I'm a guy that works on Dark Horse's translations

BayJumper said:
In fact, a similar problem seems to be existing with Dark Horse's dialogue translation as well. Sometimes they "Americanize" the dialogue (like Wyald talking like a "gangsta" rapper, after getting impaled by Zodd's horns towards the end of vol 11). Or sometimes they choose stay too literal to the original Japanese dialogue.
Hey, I'm new here. Well, haven't been here in years, and I used another name back then... but practically new.

Anyway, I have some involvement in the Dark Horse translations of BERSERK. My friend, Duane Johnson, is the translator and I'm his "creative consultant" for BERSERK -- meaning, I read over all his scripts, in which he makes very literal attempts at translating the Japanese, and help him to find the best way to present them in English.

Wyald was a very tricky character in that he speaks not only informally, but downright childishly at times, in an almost mocking or condescending manner. Essentially, it's as though he talks to others like he were talking to a baby. It's very difficult to describe.

I can assure you that "gangsta rapper" was never the intended approach taken with him. There are times when he makes puns or near-rhymes in the Japanese, and we tried to find ways to kinda bring that element of his speech into the English. If you read it as a "gangsta rapper", I'm sorry you did so. I'd be kinda pissed if I thought that's what someone was doing to it as well... but try to consider that's not the approach we were shooting for at all.

On that note, I can say there are a lot of times when the speech patterns of a character are very difficult to translate into English and a brute force literal translation doesn't work. We try to make characters who speak very formally (like royalty) follow all proper English, while characters who speak more colorfully or anachronistically (like Puck, for example) are the ones with whom we can take more liberties. An example of this is when Puck is flying on the crow in the Lost Children arc... after the crow throws him off, something is said between them, and it's likely Puck attempting to speak in the crow's language, because it's a very strange dialect. How the hell does a crow sound when it talks? We sure as hell don't know! So our solution was to have Puck's line read similarly to a line in "The Raven" by Poe. It's not an important line of dialogue, so if a liberty is to be taken, it's certainly more acceptable to be taken there. And what Miura does with that line is something we'd like to attempt to preserve in the English, but there's not a very good way of doing so, so we looked for another way of adding that kind of flavor to it. To allude to something about ravens that many English readers might pick up on was the best way for us to do that. It's certainly a liberty, but we felt it was a liberty worth taking because it was in the spirit of the original -- Puck is always making references to pop-culture, so this was not something he mightn't do if he were originally written in English.

Anyway, I realize that we are not going to please everyone all the time. Hell, there are things that the Dark Horse editors themselves have chosen to do with this series that I can say I personally do not like or approve. But those things are beyond mine and Duane's control, and we do what we can to make sure the scripts submitted are as good as we feel we can make them. And I assure you that many hours go into reading, translating, discussing (and sometimes debating), and revising our scripts before they are handed over to Dark Horse. So it's not like we are being sloppy about our work here. You don't have to like every decision we make, but I can tell you there's a reason for all of them. I hope that helps you guys feel better about what Dark Horse is releasing.
 
At least guys from Darkhorse have the courtesy to give us the low down on these things. I wonder how many other companies take responding to the fans this seriously.
 
For the record, I should state again that I'm not from Dark Horse -- meaning, I don't represent the company. I'm essentially Duane Johnson's subcontracted consultant, meaning Dark Horse doesn't pay me or credit me in the book. I imagine if Duane were ever given a page in which to write some thanks or his own bio, he'd certainly mention me, but that might never happen; most likely, the only people who will ever know I had any part in it are those we tell on our own.

That said, I'm still not going to say anything negative about Dark Horse. I saw Chris Warner post on these forums, and he's right about how much work goes into this stuff. Even if he, or someone else from Dark Horse, were to make a decision about the editing or publication of the English version of BERSERK and I didn't agree with that decision, I understand that you simply cannot please all the people all the time. It's not possible. And Dark Horse does a good job, all things considered, on most of the stuff I've seen and read from them.

