Inconsitencies between translated languages >> ENGLISH, CHINESE, INDONESIAN <<

Don’t flame me for nitpicking, someone might wrote about this before (not sure), but this is a genuine concern for quality translations. I speak these 3 languages fluently (native speaker) to be able to discern the difficulty in making perfect translations.

I recently tried to sub the Love, Now episode 50,51,61,62 and I encountered some inconsistencies with the previous subs. Please give me some idea on what Viki community would prefer. I personally disregard direct translation in favor of conserving the actual meaning.

1st example: (Conserving the meaning of the action vs direct translation of the said words.)
The action in the movie refers to “slap her”
The actual word said by the actor is “打她” or literally translated to “hit her”
The Indonesian translation that i gave is “menampar dia” or “slap (genderless) that person”

2nd example: (languages that have levels of formalities vs those that does not)
The word “you” in Indonesian is “kamu” when said to someone of similar age or younger.
I rarely heard “kamu” referred to the elderly, I heard more of “kau” a less rude.
“you” in chinese have 2 forms: 你 and 您. “You” for most people and “you” for elder, now less often used. In Indonesian, they are usually addressed by their social standing “you” for mom is “mom”, you for father is “dad”

3rd example: (one word with multiple meanings in other languages)
Formal vs informal. the word “no” in english can be translated as “nggak”, “tidak”, “tak” which bears different context. In rare cases “no” can be translated to “not” in Indonesian, “bukan”. I translated the informal conversation to informal languages and formal conversations to formal languages.

4th example: Positive affirmation vs negative affirmation
“You are tired, right?” in English is translated into Indonesian as “Kamu lelah, bukan?” which directly translated as "you are tired, not? One other variant is the repeating word affirmative in Chinese language, have this expression “你累不累?” translated “you tired not tired” do i translate it to English as “Are you tired?” and Indonesian as “Kamu capek nggak?” Same meaning different structure.

5th example: Explicit object vs implicit object
no example yet, but i know this occurs esp in translating between these languages in my University paper back then.

I can go on and on, but there should be a convention on what is the rule for translation:

  1. It should first and foremost “directly translated”, keeping the sentence structure where possible
  2. If it does not make sense, then it should “keep the ‘specific’ intended meaning”
  3. Then adjust for formal/informal, gender/gender neutral, etc
  4. Finally if all else fails, keep what makes the audience understand.

Let me know what you think

Ah, the troubles of translating. It’s always a difficult thing to find the right balance of directly translating and taking some liberties to get the meaning across.

Personally, I prefer not to translate “directly” for the most part. (Although, admittedly, if I sub for too long, I see the Chinese structure coming out in English translations .-.) Often, it’s a matter of grammar - when languages use different sentence structures and you try to translate it word for word, it sounds a bit nonsensical. But it’s also because the meaning/feeling just doesn’t get conveyed with a direct translation.

I get the point you’re making. For this example though, at least in my opinion, “hit her” and “slap her” sort of convey the same thing to me. So, depending on the language you’re working with, I guess they could carry different feelings…? And in that case, the burden of deciding how to go at it lies with the translator.

Anyway. I’d choose meaning over direct…ness - but there are exceptions to it. There are some phrases (like say, idioms) in Chinese that may or may not have a corresponding phrase in English. With something like that, I’d probably do a literal translation with a translator’s note.

Similarly, I would actually very much like to keep formalities and titles in a translation. Like, it carries that cultural connotation that I feel you should keep. The problem with that is, for example, in Chinese you have “您” and “你”. Although in English, there can be a distinction in formal and non-formal speech, based on overall word choice, how do you translate “you” other than “you”?

Or like, when you have people calling each other “姐” and “哥” or using “sister” or “brother” after names. In Chinese, it’s a matter of, like, familiarity. But you don’t really do that in English, and it feels weird to tag on “sister” of “brother” to someone’s name.

I’m not sure if Viki translators do this, but with like Korean dramas, I see people using words like “oppa” and “unni” in a similar way - that is, they’ll take the Korean word and add it to English. To get that feeling across. And I’d actually consider doing this for Chinese translations if people also felt it made sense. (Just add in translator notes, y’know.)

Okay, a little off topic. But translator notes.
Back in the day, when fansub groups used to hardcode videos, they’d add translator notes across the top of the video - whereas translations are on the bottom. (Do you know what I’m talking about?) I always thought that was a great little “feature.”

With Viki, adding translator notes to the translations is a bit of a pain. You have to deal with the amount of text on-screen at a time and how long it’s actually there - do people even have time to read the note? Everyone’s read some translated texts right (like for school?), and they always come with translation notes. I feel like it’s a necessary thing that Viki doesn’t work well with.

I think what you said pretty much confirms what i initially thought.


@Doodlebaa The art of translating, … I learn more since I do translating in Viki. Word choice is the beginning.

Btw, did you contact the respective language moderator beforehand, though? Mostly they have set a certain guidelines ( in addition to the general guidelines) for keeping the consistency across all of the episodes . For instance, some Indonesian moderators I’ve known prefer to use: aku/kau (informal) instead of aku/kamu. And vice versa. And also about the slang words, for your example is the word “ nggak”. Some Indonesian Mods I’ve known do not urge to use slang words, use proper Indonesian language instead. That’s why mostly you may only see ‘tidak’ and ‘tak’, as both words are also interchangeable. You said this word bears different context, how do you define this? I wonder.

About the 2nd personal pronouns Kau/Kamu. They are interchangeable, you know that right. Some may think kau is less rude, but having lived in some areas in Sumatera, I found ‘kau’ is more common to be used in that region rather than kamu. They do not think it’s less rude. It’s just the way people speak there in general. Most likely this is depending on the cultures, customs and regions. Ah, some of my lectures even use ‘kau’ more than ‘kamu’ :). And they’re not Sumatran. So…to me, I think this is a matter of preferences of choosing words.
I think, this is what makes everyone has their own style when they do the translation. Which is interesting for me to analyze. Translation work become more fun because of that, as I have a chance to explore more words at the same time.