The job of a translator here, translated…
Translations are nitrogen, I’d first, swallowed it, then, gotten to know it better.
The very first time I’d had translated materials was “Doraemon”, back then, it was called, “the mechanical cat”, the main character, Nozomu Oya, lived in Taiwan. Because of the setting, as I was younger, I’d believed that the comics were Taiwanese, until my teens, and I’d found out, that a lot of the things I’d thumbed through earlier were, “translated”, before it came in our language for us to understand.
The translators are the selectors, also, the transporters, the original texts that were selected by this group of people, are good enough, for the rest of the public’s eyes—I’d once believed, and set my goal of becoming a translator myself, and later, I’d realized, that the translators didn’t have the right to choose what they translate, sometimes, they don’t even have the rights to turn down a job.
The translators aren’t filters, and those with the decisions of whether or not the work lives or dies are up to the market economy, and the readers. The translators were merely a bridge that helps people cross the barriers, but, there are, more than one bridge, as there were, many who chose to swim across instead of trekking across the bridges. All I can do, is to NOT lead the readers into the realms of darkness, where the original writers don’t intend their readers to go.
illustration from the papers online…
The Conversations without Names
I’d once translated a Japanese webpage game, the contents were about how the generals of the Japanese warring era were turned into cards, and entering the cards into a game of duel with other players (on another note: all these general characters were all made into females). These sorts of games, you only needed the basic knowledge of the Japanese warring era, and, it’s not that hard to work with, but, I was responsible for the dialogues between the characters, and the original text provided to me, I couldn’t see the speakers, just long lines of conversations.
This was hard, the characters in the games wouldn’t take turns talking like they were well-behaved, instead, they’d chimed in into one another’s conversations, talked at the exact same time. But, without the clear instructions, it was too risky, to deduct who the speaker was. Thinking on it, I’d, just, downloaded the game to play it myself, played it to the place where I was supposed to translate, to see who is talking with whom, then, I’d, found my peace of mind, and started translating.
a man, working as a translator…photo from online…
This form of giving the translators fragmented documents to work with, is quite common in the gaming industries, and maybe, it’s more efficient, but without the needed items, it can easily be troublesome. Not each and every time I have enough time, to successfully find the original texts, and if the translators translated based off of what they thought the story lines were about, then, things may get mixed up, and, became the guilty one who’d, destroyed the original intents of the writers, and, needed to carry all the blames. What’s tragic is, this is still an ongoing situation now. If the industries don’t change their ways, then, the only thing that’s hurt would be the conscience of the translators.
The Real Existence of “Hard to Verbalize”
“Hard-to-verbalize” actually exists in reality.
To be more precise, it’s “how difficult it is, to describe it in this particular language”. Language is the starting point of culture, and culture helped shape the languages, and the two are closely tied together, if you’re NOT living in this culture, then, certain terms, phrases couldn’t have meaning for you. And because of this, translations for me, wasn’t “transferring”, but instead, it’s, “mimicking”. Culture was like the materials, and, without the same materials of shared language, the translators would have it hard, recreating the same product, and we can only use what we have, to create something that’s closely resembling to it.
First person in Japanese is a classic headache. Based off of the differences of gender, age, location, or era, there would be, various way of forms of expression. In the works of Japanese language, usually, the first-person perspective is used, to shape up the characters, or using this way, to find out who the speakers were. In a comic I’d translated before, there was a character, with what seemed to be multiple personality disorder, and would use two separate terms to refer to the self under two different circumstances. And naturally, there’s just the “I” for it in Chinese. At first, I’d, used the subtext method, to show how the character was shifting from one personality to the next, but later, the personalities changed more often, I’d, needed to change the tone of the speakers, and hoped, that the readers can note the differences.
The more I’d worked in translation, the more I’d felt, that I can find materials in my own culture, to resemble the foreign works, but, there’s just, NO way of duplicating the picturesque or the colors of the original. And because of that, translation is merely a bridge, not the end. The translators built the multiple bridges, and tell readers that there are better things that they can expect after they’d crossed over the bridges, but, in order to know what’s in the “unknown realms”, only the readers can venture to find out.
If there’s one day that you get the chance, to swim across this bridge yourself, then, you will find there to be, many shiny treasures, hidden, on the opposite of the shore where there are no bridges to cross from.
And so, the job of the translators, is to make materials easily accessible for those who don’t speak the language, to get the wonderful texts out, so people who don’t speak the language the works were written in can read it, and yet, there may be things that gets lost in translation, because, a word or expression in this language, you may not be able to find the words that closely describe what the original writers meant.