This doesn’t have to do with manga/anime/video game translations, fansubbing, or anything of the sort. That kind of thing is done by people who are trying their best to learn Japanese and even though mistakes are made, they are honest mistakes. Rather I want to address again those images that float around tumblr with a random quote translated from English into Japanese that clearly have just been put through Google Translate and pasted directly into the image instead of the original poster actually having any handle on the Japanese language and constructing the sentence from their own knowledge. I’ve posted about this before but I wanted to go more into detail this time as to why it really bugs me.
Translating English -> Japanese and vice versa is tricky. Oftentimes words simply don’t work the same in both languages. Sentence structure is entirely different. There are contractions, idioms, tenses, etc., that exist in one and not the other. This is why relying on software to translate is not a good idea — the act of translation itself is too nuanced for a computer to handle accurately.
Take for instance the very popular post that says “繊細なクソ花イム” with the translation “Im a delicate fucking flower” underneath it. In no way is the Japanese translation coherent, let alone grammatically correct. Obviously the individual did not put the apostrophe in “I’m” when they translated, which resulted in Google just adding “Imu” at the end of the sentence in katakana — it literally could not figure out the meaning of “I’m” without the apostrophe, so it just made it into the equivalent of a cognate, or phonetically-similar loanword, and tacked it onto the end of the sentence cause it didn’t know where else to put something it only saw as nonsense. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that it used “kuso” to mean “fucking” when it usually means “shit” or “damnit”, and the fact that there is no actual verb present in the translation either.
That’s just how finicky and unreliable translation software is. It can be used to maybe translate one or two words here or there, but many words have multiple meanings, so even then it can be disastrous when you’re trying to construct a sentence in Japanese.
It comes down to this — please do not use Google Translate to make these kinds of posts if you have no ability to correct the result yourself. If you have absolutely no knowledge of Japanese, you will only look stupid to people who study Japanese and, even worse, to native speakers. Not only this, but you are in some ways making a mockery of the language and those who are trying to actually learn it, because you want to make it look like you know it without having actually done any of the work, and yes, it is blatantly obvious. Many people like myself work very hard to perfect their knowledge of the language, and the fact that people use Google Translate to make “edgy” posts just to get notes upsets me greatly.
Have some respect for the language, for its nuances and its difficulty and for those who speak it and are studying it, and just stay away from using Japanese if you do not have any intention of using it correctly.
no but for real can we stop with the terrible google translate japanese phrases it’s really annoying because google translate simply cannot handle english - japanese translations because the two are so different
I mean really… it’s a whole complex, nuanced language spoken by millions of people with millions more trying to learn it and you’re just bastardizing it by making people think you can say “i’m a kawaii motherfucker” in japanese because you put it in google translate and came up with something completely wrong like wow gold star for you
there will likely never be a day when I’m not immensely thankful that I decided to seriously learn Japanese as a second language and keep going with it for so long.
I’ve met so many wonderful friends who all make me genuinely happy to talk to. Though I’ve heard that there’s a cultural complex in japan that makes Japanese people see foreigners as outsiders, I’ve never felt anything less than completely accepted. They always ask me to come visit them, they teach me new things, and they seem honestly interested in me and my life in America just as I am with their lives and culture, and the fact that the only reason I’m able to communicate with them and share these experiences is simply because I made the decision to start learning all those years ago is amazing.
it’s probably the best decision I ever made for myself and I know that it will continue to be a huge part of my life for many years to come. :]