Also, it bears repeating as well that some things are beyond even Dark Horse's control. "Knight of Skeleton" for example. Thankfully, almost nobody ever actually refers to him by name, so it's almost never an issue. You are certainly entitled to THINK of him as "Skull Knight" because the times someone actually says something in the text to contradict that name are few and far between. ^_-
 
It's still nice to hear from people who have a great "hands-on" connection with the published material, whether they're officially credited or not. Thanks for showing your insights, and do please continue to enlighten us in the future!! :guts:
 
No problem! :guts:

One thing I can say for sure is that Duane and I are both huge BERSERK fans. I mean, my interest in the series started in... '99, I think? It was at Katsucon in Crystal City (not far from Washington, D.C.). I was awake, bored, and walked into one of the all-night viewing rooms, where my friend Matt was one of the few people watching this gritty fantasy series. He saw me and immediately told me to sit down and check this series out. Now, I hate coming into the middle of something, but he insisted I hadn't missed too much and brought me up to speed. I think I came in on the third episode.

I was hooked. And from that point onward, BERSERK has been one of my favorite anime and manga series. I own both the Japanese limited edition DVD series and the American DVD box set. I have all the Japanese volumes of the manga released yet. I have an Art of War statue of Millenium Falcon Griffith standing with his sword in the ground and his hair flowing in the wind on my shelf. A keychain of Void hanging from the rearview mirror of my car points me always left (I must admit I sometimes defy fate and turn right). I own both the DC and PS2 games. Oh, and I have a cell of Casca in her dress, holding the medicine pouch from episode 17. Really, (I don't mean to brag, honestly, it's just that) I love this series. And I know that Duane does too, because even when we're not working on a volume, sometimes we'll just get to talking on IM about theories we have for the plot and characters.

All that said, there was something I was trying to say...

Oh yeah! One thing I can say is that we are both fans, and anything we decide to do with the script comes from the perspective of people who do care about it. So sometimes we'll work in some subtle reference to other awesome things. For instance, when Guts first gets his iron arm, we had him saying, "Groovy!" It's up to the editor if it stays or is cut, but we thought it was appropriate, and I don't think I need to explain the reference. It's little stuff like that, that brings smiles to our faces, that we try to work into the script without forcing anything or compromising the integrity of the original dialogue.

And we're very deliberate about the words and phrases we choose -- no lie, we once debated for like two hours on ONE word. When the Queen of Midland talks of Griffith as being like a parasite in the belly of the lion (I think that was her metaphor), we debated endlessly over whether to use "tick" or "parasite". (For the record, I strongly advocated "tick", but eventually caved to Duane because I had a two hour long drive home that night, and we needed to finish. In retrospect, "parasite" isn't bad at all.) Haha!

But, you know, the whole process is something that has evolved as we've done it. We've become more acquainted with the characters (not that we didn't know them already, but we've become more acquainted with writing them in English), so we have a better feel for them with each volume. This helps us to do more in less time, which is great because as we close the gap between the English releases and what's being published in Japan, our job will only get harder.

Actually, that warrants some explanation. To give you an idea what our situation is, we just finished going over volume 16. Bearing that in mind...

The more Japanese volumes published, the more we have to reference when we aren't certain precisely how to translate something. For instance, suppose someone in volume 17 says something that's kinda cryptic. Right now, we would have 13 more volumes (and then several uncollected chapters) to reference in which there might be some clues about how to interpret and translate that line. But if we were on volume 27 instead, there would only be 3. So as we close that gap, we have to become more careful about the way we choose to translate something, because we don't know where the story is headed the way Miura does when he writes the Japanese.

Ok, I'm rambling now... but I hope this is all making sense.

