English Lessons for English Speakers

Since the Fall season of anime, I have been editing fansubs. I am frequently asked if it helps me learn Japanese, or more about the culture, or more about anime in general.

The fact is, no, it doesn’t help with Japanese anymore than just watching anime would (which is to say, like an anime character, full force, etc). However, it has actually taught me more about the English language, and how native speakers really struggle with English in general. It’s extremely depressing that in this country, states can just make up whatever shit they want to teach students in their public schools. Naturally this means that unless you live in a state where opening your mouth to speak is actually beneficial (read: surprisingly not very many), children do not learn much of anything about the language they are expected to write, speak, and think in.

More to the point, English is a malleable, evolving language. When people fuck something up enough, the language changes to accommodate. At the same time though, there are still rules in place, and not being able to understand certain aspects of these rules is foolish when they are very easy to master.

Also, because of how egotistical we have become as a society, we naturally think that every time someone tells us that we are wrong, we tell them that they are full of shit. We never consider for even the slightest moment that the way we learned something was invalid or incorrect or archaic. “Well my mommy and daddy said that you’re supposed to say “on accident” instead of “by accident,” so it must be right.”

Yeah, nah.

I am going to start by picking apart the editing job of a person who has attempted, in the past, to pick apart others, often invalidly.

I lied. There is one thing I have learned about the Japanese language. It’s that they will frequently use the words “this” or “that” when they actually mean “it.” I suspect it’s because they have different words for objects based on their positioning (this was actually all I learned in the 2 weeks of a Japanese class I dropped at Yale— no, I didn’t actually go to Yale, they just offered classes to people at the high school I attended, in languages that my school did not offer by default. I would love to tell the story of why I dropped the class, but will save that for another time).

So why bring this up? Because it’s one of the things that people tend to fuck up pretty badly when editing, and it doesn’t take a 2nd Day Japanese Class lesson to know this sort of thing. “We’ll use that,” for example.


So without any context at all here, you can see what I’m getting at.

Original: That’d be a pain, so cut it out.

Hillbilly: That’d be a pain if you did, so please don’t.

“That’d be a pain if you did” is grossly redundant. “That” means something specific. It means “the thing that you are considering doing.” If you want to add “if you did,” you would need to make the line “It’d be a pain if you did.” This also sounds somewhat ridiculous, and the line has already been changed quite a bit here. Path of least resistance. Second of all, there is nothing wrong with “cut it out.” This also means something specific, and changing it to “please don’t” implies a request that an adult would make to another adult. “Cut it out” is intentionally demeaning. It’s something you would say to a child. The real problem here though is that saying “so cut it out” sounds bizarre at the end of a sentence. It works, but is still unnecessarily awkward. So how do you keep both the words in the sentence nearly the same without changing the sentence’s meaning?

“Cut it out, that’d be a pain.”

That sure was difficult. Saying cut it out at the beginning of a sentence means that he does not want her to “do that” and also that he doesn’t want her to talk about it. Since we can’t infer what was actually meant here (either stop talking about it, or don’t even think about doing it), this works for both without removing the meaning. It’s also not longer or excessively wordy like our hillbilly friend’s version.

Now the next proposed change he made was the following exchange, with the following reasoning:

“Original: Then you’d marry me?

Original: If our positions were reversed.

Edited: But you’d still marry me?

Edited: Only if our positions were reversed.

Here I’m just trying to make the banter more banter-y. That means more snappy lines that can stand on their own.

I actually agree with making the banter more like banter, but if you want to write your own story, you should do that on your own fucking time. I would have gladly, gladly rewritten C3’s script from the ground up, but it’s someone else’s work. Why would I fuck with it? Correcting problems with it is one thing, but it’s not mine to just fuck with.

The change here is not needed.

“I wouldn’t want you for a husband.”

“Then you’d marry me?”

“If our positions were reversed, maybe.”

vs.

“I wouldn’t want you for a husband.”

“But you’d still marry me?”

“Only if our positions were reversed.”

The latter changes the meaning too much. I appreciate the desire to change dialogue to support bantering, but this guy feels that intentionally repeating something that someone just said in a mocking tone should be changed because “repeating words is bad but only when I say it is.” Maybe he never mocks anybody. Judging by most of this though maybe he has never actually had a conversation with anybody, either.

This next one is comedy gold.

Original:

But you know, Araragi-sempai…

You and Senjougahara-sempai make a good couple.

Hillbilly:

You know, Araragi-sempai…

Senjougahara-sempai and you make a good couple.

First of all, I had a friend of mine stop by while I was working on this show, and specifically poring over the tsundere line.

“So how do you do subs if you don’t know Japanese?” she asked.

“I just edit them so they’re correct and sound better in English. C’mere,” I showed her the line, “do you know what this word means?”

“No fucking clue.”

I bring this up, because most people who— even if they watch a lot of subtitled anime like my friend here— don’t actually know what sempai and tsundere mean.

