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Japanese fansubbing

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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby SirFirestorm » Sat 07.14.2007 12:35 am

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
This is exactly what I mean by bias. Pretty much by definition, if you require subtitles, you are not qualified to comment on the quality of their translation.

And fansubbers are? This is just the usual nonsensical translator-bashing that I see out of anime fans. No wonder I never really wanted to get into that business.


I am not at a level to say I can understand each and everything in anime but I can understand grammar structure and at least nuances of a sentence if I know the vocabulary. I am neither clueless nor proficient, I was just saying it is not babelfished, but I dont know if you are speaking out of extensive experience or perhaps you just saw some bad fansubs.

The point I was trying to make was that since fansubs are free, it is less difficult to find a native Japanese person somewhere on the world wide internet that is also an anime fan and would like to sub. Even if the person is not Japanese, the information can be found on the internet, and often fansub groups will take the time to look up that information in the interests of preserving the meanings. Fansubs are made by fans, for fans, not money. They aren't all teenagers that claimed to learn Japanese from anime, some subbers are Japanese-american people with spare time and a love for anime, others have taken university classes or something. Just because they don't work professionally as a subber shouldn't mean all of them are retarded.

Anime companies though... do you think they will spend the money hiring a professional translator from Japan, or taking the cheap route and hiring some guy in the states that says he speaks Japanese. As you can see from dubs in America, they do not hold original Japanese meanings in high regard and often butcher anime to appeal to their target audience. I am pretty sure they would not spend the time or money to research Japanese jokes.

This is just my biased opinion on the matter, but I am curious to know why you think professional translators are better. They get paid for it so they have a better knowledge of Japanese?
Last edited by SirFirestorm on Sat 07.14.2007 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby Ezrach » Sat 07.14.2007 12:47 am

It could just be that fansubbers are subbing for free because they can't get hired based on the quality of their translation work. ;)

The ultimate goal of a translator is to make the audience feel like it isn't a translation at all. (Especially true for books)

Professional translators are better because it's their job to be. You don't get hired for shoddy work. In-house translators are prominent in jobs requiring patent translations, but a lot of entertainment industry work goes through agencies, and agencies hand out work based on qualifications and portfolios. If you've shown yourself to give bad results, you're not going to get rehired.
Last edited by Ezrach on Sat 07.14.2007 12:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby Infidel » Sat 07.14.2007 1:03 am

My problem with fansubs: if a word has multiple meanings, the fansub is more likely to choose the wrong one. It really annoys me when the translation obviously doesn't fit the context. It happens sometimes if pro translations too, but it's less common.

I also feel that non-literal translations are better especially for idioms. I'd much rather get an automatic equivalent and I can generally figure out the literal translation myself.
なるほど。
さっぱりわからん。
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby SirFirestorm » Sat 07.14.2007 1:40 am

Fansubbing is more of a hobby than a job. Rarely do subbers do this kind of work professionally, and it is only for unlicensed anime, so there wouldn't be jobs for it anyways.

Though I do see what you mean about professional translators, I doubt it is on the same level as voice actors where portfolios and connections are more important. Voice acting isn't simple at all and requires training and schooling, whereas translation, pretty much anyone that speaks the language could do it... right?
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby Oracle » Sat 07.14.2007 1:44 am

From everything I've seen fansubbers are no doubt more passionate about what they're doing, but that's trumped every time by someone with years of translation experience in a wide range of fields (not just anime) as any decent professional translator should.
One of the most vital skills in J->E translation is actually how well you write in *English*. Professional J->E translators should be able to write extremely well in their native language. This hasn't been a noticeable feature of a lot of the fansub sites I've visited..
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby AJBryant » Sat 07.14.2007 12:17 pm

Here's a website you might find interesting, guys. The guy has taken hundreds of screenshots at the same time from a variety of different fansubs of Japanese shows to show people how incredibly wrong (in some cases), incredibly funny (in some cases) and how incredibly missing the point (in some cases) these fansubbers are. The pictures are all side-by-side comparison, so there CAN be a lot of scrolling left and right. It's worth a look.

Here is the same scene from Death note:

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(And I'm leaving out three or more others.)

This one is more telling about different (mis-)interpretations of dialogue by amateur fansubbers:

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I'd love to know what the real line of dialogue is.

Enjoy the website. It's quite an eye-opener.

Tony
Last edited by AJBryant on Sat 07.14.2007 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby AJBryant » Sat 07.14.2007 12:56 pm

I'm doing this in a second post just.... well, it's easier. All the graphic stuff.

This is from the opening of Bleach. It shows what happens when people who don't really speak japanese try to understand lyrics they're hearing

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Not only are the translations kinda iffy, they don't even all represent the same root text for the song.

The root text appears to be "monogatari no youna hoshi no shizuku sono naka ni hosoi senro wo kizuku." And none of the subtitled translations are anything close to correct.

Tony
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby SirFirestorm » Sat 07.14.2007 1:09 pm

I'd like to know what the real line of dialogue is too... I recognize some of the fonts for the fansubbers but I cant tell if all of them are wrong or they are saying the same thing in different ways. I'd also would like to know some of the fansub groups that did those, the older ones I would hate to think they went 6 years with a retarded subber or maybe some are just a new group that has a crappy subber. A comparison screenshot to a professional subber would be nice too but that doesnt seem to be the point of that website.

