If you follow me on twitter you might see me complaining about translating every now and then (or a lot). Mostly it’s complaints about not translating and other times it’s complaints about silly typos. What I usually want to complain about, though, is that my Japanese is so damn awful.
So, translating woes… AKA Jade complains about her Japanese proficiency for far longer than necessary.
Let me just say, before I get into this, that I am not writing this to fish for compliments on my language skills, etc. I’m not being unnecessarily down on myself about it and I know where I’m lacking. This is just me whining about the fact that I never try to fix it lol
I am very lazy with my Japanese studies, and I have been lazy about it for nearly the entire time I’ve been learning it. Outside of preparing for N2 and N1 of the JLPT I have never really actively studied Japanese. Which probably explains why I had to take N2 twice and failed N1 last year lol
Anyway, back in February I committed to translating routes from the game Diabolik Lovers: Lost Eden which, honestly, I thought I’d drop immediately because it’s so much effort and there’s so much vocabulary I don’t know. And, look, I’ve got to admit that I have come close to dropping it. Whoops, sorry. Not because of people asking me for more translations (because it reminds me to actually do them! Thank you! lol), but because of how I feel about them myself.
It’s not that translating isn’t fun, or that I’m not enjoying the game, because they’re both great fun. It’s just that I find myself time and time again looking up the same words. Or I take so much time looking up a particular combination of kanji only to find out I already knew the damn word.
Every time it happens I think to myself that I should study more, or practice more, or get into SRS like people seem to recommend all the time. Or maybe I should read more, or go through my textbooks again and work on the aspects where I know I’m struggling.
And then I look at my piles of textbooks and change my mind. I’ve got that many resources that sometimes I don’t know where to start, and other times I’m just not interested in rehashing the same grammar points I can find and practice from game translations anyway.
But then, I think if I’m having this much trouble why am I even translating anyway? Wouldn’t it be better if people got a more polished or professional translation instead? I look at my translations sometimes and cringe because they sound so awkward and unnatural. No one speaks like this, I think. Why did I write it this way instead of another?
And then I pause.
Back when I first started playing otome games, I would never have dreamed of translating them now like I am. I remember I used to look up nearly every word on the screen and then I’d come across something embarrassing and decide it would be time to do something else instead.
I remember when I was first starting to watch Japanese dramas and anime without subtitles. I remember struggling through the volumes of Full Moon wo Sagashite in Japanese. I remember fumbling for words while trying to talk to people online and constantly reaching for dictionaries while writing blog posts.
Then I look at where I am now. I have bookcases of books I know I’ll be able to read if I just took the time. I am practicing my Japanese nearly every day through translating, games, TV, and books. I’m much more comfortable talking in Japanese than I used to be. Completely perfect translations don’t exist. The more I translate, and the more I practice, the more I’m going to improve.
I’m no longer stressing over getting everything absolutely perfect. Well, not all the time anyway. Because my stressing about it? It’s totally ruining my enjoyment of things. I know where I’m lacking, I just have to stop being lazy and work on it.
I want to improve, so I’m going to have to put effort into it. It can only help, yeah lol