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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[this got very long, whole thread on Tumblr.]

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branchandroot: butterfly on a desk with a world in a bottle (butterfly glass desk)
I can't do it. I just can't.

I cannot bring myself to use "bloodline limit" as the translation for kekkei genkai.

This is one of those situations where it would really have been helpful for someone to think for ten seconds put together about how Japanese is put together before translating it 'literally'. Indeed, 血 means "blood" and 継 shows up in words having to do with inheritance. And 限界 translates to "limit" or "boundary". And when you put these together, if you are translating with the utmost in infelicitous literality, you might wind up with "bloodline limit". But that utterly mangles the meaning and structure of the original phrase.

What the phrase indicates is [contextual noun] limited to inheritance by blood. In this case, ninja-magic talents, often with some particular physical expression.

Japanese grammatical structure sometimes leaves a noun unspoken, to be filled in contextually. Standard English doesn't generally do that, and the job of translators is to make a phrase that works in English. In this case, however, the attempt to provide the original phrase with a noun resulted in using the wrong one. "Limit", in the original phrase, is serving as an implicit verb--that is, a form of "to limit" rather than "a limit". "A bloodline limit" (observe that "limit" in this translation is the noun) is an incorrect 'literal' translation.

And while I'm willing to use a lot of moderately nonsensical or not-entirely-felicitous catch phrases that fandom has previously agreed on just because they'll be recognized, I can't bring myself to do it here. Nope. It's going to be "bloodline talent" for me, adding in the noun and leaving the genkai unspoken in context instead; I feel that's sufficiently communicated, in English, by "bloodline", which I kind of have to use to achieve any recognition at all. If I'd been the initial translator, I'd probably have used "blood bound talent"; hell, maybe I should use that anyway.

Now just watch and see how many wee fangirls who probably couldn't even tell me the difference between a noun and a verb in English, let alone anything about Japanese phrase structure, try to tell me that I Got It Wrong. I should probably make this post public so I can just link them to it and have done.
branchandroot: butterfly on a desk with a world in a bottle (butterfly glass desk)
Another Three Weeks post.

This is an interesting topic, for me, because I tend to watch the debates over it from more than one viewpoint at once. On the one hand, I'll enter cheerfully into the vociferous debates over what effect different types and amounts of other languages in English fic has. On the other, I have observed that the amount and type are both, functionally, beside the fandom point.

In fandom function terms, Japanese in an English language fic serves as a shibboleth and a sign-post. It says "this is a fic from the anime/manga fandom family" and gives notice thereby what the author's likely target audience is--and also what tropes may be showing up in the story. To be sure, those tropes are often very unexpected to fans from the domestic fandom family, so the marker function is actually a pretty important one.

In marker terms, what I think of as first generation fan usage may actually serve the purpose best. This type of usage is characterized by using such Japanese as can be easily parsed out of a subtitled show by those with no previous knowledge of the language: demo, hai, nani, etc. There's no pressing translational quandary attached to these; indeed, they're some of the simplest words to translate directly. By that token, they are easily understood from the context of the English sentence they're embedded in and don't require any linguistic acumen at all. They serve the shibboleth function purely and without impeding reading comprehension.

I can't actually stand reading stories written with this in them, but I nevertheless recognize that it has a valid function and serves it very well.

Second generation usage is what most of us argue over these days. )

Bottom line: it isn't going away, and there exists no actual standard by which any of us can justifiably demand that everyone do it our way. Deal with it.
branchandroot: Yuugi facepalming (Yuugi oy veh)
*takes a moment to throttle PSoH fandom*

What is wrong with you people?! "Taizu" is a Chinese transliteration! Chinese, like the character and all his people and, in fact, the main character also! Yes, the same character is pronounced "taishi" in Japanese. The reason we are all writing and pronouncing it as "taizu" is because that's how the superscript indicates it's pronounced, which means that they are using the Chinese word, not the Japanese one! Let's say it one more time, the characters in question are Chinese, and using the term among themselves.

Honestly, how is it possible to miss this?

I should know by now that it's bad for my blood pressure to look up anything relating to Petshop of Horrors.
branchandroot: stack of books by arm chair (book love)
Thoughts apropos Japanese titles.

