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domm (4030)

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Just in case you like to know, I'm currently full-time father of 2 kids, half-time Perl hacker, sort-of DJ, bicyclist, no longer dreadlocked and 33 years old

I'm also head of [], maintainer of the CPANTS [] project, member of the TPF Grants Commitee [] and the YAPC Europe Foundation [].

I've got stuff on CPAN [], held various talks [] and organised YAPC::Europe 2007 in Vienna [].

Journal of domm (4030)

Tuesday July 22, 2008
03:49 PM


[ #36986 ]
Two unrelated observations regarding translations, with no relation to Perl:
  1. I've recently watches a few episodes of Heros, this TV series about normal-people-turned-into-superheros. It features two guys from Japan. In the english version (at least in the one I've seen I think in Bratislava) the speak in Japanese with each other (with english subtitles), and in bad English when they talk to others. Makes perfect sense.

    Now, in the german dubbed version, they speak perfect German with each other. When they talk to others, they speak German with a Japanese accent. When others talk among themselves, the others speak perfect German. Yet the other do not understand what the Japanese guys say to each other. Complete nonsens! WTF where the german dubbing people thinking???

    It gets even more fun, when in one episode they meet a girl has the superpower to learn very fast. She learns japanese, and speaks japanese with them. Like, actually japanese (with german subtitles). And they answer in japanes, only to fall back to bad german after a few sentences...
  2. I've recently read the book Unlundun. It's a nice book with a lot of interesting ideas and funny character names. When I read it I was quite sure that the german translation just has to suck. Eg., you have black windows (space-wraping windows with spidery legs) living in webminster abbey. Or binjas (trash bins with supreme ninja fighting skills).

    Last week I bought the german translation (partly for my kids, but also partly to check the translation). It's not as bad as I suspected, but of course has some issues. The binjas were turned into rabjats, which makes absolutly no sense in german. The black windows are called 'finsterfenster' (dark window), which completly looses the reference to spiders (black widow - black window). At least webminster abbey is turned into 'Netzminster Abbey', keeping it's similarity to the Westminster abbey.

    But I was dissappointed about the utterlings. When Deeba, a teen from London, is forced to teach Mr. Speaker (every word he says takes on some weird form and lives on as an utterling) new words, she comes up with things like bling and diss, which indeed are newish words. Instead of leaving those words as 'bling' and 'diss' (which thanks to MTV etc are known in german, but maybe not widely) they are translated to 'Klunker' and 'motzen', which might be slang, but defintly not new words (thus destroying the plot, which explicetly asks for new words).

    It's strange, because some words (The Armets, and the mighty Klinneract) are left untranslated (sometimes with footnotes to explain their meaning and their mis-pronounciation by Unlunduners (eg 'Clean Air Act' -> 'Klinneract')).

    Anyway, I think translating books that play with the language they are written in is one of the hardest jobs around, and basically bound to fail.
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