Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Big Long Post on Innocents and Gender Pronouns

So. I've kind of hinted that I would make this post before, and here it is. My main goal here is to go into how exactly the whole situation with the cast and Subaru's gender plays out in Japanese and write about how I decided to handle it. Or, something like that.

The first thing to mention is that the manga doesn't flat-out state that Teana thinks Subaru is a boy until chapter five. Yes, the same chapter that her misunderstanding is corrected. In fact, Fate and Alicia being under the same impression isn't revealed until chapter six. There are hints here and there, but it's definitely not as clear as I made it seem.

I think I did a decent job of keeping the Testarossa siblings' reaction close to what it was in Japanese, but I did change up Teana's a bit. Her discovery is based on two things:
  1. Nove referring to Subaru as her older sister.
  2. Subaru using "atashi," a feminine way of saying "I," when apologizing to Teana.
The first one I basically kept as is, but the second one I instead switched to "as her older sister."

In order to make the joke work, Subaru never actually says "I" before the vital moment in chapter five. This is possible in Japanese, but attempting to do so in English would just lead to a storm of awkward sentences and horrible grammar. I briefly considered trying to do the impossible and keep it the same way, but there was no way that was happening. Luckily, "as her older sister" seemed like a great substitute, and came with the added bonus of not requiring a TN note about pronouns and whatnot. Well, I am writing this up, so I guess not using a TN note wasn't that important.

The other thing that helped hide the truth is the fact that nobody actually uses "he" or "she" when referring to Subaru. In general, they either refer to her by name, or by using some substitute such as "that child" or "the challenger" and the like. I tried my best to word sentences and avoid using either pronoun as well, but in some cases it was basically impossible to do so. Or, to put it more correctly, I found it basically impossible to do so for chapter one.

Chapter one was just kind of miserable. I tried to avoid outing the big misunderstanding entirely during the chapter, but I really couldn't think of good ways to word it and not make it sound like I needed lessons on basic sentence construction.

So I gave up. Threw in the towel and just used the word "he." It's kind of sad to admit, but I did not possess the literary skills to make such creative sentences.

That's all I wanted to say. Hopefully it wasn't too much of a drag. Feel free to lynch me now.

1 comment:

  1. considering the actual DIFFICULTY of trying to keep a translation of a foreign language work to the spirit of the original writing, I for one am thankful you did as much as you did to preserve the original joke and plot point.