Saturday, June 6, 2009

Translation Issue 1: Border/Order; 近所/秩序

One of my main interests is translation, especially with media that are either not considered to have translation 'issues' or where translation is almost unconsidered. Games are one of these. Playing the different versions of Kingdom Hearts is bringing out many of these translation issues. And (as expected) these translation issues are often based around the points of friction at stake: transnationalism, multinationalism, territoriality et cetera.

One of the most obvious early translation points of friction (there's got to be a good word for that), is when Goofy, Donald and Jiminy walk down to the Gummi Ship to leave the Castle. The transcriptions in English and Japanese as well as pictures are below.

Goofy: それじゃジミニー、キミのいた世界も消えてしまったの?
Jiminy: みなはなればなれになりー、私だけがこの城にたどりついたというわけで
Donald: グーフィー?
Goofy: わかってるよ。この城の外では僕たちがよその世界から来たことを明かしてはいけない。おたがいの近所の守るために
Donald: ”秩序”
Goofy: そうチツジョを守るために
Goofy: むこうについたらこの服も着がえなくちゃね

Goofy: Gawrsh, Jiminy, your world disappeared, too?
Jiminy: It was terrible, we were scattered. And as far as I can see, I'm the only one who made it to this castle.
Donald: Goofy?
Goofy: Oh, right... I gotcha. While we're in other worlds, we can't let on where we're from. We gotta protect the world border.
Donald: "Order"
Goofy: Right. World order.
Goofy: I guess we'll need new duds when we get there.

The scene involves Goofy making a word mistake, choosing the wrong word for what he wants to say. In Japanese he says "近所" (neighborhood) and Donald corrects him by saying "秩序" (order). While not homonyms, the second character of both is read jyo while the first changes from kin to chitsu. It is not particularly close, but it makes a nice joke. Goofy proposes protecting both (their world and the other worlds') neighborhoods, and Donald corrects him so that what is protected is each's order.

The English variation changes two things. First is that the pun is moved to border vs. order, which is a closer rhyme and therefore slightly more humorous, but far more pertinent for the idea of transnationalism, borders and crossing. Essentially, instead of Goofy saying the wrong thing (as in the Japanese variation), Goofy makes a Freudian slip and reveals exactly the point of contention, the border.

The border is the issue; preserving the "world order" (a term that has interesting connotations linked to NWICO and the Macbride Commission) is done through preserving the borders!

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