Translator upset after unintended KKK reference removed from English version of Japanese game


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/27/translator-upset-after-uninten.html


#2

What an idiot. Lipschultz is not a writer. He’s not an artist. He’s not a “creative” of any stripe. He’s a guy who does a job. It’s not a glamorous job, and it’s not a degrading job - but it’s just a job, and he is not paid to put his own personal “spin” on any part of the product. He thinks he’s a diva, improving on other people’s work, and I predict he’s going to have a hard time getting hired in that industry until he gets his oversized head out of his ass.


#3

Ok, I guess this is my official “old man” moment when I start really believing we have raised a new generations of idiots.

I feel like I have crossed a milestone here.


#4

we have always been plagued by idiots.


#5

I … don’t even understand. The entire job of the translator is to make the work comprehensible to a new audience. Changing incomprehensible or inadvertently offensive idioms and references is a key part of that job!


#6

Lipschultz shows up in the comments to that Kotaku post to defend and explain his position. Unsurprisingly, I don’t think he winds up doing his side of the argument any favors, but it’s worth looking at him trying to make the effort.


#7

I see a proud graduate of the Jeff Sessions Upstairs School of Comedy.


#8

#9

The really dumb thing here is that “KKK Witches” wasn’t meant to have any sort of racial connotation, as the Kotaku article explains:

had to do with a parody of the Japanese light switch company NKK Switches

Leaving it in for shock value doesn’t accomplish anything useful because its original intent was never to incite controversy and in context it’s just a simple sight gag.

As a localizer, this guy should know better as a key part of a good translation is identifying things like this and trying to compensate while retaining the flavor of the original as much as possible.

This isn’t fighting against ATLUS for removing Hitler as a boss from Persona 2, or against Nintendo for making Konami remove crosses from Castlevania. This is just a failure to put forth a bare minimum of effort to adapt a joke for a different audience.

What a stupid hill to die on.


#10

How precious and noble this heroic soul. He’s managed to be even stupider than the usual misplaced martyrs of the PC Purges.

Aside from the usual “Um, nobody is denying anybody the right to say anything; the customer just doesn’t want the KKK in their product” considerations, he appears to be attempting to defend ‘speech’ that the original speakers claim to have been wholly ignorant of; and to have not intended.

I’m not sure how you can construct a theory of what constitutes ‘speech’ where this isn’t too dumb to live. If ‘speech’ is ultimately about not effacing the speaker’s original words and symbol sequences; then ‘localization’ the most complete censorship one could want; with the speaker’s words more or less entirely removed; then replaced with substitutes from the localization target language designed to lull viewers into the comforting feeling that the ‘meaning’ had been preserved. If this is the case; I’m sure Mr. Lipshultz has a very compelling and principled argument for why he has been a willing tool of the oppressive localization machine for every other word and phrase he’s ever translated; but this one was just a bridge too far.

If ‘speech’ is ultimately about authorial intention; then a “Nope, didn’t even know that was a thing; untended coincidence” from the author makes it hard to imagine how the ‘removal’ of something that was never actually (intentionally) ‘added’ in the first place could be a problem. Indeed; demanding that it be retained; despite knowing that the English language interpretation will be…quite different…than the author’s intentions would be the actual suppression of authorial speech here. Again, no doubt there is a totally cogent argument about why we had to censor them in order to free them to be made in this case.

It’s honestly almost impressive. Being an obnoxious little twerp who thinks that he’s ‘edgy’ and a heroic fighter against the PC regime is overplayed, vulgar, banal. Being an obnoxious little twerp who chooses his Heroic Free Speech Stand on a hill that the author specifically says they were never interested in talking about; or even aware of is just classic.


#11

Actually it’s about ethics in game translation. /s

I’m familiar with the “defend to the death” quote, but at this point in my life there are few things that I’d willingly die for. Defending an idiot’s right to be idiotic is not among them.


#13

[quote=“ficuswhisperer, post:9, topic:99993, full:true”]
The really dumb thing here is that “KKK Witches” wasn’t meant to have any sort of racial connotation, as the Kotaku article explains:

had to do with a parody of the Japanese light switch company NKK Switches

Leaving it in for shock value doesn’t accomplish anything useful because its original intent was never to incite controversy and in context it’s just a simple sight gag.[/quote]
IIRC anime often use lookalike brand names like “Somy” to avoid copyright issues and unintentional product placement. “KKK Switches” instead of “NKK Switches” would fit in with that convention.


#14

“I personally felt ‘KKK witches’ was pretty funny for its shock value…"

Among the many problems with this dude, his sense of what is “pretty funny” is terrible.


#15

Given the current political context, I suspect that this is less “lazy” and more “deliberate attempt to promote the acceptability of bigotry”.


#16

his reaction is complete political ignorance IRL.


#17

Welcome to the fold. Here’s your cane and guide to ethical lawn maintenance.


#18

Hey, he can still write his own game if he wants to made tasteless unfunny jokes. No one’s forcing him to work on other people’s properties.

But I guess if he can’t translate someone else’s work with zero regard for their own intentions, meanings and desires, he’s being oppressed! Freeze peach!!!


#19

What an odd thing to hang your hat on. I mean, he seems to even admit it.

  1. It isn’t even an actual reference to the KKK, it is just that they happened to use those 3 letter for something else, with no idea it meant anything else. Like when a kid makes a completely innocent comment about something that your adult brain sees as a double entendre or something like that.

  2. Thus changing it to pretty much ANYTHING else would have equal meaning in the translation.

  3. I guess I get his point that since there is no actual reference, there is no actual harm in leaving it in. But at the same time, now that you know it might cause issues, why would you want to leave it in? Why would you FIGHT to leave it in?


#20

Surely he world have known KK is Japanese shorthand for “corporation” and xKK is common. This was almost certainly just an unfortunate coincidence.

So little of this makes any sense to me. Why burn your bridges for something like this?


#21

They didn’t explain that in the article, but great to know. So it would be like XYZ Corp or XYZ Inc.

So this is why the zipper company is called YKK, right?