If I've got all this straight, then the reason -dono is usually described as "less formal" than -sama is not that is is in any way less respectful. Rather, it is more intimate. Tracing back to its origin as the title form of "tono" (lord, specifically your own lord), addressing someone as Name-dono lays claim to a relationship with them. A feudal one, to be precise and, if I'm not mistaken, one with a certain amount of implied rank since only one of the warrior class would be entering into it.

So when, in Ouran, the twins call Tamaki "Tono", it's a play on the royalty motif and subtly reinforces the fact that all the kids at that school are upper class.

And when, in Rurouni Kenshin, Kenshin addresses Kaoru as "Kaoru-dono" he is implicitly laying claim to a position as a retainer of her house. This one actually fascinates me, because that could be seen as very counter-revolutionary of him (the feudal forms being one of the things the winning Imperialists set about expurgating as too old-fashioned and, more critically, too likely to provide a power base outside of centralized government channels). And at the same time, it could also be seen as an interesting comment on his childhood. Kenshin was born a commoner, after all, not one of the warrior class; as such he isn't eligible to have a lord, not in that particular relationship-sense. So he could, at the same time, be being conservative and old fashioned and also very 'uppity' by claiming a retainer-relationship.

All this was actually occasioned by my frustration that there is no good way to translate the way Basil of KHR speaks into English.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
The Stages of Grammar:

1. Innocence. "Grammar? What's that? I'm just tryin to write, here, man."

2. Knowledge of Good and Evil. "This is a noun. This is a verb. This is a comma. This is a comma splice... oh, crap."

3. Dogmatism. "The rules say it is wrong to start a sentence with a preposition, for ever and ever amen."

4. Evangelism. "I know all the rules, and when I see an error I must point it out!"

5. (If a grammarian soul progresses past Evangelism, several variations may manifest in the penultimate stage.)

--A. Relativism. "Correct grammar depends on context, such as dialogue versus instruction."

--B. Apostasy. "Who needs grammar? It's all arbitrary! There is no truth!"

--C. Enthusiasm. "We shall remake grammar entirely, cleaving only to the original linguistic structures of English! Down with the corrupt and luxurious dictates of the Latinists!"

6. Ethical Grammar. "Language is a living and fluid thing. The need for consistent written structures to aid comprehension must be balanced with the changing ways language users shape the language by their use."

.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
Question inspired by a brows through [livejournal.com profile] fanficrants: Do fen use terms that trivialize extremely serious matters?

Yes.

Question under the question: Do fen casually use weighty words without bothering their fluffy little heads for one second to think about where those words come from and what it does to their own patterns of thought, to use them casually?

Yes.

Prime examples: gay [as a pejorative] ("That's so gay!"), rape ("Fox is raping my favorite show!"), crack ("This fic is total crack/on crack.")

This is not, of course, specific to fen. It isn't even limited to a young demographic, though teen and young adult slang is where it shows up most often.


What I find most disturbing about this is the number of people who, when pressed or questioned about their use of such terms, will instantly say that their interlocutor is "taking it way too seriously, get a grip!"

Because I would certainly hope that queer-bashing, rape and drug addiction are taken seriously at all times. They should be taken seriously, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune to experience them knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. Insisting on using the terms in a light and unreal/istic way is singularly stupid.

Maybe it's a guilty conscience that drives this double trivialization. Or maybe the people protesting the taking-seriously really are that brainless, shallow, naive, callous and lacking in empathy.

I kind of hope it's a guilty conscience.

In either case, the question I keep wanting to ask next is: Why do you want, so badly, to keep using those particular words? What do you find appealing about them and the concepts they refer to or embed?

.
branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
I want this book: Here Speeching American: A Very Strange Guide to English as It Is Garbled around the World

And you thought Engrish was bad. Examples given in the blurb:

On a Mexican bus: Keep all fours in the bus--eyes only out window

At a hotel in Vietnam: Compulsory Buffet Breakfast

At a temple in Burma: Foot Wearing Prohibited

In a Barcelona travel-agency window: Go Away

At a hotel swimming pool in France: Swimming is forbidden in the absence of the savior


That last one made me laugh until I cried.

And the moral of the story: never, ever use fangirl Japanese, because this is probably what you'd sound like to them.

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