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Honorific or Honorrible?

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  • Honorific or Honorrible?

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    That's odd. When I was on some other anime forum, one guy said that the lack of honorifics is said to be one of the worst parts of the English dubbed anime had while here on Fandom Post forums, Legion said keeping honorifics in a dub just doesn't work at all.

    Ok, my mind is confused right now..
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  • #2
    Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

    Originally posted by LouisTheXX View Post
    That's odd. When I was on some other anime forum, one guy said that the lack of honorifics is said to be one of the worst parts of the English dubbed anime had while here on Fandom Post forums, Legion said keeping honorifics in a dub just doesn't work at all.

    Ok, my mind is confused right now..
    People have varying opinions on this issue. My take about honorifics is that they should only be included if it makes a difference whether they are said or not and no other suitable way to translate them in an appropriate setting. In most shows, dropping them doesn't make any difference, but there are some shows where they must be dealt with accordingly.
    Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:04 PM.
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    • #3
      Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

      Originally posted by Buckeye View Post
      Originally posted by LouisTheXX View Post
      That's odd. When I was on some other anime forum, one guy said that the lack of honorifics is said to be one of the worst parts of the English dubbed anime had while here on Fandom Post forums, Legion said keeping honorifics in a dub just doesn't work at all.

      Ok, my mind is confused right now..
      People have varying opinions on this issue. My take about honorifics is that they should only be included if it makes a difference whether they are said or not and no other suitable way to translate them in an appropriate setting. In most shows, dropping them doesn't make any difference, but there are some shows where they must be dealt with accordingly.
      This is my opinion the matter as well. In shows like ef, the honorifics were important as far as relationship statuses go. They either need to be kept or translated in some manner. However, I find it sometimes awkward when you see 14 year olds referring to each other as "Miss" and "Mr" in the dub, so you have to tread carefully.

      I can really deal with them in a dub, or I can handle them being translated. As long as nobody gets referred to as "Sissy", I'm usually fine.
      Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:04 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

        Originally posted by LouisTheXX View Post
        That's odd. When I was on some other anime forum, one guy said that the lack of honorifics is said to be one of the worst parts of the English dubbed anime had while here on Fandom Post forums, Legion said keeping honorifics in a dub just doesn't work at all.

        Ok, my mind is confused right now..
        I wouldn't be surprised if that person just doesn't like dubs period.

        When an honorific is spoken in Japanese, there's meaning behind it because it's a part of Japanese culture. When an honorific is spoken in an English dub, it's just empty. There's no cultural connection and it just sounds awkward. We have ways of getting the equivalent meanings across in English, either through translation or using different wordings and expressions. Translating the meaning behind honorifics helps the voice actors and audience connect with the characters and their relationships. That's what a good script adaptation does, and good script adaptation is something that is sorely lacking (read: nearly non-existent) in the majority of Sentai's dubs.

        In the very few instances where there isn't a way to express the meaning behind an honorific in English, well, them's the breaks. Something is always lost in the translation but by not translating you lose *everything*. I've been saying this for years and will continue to do so because it's never going to stop being true.
        Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:06 PM.
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        • #5
          Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

          In the very few instances where there isn't a way to express the meaning behind an honorific in English, well, them's the breaks. Something is always lost in the translation but by not translating you lose *everything*. I've been saying this for years and will continue to do so because it's never going to stop being true.
          This issue comes up from time to time. I recall a long flamefest on Crunchroll a couple of years ago. Like the "dub" vs "sub" wars, this topic seems to generate more heat than light.

          How much Japanese should a non-Japanese person be expected to know to read or understand a translation of a Japanese work? I'd say, none. How often will a native writer of another language pepper their work with Japanese words, or create
          mixed-language terms such as those that result from the use of Japanese honorifics? Hopefully never. I agree with Legion: Japanese honorifics should never be used in a foreign language translation. There are other ways to get at the relationships implied by the honorifics. That's what professional translators do for a living.

