Saturday, January 27, 2007

Notes from a Translator's pad

Little oddities you can't help but notice while translating Chinese yaoi or manga for that matter into decent English.

Chinese appears to be better at expressing emotions / intensity in a third party context. For the same number of words, the prose seems to be able to get across more than its English counterpart. And I'm talking about the standard form of English, the kind you'd find in comics and not literary classics which is naturally in a league of its own.

Unfortunately, I can't cut and paste the Chinese text as it's a scan so there's really no way you can compare it for yourself. Well alright, that part's a bit too explicit.

One aspect in which Chinese (at least in the manga version) does suck terribly at is in the eroticism/ person to person sex talk bit.

Example 1 (courtesy of Yahoo Babel!) : 您想要射,啊?
Which when translated literally = You want to shoot, ah? Which can't quite beat the world renown English refrain of ' You gonna cum?' Short and dirty. I'm sorry, but the knee-jerk reaction to the Chinese phrase is Shoot? Shoot what? Though that really doesn't compare to the second example. ^^

Example 2: (Courtesy of Yahoo Babel again- see above): 为 le 不让您疼已经抹上油.
Which when translated literally= So as to not let you pain, already wiped on oil.
Which stumped me for a bit when I first encountered it, cause it was a conversation a guy was having with another in the library. Before proceeding on to a single ambiguous panel of what looked like necking but which in retrospect turned out to be a fuck.
I was thinking, Oil? Olive oil? Cooking oil? On what? Library Books??!!! Before I realised that it was his dick that sod was talking about and Oil, probably lubricant of some sort. But I mean good grief, who goes about putting oil/lubricant on one's privates in anticipation of a quick fuck like it were some pre-packed hotdog. Talk about bringing convenience to a whole new level.

First, it'll be damn messy. Imagine the copious mess in your underwear/ pants, not to mention the likelihood of it showing as a wet patch at the groin area. Though I guess if you're stupid enough to do that in the first place it doesn't matter.

Second, half the stuff will be on anywhere else other than the intended spot by the time you reach your destination which defeats the purpose of putting it on in the first place. Well unless you like the feeling of having a mini ecosystem down there.

Third, damn it, it's messy. That's reason enough. Use your bloody saliva.

I know I know it's a bloody manga where the entire Elite unit, well almost, is like a male harem and beautiful boys drop out of nowhere. And its been re-translated from Japanese. But still the male manga-ka should have known better. ><.

1 3/4 volumes done in 3 days. Hmm. Though they'll have run out of raw scans by the time I'm done with this chapter. Which means, I'll need to hunt for the other 5 Chinese volumes of Hard Line to see how it ends. Sigh..

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