In early December last year, I wrote a blog entry which contained my personal, unofficial translation of Candy Candy: Final Story‘s prologue that I had worked on in my spare time. Recently, someone nicknamed Beautiful Illusion had discovered my post and written a blog entry discussing it, especially how it has the potential to be an “unbiased translation”. I also received a comment from someone (Candy Bert) asking if they could translate what I wrote into French. In this post, I’d like to respond to those two things and talk a bit about translation in general.
First, a little background for those who aren’t too familiar with Candy Candy. Without giving much of the story away, I’ll just say there are critical parts of the story where there is some uncertainty as to which character is being referred to. This is done using the expression “あの人” (ano hito), which is means something like “*that* person”.
It turns out that the Candy Candy fans are divided into several camps, each of them believing the “ano hito” is referring to a different main character. I was aware of this, however I hadn’t heard about it until after I finished reading the book. What learned from Beautiful Illusion’s post was that these various interpretations of the story were actually reflected in Candy Candy fan translations that were available throughout the net. In other words, these translations were written such that took some of the vagueness out of the original work and made it more clear who “ano hito” was. I haven’t read any of these, however, so I can’t give more detail than that.
The central point of Beatiful Illusion’s article about my translation was that my translation might be the first “unbiased” translation of that work, and this is especially important because there is no official translation.
My general stance on translation is to preserve the original work’s meaning as much as possible, while making adjustments as needed such that the audience can properly appreciate and understand things. While this may sound simple, it is can actually be very challenging, especially when the audience may not know critical cultural elements required to understand the story completely.
However, in the case of semantic uncertainty behind “ano hito”, my translation philosophy makes it very clear what to do: leave this uncertainty intact as much as possible, using terms like “that man”, or “he”. The only reason I can safely use “that man” in place of “that person”, is because the story makes it very clear it is a man being referred to. I haven’t decided completely, but I think “my darling” might be a good candidate.
While there are those who have said the author of Candy Candy misstepped by making things overly vague with respect to “ano hito”, that debate is totally irrelevant to a proper translation of the work. Since the author intended to make things vague, a correct translation would have to preserve that vagueness. It really surprises me that someone would actually let their personal feelings effect their translation to that extent. However, these translation are all unofficial translations, so anything goes. And yes, mine is just as unofficial, except that it may be a little less biased than the others. It’s important to note that even some official translations may actually have some bias from the translator’s point of view, but that would only be appropriate if the author and/or publisher requesting the translation was (explicitly of otherwise) in agreement of those changes. For example, I can see changing the story in certain cases if someone important feels that it would make more money. I don’t actually know of any translation that has done this, but I think it’s possible.
Regarding the questions from Candy Bert: I am fine with anyone linking to my translations, however please make sure you say they are unofficial. I do request to not use excerpts from the translation via cut-and-paste, the reason being is that I still consider it as a work in progress, and may go back and edit it at any time.
Candy Bert also asked whether it is OK to make a French translation of my English translation. I am against this for a few reasons. The first is that, as I said above, it is still a work in progress and may change at any time. However, a more important reason for me being against this is that when a work is translated twice it necessarily has a higher risky of meanings being changed and becoming more distant from the original. To understand why, just think of the traditional game “telephone” which is played in the U.S.
If someone really wants to spread the unbiased translation in French, I’d instead recommend reading through my translations and comparing them to the available French one(s), and make a list of items that are different. Alternatively, I’d suggest finding someone who knows French and Japanese well enough to make a direct translation without going through English. I can just about guarantee that will yield a better unbiased result.
A further reason that I request that my translation is not translated into another language is that any fan translation itself is inherently in a grey area, since there is by definition no proper permission from the relevant publisher involved. If I were to receive a notice from the copyright holder of this material, I would remove it from my blog immediately. However, if someone were to translate my translation, I would no longer have control over what is done with this. So please don’t translate it (:
In any case, I’ve only done the prologue so far, which is a very small fraction of the entire work. If you would like me to continue my unofficial translations, please like the prologue translation post and help find other people to do the same.
Finally, I’d like to thank Beautiful Illusion and Candy Bert for their feedback about my translation. It’s good to know some people who speak English are still interested in Candy Candy.