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Thread: Translating dialects

  1. #1
    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner Edward-'s Avatar
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    Translating dialects

    This thread is for discussing how to translate dialects. To clarify: once you've translated the meaning of the Japanese dialect, what then? After a discussion on #proofreaders different methods emerged. One method is called the eye dialect:

    Quote Originally Posted by wiki
    In English language literature, eye dialect is the literary technique[1] of using non-standard spelling to approximate a pronunciation that is actually no different from the standard pronunciation[2][3] but has the effect of dialectal, foreign, or uneducated speech. Eye dialect differs from other methods of indicating of accent or speech variation via orthography in that a difference in spelling doesn't indicate a difference in pronunciation of a word. For example, spelling was as wuz does not indicate an unusual pronunciation but is used to suggest that a character has non-standard speech of some sort as well as to alter a reader's perception of a speaker.
    Read more here.

    The other method is to use an actual dialect... like cockney for example. There are some sites that have translators which convert English to certain dialects. See here.

    Also, you can learn a dialect or ask a proofreader or English speaker if they know any dialects.

    Another factor is choosing a dialect that is appropriate, for instance a "hick" accent for the country folk in manga.

    Please share your thoughts/methods so that new translators can benefit from your wisdom.

  2. #2
    Translator 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member tradedaemon's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    Very nice. I haven't really run into any character that needed a specific dialect, except one character had a speech impediment which was fun. But that's not dialect, more general speech style in line with the delinquent style and the wordy scientist kind.

  3. #3
    Scanlator 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member NymphStealer's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    imma try not to take out all of my own southern dialect outta this post, kinda tough as some words wouldnt know how to spell and worried it might not make any sense at all so some of it is left in...

    this is what i brought up in the earlier quality control news posts a while back. great that theres now a post on it... but... i tried out that dialectizer site on other peoples posts that obviously have better grammar than me to see how theyd show up redneck... and well.... i guess they got their info from the areas more so in the south eastern states... like georgia, the carolinas and so on (not sure only have a few family members in those areas that i talk to every now and then to gauge that assumption on)...
    I am from northern louisiana (thankfully not from cajun country or ya'dn't be able to understand this at all) and most of my family comes from all various areas of the south. the redneck dialectizer even i barely understand it since it appears to be an extreme version of southern. so if anyone uses that please use it sparingly... there are other ways to show a southern dialect than extreme use of southern...
    i actually had a talk w/ my husband (texan) bout this the other day after i took my son to the doctor.... poor doctor didnt understand half the words my son used b/c she obviously wasnt from the south... and thought he had a speech problem when it was only him learnin southern from his parents... yeah we're horrible... lol...
    even though my hubby is from texas with a slightly different dialect of southern there are things we both do to our words... we both contract and shorten our most commonly used... he didnt even realize how bad it was... like how we would take 3 words and make 1 outta them...
    examples of such words that we picked apart the other night (ones i remember) b/c well we're still peeved bout damn doctor sayin our son should go to speech... imma spell them the best i can...

    ya <-you
    yer <-your or you are
    y'all <-you all
    y'all'll <-you all will (yes i have used this weird looking many "l" contraction many many times)
    y'all'd <-you all had
    would'a've <-would had have
    whacha <-what are you
    whadaya/whaddya <-what do you
    ain't <-am not/is not/are not and more (that ones got some uses dont it)
    da/de <-the
    who'd'ave <-who would have
    nother/nodder <-another

    we also realized that the word "of" gets shorten to just "a" and tacked onto the end of the previous word like kinda and sorta.... we clip the "g" off of any "ing" word among many other things we do...
    anyhow... i believe if wanna use the southern dialect for you translations of some characters ya dont need to go to extremes like the dialectizer gives ya... just need to really figure out how to shorten words and contractions (like the y'all'll... i didnt realize that one at first... been usin it for long time)... also nother thing i realized while typing this, speakin it in my head first then typin, is that normally i personally get rid of a lot of the articles, prepositions, and kill off subjects of sentences... actually had to add a lot of that in to hopefully make this understandable in some way...

    Well, I hope this helps. I am not an authority on Southern dialects and I'm sure there are others here that are from the South that can help out at least in this dialect. I am sure that some of them will possibly agree that using the extreme version of the Southern dialect is not necessary for scanlations. Not many will even get what is trying to be said if you use the extreme. You only have to change of a little bit of the way some words are presented and you will be able to get it acrossed to the readers that the characters speaks a little differently than the rest of the characters in the story.
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    my spellin/grammar sucks really bad... i know and youre just gonna hafta get over it..

