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The Causes and Effects of Eighth-Grade Syndrome Throughout History
fotc (Mazui Subs, Unlimited Translation Works)
9 International Anime Fans, Particularly Those Who Watch “Fansubs”
This subclass of subculture-type eighth-grade syndrome cases is arguably the worst of all subculture cases. Typical symptoms of such a case include, but are not limited to
- claiming to know Japanese, when in fact, the sufferer knows only a few phrases, and is unable to use them properly;
- attending gatherings called “conventions” with other rabid and/or flaming cases, often dressed in unusual or inappropriate clothing in public prior to entrance into the venue, where social ineptitude and behavior acceptable nowhere run rampant;
- a belief that anime is about cultural enrichment rather than entertainment, often including the idea that the translation of the medium is purposed for learning the language;
- a belief that the purpose of a translation is to convert words to words, rather than experiences to experiences, which may mean localizing (because the perception of artistic effect falls under “experience”) literary devices, imagery, symbolism, humor, and other aspects of writing;
- insisting that elements of the Japanese language are never translatable, when in most cases they are, often with creative manipulation and naturalization of language (sometimes known as “editing”);
- a belief that one of the salient features of the Japanese language known as “honorifics” consists only of suffixes applied to names, despite the existence of several classes of honorifics pertaining to, for instance, verb conjugation, as well as “antihonorifics”;
- insisting that honorifics be left in translations, complaining when the name-suffix class of honorifics is omitted, but never complaining when other classes of honorifics are omitted;
- and a blind devotion to one or several “fansub groups” reminiscent of religious fanaticism, to the extent of verbally abusing other “fansub groups” despite having no reason to abuse them other than to reinforce the “validity” of the aforementioned blind devotion.
It is clear from the aforementioned sampling of symptoms that this subclass is exceedingly difficult both to handle and to appease, as they harbor seemingly endless flaws and fallacies, which are reinforced by the subcultural community and their eighth-grade syndrome itself.
Several of these symptoms will be discussed in the following subsections.
The purpose of a translation is to provide those who do not speak a language an equivalent or near-equivalent experience as one who does, that is, provide accessibility to the material. It is not the words, but the effect of the words on the mind, that is, the ideas behind them, which are of value. The translator must determine, for instance, themes, message, structure, style, voice, tone, and nuance, and based on these factors arrive at a decision on how to translate the source into the target language. To this end, it is often necessary to be interpretive and fill or omit details which are important or unimportant.
A translation is not a means of teaching the source language, but a means of providing accessibility. Because the purpose is to provide accessibility to those who do not speak the language, the resulting translation must be fully understandable without reference to terms in the source language. The inclusion of terms from the source language which can be translated or omitted for the substitution of natural structure or tone limits the accessibility to the material, and is thus lacking as a translation. The purpose of translation notes is to provide information about the context (such as historical or political details) of the material, and thus they are not acceptable for explaining terms or humor from the source language.
The translation must be one of ideas; if a word-to-word translation and transliteration were sufficient to deliver the full effect of a work on the mind, there would be no need for human translators—machine translation would be sufficient. The limitations of such translations are assumed known to the reader.
The above standards for translation have been broken and abused repeatedly in “fansubbing” and are typically spurned by those belonging to the class of eighth-grade syndrome sufferers under discussion.
Extensive use of honorifics is one of the salient features of the Japanese language. An honorific is a morpheme which contributes an emotive definite description independent of the propositional content of a clause. Several classes of honorifics exist, from “performative honorification,” which affects verb conjugation, to noun prefixes.
Honorifics are so prevalent in the Japanese language that they may be viewed as contributing to the tone of speech. They are a very natural part of the language, and the experience derived from their perception is no more than noting the tone of speech. As such, they are fully translated by appropriate selection of tone and quirks in the target language.
In the interest of time, only honorifics of verb conjugation will be discussed in this section. Furthermore, only two common morphemes will be presented here as examples, masu and chimau. Masu is an honorific morpheme indicating respect for the listener. Chimau is an antihonorific morpheme indicating contempt or disapproval for an action.
To see why it is unreasonable to include honorifics in verb conjugation, first consider the following two sentences:
- Mary-ga ringo-o tabe-mashi-ta.
Mary-NOM apple-ACC eat-perf.hon-PAST
- Mary ate the apple.
- I am speaking in a respectful tone.
- Mary-ga ringo-o tabe-chimat-ta.
Mary-NOM apple-ACC eat-antihon-PAST
- Mary ate the apple.
- I disapprove of Mary’s eating the apple.
Second, consider as well two typical translations for these two sentences:
- Mary ate the apple.
- Mary freaking ate the apple.
Finally, consider including the honorific and antihonorific in the translation:
- Mary ate-mashita the apple.
- Mary ate-chimatta the apple.
The inclusion of the honorific is both unnatural and incomprehensible to native English and Japanese speakers alike. It is thus natural not to include the honorific.
Similarly, the name-suffix class of honorifics is both unnatural and incomprehensible to native English speakers who do not speak Japanese, and it is thus natural and accesible—note the goals of translation—to omit the name-suffix honorific or substitute an equivalent English form as appropriate.
C Concluding Thoughts on Such Cases
It is clear that the subclass of eighth-grade syndrome sufferers known as international anime fans, particularly those who watch “fansubs,” is one of the most difficult to handle; those who interact with these sufferers often consider them unbearable.
Their unbearability can be traced to their beliefs, which are flawed and fallacious without bound. These beliefs stem partially from a search for identity, especially cultural identity, and a desire to be associated with a community with “clandestine” habits and practices. The obsession with honorifics despite poor understanding of what honorifics actually are can be traced both to imitation of others within the subculture and to the placement of undue emphasis to things of little consequence, such as minor verbal connotations.
Due to the malignant effects of the symptoms of this subclass of eighth-grade syndrome on both the sufferer and his or her surrounding community, it is the opinion of the author that such cases require treatment of some form. No other class or subclass requires such treatment as they are, typically, harmless and sometimes even beneficial to both the sufferer and the world at large, whereas international anime fans, particularly those who watch “fansubs,” can only cause harm. Research is necessary to determine courses of treatment for this subclass of eighth-grade syndrome cases.
The Causes and Effects of Eighth-Grade Syndrome Throughout History by fotc is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Research was funded in part by FFF Fansubs.