Japanese Manga Translation: Best Practices 2022

Japanese Manga Translation: Best Practices 2022

Manga translation varies from one translator to another. In a highly contextual language such as Japanese, translation will vary, especially for creative translation such as anime and manga. This does not only apply to translators, it also varies from the styles of editors, companies, and adapters. The manga translation process is complicated yet very intricate.

As translators, you have to consider characterization, dialogue, as well as the setting. Not only do you have to consider the former, you also have to take into account the idioms, author’s creative flair, and slang.

Achieving Excellent Japanese to English Translations

The Japanese language, compared to one of the most translated to languages which is English, is vastly different from each other. A lot of Japanese words and phrases cannot be translated directly into English, and vice versa. This can be a struggle for a lot of translators, however, with creative translations, it can be a bit more flexible. A translator must be creative and knowledgeable about the projects he/she accepts.

Japanese follows an SOV grammatical structure compared to English’s SVO structure. This can be quite a challenge for translators who are requested to translate word for word. However, for creative translation, it is always wise to translate based on the whole context and sentence, rather than doing it word for word. Compared to machine translation, manual translation still creates the best and most natural sounding translation which should be preferred for literature and entertainment.

Japanese to English Manga Translation

Currently, Japanese culture is flourishing all over the world through manga and anime. This however, would not happen if it wasn’t for translation. Without translation and localization, manga and anime will not reach millions of people outside of Japan unless they speak the language. This does not only apply to Japanese culture but everything under the sun. Without translators, understanding each other will be nearly impossible without learning the actual language, and learning a language takes years to master. 

Manga and anime became more popular during the height of the pandemic, with people being stuck at home, doing absolutely nothing. People decided to explore more mediums of entertainment that are fresh and new to their eyes. Indeed, they found manga and anime.

For a first time manga reader, you might be intimidated by its format, or be overwhelmed by the amount of selection there is to choose from, however, you will hold on to the one thing that is familiar to you: the language. Thus, to be an excellent manga translator, you must follow the best practices for manga translation and localization.

Best Practices for Japanese Manga Translation

Avoid Direct Translations

In manga, where sentences are enclosed in bubbles, you can translate it by bubble rather than by sentence especially when translating in English. When using direct translation, it can sound unnatural and weird. A translation must read like a target language’s native speaker. In the long run, translation with a natural sounding tone will attract more readers and a wider range of audiences. 

Translating SFX

This can be really difficult for a lot of translators but knowing a lot of onomatopoeia helps in manga translation. Although there are not a lot of Japanese SFX that can be translated to English, you can use the context to help translate it to the target language. Using the target language’s SFX will help create a more immersive experience for the readers. It can also draw in more understanding to the situation portrayed in the manga.

Keep Characterization in Mind

No two characters are the same in manga. Thus, avoid making all the characters sound the same. As translators, it is your responsibility to bring the characters to life in another language. Without stripping the characters of their personalities, you must translate the way they speak, their speaking habits, and even their flair. Remember, you want to be as close to the original work as possible. 

Consistent Translations

Inconsistency means bad translations, and we don’t want that. Always check your work for inconsistencies. Creating a glossary of your own will help you with making your translation consistent. However, in manga, especially if you’re working on a volume behind a previous translator, you must take into account the glossary of terms they used in the previous volumes. You must not only be consistent on your translation, but keep the whole project consistent as well.

No One Answer is Correct

Translation is an art. There is no one correct answer. You can translate a sentence into different forms. It just depends on your flair and style. You have a certain amount of flexibility when dealing with translations. Although there are clear-cut rules such as grammar and punctuation, you can choose how to translate it in accordance with its time period, setting, and characters.

High-Quality Japanese to English Manga Translation Services

Having high-quality translations is important in maintaining the beauty of the original work. As a translator, you must uphold the quality of the source material and maintain that in a different language. Being a translator is a powerful position and has a huge responsibility.

CREATIVE CONNECTIONS & COMMONS INC. offers high-quality Japanese to English manga translation services. Not only that, CCC caters to a lot of manga-related services such as manga localization, manga typesetting, manga vertical scrolling, and more.

Reduce the hassle and create your project through a one-stop-shop manga services provider such as CCC!

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