s a good reason to NOT use honorifics. This is not one of those times.

    >>P.S. I always find it funny that people rage on this issue (because it’s not faithful to the original!) when EVERYTHING else gets a free pass. Personally, and this is just me, I think the author cares more about his writing not reading like a middle-schooler’s Twilight fanfic than the sans, kuns, and chans.]

    It’s because honorifics are popular thus are a lot more familiarized with. A lot of people enjoy them. It’s easy to understand and grasp as one doesn’t need to study Japanese for many months to years in order to understand them.

    I think the author rather have people read his/her work in its original language rather than a translation that can’t go pass the language and cultural barrier unscathed. A good translation that doesn’t localize is a good translation. A translation that localizes can’t be called a good translation, but instead a good localization. Localization is not a good thing, and it’s detestable since it shifts the reality, setting, and at times even the language/culture of a series, which only makes it less further away from being closer to the original, and how the original audience got to experience.

    Also, you keep otaku lingo like moe and tsundere, but for honorifics, you don’t. In this context and for this setting, not only is that contrasting, but it’s like the characters are from the West in how they address one another, their closeness, and status.

    [I think it’s a good point you brought up about knowing your audience. First, as a linguist, I can state as a fact that people have no fucking idea what the hell they’re talking about when it comes to their OWN language. This isn’t because they’re dumb or stupid, but simply because they’ve never studied it. As a matter of fact, this is the case for all other things. If you’ve never formally studied something, you can’t possibly have a very well informed opinion on it. Unless everyone in that poll was some kind of professional, they can’t possibly know what makes a good translation. Another fact: people don’t know what they want. If I didn’t put that rant up about the poll, you would have probably just read my translation and been done with it. I don’t think you’d even notice I didn’t use honorifics. (Assuming you have read my translation. If you haven’t, you should. I’ve put a lot of time in it.) Athos has been reading my translations since the beginning and he hasn’t quipped up once about honorifics until now when I’ve explicitly mentioned them.


    Now, I can say with 100% certainty that those professionals with their what you’ve called “inferior” translation philosophies have spent quite a lot of time thinking about what’s basically their life’s work and come up with opting for no honorifics. (Frankly, unless your a professional translator as well, I think it’s terrible that you can simply shit on their life’s work like that.) I, myself, as a linguist, translator, and fan of things anime related, have spent years thinking about this, and I agree with their conclusion. It’s not that I want my non-otaku friends to read this (as Athos thinks), it’s not in spite of my otaku audience, but exactly because of my English speaking otaku audience that I leave honorifics out. No, I do not think my audience is too stupid to “understand” honorifics. It’s true that you can pretty well “understand” honorifics by browsing its Wikipedia page. But there’s a difference between “getting” honorifics and “understanding” honorifics in the same vain of “getting” a joke when you first hear it and “understanding” a joke when you don’t “get” it and need it explained to you. “Getting” is funny, that’s the point of the a joke. “Understanding,” while it may be interesting, is not funny, which misses the entire point of the joke.

    I’ve kept in close touch with the anime community for a good while now and I think the community has evolved a long way. However, I think the vast majority of the community while they “understand” honorifics, do not “get” them. (For those that do, they speak Japanese.) Otaku lingo has expanded a great deal since when I first started watch anime, and it does include honorifics in there, but not in the same way as Japanese speakers have them. Example: there’s one episode of Lucky Star where Konata decides to fuck with Kagami by calling her “Kagami-sama” in front of her classmates. You might be wondering what the big deal is. Or possibly, you know what the deal is (with the help of some TL notes), that calling her “sama” is pretty damn embarrassing for poor Kagami. But while you intellectually “understand” it’s supposed to be embarrassing (the same way you “understand” a joke after getting it explained to you), you don’t “get” that it’s embarrassing. You know when you sometimes watch someone do something embarrassing on TV and you feel embarrassed yourself? You don’t feel embarrassed for Kagami because you don’t “get” it. So do you “get” honorifics? Quick test for yourself: ask your otaku friends to all call you YOURNAMEHERE-sama for a day, or maybe even goshuujin-sama, and walk around in public. If you don’t feel a thing (you’re supposed to feel embarrassed), then you don’t “get” honorifics.