One more thing: Duane does his best NOT to read scanslations, because he doesn't want them to influence his translations from the raw Japanese. Instead, I read them, and when he gives me his scripts, sometimes I compare lines if we're not sure about something. That way, I can kinda see what someone else did with it, and try to decide whether I think that same kinda approach is valid or worth considering. And then Duane and I will talk about it. That way, if the scanslation is too far off base (and some of the ones I've read have been in some cases, not to be critical of their efforts), Duane can say something like, "No, we really need to try more to convey THIS meaning." But, sometimes a scanslation will prove insightful, and we can agree on liking the direction they are taking with a line. But this way is good because it prevents the integrity of his work from being compromised, while still allowing us to benefit from the insight of people who have tread before us in certain instances. But I can assure you, not even once have we just taken what a scanslator has done and run with it as our own.
 

Aazealh

そうはいかぬ
Staff member
Hey Auturgist, welcome back. I've split this into a new thread since it's mostly just ramblings about your personal life. It doesn't really have its place in the Dark Horse Releases thread.
 
Aazealh said:
Hey Auturgist, welcome back. I've split this into a new thread since it's mostly just ramblings about your personal life. It doesn't really have its place in the Dark Horse Releases thread.
Haha! So I noticed...

That's cool. I mean, I started it there because I was initially addressing something in that thread, but it did kinda meander as I was making different points about the way in which I'm involved, and how Duane and I work on the scripts.
 

CnC

Ad Oculos
hey auturgist,

welcome.... back? Anyways thanks for posting.

I'm not of the opinion that Wyalds speech reminds me of gangster rap (ebonics?). I think his translation was handled pretty well. Good job.

...Just out of curiousity, you say you don't work at DH? Are you a paid freelancer?
 
Auturgist said:
So sometimes we'll work in some subtle reference to other awesome things.  For instance, when Guts first gets his iron arm, we had him saying, "Groovy!"  It's up to the editor if it stays or is cut, but we thought it was appropriate, and I don't think I need to explain the reference. 
Hail to the king baby!!! :badbone:
 

SaiyajinNoOuji

I'm still better than you
CnC said:
hey auturgist,

welcome.... back? Anyways thanks for posting.

I'm not of the opinion that Wyalds speech reminds me of gangster rap (ebonics?). I think his translation was handled pretty well. Good job.

...Just out of curiousity, you say you don't work at DH? Are you a paid freelancer?
Combine your freelancer powers and bring us colored Berserk! :carcus:
 
CnC said:
hey auturgist,

welcome.... back? Anyways thanks for posting.

I'm not of the opinion that Wyalds speech reminds me of gangster rap (ebonics?). I think his translation was handled pretty well. Good job.

...Just out of curiousity, you say you don't work at DH? Are you a paid freelancer?
Here's the deal: Duane is a hired freelance translator paid by Dark Horse to work on BERSERK. (He'd done HELLSING before that for them, so he has something of an established business relationship with them, even though he's not an actual Dark Horse employee.) I am then hired freelance by Duane as his assistant/consultant, meaning I'm definitely not an actual Dark Horse employee. In fact, I've NEVER actually contacted Chris Warner or anyone else at Dark Horse. Possibly the most anyone there even knows about me is that, while working on the 5th volume, Duane asked them about hiring a consultant, and whether I needed to sign anything, like a non-disclosure agreement.

These forums have gone through a LOT of changes since the last time I was here, which I think must have been back in early 2001. So I don't expect anyone even to remember me by my old name, which was silly and I'll not repeat. = P

TheBeast43105 said:
Hail to the king baby!!! :badbone:
Look for a subtle DUNE reference in volume 16. :guts:
 

CnC

Ad Oculos
Thanks for the clarification as to what your role in the translation is.

How much of the text is given to Duane? Is it on an episodic basis? I assume when you said you were hired that you _are_ being paid?

Auturgist said:
Look for a subtle DUNE reference in volume 16. :guts:
How many references of other franchises do you intend to put in berserk? Is this part of your attempt to avoid literal translation? to quote movies? Surely there must be more professional ways of sounding colloquial
 

Walter

Administrator
Staff member
Welcome back dude. And congrats on getting an influential position in the DH translation process. But to be honest, some of the information you've told us worries me...

