Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Learning Japanese - Part 20, Page 3

No, you're not wrong, there is no part 19.  It's just that originally I used part 19 to put all of the page scans into one blog entry and this time I figured that wasn't necessary.
This is the dialog for page 3 of Frozen Food Agent.



さっきからピクリともしないお嬢さん、あんたもだ  ファスナーに手がまわらな
さっきからピクリともしないおじょうさん、あんたもだ  ファスナーに て がま
わらないんなら てつだってやろうか

なるほど、、、 こちらは 人の 形 をした 保冷 バッグってわけか
なるほど、、、 こちらは ひとの かたちをした ほれい バッグってわけか

ほうバッグにしちゃよく 作りこんであるな
ほうバッグにしちゃよく つくりこんであるな


This is a shorter page, so I'll take this moment to talk about Japanese sound effects.  In manga, a sound effect can be used for 3 reasons: first, obviously as the sound for something when it happens, such as when someone gets hit on the head.  Second, to emphasize a physical action, such as someone pointing a finger.  Third, to establish someone's emotions or mental attitude.

The second and third cases exemplify the Japanese use of onomatopoeia, or words that sound like what they mean.  While English does this as well, as in "meow" and "bark", Japanese goes several steps further.  In Japanese, a dog's bark sounds like "wan".  And, the Japanese version of "come here, doggy", is "wan-wan", or "wan-chan, kochi, kochi".  That is, come here, little bark bark".  The phrase "niko niko wo yamette" translates as "quit smiling so much", but "niko" by itself is the sound of someone smiling.

I mention this here because we've got one or two sound effects on this page.  Since the effect often gets included into the background art, it's not always practical to replace it with the English version, and I'll leave it as either hiragana or katakana.

Common Japanese sound effects include:
jin - The sound of silence
sha - whoosh
goro goro - rumbling
ga - konk
don - boom
da-don - ba-whump
niko - The sound of someone smiling
poi - the sound of someone throwing something
ja - The sound of falling rain
ge - The sound of surprise, or sickness

Now, the really important thing, from a translator's point of view, is in trying to decide how to handle the sound effects for cases 2 and 3, since there's no equivalents in western comics, or English.  That is, in a western comic, if a character stands and smiles at you, normally there's no accompanying sound effect.  So, what's a translator to do?  We can either erase the Japanese sound effect and leave it at that; we can turn it into the "romaji" equivalent (i.e. - spell it out using the English alphabet) and maybe add a footnote explaining the more arcane sounds; or we can try to create a reasonable English translation, like turning "jiiiin" into "si--lence".  Hardcore manga fans will object to the first choice, and the third choice just looks stupid on paper.  So, naturally, I fall back on the second choice, and try to maintain the original Japanese sound as much as possible.  Although, when the smuggler sneezes, I do turn it from "hiekkushoi" to "hek-shuu". which sounds more like a sneeze to me.

To be continued.

Learning Japanese - Part 20, Page 3

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