    Bottom line: Expanding on the joke metaphor, a good translator will translate the joke so that you’ll “get” it. When you “get” it, you’ll laugh which is what the author intended. But when you only “understand” it, it’ll be a good intellectual exercise, but I doubt the author wanted his work to be a Japanese language workbook.

    You’ve stated, in your own words, that the reasons for keeping honorifics in are: “Most common honorifics and atypical ones don’t have equivalents, much less a good alternative” and “the fact that not having them will deteriorate and make it not as true to the original intended meaning or relationship the characters have or how they view one another.” These are the very same arguments used to keep in pronouns! If you studied Japanese for any length of time, you’d know that the English pronoun “I” is a very poor excuse for the plethora of Japanese first person pronouns all with their different shades of meaning. By not including them, the (translation?) will deteriorate and make it not as true to the original intended meaning or how the characters view themselves. You’ve got to be kidding me if you think that Kanon’s Ayu can be anything but the childish, boyish “boku,” or that Kara no Kyoukai’s Shiki can be anything about the haughty, manly “ore.” I’m going to assume that you’ve never studied Japanese, and if you ever do, you’re going to be amazed at how much stuff that gets cut out. You’ll ask, hey, why wasn’t this left in with a TL note? We can’t possibly translate this, we need this. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a much more “accurate” translation, but at the same time, one that’s unintelligible. Because it’ll be in Japanese. – rsy]

  19. Oh, come on. Are we still on about this? Is it really so hard to believe that he just wants his non-otaku family and friends to be able to pick up this book and enjoy it?

    Also, if localizations are evil, then you deny the Ace Attorney, thus making you my sworn enemy.

  20. >> Qualifiers, qualifiers. We’re on an agreement that everything in translation depends on the situation at hand. What I find is that MOST of the time, honorifics are not necessary.

    True. We’re just going on about the borderline cases now. Though I probably find honourifics less dispensable then you – perhaps because I still find it difficult to dispense with the Chinese equivalents of “nii-chan” and “nee-chan” when addressing my own relatives by their Chinese names, even though we only communicate in English. I also tend to use -san and/or -sensei when addressing Japanese people older than me (in English). It’s possible that it’s a difference in upbringing, for it’s also difficult for me to address my friends’ parents by their given names without the ‘Auntie/Uncle’ qualifier, even though they’re not related. In some ways, it’s become a cultural marker that I prefer to preserve.

    Re: Korean translations
    I have encountered that problem as well, though not with The Breaker – Goong is the only Korean work I was really interested in following, and the mass of address terms made it pretty difficult to follow. But again, I’d probably draw the line slightly different from you, for the reason I stated above.

    Re: proper nouns.
    I did look at what you wrote on the about page, and am all for leaving them as is. I guess my argument wrt this would be that ‘if I have to reverse the order, I might as well give them English names and localise the whole text’. Largely because Asian names sound terrible to me when they’re in Western name order. But I also think that the Japanese made the wrong decision when they started reversing name order when writing in English (and a Japanese teacher of English I know shares the same opinion – though I haven’t asked any others). Other Asian countries (e.g. Singapore, Malaysia) show that it is possible to leave this particular convention of Asian/Oriental names intact.

    [Interesting observation with speaking with your relatives. Admittedly, I do it too when speaking with Chinese and Japanese people, though most of the time I’d be speaking with a mixture of Chinese/Japanese and English.

    Some interesting linguistic phenomenon are cropping up in Singaporean and/or Malaysian (I can’t remember which or both right now) due to their mixing of Mandarin and English. If I was writing for them, I think I could get away with leaving in honorifics because it’s part of their language. For Americans, I think it’d be hard to argue otherwise. – rsy]

  21. >> Some interesting linguistic phenomenon are cropping up in Singaporean and/or Malaysian (I can’t remember which or both right now) due to their mixing of Mandarin and English. If I was writing for them, I think I could get away with leaving in honorifics because it’s part of their language. For Americans, I think it’d be hard to argue otherwise.