CnC said:
How many references of other franchises do you intend to put in berserk? Is this part of your attempt to avoid literal translation? to quote movies? Surely there must be more professional ways of sounding colloquial
I have to say this really bugs me, too. "Groovy!" ? What's next, "I'm here to kick ass and chew bubble gum...!" ? The term "groovy" itself is a little anachronistic (not that there aren't other things anachronistic about Berserk's world, but it certainly doesn't reference modern times or cultures outside of Puck's antics).

Also I think relying even a little on scanlations is a big no-no, dude. Even if it's just for an alternate "point of view," TheHawks are very often football fields away from an accurate translation. For example, their entire Post-Eclipse section (last half of vol 13-mid vol 14) was "stolen" from me, someone with absolutely no credentials and VERY LIBERALLY based on Erias/Doc's translations. And I can say that it's honestly a nightmare, and I regret even starting the effort.

That's not even to mention the debacle of basing any translations off of non-profit translations. There are huge ethical hurdles you're leaping over for a product that will ultimately be profited from. The translations our members have worked hard on for years were never intended for profit, even if it's marginal.
 
CnC said:
Thanks for the clarification as to what your role in the translation is.

How much of the text is given to Duane? Is it on an episodic basis? I assume when you said you were hired that you _are_ being paid?

How many references of other franchises do you intend to put in berserk? Is this part of your attempt to avoid literal translation? to quote movies? Surely there must be more professional ways of sounding colloquial
Duane personally owns all the Japanese volumes published so far, and he's at least READ them all in Japanese, though I wouldn't speak for him in terms of how much he's attempted an initial run through in translating.

As for the references, I assure you that you might skim right over the DUNE reference and not even realize it, simply because it's so transparent. If you didn't know to look for it, or weren't very familiar with DUNE, you'd never know you just read an allusion to something outside BERSERK; it fits in context so well. Like I said, we don't try to force anything. In that regard, "Groovy!" might be the longest stretch taken so far, and that's totally fitting given the situation; Guts' remark in that bubble is a pretty generic exclamation. And if the editor decided it was too out of place, neither Duane nor I would care that it was cut. We do our best to avoid anachronistic dialogue overall, but "Groovy!" was crying to find its way into the script in that bubble.

Walter said:
Also I think relying even a little on scanlations is a big no-no, dude. Even if it's just for an alternate "point of view," TheHawks are very often football fields away from an accurate translation. For example, their entire Post-Eclipse section (last half of vol 13-mid vol 14) was "stolen" from me, someone with absolutely no credentials and VERY LIBERALLY based on Erias/Doc's translations. And I can say that it's honestly a nightmare, and I regret even starting the effort.

That's not even to mention the debacle of basing any translations off of non-profit translations. There are huge ethical hurdles you're leaping over for a product that will ultimately be profited from. The translations our members have worked hard on for years were never intended for profit, even if it's marginal.
As for your concerns here, I'll reiterate and reemphasize that all Duane's translations are done raw. He doesn't expose himself to the scanslations at all before making his run through material. And after he's gone through each volume twice, he gives it to me. My role is to read his second draft and give him feedback, suggesting changes that help the natural-sounding flow of the English, so that it doesn't sound as clunky as a purely literal translation.

Now I've read scanslations, so sometimes my feedback is influenced by them, but only slightly. I always take his professional translations over the scans, and when I see something in the scans that I think works well, I'll say, "Hey, the scans I have do THIS, and I kinda like that direction. What do you think?" If there's anything interesting to be taken from that "point of view" it's still something that has to be justified against his raw translation, and that's always the ultimate measure against which any suggestions I make (be they my own outright or inspired by something in a scanslation) must be weighed. And again, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER have we just taken something from a scan and run with it.