          Personally I've found some recent Sentai English language tracks to be unlistenable because they are so heavily laden with unnecessary honorifics. A serious offender is Un-go. On the other hand, except for the OVA, Inu-x-Boku-SS's English language script is straight English and sounds fine to me. (I cannot vouch for the accuracy as I do not speak Japanese). Some works such as Clannad started out annoyingly replete with mixed English and Japanese, but after a dozen or so episodes, reverted to straightforward English. I wonder how many folks gave up before getting that far.

          The issue of honorifics is just one of many that bedevil translators. For those interested in more translation issues as well as the history of English language adaptations of Japanese anime, Reito Adachi's dissertation is an excellent resource. You can purchase a PDF copy from dissertation.com, or buy a hard-copy edition from retailers like Amazon.

          A Study of Japanese Animation as Translation
          A Descriptive Analysis of Hayao Miyazaki and Other Anime Dubbed into English

          Reito Adachi
          Institution: Okayama University
          Advisor(s): Yoshi Kenmotsu, Satoshi Kubota, Kazuhiro Ueda
          Degree: Ph.D. in Literature
          Year: 2012
          Volume: 293 pages
          ISBN-10: 1612339484
          ISBN-13: 9781612339481

          Japanese isn't the only problem when translating anime. Some anime include text in other languages. For example, La croisée dans un labyrinthe étranger contains some French that was badly translated by Sentai.

          Another problem mentioned earlier in this thread is the pronunciation of Japanese names. My personal take is this: all of the actors should pronounce the names the same way. Consistency is desirable and makes listening easier. Accuracy -- in the sense of pronouncing the names as a native speaker would -- is also desirable, but I'd rank it lower than consistency. It can be difficult for a native English speaker, for example, to pronounce Japanese names because there are some sounds in Japanese that do not exist in English. The reverse is also true. I grew up in a mixed English and French speaking household. I am aware of how difficult it can be to "get it right" when two languages have as many different sounds as English and French.

          I'd probably rate accuracy higher if the Japanese actors made even the slightest attempt to pronounce Western names correctly. They rarely do. It seems churlish to berate non-Japanese actors without leveling the same criticism at the Japanese actors.
          Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:07 PM.

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          • #6
            Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

            Originally posted by pibburns View Post
            Another problem mentioned earlier in this thread is the pronunciation of Japanese names. My personal take is this: all of the actors should pronounce the names the same way. Consistency is desirable and makes listening easier. Accuracy -- in the sense of pronouncing the names as a native speaker would -- is also desirable, but I'd rank it lower than consistency. It can be difficult for a native English speaker, for example, to pronounce Japanese names because there are some sounds in Japanese that do not exist in English. The reverse is also true. I grew up in a mixed English and French speaking household. I am aware of how difficult it can be to "get it right" when two languages have as many different sounds as English and French.

            I'd probably rate accuracy higher if the Japanese actors made even the slightest attempt to pronounce Western names correctly. They rarely do. It seems churlish to berate non-Japanese actors without leveling the same criticism at the Japanese actors.
            One thing I have been told is that for LA dubs, the producers have somebody there to make sure that the names are pronounced correctly. That is why in Eureka 7, Eureka is pronounced the same as it is in the Japanese version rather than the English way of saying it, and in Gurren Lagaan, Simon is pronounced Seemon while in the short-lived ADV dub where I was one of the few people that got to listen to it, the name was pronounced as it is in English. And I remember hearing that someone who worked on the Bleach dub that someone on the production team was doing some sort of check to make sure that the names are pronounced correctly. It seems to me that this sort of check is totally absent from Houston dubs, so there is a possible explanation for that.

            And while it is one thing to not pronounce it correctly, it is another matter when the name is said many different ways. In the Kids on the Slope dub, Rebekah Stevens pronounces Kaoru's name several different ways before getting it right late in the show. I'm not exactly sure what was going on, but it definitely is sloppy to hear all that.
            Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:08 PM.
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            • #7
              Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

              How much Japanese should a non-Japanese person be expected to know to read or understand a translation of a Japanese work? I'd say, none.
              How much should they NOT read or understand sounds like a better question. This however sounds like a comment a high horsed country loyalist would say when they want to know or visit another country and they find it stupid to have to communicate or understand there culture. Highschool slice of life comedy/drama shows rely heavily on honorifics and suffix's from japanese culture, taking all that away would no longer make it a show from japan and turn it into a 4kids script translation or a Funimation "revisioning".

