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Katahane is a very special game and I hope everyone can enjoy it. Email me at [email protected]

Previous projects: Flyable Heart (Yui route); To Heart 2 (Konomi route translation checking/rewrite)

Current: Secret project 2012.


Curiously, many works that are widely considered the finest examples of translation into English - Kaufmann's Faust, the KJV Bible, Hooker's Cyrano, Urquhart's Rabelais, etc - operate on the opposite principle, paying little heed to formal (especially grammatical) equivalence for the sake of reproducing the flourish and magnificence of the original prose in the target language. In the words of Leonardo Bruni:

[Quote:] I am not so timid as to fear accusations of lèse-majesté if I depart a little from the wording while preserving the sense, always avoiding absurdity. This is what Plato in his speeches obliges me to do; being the most elegant of writers in Greek, he will not wish to be lacking in taste in Latin. A blogger provides a fine example comparing this passage of Faust among three translations. (I actually like Wayne's best, but even I can't defend his translation of Augenblick as 'hour.')[/quote]

Of course, it's a continuum - if you deliberately tried to maximize dynamic equivalence you'd be rewriting the source work into something unrecognizable, and if you did the opposite, you hardly English be writing not (あなたはまず英語を書いていない; hope I got that right) - and in the end, it's a matter of personal opinion. However, generally the only professionals who value formal equivalence over dynamic equivalence nowadays are those who believe they are working with the literal word of God, in its original Hebrew and Koine Greek.

Personally, I don't believe style is something that is translatable, or at least a factor that is inherently subjective. If two characters speak in a similar fashion, but one uses 俺 and another uses わたくし, how does one reflect this in English? There's no hard and fast rule you can look up in a dictionary, though many translators like to impart users of informal self-references with a more informal tone throughout the entire sentence.

What about a character who refers to themselves in the third person? You can, if you wish, translate it literally and have the character's English speech remind your readers of Elmo, Gollum, The Hulk and other such habitual illeists rather than the slightly childish nuance it imparts in Japanese (but hey, at least you're being grammatically equivalent!) Or you can have them speak in first person as is more typical in English, in which case by this decision to transform the text, you are already imposing your own 'style' onto the translation. After all, another translator might not agree with your decision.

In either case, the nuance of the original is going to be altered. Either by the stigma of extreme youth or dimwittedness, far in excess of the Japanese one, associated with referring to oneself in the third person in English - or by your decision to avoid this stigma. Translation is a destructive process, and something will be lost no matter what.

I think you stand to lose more in a translation by refusing to deviate from formal equivalence for the purpose of conveying nuance, such as the wider variety of self-references possible in Japanese, that simply cannot be translated. But in the end, that's still opinion. However, it's a fact that the translation will not be equivalent to (and will most likely be significantly inferior to) the original work... so why not go the dynamic route, and try to give it some flourish and literary merit of its very own?

As for working with the authors, the only thing that changes is that they might be considered more qualified to make the stylistic decisions that I identified as necessary above. Proper-permission might have an edge here, being in direct contact with them - but I don't have high hopes the authors will have any useful suggestions on how that girl with a Kansai accent ought to speak in English.

A translation is not the original and can't be the original, though, so does it really matter whose style it has? (So long as it's consistent - the main problem with multiple translators.)

--All pilfered from Gemot forums.