Because, yeah, as you said, Walter, most scans are really far off the mark whenever anyone says something cryptic or complicated.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Auturgist said:
"Groovy!" might be the longest stretch taken so far, and that's totally fitting given the situation, and that Guts' remark in that bubble is a pretty generic exclamation.
Yeah, totally fitting given the situation. Was that the episode where Guts was dancing at the roller disco?

Unless you mean totally fitting in a "crudely translated manga" situation.
 
I'd have to agree with Griffith and Walter on the "Groovy!" translation, since I see absolutely nothing in Guts' manner speech which even remotely suggests this reaction in that scene you referred to.
 
yota821 said:
I'd have to agree with Griffith and Walter on the "Groovy!" translation, since I see absolutely nothing in Guts' manner speech which even remotely suggests this reaction in that scene you referred to.
I just looked it up. The bubble in question is on page 44 of volume 14, and reads: "ARTIFICIAL ARM...HUH? GROOVY."

And you know, the alternative would be something like: "ARTIFICIAL ARM...HUH? NEAT."

And if the editor decides to change it, cool. But if it stays and that REALLY bothers you, I dunno what to say. It's one word that in no real way changes the meaning of the what Guts is saying in that bubble.

Note also: this is explained in a note to the editor in the script, so he can totally make that call knowing that the word "groovy" is put there for flavor.
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Auturgist said:
And if the editor decides to change it, cool.  But if it stays and that REALLY bothers you, I dunno what to say.  It's one word that in no real way changes the meaning of the what Guts is saying in that bubble.

Note also: this is explained in a note to the editor in the script, so he can totally make that call knowing that the word "groovy" is put there for flavor.
Choice of words doesn't change meaning? You said yourself it adds a flavor, and I'd contend it's the wrong one (especially for Guts' character). First of all, it's misrepresenting him, secondly, it's not representing how he should be (double damage), and thirdly, it makes it seem as though the arm is intentionally borrowed or paying homage to Evil Dead, possibly misrepresenting the story and author. So that one simple choice is misconstruing or leaving out quite a bit of information, however subtle; and for the benefit of what? Not the story of Berserk.

Anyway, I'm not asking that they speak in medieval tongues or anything, I'm just not a fan of the type of translating that makes everyone talk like they're from Los Angeles.
 
"Griffith No More!" said:
Translators that don't think choice of words changes anything? You said yourself it adds a flavor, and I'd contend it's the wrong one (especially for Guts' character). First of all, it's misrepresenting him, secondly, it's not representing how he should be (double damage), and thirdly, it makes it seem as though the arm is intentionally borrowed or paying homage to Evil Dead. So that simple choice is misconstruing or leaving out quite a bit of information, however subtle; and for the benefit of what? Not the story of Berserk.

Anyway, I'm not asking that they speak in medieval tongues or anything, I'm just not a fan of the type of translating that makes everyone talk like they're from Los Angeles.
Just out of curiosity, how much of the Dark Horse editions have you read? Because, ignoring that one instance (which mind you, is in a volume not even released yet, meaning it might not even make it past the editor), I'd venture to say you would really like what's been done from volume 5 onward, at least in terms of translation. And those are the volumes I've influenced.
 

CnC

Ad Oculos
Auturgist said:
I'd venture to say you would really like what's been done from volume 5 onward, at least in terms of translation. And those are the volumes I've influenced.
speaking of curiosity, my earlier questions:

How much of the translation is Duane responsible for? All of them? or is it farmed out to people on an episodic basis?
And are you paid for your work?
 

Griffith

My posts are better.
Auturgist said:
Just out of curiosity, how much of the Dark Horse editions have you read?  Because, ignoring that one instance (which mind you, is in a volume not even released yet, meaning it might not even make it past the editor), I'd venture to say you would really like what's been done from volume 5 onward, at least in terms of translation.  And those are the volumes I've influenced.
I assume we agree since you're changing the subject, but to be fair, I haven't read them intently since volume 5. I wasn't in there nitpicking or hunting for mistakes in the first place, but I found the overall experience unpleasant. I like well written but clinical and conservative translations that allow the context and artwork to add most of the appropriate flavor to the dialogue. The problem is, "boring" translations probably aren't considered a good sell, but I have no use for translations that get cute or too creative outside of how well and accurately they convey information.
 