Second, and far more offensively, is intentionally changing the line to be wrong. Why? Why would you change “You and her make a good couple” to “Her and you make a good couple.” Just, whoa. The only other acceptable possibility for this sentence is “You two make a good couple,” which is a bit too short for the timing since Senjougahara’s name is so fucking long. In sentences like this, “You” always comes first.

“You and me.”

“You and I.”

“You and Senjougahara.”

Do you understand why I refer to this person as a hillbilly yet?

“Original: And you’ll have me for a lover, and maybe Sengoku-chan as your third?

Hillbilly: And you’ll have me for a lover, and maybe Sengoku-chan as your third woman?

I wanted to make this a bit clearer. There’s no question about what’s happening with this line.

There’s no question about what Sengoku would be in this context anyway. What would she possibly be in this instance other than third in line on the mistress chain? Which brings us to another problem: the definition of lover. Lover and mistress are similar in meaning, however, a lover does not necessarily denote someone outside your current formal sexual relationship. For example, if he was sleeping with Senjougahara, she would also be his lover. Also, several lines later, Kanbaru refers to herself as his mistress. Mistress is definitely the better choice here as well, and provides consistency in translation. Also getting back to the third woman thing? Sengoku is way too young to be considered a woman. Leaving it as third is absolutely fine, and every time you attempt to spell shit like this out for the lowest common denominator, you make the line 20 times worse.

I am not going to fault Dark for this line, since I would have gone with something very similar. However the translator stated that he actually said “romantic proposal” here, which makes a fuck of a lot more sense than “dream proposal” which was the original, and also makes more sense than “fantasy proposal” here. The only thing I might have done differently without this knowledge would be maybe “about the proposal to your fantasy” since a “fantasy proposal” isn’t really a “thing.”

“Original:

Well, I don’t think you should worry about that relationship.

What?

Edited:

I don’t think you should worry about their relationship.

Why?

Mm, this new flow of lines is so much more delicious.”

Yes, new flow because what and why are not actually the same fucking question at all.

When you say “what?” after someone says something, it means you either could not hear the person, or did not fully understand the context of what they were saying. This happens, like, in real life. Like, when real people speak to one another. I know it’s extremely hard to grasp if you don’t ever speak to anyone ever.

More quality:

“Original: I’m not terribly pleased about it. But since those two are happy with it, it isn’t my place to say anything.

Lolwhat: I’m not terribly pleased with the situation. But since those two are happy with how things are, it isn’t my place to say anything.

Fixed for better phrasing. “I’m not terribly pleased about it.” is just poorly worded. And again, I’m mixing up the word choice here. The less you repeat, the better. Now there’s something I want those of you who’ve read this far to know. I would not call out the original lines in a review. I would not mention them, nor would I even suggest that there is something that could be better here. But you can clearly see the changes I make are superior. See, that’s the problem. My reviews for the script part of a fansub operate at a very, very base level of scriptwork. Do I wish I could talk about upper-tier editing? Why yes, I do. But until groups can consistently manage B-pluses or higher, I’m not seeing that happening. Many apologies.

I do not know why you would be cocky about being one of 10 people on the planet who does not understand the context of a sentence. You should actually feel bad. “I’m not terribly pleased about it” is actually 100% fine, and is perfectly acceptable in all ways. Adding “the situation” to it is retard-speak. Sentences, especially with dialogue, where the definition of a pronoun occurs after the pronoun itself, are not wrong. And in fact, the “it” was already defined a line or two prior. Sometimes pronouns never get a definition. It happens a lot. It’s not needed most of the time (unless there are multiple of a pronoun being referred to, like multiple women being referred to as “she” over and over gets confusing). If you continually have to spell out pronouns, why use any at all? If you continue to constantly spell shit out, people will never infer any kind of meaning from any sentence. Go read a book. Tell me how many pronouns you find on one page that don’t ever get defined on that page. Realize that you’re the only retard who doesn’t know what’s being referred to.

Oh, and by the way, it’s not even a “situation” that’s being talked about here. So not only did our editor friend not understand the meaning of the sentence, now he’s trying to change the meaning so that everyone is forced to get his interpretation or the sentence, rather than reality.

“Original: I just bought it on a whim, at a department store.

Editedv2: I just bought it on a whim at a department store.

I don’t feel the need to emphasize a pause here. I realize it’s the translator’s style for the show, but the comma can easily go without affecting a damn thing.

This is just offensive, but understandable, since the editor probably does not understand basic sentence structure. Both “on a whim” and “at a department store” are describing the act of “buying.” These can be broken down into two sentences:

“I just bought it on a whim.” and “I just bought it at a department store.”

Because of this, the comma is actually necessary, but the sentence still flows poorly, and there’s a contextual mistake as well.

“I just bought it on a whim, at some department store.”

Flows better, but one more quick thing?

Cards are plural, so you just bought them. Not it.

Original: It’s a name I just heard said.

