Commas

Finally I can get some rest after so many busy weeks, which reminds me, I should really do a v2 of Kigurumikku v3 2 and 3.

Let us begin, then.

There are many ways to use a comma, but I’ll just work with what people usually get wrong. Also, I will try to keep the information clear instead of going all technical.

1) Separate an incomplete, dependant sentence (clause) from a complete, independent one.

While I got dressed, the radio was playing a great song.

On that night, we became friends.

We have mustard in our car, of course.

As you may have noticed, everything after the comma makes sense on its own, while everything that precedes the comma does not. Also, this are pretty simple sentences, though they should do the trick.

Knowing when to use the comma is easy, knowing when not to use it is not:

A woman frightened by a mouse bought a cat.

Most people would put ”frightened by a mouse” between commas even though it is wrong. Here, ”woman” is nonspecific, so what follows is essential because we need to know which woman is doing what.

To make it clearer:

The vegetables that people often leave uneaten are usually the most nutritious.

Broccoli, which people often leave uneaten, is very nutritious.

Since we now are talking about a specific vegetable, the clarification is not needed and should go between commas.

Another when not:

The war lasted for two years but it never gathered much support.

Most of the time ”but” is preceded by a comma, but when there are two coordinating conjunctions (for and but in this case) and they separate one incomplete sentence do not us a comma.

                                                                Too little, too late.

2) To separate items in a simple list: Simple being they keyword here.

Apples and oranges.

Apples,oranges, and bananas.

If the list is at least three items long, use a comma before ”and.”

I am sure most people know to separate items in a list with commas, but they do not know they should only do so with simple lists. I will talk about how to separate items in a complex list in another post.

I have merged several specific rules, but this will certainly make it easier for you to learn how to properly use the comma. Also, there are some minor variations to some of the rules, but you should not worry about that yet.

Hope this helps.

Style

First thing first, this is for advanced editors or translators. Don’t think that style is an excuse for errors. If you are not advanced, this may give you a false sense of security.

What do I mean by style?

As you know, there are two big ways of writing English: American and British. They can be considered the two major styles in English, but they are not enough.

I prefer to use American English, because I think is more ”stylish.”

There are two ways to look at style:

1) To follow rules some editing houses, universities, and whatnot have set. i.g., The Chicago Manual of Style.

2)To choose what is best for each sentence, while, probably, keeping  point #1 true.

Style doesn not mean changing everything randomly as you see fit. Maybe if you are an experienced writer, but barely any writters do that. It hurts.

Things that are mostly affected by style are:

A) Capital Letters: Rules for capitalizing are pretty much set in stone. There is one, however, that give us something to play with.

”Lookie! There is The President!”

Some people seem to apotheosize the president, hence the capital letters.

Another one that I see quite often , especially in anime, is this one.

”Cowabunga! The Student Council Representative is the coolest!”

This sentence should never be capitalized; it’s wrong.
Everyone seems to randomly capitalize everything regarding a student council. And, more often than not, you do not have to.

B) Emphasis: This is a tricky one. I’ll leave the proper explanation for when its time comes.

”Hey, you killed her, right??”

Just use italics on a word, depending on what you want to emphasize. You, killed, her, all of them work. But just use one, please. What is tricky about that? Well, you do not have to emphasize words. That will be covered in the respective Emphasis post.

                                                     Unlimited Emphasis Works!

C) Punctuation : Oh my! This is the trickiest one.

”Please save me!”

A comma is almost always the right way to go, but depending on the context, you may want to get rid of it and let the sentence flow better.

”He is not right…”

First, whether ellipsis is right or wrong here will be discussed later. This is an style issue, however. This is a sentence, right? Don’t all sentences end with a full stop? Where is the full stop? Most people, in fansubbing at least, think that is the rule, when it is actually an issue of style. We will talk about this later as well.

But…

”He is not right. …”
”He is not right. . . .”
”He is not right… .”

Those should be the options. I prefer the third one.

”I went to the park. I saw mommy and daddy.”

Oh! The ever-lasting battle between semicolons and full stops! I do not know if everyone hates the semicolon, or just don’t know how to use it. Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt, but try not to leave behind our dear friend: the semicolon.

A wise man once said:

”Full stop is usually a safe bet, when in doubt.”

Em dash. You cannot be wrong with either. Choose whatever one you prefer.

”Full stop is, usually, a safe bet—when in doubt.”

If I’m gonna use an em dash, putting usually between commas makes the sentence looks better. Another thing, it’s not recommended to surround the em dash with spaces, but in fansubbing it matters not.

D) Spelling: I was not going to write about this, but here it is!

”I can not go there!”

Can’t, cannot, can not.
Cant’: Worst possible choice.
Cannot: Average way to write it.
Can not: Use to emphasize.

However, neither is actually wrong, but if you want to be safe, go with cannot.