  4. #4
    Scanlator 中級員 / Chuukyuuin / Member Binky's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    There are certain pan-dialectic features that can be used to convey speech patterns, without necessarily tying the character into a specific regional dialect - which can often carry whole hosts of connotations, not all of which may be appropriate. For example, dropping the g from -ing suffixed words: holdin', grabbin', buyin'. Choosing where the character lies on the sliding scale of "proper" versus colloquial speech, from yes through yeah, to things like ya or aye, would be another example. I imagine both of these would generally be consistently meaningful to the majority of English speakers. This would fit in with eye dialect I presume?

    Specific dialects are trickier, for example, I am Glaswegian, so I attach no particularly great significance to the accent itself, as I am surrounded by people using it, though there are speech patterns within that dialect and accent that will be meaningful to me, but not necessarily others. If we asked someone from the wider UK what it meant to them, they might come up with stuff like violent, aggressive, drunken and so on, whilst to an American, it's more likely to be interpreted as generic Scottish, which will in turn mean... Whatever that means, I don't really know. Essentially, my main point is that dialects are never going to have universal overtones, so unless the audience in question knows it well, they could be missing the nuance, or even picking up something entirely different from what was intended.

    I am speaking as a reader as opposed to a translator of course, so the usual pinch of salt and so on...
    Last edited by Binky; May 27, 2009 at 12:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Translator 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member Meriken's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    Yeah, Good point how there's no universal method for translating these things. I think we all need to go by instinct and the dialects we've grown up with. In my case, that would be U.S. East-coast English. That produces the most satisfying result for the translator, at least. The list in one of the other posts is a good way to start though.

    With regards to "eye dialect' I've sometimes found myself using the apostrophe to cut out the last "g" in a word (ex. nothin') even when there is no dialect. I've done that when a character is shouting, or when he doesn't exactly have a dialect, but is nonetheless not following a standard speech pattern because he's speaking really casually or in a slang tone. I suppose it might be possible for a reader to think of this as a dialect and not just an inflection...

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    Translator 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member Bomber D Rufi's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    An interesting read. I've run into a few dialects in Gintama alone, and I usually go with what 'feels right.' Osaka's definatly the easiest for me, while a few others are kind of hard. (Like Tsukuyo in Gintama, who sort of uses this slangy, samurai-ish way of speaking.) Personally I'm not above putting in a dialect if it equates to making the character more believable. (I do this in Aku for Jiro, if no one noticed.) Or at least, speaks to that character.

    Thanks a lot for the site! I'll definately keep them in mind when run into a character...that redneck one would do nicely for a certian Osakian (Not a word) in Takkoku...
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    Registered User 初心者/ Shoshinsha / Beginner Edward-'s Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    I found this article helpful
    Quote Originally Posted by Mangalife
    Speaking of dialects and character image, another good example is Daisuke, the owner of that inn in the mountains in volume 5 of My Heavenly Hockey Club. He has a reeeeally thick accent. But he lives in the north of Japan, so of course we can't give him a southern accent. So again, we look at the character's image. He's kind of a country bumpkin, in a snowy area, so at first we thought Canada (using Brother Bear for reference), but that didn't work as well as we'd hoped. It so happened that while we were translating that chapter, our little sister was watching Hannah Montana. In that particular episode, Miley's brother encountered someone who was from... Wisconsin or Minnesota or somewhere like that, and we thought, “It's perfect!” So we tried to remember Bobby's mother from Bobby's World (does anybody remember that cartoon way back when with Howie Mandell?). Again, whether or not we succeeded is another story entirely.

    In the spirit of matching character images, I decided one day to ask our Japanese pen pal what images he associates with different dialects. He explained that the Osaka variation of Kansai dialect has kind of a carefree, “not thinking too hard about things” image, so in our minds, a southern accent seems to be a pretty good match, especially if you think about the Blue Collar Comedy guys. He also mentioned that the Kyoto variation of Kansai dialect sounds a little more refined. I think of it as the difference between a guy using a southern accent (Osaka) and a girl using a southern accent (Kyoto). (We had an English teacher (male) once from the Florida Panhandle who used to have an accent, but went to voice training to get rid of it, because, as he said himself, southern accents sound dumb on guys. I apologize to any southern-accented men who disagree!)