              And if you try to make it work, do you know how much time that will take to check through lip-flaps and script rewrite? And sometimes the japanese won't allow that, an example would be back when ADV was dubbing and scripting the translation of Neon Genesis Evangleion where Matt was fighting on how the japanese say "child" as "children" instead of the other way around.

              But that has nothing to do with simple honorifics or suffix's that will be difficult to change in english which might sound jarring and different from what a normal english person would say translated. You can tell from what I said there, dubbing is a double edge sword though. But I find it easier to listen to than changing a shy characters word vocabulary to a college scholar saying, "Yuko-san" to "beautiful Yuko", "darling Yuko", or even "WAIFU YUKO" XD.

              I find it too be acceptable to remove the use of honorifics or suffix when the setting of the story takes place very far from a japanese culture like society (ex:one piece, berserk, needless, ouran, dbz, some of the Ghibli films). And from after watching "From the New World" which was AMAZING, I think there should not be honorifics used in the dub since I literaly heard none used in the japanese dub. Plus I do agree that honorifics like "onne-chan", "nee-sama", "sama" etc. should not be used since we have words that fit the flaps and are simpler to say. And Chris Ayers due (to what I assume to be negotiations with the japanese) did not change those in Ef but with them being used rarely, I tossed that asside and still called that dub one of the best of 2012 IMO.

              But words like "san", "tan", "kun", and "chan" are very difficult to change and can leave a strange taste with the script and "may" affect the characters role and attitude.

              So in the end, I agree and disagree and I hope I don't offend.
              Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:08 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                I think if you get into a rhythm, you get used to the honorifics. While reading the new translation of the Sailor Moon manga, as well as some fansubs of anime like Tokyo Mew Mew (and some official subtitles of a couple others), I begin to forget they're there. Although I haven't really heard them in full use in a dub though, I think I'd get used to them. The closest that I can remember at the moment is ONE use of "-chan" in Slayers Excellent.

                Although I suppose I'd prefer them not being there, it's not a huge issue for me.
                Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:09 PM.
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                • #9
                  Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                  Ha, ha, yes. That title is just awful. But that's because you guys managed to cause a split form a thread that was already itself a split. So that's what you get.

                  Anyway, keep at it, so long as we're all polite about it, etc. This is a subject that goes back a long way (what was the first dub to use honorifics? His and Her Circumstances? I remember arguing about something around that period, I think) but has usually been discussed professionally. No reason to think it can't be again...
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                  • #10
                    Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                    Originally posted by bctaris View Post
                    Ha, ha, yes. That title is just awful. But that's because you guys managed to cause a split form a thread that was already itself a split. So that's what you get.
                    Looks like we're making you work hard lately! I personally like the title of the thread since it leaves nothing to the imagination while hitting on the exact reasoning behind the discussion.

                    As for honorifics in dubs, I think they are fine as long as they sound appropriate. If they sound out of place, then it's probably better for them to be translated. In some examples doing so makes it sound awkward as well. There's really no exact formula for them, but if it changes the context to translate them then I don't really like that approach.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                      In my mind, FLCL is still the perfect example of how to properly use honorifics in a dub. There's a kind of flow; the actors "got it" and were able to make the "-san"s and "-kun"s sound like a natural part of the name, instead of something tacked on to the name, which I think is what you get from a lot of poor or mediocre dubs that insist on keeping honorifics, whether or not they belong in the script. In most cases, it seems to be more a problem with direction, most likely a lack of adequate studio time or money, not necessarily a lack of talent.
                      Originally posted by Buckeye View Post
                      That is why in Eureka 7, Eureka is pronounced the same as it is in the Japanese version rather than the English way of saying it, and in Gurren Lagaan, Simon is pronounced Seemon while in the short-lived ADV dub where I was one of the few people that got to listen to it, the name was pronounced as it is in English.
                      While I'm sure someone checked off the dub tracks for E7, the fact that Eureka's name was pronounced about a dozen different ways, mostly by the actor playing Matthieu, from "Eh-uh-re-ka" to "Ur-ree-ka" through the first two volumes makes me hesitant to believe that someone (who really cared) was in the booth specifically for name consistency. Probably didn't help that Johnny Yong Bosch replaced the original actor for Renton, which may have meant Tony Oliver had less time than he would have liked for the other actors. I also recall the "See-mon" news, and if I recall correctly, it was stated that that is the original pronunciation, whereas "Sai-mon" is only found in English, but I don't know if that's true.
                      Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:09 PM.
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                      • #12
                        Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                        Originally posted by EyeOfPain View Post
                        I also recall the "See-mon" news, and if I recall correctly, it was stated that that is the original pronunciation, whereas "Sai-mon" is only found in English, but I don't know if that's true.
                        Yes, that's true. Simon is derived from the Hebrew name Shimon (as in Shimon Peres, shee-mon). Do they say shee-mon in the Japanese track?

