Translating Woes

Posted 25 July, 2017 by Jade in Japanese / 13 Comments

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


13 responses to “Translating Woes

    • How long have you been learning? What manga are you interested in reading? ヾ(°▽°)ノ

      If you ever want any resources or help with any of it feel free to shoot me a message whenever if you want? ❤ I’ve got plenty lol

      • I’ve been trying on and off for a few months now. I’m still trying to remember hiragana but my memory is so bad haha. How long have you been learning for?
        I want to find a cute shoujo manga to read (once I get the basics down)

        Thank you! Because I’m learning on my own I think I’m struggling more ❤ lol

        • Haha, I’m like that with the Korean alphabet >.>;; I’m not good at self-studying from scratch at all lol I’ve been studying Japanese for about thirteen years now(;´▽`A“
          What genres or tropes in shoujo manga do you like? ❤

          I’m following you on Twitter now so shoot me a message whenever! If you ever wanna practice I’m up for it 😀

          • Damn, you’re learning Korean as well? How many languages do you know? lol
            I couldn’t find anywhere to learn Japanese so it’s self-study for me! But 13 years wow
            Definitely comedy/romance. I kinda like reverse harem (if it’s cute) and fluffy BL haha. What about you? ❤

            I just followed you back! You’ll be embarrassed by how little Japanese I actually know lol

          • lol I’m attempting to anyway, I keep forgetting all of it though. I need to practice more. I used to study Mandarin and French too, but I’ve pretty much forgotten them too (´△`)↓

            What are you working with? I could shoot you through some links to some resources if you want?

            Ahh, nice! Try: Last Game, Dengeki Daisy, Good Morning Call, Hiyokoi, Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet. As for fluffy BL, welllll, the ones I have are less fluff and more angst lol
            I read a different bunch, lately it’s been a lot of shoujo and josei manga, but also some shounen and some seinen. I’m also a BL and yuri fan❤

            No! Seriously, don’t be embarrassed! It’s fine lol

  1. What would you say is harder, Korean or Japanese? I want to learn both but I think struggling with Japanese is enough for now lol. Wow, I can’t imagine learning so many languages!

    At the moment I’m only using the Duolingo app but I’m sure whether it’s the best. Thank you! I wasn’t sure where to get resources from

    Ooh, I’ll have to write those down! Well I don’t mind angst as well haha. I haven’t really read any josei or yuri manga but plenty of BL ❤

    The most I can remember at the moment is how to write good morning in hiragana lol

    • Hmm, at this point I think Korean is harder. That’s probably because I haven’t been learning it for very long though and I keep stopping and starting.

      I’ve sent through a couple of links on Twitter. I hope they help❤︎

      Haha, good yuri is hard to come by. 90% of it has characters who look like they’re 12 lol

      • Ah. I want to try and see whether I enjoy it more than Japanese. I think I’m struggling with learning the hiragana then romaji to see what it translates to in English (I feel like I could do it a lot better lol)

        Did you use a lot of workbooks to help you or something different? Thank you ❤

        There’s a few mangas that look good but I’m not a fan of shotacon so I tend to find something new haha

        • Ah, yeah, it’ll get easier once you’ve got the hiragana down pat.

          I do, yeah. I use more JLPT preparation textbooks these days, but I went through a lot of textbooks and workbooks over the years.

          Yeah, I’m not a fan either. Whenever I find something with characters who don’t look underage I’m cheering lol

          • That’s true. Do you remember how long it took you to learn it?

            Ah, I wanted to buy a workbook but wasn’t sure if they worked!

            I’m the same! If they look their age I’m instantly reading it lol. I’m not sure why shotacon is so popular tbh

          • Not too long, what I ended up doing was writing and rewriting them and creating names out of them or writing friends’ names in hiragana all the time. I did the same with Katakana too.

            They’re very helpful! They get you using the stuff that the textbooks teach, they can get pretty tedious sometimes because omg again??? But they do help.

            Yeah D: I wish it was less so that we could get more great characters looking their ages.

  2. Ooh, that sounds quite good actually. I wanted to write my name in hiragana but I haven’t tried yet lol

    That’s what I was worried about! I’d probably want to give up if I found it tedious but got to power through haha

    Yeah! It would be nice to read something and they look at least close to their age, not like little children D:

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