“Why Do Light Novel Translations Suck?”

July 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm 3 comments

Some Random Panel, Not From The One Discussed In This Article

So over at the blog MangaLife there was a new article posted regarding a panel of manga translators, where fans could ask any question they wished.

One of the questions asked, although according to the blog, in a much more polite way, was “Why do light novel translations suck?”

The answer as quoted from the site was….

The answer given at the panel was basically that it’s much harder to translate prose than it is to translate manga, and it would cost a lot more to find someone who has the right experience to translate a novel and get them to agree to do it and do a good job.

Well of-course prose will be much harder to translate. You’re not just translating one sentence liners, or dialogue. You in essence need to be both a translator and a writer.

The blog further goes on to discuss their own attempts at translating a series of novels for a publisher, and being promptly told, “The translations sucked”. lol

I think an important thing for a translator, is that he is also a good writer. Because he honestly has to REWRITE the prose into english, while trying to maintain the original. But he still has to REWRITE it in order for it to sound good.

Of course, at the same time, we have seen some REWRITES in the past, where essentially they simply dumbed it down.

So honestly, translators probably aren’t the only problem with translations of light novels, some blame should also be put on the person who rewrites the translators work to make it more easy to read.

What do you think? Do light novel novels translations suck, and if so why? Don’t agree? Tell us in a comment below.

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Entry filed under: Articles.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. http://www.the-honyaku.co.cc  |  August 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Sadly I can’t voice my opinion on whether they suck or not, as I’ve never even read one English Translation yet…I moved to Japan before I knew or was interested in them, and it’s too hard to order and go international on shipping. But I’ll be making a huge exception when Spice and Wolf gets released this december. I hope it turns out well πŸ™‚

    Reply
  • 2. kafkafuura  |  August 13, 2009 at 6:25 am

    I’m under the impression that some suck and some don’t – because I’ve read a few good ones – I’m hoping that the good ones will increase, and that they’ll be more readily available.

    In two years I’ll have a dual degree in English and Japanese – maybe I can make a push in the right direction πŸ˜€

    Reply
  • 3. jiki  |  August 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    I’ve been reading LNs in english since my japanese is far to poor for me to read a proper book and have covered both the official licenced novel and the fantranslation. As far as I know the fantranslation is based on a “machine” translation following the editing to make it sutable for reading. I have tried to read one translation that was before the actual editing and I had to stop as it was unreadable. But it doesn’t actually matter how you translate the book ‘cuz the main point is the translators interpretation and understanding.I agree with you that a translator is more or less a rewriter because he will basicly determine his understanding of the book and present it to you. But if the book in the original is poorly written, that can carry itself over to the translation so it can’t be all the translators fault.

    Reply

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Welcome To Ranobe Cafe!

This marks the english speaking world's first dedicated light novel blog, bringing you news and views from the english perspective on light novels. We are more than just a blog about light novels though, we also stand in awe of the many other literary works crossing over to the West from Japan. So expect to also see articles that dabble from time to time in Cell Phone Novels and Japanese Sci-Fi works, to mention a few.

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