CnC said:
speaking of curiosity, my earlier questions:

How much of the translation is Duane responsible for? All of them? or is it farmed out to people on an episodic basis?
And are you paid for your work?
Sorry, didn't mean to leave you hanging. Duane is the translator from volume 4 (when he was hired after the original translator of volumes 1-3 quit) onward. I don't know the exact details of his contract, and I wouldn't say if I did. He might be hired to do several volumes at a time, or volume by volume. It wouldn't be appropriate of me to say even if I did know exactly.

As for myself, I've already answered; I'm hired by Duane. I'm NOT paid by Dark Horse. I AM paid by Duane, though the details of my salary is not anyone's business but mine and his. I hope that satisfies your curiosity to the extent it's within my rights to do so.

"Griffith No More!" said:
I assume we agree since you're changing the subject, but to be fair, I haven't read them intently since volume 5. I wasn't in there nitpicking or hunting for mistakes in the first place, but I found the overall experience unpleasant. I like well written but clinical and conservative translations that allow the context and artwork to add most of the appropriate flavor to the dialogue. The problem is, "boring" translations probably aren't considered a good sell, but I have no use for translations that get cute or too creative outside of how well and accurately they convey information.
Hey, I'm right there with you on the topic of disliking translations that take excessive liberties. We try REALLY hard to avoid that and this (the use of "groovy") is one of the few instances in which maybe we go against our own rule, and even in doing so we make note of it to the editor in case they feel it's too far.

There were a lot of decisions made in the first three volumes that have kinda tied our hands. For instance, one thing many people have commented on is the lack of more hard profanity in the translations. Believe me, I personally feel there are times that harsher language is appropriate, but the precedent was set before us. Please realize that even as involved as we are, neither Duane nor myself have the final say on all matters. We do what we can when we can to ensure the scripts are the best we can make them, and there will always be people who will not agree with everything done in the Dark Horse versions, just as there would be in any other version, professionally translated or no.

Most people I've talked to who have read the majority of the Dark Horse versions are cool with what we've done, which is to translate as literally as we can without sounding stiff or "boring". That there are these rare occasions when something is done for flavor might upset someone, but if it wasn't one thing, it would be something else... or else someone else being upset. Like I said, you can't please everyone all the time.

If you were to read volumes 5-12 (which are the ones out now that we've worked on) and told me that you didn't like them, I'd be very curious why. If you got to 14 (whenever it hits shelves) and your biggest problem was the word "groovy" (assuming it makes publication), I'd hope you would admit that's indicative of an amazing job on our parts.
 
Well, thanks Auturgist. It's always nice to know, when one of your favorite manga series is being handled by people who're enthusiastic about it too.
Anyways, I've been wondering, why did the original translator who worked on volumes 1-3 quit?
 
BayJumper said:
Well, thanks Auturgist. It's always nice to know, when one of your favorite manga series is being handled by people who're enthusiastic about it too.
Anyways, I've been wondering, why did the original translator who worked on volumes 1-3 quit?
Not 100% sure, but I believe he started his own company. Don't quote me on it, though. *shrugs*
 
Auturgist said:
We do our best to avoid anachronistic dialogue overall, but "Groovy!" was crying to find its way into the script in that bubble.
Auturgist said:
Look for a subtle DUNE reference in volume 16. :guts:
I am glad to hear how much you and Duane care about Berserk, but "Groovy?"  I'm a big fan of B.C., and a bigger fan of Dune, but c'mon...in no way were they crying to find their way into Berserk.  Not at all.
 
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