                        I haven't watched a ton of dubs in a while, but I've never been a big fan of honorifics in them. However, I'm probably a lot looser in my ideals of what translation should be than most anime fans - I'm not even wild about translating "Onii-chan" as "Big brother" just because that usually sounds very awkward in English. Japanese is a very different language from English so a word-for-word translation usually doesn't make for an accessible translation. I'm not advocating complete rewrites (and the subtitle script can be a place for more stringent accuracy and honorifics) but stilted English sounds a lot worse as dialogue spoken by actors than it does when read as subtitles.

                        I will add that one of my translation pet peeves is when something in the Japanese is derived from English or another language and is mistranslated. Umpire's lines in baseball games come to mind, as well as the mispronunciation of Mireille's name in Noir.
                        Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:10 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                          Originally posted by EyeOfPain View Post
                          While I'm sure someone checked off the dub tracks for E7, the fact that Eureka's name was pronounced about a dozen different ways, mostly by the actor playing Matthieu, from "Eh-uh-re-ka" to "Ur-ree-ka" through the first two volumes makes me hesitant to believe that someone (who really cared) was in the booth specifically for name consistency.
                          IIRC, Matthieu only pronounced it that way in time, and stuff like this can slip through the cracks. But in any case, I remember JYB saying that they were ready to pronounce it the way it Yurika as it is in English, but somebody from Bones ordered them to pronounce it that way.
                          Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:10 PM.
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                          • #14
                            Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                            Originally posted by Buckeye View Post
                            IIRC, Matthieu only pronounced it that way in time, and stuff like this can slip through the cracks. But in any case, I remember JYB saying that they were ready to pronounce it the way it Yurika as it is in English, but somebody from Bones ordered them to pronounce it that way.
                            I remember that as well, but the way your original statement was worded, I thought you were implying Bones had sent one of their producers over specifically to sit in the recording studio and correct the director/actors whenever a name was not pronounced to their liking, but I see that I was mistaken. ...I took a look at the original thread, and noticed that a lot of what Legion disliked about the dub for Dusk Maiden in particular is the retention of "onee/nii-sama/san/etc." While there is a case to be made in favor of honorifics, keeping these familial relationships untranslated is unnecessarily complicated, both for actors that don't have the pronunciation down pat, and more casual viewers that might have heard of "Shoguns" or "samurai," but don't have that built-in knowledge that many of us take for granted; there's something to be said for educating those people, but dubbed cartoons are not really that place. Would you leave "okaa-san" untranslated, or would you replace it with the much more familiar "mom?"
                            Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:10 PM.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Honorific or Honorrible?

                              Originally posted by _PS_ View Post
                              Yes, that's true. Simon is derived from the Hebrew name Shimon (as in Shimon Peres, shee-mon). Do they say shee-mon in the Japanese track?
                              Yes. Due to the official English spelling being revealed as "Simon" long before it was licensed, it's safe to assume that it's supposed to be pronounced "see-mon". I assume the reason they say "shee-mon" in the Japanese track instead is due less to "Simon" being derived from "Shimon" and more to the lack of a "si" kana, because of which "shi" becomes the kana used.
                              Last edited by bctaris; 05-28-2013, 11:11 PM.
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