First of all, yes, this is grammatically incorrect, because it’s a name that “I’ve” just heard said, not “I.” However the change here actually changes the entire meaning of the sentence. Kaiki here is saying, plainly, “I don’t care how it’s spelled, as I’ve only heard your name spoken before.” Obviously this is too long and really dumbed down, but I’m the only fucking person in the world to actually get what he meant there? I dunno. If someone has only said that their name was “Jacqueline” to me verbally, I don’t care if it’s spelled “Jaclyn” or “Jacquline” or “Jacklynn” or however the fuck (but if you’re wondering I default to Jacqueline because it’s far more elegant and I’m a gigantic faggot). So what’s hard about this to follow? If he’s heard the name before, that implies that someone else told him the name, or that it’s a common name, or endless possibilities. “It’s a name I’ve only heard” works far better, flows great, and doesn’t change the goddamn meaning completely. You could even add the before in there at the end if you really, really needed the clarification, but most people mentally would do it fucking anyway.

Unless you’re Dark Sage.

By the way, there was actually a serious offender of a line sandwiched between the previous two that our buddy apparently didn’t care about enough to post if he changed it, but maybe he thought it “flowed” well enough?

Original: Araragi-sempai, it seems you’ve not yet recognized the true final boss’s existence.

Now there is a line that sticks out like a sore fucking thumb. More like, “Araragi, it seems you’ve not yet recognized who the final boss actually is.” The first part was fine, but “true final boss” is like “the most flat road.” Retarded hyperbole. Why would you do it? You can’t have “more flat than flat.” The final boss is the final boss, as in the last boss you meet in the game. “Oh, you thought Kuja was the final boss? Just kidding, here’s a guy that didn’t exist until now because Kuja was way too fucking easy.”

It actually hurt to type that last part. Like, a lot.

Fun fact: You don’t emphasize “but” here, because the emphasis is on “choice.” This is one you probably want to say out loud. Go on, do it. Say it once with emphasis on but, and then again on choice. If the former sounds better to you, then no amount of reading anything on the internet about the English language can help you. (Note: I didn’t italicize any part of this line in mine, because I don’t need italics to tell me where the emphasis of a sentence should be every single time I read one, and neither should you).

“Original: The lesson for me here is that

Hahahaohwow: The lesson appears to be that

I don’t think it’s of dire importance that he be the only one to learn a lesson. So I edited away that distinction. I like to talk about flow a lot, but that’s why I make most of these changes. This improves the flow.

Again, for whatever ridiculous reason, you think that the flow of a sentence is bad, therefore you should change the entire meaning of the sentence. Sorry, but no. It flows badly at the end (which is not shown here) because of the way positives and negatives are being presented (which was an easy fix from “worthless” to “without value”). Surprisingly enough though, he is talking about a lesson that he, himself, has learned based on the situation that he, himself, has exposed himself to by making an error in judgment. Saying “I don’t think it’s of dire importance that he be the only one to learn a lesson” is just downright autistic. No one gives a single fuck about what you think is important or isn’t important. Selfish dialogue is important to the character and to the story, and I would like to reiterate that if you want to write your own story, doing so in someone else’s story just to propagate some ridiculous agenda is pretty fucking lame.

And again:

“Original: Don’t do things that will seriously depress me!

Editedv2: Don’t do things that will make me depressed!

The original line is super awkward and not something anyone would say. So I used my magical fixing stick known as a brain.

Again, changing the meaning of a line for no reason because you don’t use adverbs and don’t know what they’re actually describing. Typical hillbilly behavior. It really depresses me to think that this sort of thing just doesn’t get discussed in this country’s schools nationwide. “Seriously” is describing “depressed.” It’s different than “Don’t do things that will make me depressed, seriously!” As in, he’s being serious. Seriously actually means something when referring to the state of a disorder such as depression. And for that matter, it ruins the very subtle joke: Araragi is probably already a little bit depressed, so it’s important that she doesn’t do something which makes him even more depressed.

A rare moment where we agree:

Original: I don’t know any boy who’d neglect his studies, to wander around here.

Editedv2: I don’t know any boy who’d neglect his studies, just to wander around here.

What value does “just” add? Senjou’s the queen of harsh language. Dropping the “just” in there adds an extra layer of dismissal to her statement. He didn’t neglect his studies to do something and then wander around. He neglected his studies solely to wander around this specific, uninteresting place.

A word is definitely needed here, but “just” doesn’t really do Senjougahara justice. “Just to wander around here” is just a bit less elegant than “only to wander around here.” See what I did there? I’m saying that hillbillies don’t know what elegance is.

And Jesus Christ, would you believe this isn’t even everything? This was only 10-15 minutes of a single episode of a show that was professionally translated, and not only were there so many issues with the original, but almost every proposed change was awful. This doesn’t even include a lot of other oddities that Dark Sage either missed, or wasn’t personally offended enough to mention.

Do they just not teach kids about adverbs anymore in the Midwest? Maybe not everyone as a kid watched Saturday morning cartoons with Schoolhouse Rock sandwiched in between the shows? Am I really that old? Do they not do this anymore?

Well, now you know. Indubitably.
edit: It was also recommended to me that I link http://toayuku.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/ayako-softenni-02/

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