Also quite a few of the screenshots are from the opening songs so the translation is bound to be off for that.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby A_Nozomi » Sat 07.14.2007 1:15 pm

AJBryant that is really funny. I've seen plenty of subs that are so differerent from the words I'm hearing that I can usually catch bad translations, HOWEVER, anything is better than a dub. You wanna talk about crappy translation and mismatched meanings, and the english voices are usually so far off the mark to convey the message. One that comes to mind is the dubbed version of Elfen Lied, the first girl to die that is a low level employee has only a few lines, but her enthusiasm doesn't match and the words aren't even the same! Dubbers seem to take way too many liberties with it and just turn it into whatever they want.

As far as the notes to explain a certain idea or double word meaning during the show, I absolutely love it. It makes me feel as if they care about their work and getting the correct message across and most of the time I learn something new about either the culture or a language nuance. I can hit pause without it screwing up my entire day. ;)
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby AndyTheUsagi » Sat 07.14.2007 1:39 pm

For people who are learning Japanese and are ready to practice the language without an English translation, I have started subtitling sentences in Japanese (all possible kanji at the top of the screen, completely hiragana at the bottom) so other people can practice/learn that way. I'm going to compile them into videos based on common vocab words (which, I am aware, will take a lot of episodes in order to make a substantially long video). I have mostly Naruto: Shippuuden material, and several screenshots from School Days where two students are passing notes to each other.

I am forcing myself to subtitle 20 clips per episode of anime, which at times can force me to figure out a sentence or word I didn't know before. Thus, the project itself is a good learning experience for me.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby ruisu81 » Sat 07.14.2007 1:42 pm

Fansub groups will usually just put the whole sentence on screen at the beginning and remove it when the person stops talking.


In order to improve my listening skills, well partly at least, I actually started timing for a well-known fansubbin group. When I sent in my test files, the lines where I did what you describe above were incorrect...I was told that the lines should be broken up to match the speaker.

SirFirestorm wrote:The point I was trying to make was that since fansubs are free, it is less difficult to find a native Japanese person somewhere on the world wide internet that is also an anime fan and would like to sub. Even if the person is not Japanese, the information can be found on the internet, and often fansub groups will take the time to look up that information in the interests of preserving the meanings.

Anime companies though... do you think they will spend the money hiring a professional translator from Japan, or taking the cheap route and hiring some guy in the states that says he speaks Japanese.


Not sure if it's different for Japanese, but in professional translation, the job should be done by a native speaker of target language.

I believe a translation life cycle in the fansub world almost exactly mirrors that of the professional. I can't remember it exactly, but if you're in the field please remind me:

Project Mangager assembles a team > translator translates > quality checker or PM reviews makes edits > translator makes changes > quality checker / PM reviews again > job complete.

It could even go higher with someone managing a team of PMs. But aside from merit of the individuals involved in the process and the integrity of their work, I believe the main difference is that professional translators use very expensive translation memories. And the quality checker/PM will utilize compare docs, and things of that nature...I don't think fansubbers take it this far.
Last edited by ruisu81 on Sat 07.14.2007 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.14.2007 2:14 pm

One thing that has always kind of surprised me is how much the fansubbing community has changed. I started watching anime fansubs back in 1996 or 1997. At that time there were no digisubs; to get a fansub you had to send money (or tapes) to a fansubber or distributor, who would then put the anime onto tapes and send them back to you. It generally took several weeks, and no anime that were not released on Laserdisc were fansubbed. Many of the tapes you got were 2nd or 3rd generation.

On the whole the field seemed much more ethical than it has become now. Once a show got licensed, it became nearly impossible to get. You didn't have these "speed groups" who specialize in poor, but really fast, subs of series. It kind of boggles the mind that for a really popular series now you can have a subtitled episode within 24 hours of it airing on Japanese TV, in a file whose quality will be nearly or exactly equal to a DVD release.
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby john2 » Sat 07.14.2007 2:35 pm

Yudan Taiteki wrote:
The sad truth is that rarely are professional subtitles better than the work done by fansub groups.


This is not true, in my experience. Fans are biased to believe that fansub group's translations are better, and the fansubs tend to hit the hot-button issues among fans like honorific suffixes.

Aren't they normally of the same quality?


ruisu81 wrote:
Project Mangager assembles a team > translator translates > quality checker or PM reviews makes edits > translator makes changes > quality checker / PM reviews again > job complete.

you mean
generic-team does a translation>translator trantlates>verry little review done>check grammar and stuff>finish never to correct again.


and now for my traditional of topic coment;first can i make this coment a tradition, second, actually under the was born into defition I was non lingual, so ha!
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby hungryhotei » Sat 07.14.2007 3:06 pm

The line from Death Note:
(Light is contemplating killing the guy in the right of the picture)
どうせあんな奴の
一人や二人死んでも誰も
何も思わない

and the second one:
っつか、おめえ、じじだまくらかして、二冊持っていたじゃねえか。
天気がいいから、散歩しましょう。
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RE: Japanese fansubbing

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Sat 07.14.2007 3:15 pm

If you look at the last two subs of the first line of Death Note in the top, that's a good example of something that exemplifies the type of translations you often find from fansubbing groups. They are grammatically correct, they seem to fit the context, and yet when you consider them as "translations" of the Japanese they're totally wrong. Assuming the second set of pictures is the same subbers in the same order, you've got the same issue there.
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