信賞必罰? Or the difficulty of giving praise and censure where its due.

Ignorance is bliss. That’s what the last year or two of watching fansubs has taught me.

I used to be the average happy viewer, grateful for the effort subbers put in to bring us all shows I would never have understood otherwise. I also got the occassional good laugh (or *facepalm*) out of the few ridiculous lines that I could understand with my low level of Japanese. And if you knew which groups to trust, you were always assured of decent translations for difficult shows or even just archives.

But nowadays, spotting a small mistake from an otherwise decent sub can drive me up the wall. It’s happened with almost all series I’m following this season. And whilst I just take it in stride for series I have no intention of keeping, I’m getting depressed at the thought that there are no perfect releases I can archive for the series that I’m buying (R2 DVDs for the win!).

I know – it’s not like I really need subs for those series anyway, right? But how in the world am I going to share my love for these shows with people who don’t understand them! *sighs*

I suppose it’s not all doom and gloom. Learning more and more Japanese every day, and having the patience and resources to look things up, I’ve learned to appreciate some excellent work that other people have raised eyebrows at. A good example would be gg’s translation of Bakemonogatari. In episode 2: the sub read “STDs from hookers are contagious” despite there being no such reference to STDs in the original Japanese. But what Hitagi actually said was「素人童貞がうつるわ」. 「素人童貞」 would be “amateur virgin,” and the phrase was translated quite literally by most translators into something along the lines of “I’ll catch your amateur virginity”…but what does this actually mean? Try this post by a Japanese fan dedicated to helping us understand the many terms in this fandom. In summary:

An “amateur virgin” is someone whose only sexual experiences have been paid for, i.e. they’ve only been with prostitutes.

And we all know what prostitutes probably have….so…

“STDs from hookers are contagious.”

Let me know if you can think of a better translation of that line that retains its bite. Until then, kudos to the gg translator (and editor, if applicable) for Bakemonogatari.

DISCLAIMER: I am heavily critical of my own translations – it’s embarrassing when I get the meaning completely wrong, after all – but I try not to be defensive about them. I once doubted gg’s translation to the above line myself, having heard only the term「童貞」when I first watched Bakemonogatari. Suffice it to say that I’ve learnt my lesson.

About karice
MAG fan, freelance translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

2 Responses to 信賞必罰? Or the difficulty of giving praise and censure where its due.

  1. Pingback: Memories of 2013 part 9: Enemies, opponents and rivals | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

  2. Pingback: Monogatari Series: Kamimashita! | HOT CHOCOLATE IN A BOWL

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