  8. #8
    Scanlator 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member NymphStealer's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    the reason i brought up the clippin of "g" at ends of words was b/c that is actually how my husband, rest of my family, and me speak... when i talk w/ my friends that live in the northern parts of the US they dont do it... if they do well... they dont do so when talkin to me... they actually pick on me bout my accent a bit (and here i thought mine wasnt that bad *sigh*). gotten to the point to where i try my hardest to kill the accent, though hardly ever works, when i talk to them... lol...

    when people are postin in forums or anywhere else on the net and do this i dont think of it as such b/c most of us are in a rush to get out what we want to say so we chop things up... but when it comes to manga either bought or scanlations, i know the translator took in account different dialects (sometimes), had a good proofreader (again sometimes), and went through some QC (i so hope) before it was released... so when i read a manga that has a good translation and see the clippin of the "g" and other things that i do to words when i talk, i do automatically think of them speakin in one of the many forms of southern... and when a character does things that i see as being southern only once or twice, i then see it as someone slipped up in the proofreading and QC b/c they didnt catch the inconsistency in the way the character is speakin...

    anyhow... i mainly posted b/c i really dont like seein the extreme side of the southern accent used (though this is mainly due to anime dubs *shivers*)... well, if the character looks like hed use it then fine use that dialectizer thingy for rednecks to help ya out... just if not please try to tone it down some when the japanese is usin a dialect for a character that most translate to southern...
    KuroKishakai
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    my spellin/grammar sucks really bad... i know and youre just gonna hafta get over it..

  9. #9
    Translator 下級員 / Kakyuuin / Jr. Member tradedaemon's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    Even though I haven't really had to deal with dialects, most of the stuff that's been said here is how I do general character dialog distinctions in relation to Japanese speech style and character background, so I guess this applies?

    Uncouth characters (When the japanese's contracted/なきゃ and what not): Pretty much just contractions and getting rid of hard T's. I generally transcribe how I say things, (in normal conversation I meld things for flow to a lesser degree of what was mentioned about the southern accents by NymphStealer. I do the g clipping too and I'm from the Northwest.) Changing word spelling to how they sound, like the eye dialect excerpt posted by Edward-.

    -How ya think yer gonna pull tha' off? I'm the fuck'n boss 'round here ya (expletive).

    Normal characters (masu form and whatnot): Just normal everyday talk with normal spelling with a distinction in words depending on sex and age.
    -Guy: Call it, heads or tails.
    -Girl: Choose, heads or tails.
    (Having a hard time thinking up examples, really just depends on the moment and instinct and what sounds right)

    Sophisticated types/Author types: I consult the thesaurus, and while most of that is not everyday words, it seems to work for writing and still sound somewhat natural. Creative writing as Edward- put it in the proofer test.

    -And so Japan fell into utter dilapidation, suffocated by a gripping deficit.
    -Or-
    -I'm unsure how it happened, but assuming the light was on, it had to have occurred within a certain amount of time. Granted, this is only speculation, but I am assuredly positive of the validity of my intuition.

    Archaic: Hard to explain, really just instinct again and of course using archaic words and flipping the grammar structures a bit:
    -I am, but it is not my feet that bemoan with anguish. It is here.

    (Faerie Queene by Spenser is also an awesome type of archaic though it is in poetic form. He spells a bit weird too:
    -And therein sate a Ladie fresh and faire,
    -Making sweet solace to her selfe alone;
    )
    Last edited by tradedaemon; May 27, 2009 at 02:13 PM.

  10. #10
    RAW Providers 英雄メンバー / Eiyuu Menbaa / Hero Member Finestela's Avatar
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    Re: Translating dialects

    hmm... I tend to just translate Osaka-ben (or, Kansai-ben in general) the way it is, simply because of the feeling that if I make extra effort and put it in Southern accent (or, in the case of Chinese translation, a more slang/altered pronunciation approach), there'd be that political correctness issue of Kantou-ben being the standard (or, the more "correct") of the two.

    Unless it's some even more exotic phrases or sub-dialect of Kansai/Kantou, I wouldn't really bother to treat it much more differently.
    Last edited by Finestela; May 30, 2009 at 05:54 AM.

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