To heighten and value

Artists tend to hate the exact accuracy the more mass productive industries tend to have as a standard. Discussion with friends and colleagues who work in the and industry have claimed that the schedules and accuracy needed stifles their creativity and kills motivation. Some don’t give two damns about the industry while some deem any industry that’s prone to mass-production an evil entity serving the global agenda to kill culture and creativity via capitalism.

The other side of the coin does the same, just differently. The metal industry doesn’t value artisans or craftsmen and often seem to lump them together with blacksmiths. Then again, who does know what an artisan does? I’ve noticed only handful of people. The words I’ve heard described is that their work is useless and carry no need in modern world, whereas a welder’s job hasn’t changed a bit in the last forty years and are still needed. In a sense they are right, but just as machination has made these traditional creative industries all but obsolete, the future of technology will aim to make welders as they are now obsolete as well. We already have robots that know how to drive taxis and trucks, and it’s just the question of time when welders will see their work being replaced with automation, who do their job more efficiently.

Still, somebody has to sit on their ass and design all these up.

To be fair, splitting creative industries so that there would be a clear-cut opposition is hard, as creative industries themselves contain huge amounts of mass productions. Film, music and game industries are all but creating that one thing that makes your heart aflutter, and then press it million times over with slight variations.

Nevertheless, this sort of undermining of each others’ value seems to be prevalent. We tend to think our work is undervalued while others’ are overvalued. The truth is that some work indeed does have less value than other in objective terms, but we barely recognize these to any extent. We barely appreciate cleaners who keep our streets and offices clean while we shit things up. Mailmen, while busting our packages left and right, have to work hard hours in the worst of weathers carrying our packages and letters with pretty bad overall conditions. Hell, even the police get shit on their neck despite them being an essential part of upholding the law in modern societies, otherwise there would be anarchy. We can discuss whether or not anarchy has any merit some other time. Hell, people who work at child care and daycare centres deserve boatloads of recognition for working with any and all sorts of kids, and I tell you modern kids can be complete nightmares to work with.

Perhaps it’s because we undervalue someone’s work, be it whatever it is, we either expect jack shit from them or expect the highest possible results with the lowest possible resources. We as consumers may not even value their work to any extent and disregard any of their efforts. Yet, whenever they fuck up, we’re sure to let them know and demand better next time. Yet we don’t give enough shit to demand elevation for that work, just better results.

This again ties back to the theme we’ve had in our semi-Monthly Three. When we do not value something enough and it’s just good enough, we are doing a disservice to that industry and workers in there by saying their work, their very best, is not needed. They don’t need to elevate themselves or their products any higher as it sells as it is and it can remain on a level that’s just satisfactory. This encourages further degradation of the industry and how it’s valued, opening more ways to exploit both the work and the worker for other means.

But we don’t really care, do we? As long as products that come out cheaply at the minimum most standards met, if even those, we’re satisfied as consumers. I can’t stress enough how important proper translation for anything is. After all, language is one of the pillar of our culture/s, and should be valued just as any major pillar.

That is not to say that there is room for budget products that simply fill a niche, but perhaps there we can see valuing work at its finest. Not everybody has the money to buy a Rolls Royce, but those who can pick up a standard rugged car that can stand slings and arrows of outrageous fortune will appreciate that car just as well. China produces numerous alternatives for almost any product out there, and many of them do the exact same thing at a lower price just as fine. However, this isn’t exactly the same thing, but slides alongside the main point.

To use video games as example, consumers expected No Man’s Sky to be something like the second coming of Jesus. They expected the game to be a lot more, demanded even, and when the game was released, the consumers who bought the hype were let down. Promises were made and not kept, but people still demand more satisfactory gameplay they’ll probably never get. All the possibilities were there, and are still there, but the developing group clearly can’t fulfil the demand their promises made. This is what the situation is with Bandai Namco’s Asian English translations. They’re just as broken and a let down as No Man’s Sky is. While the hardcore video game consumer values most of game developers, they largely give jack shit all the industries the game industry requires to go with it, undervaluing their work and thus showing the corporations they don’t need to value them either. Just as we demand respect towards our own work, we also need to rise up to the occasion and respect others’ work. Easier said than done.

However, I’m afraid that consumers tend to have a twisted vision of industry outside their own. A level of appreciation requires a certain amount of studying, learning whys and hows of a system before we can see the time and effort put into anything we see or use. A simple thing like a the fork you eat with was first planned up my a human mind before put into production, but do you value that effort and appreciate that simple yet frequently used item in your hands? Even the smallest, most mundane things are of value.

It’s (Not) good enough

With Bandai Namco nowadays doing official English translations for specific Asian regions importers of certain series have had loads of fun times with their favourite games. I’ll cut to the chase right away rather than chatting away; the translation of both Super Robot Wars OG Moon Dwellers and SD Gundam G Generation Genesis are not good enough. On the contrary, the quality of the translation they have has essentially stopped me from playing Moon Dwellers. If you’re not tuning out at this point, let’s continue. Just be sure to meet a bit more opinionated piece from the usual.

The question when a translation is good enough is difficult to people who have not read into the science of it. Translation and language both evolve, translation usually just a half step behind at best. Then there’s the cultural factor, where certain kind of translation is considered the right way over something else. Let’s not forget about personal preference either, but when it comes to translations personal preference mostly appears through the flavour of the language.

A good translation doesn’t only turn language into another, it also conveys the core meaning and preferably the flavour of the origin language as well. The term localisation has gone through some mud in gaming circles with removal of text and events, but ultimately localisation is a necessary thing in order to create coherence in a text. If you were to make direct, machine like translations, the end result would be close to incoherence. Translation is affected by things like choice of words in the original language and their core intention, the situation, the character/person speaking, the nuances and other factors that it’s not even funny.