    Both Singapore and Malaysia have their own English-based creoles, Singlish and Manglish – are those the linguistic phenomenon you’re referring to? Though it’s not just Mandarin and English – Malay and various Indian and Chinese dialects are also major contributors. And it’s not just in Asia either: English has evolved differently in many parts of the world, though I personally haven’t studied this in great detail.

    You do raise a good point about clearly identifying your target audience, and I think I’m going to stick with the Asian and/or otaku one that I tend to aim my own translations at (except if I ever have to do a more professional translation, of course, in which case I’d have to make several changes). Though deciding which honourifics to retain and which to translate is still really tricky…

    And I sincerely hope that, one day, Japanese names can always be left in Japanese name order, not just when referring to historical figures (because it is incredibly confusing that they have this discrepancy!).

    Anyways, thank you for replying so conscientiously. This little discussion has definitely helped me consolidate who I translate for and why I make particular translation choices.

  22. Hmmmm, the translation certainly seems better as the one from Baka-Tsuki.

    If you want I can help in generating an epub of this. I would certainly be not much help in editing/correcting mistakes (as I am not a native speaker of english) but I certainly like to create ebooks for myself (and yeah even out of the translations from B-T, as there is mostly no alternative). As long as it is no licensed series I have absolutely no problem with it.

    Oh and my two cents about honorifics. There is certainly no need for western audiences to use them. The only way why so many want them is the fact that it became a part of the Anime and Manga consuming audience. There are certainly only a few examples where you need them. Most prominent one would be Kara no Kyoukai, with Shiki (式) and SHIKI (織) where it would be easier in non-written form to use suffixes like -kun and -san. It certainly would be strange to call them “Miss Shiki” and “Mister. Shiki” all the time. But as stated above these are only my two cents.

    [To the best of my knowledge (according to Wikipedia) Bakemongatari has yet to be licensed. Before I give you the whole file, try making a file out of the sample here. Also, is this your real email address? – rsy]

  23. Yep it is my actual e-mail. Will generate the example tomorrow. I need to be awake in 5 hours. Do you want a certain font in it? Mostly publishers use the standard fonts (serif) installed on ebook-readers. Althoguh I prefer fonts like Linux Biolinum and Linux Libertine. Oh and on a sidenote, there will be no pagenumbering for epubs. Depending on the viewer it would always be different. Also do you want the chapter listing included? Epubs can generate TOC Chapter listings which make one at the beginning redudant. Although some prefer to have one at the beginning although this would be links to the corresponding xHTML page.

    [I don’t know much about ePubs so all I can specify is I’d like it to be easily navigable and very nice looking. – rsy]

  24. Hmmm I should read trough my comments before I post. Please forgive my typos and sentence structure (especially the double “although” at the end).

  25. Where should I upload it to?
    I made a explanation about the how and why. I will include it as an extra file.

    [Email me at ruuseiyou at Google’s email service. – rsy]

  26. Eh… I think it’s about the right level of informality, specially for a service that doesn’t allow any kind of post-editing.

    Being meticulous is not a bad thing, but I wouldn’t worry about that stuff unless my post inadvertedly conveyed the wrong message or something.

  27. Your translation is absolutely top-notch, I love it.

    So you left honorifics out? No big deal, I prefer to have them, but hey, that’s probably because I’m used to reading them in subbed anime. Perhaps you could just put up a very simple page on which honorifics everyone uses, but that’s probably not necessary because you’ve pretty much made clear what the characters think of each other through your translation.

    Would love to read more chapters!

  28. Thank you very much for translating Bakemonogatari!
    I would be really grateful if you could translate all the 10 Lightnovels starting from Bakemonogatari to the latest which will come out in December Koimonogatari…

    I would even pay for it. Again, thanks a lot for all your effort!

