The point is not to show off how clever you are, it's to make the best possible finished product. The people who need the translation aren't going to be checking how close the jokes are to the original material. They're going to care how funny the jokes are.
comment by Morendil
· score: 10 (10 votes) · LW
ADBOC. The point, when you are a translator, is to translate. The criterion for "best" includes how close the translation is to the original. And cleverness is something that you brought up out of the blue, a non sequitur in the context - I reject (and resent) the implication that I approve of showing off.
Someone whose book I translated once told me: "It's my name that will be on the cover, so your job is to write what I would have written if I'd been French." Another way to say this is: if all you care about is how funny the jokes are, write your own damn jokes (pardon my French).
That doesn't mean that a translation of "PICKLED STEWBERRIES" must necessarily refer to pickling, strawberries, stew, and so on. But it should be funny (or unfunny) for the "same" reasons as the original was, for some value of "same". In particular it seems essential that the "House X" dual meaning should be preserved.
Which means it's not this one joke that should be considered when translating, but also the other jokes that rely on the dual meaning: "pancakes", "atreid", "representatives" and "elf". (Ideally the translation should also render the "clack" that arises from the "KHAAANNNN" joke which breaks the pattern.) Whatever the two German equivalents of "House X" are, they should be used uniformly over these jokes.
Refusing to go to these lengths may not necessarily result in an incomprehensible translation, or one that fans would reject. But it would result in a poor quality translation, and I think that's somewhat insulting to the author. (It's both a tragedy and a mercy that most authors probably never realize how much their work is sabotaged in translation, because they don't know the target language well enough.)
And its also insulting to "the people who need the translation" for symmetrical reasons. If their grasp of the source language was good enough they wouldn't need one, but because it isn't they are often unable to assess the quality of the translation. All they can tell is that something is off, that a string of jokes for instance reads as inconsistent and nonsensical. Sometimes (especially when the work is greatly renowned) this is eventually discovered and to the great embarrassment of the original publisher, a new and better translation is undertaken. For instance the French are to this day saddled with Frenchified versions of some proper names in Tolkien's work, that many of us find jarring.
comment by Kindly
· score: 5 (7 votes) · LW
My apologies. I had understood your previous comments to mean that you did insist on a joke referring to pickling, strawberries, stew, and so on. And what I wanted to get across in my own replies was that it's more important that the "House X" humor be preserved. That being the case, I think we agree, even though it's really really hard not to go through your post and point out everything I object to.
comment by CronoDAS
· score: 3 (3 votes) · LW
I disagree, somewhat. Do you want to translate, or localize?
"...while translations cannot, as a rule, be superior to the source material, localizations most certainly can."
— Tim Rogers, in his review of Final Fantasy VI