There's a reason why any literature professor worth their salt will urge you to reach a novel or enjoy any piece of literature in the language it was originally written, if you are lucky enough to speak that language: because the author intended every word that you read to be exactly what it is. Every turn of phrase, every nuance, every hint and allusion is all there and intentional by the creator.
When the work is translated, it is like hearing a conversation through a door, or through water, depending on how good the translator is: the gist is there, but some of the nuance and some of the feel and immersion of the original is blurred or altogether gone.
For example I remember reading a translation of LOtR in Greek, and be very put off by how the name “Misty Mountains” had been interpreted in Greek. Instead of using the greek term that would be appropriate for a name meant to inspire mystery and even awe for the particular mountain ridge in the novel, the translator had carelessly used a more banal term that made you instantly think of “Moldy Mountains” rather than “Misty” ones. Technically, the translation was correct. But artistically and with regards to the style of the original work, the translation was very wrong and jarring.
The same holds true for translating the works of comics and webcomics. Good translations keep the dialogue's style and tone intact. Bad translations only keep the basic content intact, but completely disregard every other element that dialogue is a vessel for.
When it comes to translations, there isn't much you can do but pray it's done right …unless you are the one doing it. If you have the capacity to translate your own work into another language, then you are your own work's ideal translator.
The reasoning is obvious: you're the author and you know what you wanted the dialogue to show, the impact you intended for the audience and the nuances you carefully hid in those bubbles of your webcomic's pages. So when you are translating the words into another language, you will be in the perfect position of knowing which phrase to pick, when to pick it and how to interpret rather than simply do the work google also does in converting your dialogue into a different language.
There are some pitfalls though, that I would suggest to keep in mind and so avoid:
1. You must know the language you're translating your work into well. If you aren't at least advanced in it, you won't be in a position to use that language's palette properly and your webcomic will suffer.
2. You must not be tied to direct translating every single phrase you've penned down originally, word for word into the other language. Opt for a freer translation that will be more diligently faithful to the tone and style as it would be delivered in the new language, rather than the exact words as written originally.
3. You must make an executive decision on what to do with the sound effects: will you translate them too into the new language, like with some European comics, or leave them in as-is, basically allowing them to be part of the art as is often the case with manga? Whatever you decide, keep it consistent throughout your work.
What else would you suggest? Have you ever had your work translated, or did you translate your own work?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 16, 2019
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