This was all written with American English in mind. And there are more cases regarding style. i.e., should we start a sentence with the word and?

This is lenghty enough, and you now know what style is all about.

Next topic may be about editing itself. I’ll probably stick with what I said in the introduction, though.

 

Want to Translate?

Some people may think it’s weird to write about what to translate. Idiotic, even. You translate everything that’s been said! You translate anything that’s in a language other than English!

The problem here isn’t that the groups lack translations, but that they translate things that shouldn’t be translated.

The way fansubbers approach their scripts is mixed. Sometimes it feels like you are reading a book,  sometimes it feels like two people are actually having a conversation, and most of the time it’s both at the same time. And that does not work.

Let me contradict myself here. The proper way is to feel that the characters are having a conversation, yet it still manages to be ”book-ish.”
It’s not even that hard. Do it as if you are writing a book, but always remember people can watch and hear what’s happening, too.

1) Avoid stutters: E-everybo-body kno-knows the character is stuttering, why do you have to ‘translate’ it? Pointless and looks horrible. Not to mention most people get it wrong.

2) Avoid sounds: Huh? Ah? Aha! We know what they mean. No need to put them in the subtitles. Looks horrible. Things like nyaa and eto could be an exception to the rule, but I still would say it’s wrong.

3) AVOID YELLING: The same principle applies. We know they are yelling so don’t do it.

4) Don’t elongate words: Whaaaaaaaaat? No waaaaaaaaaay! If you are doing that, well… troll subs. That’s how it looks.

Hoshikuzu: Through reading this I may think that a main reason that fansub groups do those things is for the hearing impaired. People without the gift of hearing it may be hard to tell how the characters say certain things. It gives the hearing impaired a chance to see everything that the characters say.


To be fair… it’s a cat

And, since they are having a conversation, the dialogue should flow. If two little girls are talking, the subtitles should use simple and, why not, cute words. If two brothers from the hood are talking, the dialogue should be grotesque yet simple.

Summing up: Refrain from adding unnecessary things to the subtitles and make them flow. Always remember to be consistent.

Translator’s Script

Translators… all fansubbing is built around them. You can’t do anything without them, yet it seems like you can’t do anything with them, either.

I’ve yet to find a translator fluid in two languages. I always thought that was one of the requirements. It makes sense, right? Why shouldn’t it be? No matter how good your Japanese may be, if your English is poor all that ‘good’ Japanese will go to waste. You will end up with bland sentences or, more often than not, sentences that make no sense at all.


                                                     That makes some sense

And there, my friends, is where the problem lies. An editor could fix the bland sentences and punctuation mistakes, as long as they understand the sentence, of course. What they can’t do is transform a nonsensical sentence into a sensical one. They could try, but chances are part of the sentence’s meaning will be lost.

Unlike future posts, here I’m just trying to address something that has been going on for quite some time. Bad translations are dangerous and we should get rid of them. Soon!

I know groups are desperate for translators. Any translator should do. And that, is the first mistake.

Always, always! Make sure the guy you are trying to recruit is fluid in Japanese and in English. You should test him. Make him translate a fairly simple episode. Once he gives you the script, let a good translator see it and tell him to give it an score—1 to 10 works. After the translator checker is done with the script, give it to a good editor and let him rate it as well. He shouldn’t only rate the English of the person being tested, but he should point out how hard it would be for him to edit that script. He shouldn’t score lower than 7 in translation. English could be a 6 or even a 5, as long as the editor says he could fix the script easily and fast.

I’ve seen many groups with a really good, dedicated staff which only problem was a bad translator. That’s enough for any group to get a bad reputation, and it makes me sad.

Another thing groups tend to lack is good editors. But that’s shouldn’t be hard to fix. I hope…

Introduction

Hello guys, Klownzie here.

I will use a space in this blog to write about different things —translation and editing— so stick around.

A list of topics would come handy, so here it is:

Translator’s script: Most of the scripts translators make are complete garbage. You will understand why with this post.

Should we translate this?: One of the biggest mistakes in the fansubbing community is how they tend to over-translate; no more, I say!

Translator to editor: Communication. Very, very important. An editor must understand what the translator intended to write in each line, and how.

Style: More important than you think. This is a topic for advanced writers, editors, translators. Still, I think is better to know how important this is and how much it will improve your scripts.

Punctuation: Each topic will have its own post.

  1.  Comma.
  2.  Semicolon.
  3.  Ellipsis.
  4.  Quotation Mark.
  5.  Interrobang.
  6.  Dash.

I probably won’t write about the colon or the full stop. If you want me to, just let me know.

Capitalization: Tricky subject for most people.

Grammar: Some simple things to remember. I may do more than one post about this.

The fansubbing community seems to be improving, and hopefully with these posts they can become even a little bit better.

Got any questions? Want me to talk more about a certain topic? Just leave a comment below!