  29. Thanks a lot for translating this series^^!

    A question, are you going to translate all the monogatari series? Or are you planning to do it? :3 It´s such a good translation compare with baka tsuki.

    Could I translate it into spanish and frech? Of course ,I would put your credits.

    • Once I get things straightened out in real life, I plan on continuing until I feel like stopping.

      And yeah, you’re free to use my translation however you want.

  30. Rsy, I’ve read this entire comment list and I’m shocked you’ve mainly just been receiving criticism rather than thanks (only a handful) I think Bakemonogatari is an wonderful series and taking the time to give all the fans such a brilliant translation is great. I’ve got your latest version on my iPad right now and enjoying it immensely. Thank you very much, and please keep up the good work!

  31. I find honorifics pretty annoying when I’m reading anything (video subs and literature alike). I agree with you completely about honorifics.

  32. I would have liked to place my thanks and/or comments too, but unfortunately all download links are dead 😦

  33. I have to confess that I sometimes get bored reading the whole thing but I feel you can add some value. Bravo !

  34. I’m particularly late to the party, but just a few thoughts

    I think one problem comes from that anime should be handled in some ways differently the manga or light novels for fan translating purposes. The reason is because in anime, the viewer hears audio and can pick out bits and pieces, while a manga or light novel (or really anything without vocal audio) it can be treated as a full localization.

    The distinction is important because to the viewer, they want a translation of what they hear when they are watching anime, but on the other hand, a reader of pure text is treating the text as all there is to the work, they don’t see any lingering Japanese. With anime, one of the major complaints that comes out of a pure localization approach is when the viewer hears something different then the subtitle they read. This is particularly true with something like name order, reversing the name order might make perfect sense if you were translating text, but if the viewer hears a name order reversed from what they read, they take issue to this. The same is true, though to a lesser degree, regarding honorifics, they hear the honorific, they associate what they know about it, but they don’t read that in the translation so they get the sense that they lost something, however they are less likely to have problems with the script then something which just sounds wrong and alone won’t think removing honorifics are bad, such as the name order change above, or an obvious localization (some coal guy subtitles come to mind). This is simply because, this is not a localization, but a translation, when people are expecting a translation. A dub on the other hand is a localization, the viewer does not see or hear Japanese when they watch a dub, the full experience is in their native language. There are plenty of practical reasons why a fan translator can’t truly localize anime, however if the viewer reads localized subtitles while hearing the original Japanese audio, they will reject it if there is something they feel is closer to what the audio is saying. However, anime fansubbers need to keep in mind, their script will be hear with the Japanese audio, and not be treated as writing dubbed script.

    Thankfully, manga and novel translators aren’t faced with this limitation, they have the option to properly localize it. However, a set of problems give some (if not many) viewers a preference for honorifics and treat it as translation instead of localization. The biggest issue happens to be that people are looking a script that looks translated, rather then localized. This is particularly true because anime, which is not localized, is the general point of entry into the fandom, and what users get adjusted to quickly. This is compounded by the attitudes of some of the most well known groups (gg, coalguys), who while they may be against stuff like honorifics and treat subbing as writing a dub, and they have a “**** you” attitude which puts off users, and enforces the general idea that localization = bad, when it is only a true issue in some cases where there is audio, and normally doesn’t apply to honorifics by itself. If there was a general norm by non anime fan translators to localized it wouldn’t be an issue that at first anime watchers want a translation, however this is far from true. For convenience, or because others do, many translators keep honorifics and other literal translations rather then localizing the text for pure text works. This with time has become the norm, and it’s not too surprising. Pure text works should be localized to create the best product possible, and this shouldn’t be a controversial goal, however unfortunately it creates a fandom which wants an inferior translation, instead of a proper localization, even when there are no limitations to prevent the localization, and the general audience preferring translations should not be a surprise given how the community has been built.

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