Bandai Namco’s Asian English releases lack any sort of finesse to the point of even ignoring official English translations and pre-existing and used terms for their own. For example, in Moon Dwellers Irm’s name is now Irum for whatever reason. The script is full of typos to hell and back, nonsense sentences that have little coherence and outright context errors. Evasion stat the mechas also have is a really strange as hell choice of word, as Mobility is superior and more often used for this. Just as with Muv-Luv‘s case with the archaic romanizations with Takemikaduchi, Shilogwane and Kulogwane are not mistranslations. They’re just using archaic romanization.

When it comes to SD Gundam GGG , one of the simpler examples I’ve seen discussed is Char’s encounter with Gundam, where Char complements Gundam’s pilot Amuro with “You’ve gotten even better, Gundam!” In the English translation, Char says “I’m starting to figure you out, Gundam!” There is no excusing this sort of bad translation. Even character and unit names change from pre-established ones, e.g. Zeonic Front‘s Lt. Agar being now Eigar and Lou Roher is now Le Roar. Val-Varo is Mal-Varo for whatever godforsaken reason. Furthermore, the translation the show-accurate scenes use are not the same as used in the official English releases. If you think this is a minor point to contest, remember that there are lines that are iconic in English as well. They should play along the similar lines in both English and Japanese, and like with the aforementioned example with Char, the nuances and details are lacking.

It’s understandable English and gets the points across, that’s all we need. No, what we need to better paid professional translators who have time to tune the translation right. Nuances and details are what language consists of and failing to convey those right can be a final factor between major decisions. Khrushchev’s famous line We will bury you is a mistranslation and the correct translation would be We will outlast you. He made no threatening marks, but the mistranslation at the time made things just a tad bit tighter. When Kantaro Suzuki conveyed Japanese statement to Potsdam Declaration, it was translated as We’re ignoring it in contempt instead of No comment now, we are still thinking about it. Hiroshima was bombed ten days later. 黙殺 is a bitch to translate if you don’t know its use. History is full of translation errors that when done right could have led to another conclusions.

Aalt, those are serious things, these are just games. That’s exactly the point. If we are satisfied with barely mediocre translations with games, how can we trust our translators to deliver quality, high-accuracy translations when the time needs them? How little do we value our translators themselves and think that anyone could do as good job as them.

A good translation is invisible. You don’t notice how well the text flows, how the little syntaxes hit just right, how the jokes fit in and how the characters’ lines reflect their nature and position. A great translation is invisible. You only remember the bad translations, because a text that doesn’t flow and jitters with errors leaves a negative impact. The saying It’s better in the original language has its basis because the consumer is not willing to have the companies give the translators enough time and resources to make good translations. No, ‘good enough’ translation is an oxymoron, a result of short schedule, lack of resources and respect towards the work itself.

Translations that Bandai Namco are now putting out in Asian regions diminish the quality of their products.

Would I be willing to pay full price for a Japanese language SRW? Yes, when applicable. Would I pay a full price for an English language SRW with bad translation? No, I would not. However, I would be willing to pay slightly more if the translation quality was up there. This is standards, and it’s something all consumers should try to convince the companies to maintain. SRW OG Moon Dwellers and SD Gundam GGG are no Muv-Luv or Finnish Harry Potter when it comes to quality when they should be. There should be no contest what translation is good enough, they all should be at least up to the standard. The sad thing is that they could be, if they were allowed to be. You may hate localisation, but it’s the same deal with downright bad translations; nobody enjoys them, they just bring the product down. But hey, as long as there’s some sort of English translation for niche products, it seems that they will sell no matter what, so might as well employ the cheapest shit who don’t proof read their works and just push it out as it is.

The steps Bandai Namco has taken to recognize their international audience with their niche Japan-only franchises is great. However, they must now up their game and it’s up to the consumer to voice that they need to push things at a higher level. Otherwise companies will start pushing out translations that make no sense whatsoever, because pigs eat whatever is brought in front of them

If you want to read into what goes into translation sciences, Finland, Germany, Israel and Scotland have the best researches and have the widest range of approaches. Finland, because like Germany, we appreciate our language while still valuing others’ Scotland due to their Scottish Gaelic and Israel most likely due to its interesting linguistics region.

ARG Test Cast #T03 – Translators’ Show

One thing I’ve learned in these three weeks that subjects are still hard thing to come by. I’ve seen someone say that podcasts come and go by the dozen and many die out before they even make it to two digits because of the people putting them up just don’t have material to put out. Quality is always an issue, but you can’t be good if you give up. You’re never going to become good at it if you just leave it in the gutter. The same thing with blogging, and I think I found the tone I want to go with just by keeping it up, even if the content can be a bit strange at times. At least this time we’re not talking about Muv-Luv in itself.

With this third podcast we’ve branching out. The topic is not translations in itself, but rather how Alternative Projects works with their translations. These topic was chosen because most people don’t really have the grasp how much works it all involves, especially for a high quality translation. These guys have all the time they need, whereas professional translations need to work with tight schedules and under serious pressures. They don’t get paid enough, and high quality translation is something that will take time and effort to get just right.

We’re not going to touch on the philosophy or approaches of translations, as that will fill a show for later date when I get a professional translator on board. Give it a go and enjoy our probably-standard opening that Evan cobbled up for us.

Music at the end is from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien – Melody of Stars doujin CD by HARUKA Project, track 04 “Amagumo.” Original author is âge, arrange is by OdiakeS from http://odiakes.net/sjv/
The opening uses a section of Rumbling Hearts by Minami Kuribayashi.