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Thread: The language barrier

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    Question The language barrier

    How difficult is it to translate Japanese into English/ American English? Also how much of the dubbing in anime is direct translation and how much has to be improvised and why?

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    Grouchy Old Anime Otaku LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata has become well known LenMiyata's Avatar
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    Re: The language barrier

    Grumble Grumble Grumble

    It's alot more difficult then it first appears. The Naval Language Institute has a list of language difficulty scale of leaning. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with English being 1, and Arabic being 5), Japanese rates a 3

    In addition for words having a masculine/feminine form (as some European languages have), there are masuline/feminine dialect varitions. And the same word spelling (Kanji) can have a totally different meaning in a different context, in additional to the more common same word with different spelling having different meanings. You also have words spelled with multiple symbols, where the individual symbols have a totally different meaning then the symbols placed together...

    These difficulties basicly make Kanji based puns untranslatable, and the english translations of comedy puns (such as in Azumanga Daioh) are completly unrelated from the original Japanese. Other Japanese cultural concepts, such as the honorifics of surnames, have no real equivalent in the english language. Sentence structure 'slang' (such as Steel Angel Kurumi adding a 'Desu' to end of her sentences, and Digi Charat adding a 'nyu' (meow) to the ends of hers) also have no english equivalent, and are usually completely ignored in the translation...

    Also, in addition to translations problems... Dubbing also has to deal with the issue of 'lip flap' synchronization, where the spoken words must match the lip movements on the animated characters. This will also cause changes in the translation of the original Japanese in a dub...

    The quality of the Dub is often dependent on the quality (and concern) of the US distributor. Pioneer/Geneon, Funimation have done a good to excellent job on their Dubs, Bandia, ADV Films, and VIZ are good, and studios like 4Kids Entertainment and Nelvana have done a poor/non serious English dub...
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    Rantings of a Grouchy Old Anime Otaku

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    Re: The language barrier

    Then considering the difficulties of dubbing, would it be better to stick subtitles on screen, diverting attention, or to try and sync as close as possible to lip flap? Also (the next question is very gray) which language is easiest to understand/learn. I'm not suggesting we all adopt a different tongue, but having studied Spanish to GCSE level (the minimum accepted professional qualification in the uk) I have noticed a number of advantages to foreign languages compared to english and vice versa. I would like to know peoples views on this.

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    Re: The language barrier

    Grumble Grumble Grumble

    This can easily get into the Dub vs. Sub wars... (Because of the translation/lip synch issues, I'm a sub person myself). The judge the quality of a English dub, it's always interesting to set the Anime DVD to Japanese soundtrack with subtitles, then manually switch the player to the English sound track during play, and see the difference between the original translation and the english dub. (On the other hand, cheap Anime distribution will often resort to Dub-titles, supply only the sub-title to the English sound track, and completly ignore translating the original Japanese...)

    As far as other languages go, I've been told that the easiest European language to translate Japanese into is French... Go figure...
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    Re: The language barrier

    Without waging war (I like Dubs, sorry!) and looking at the language issue from the other direction, how difficult is it to learn english. Why, inspite of the expansiveness of the english language, is it considered by quite a few a difficult language to speak fluently?

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