I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the “official” subtitles on H!P songs are fucking atrocious.
Every time H!P puts out a new music video, the fans don’t even flinch anymore, no matter what sort of stupid shit is thrown their way in the form of these awful subtitles. They’re so inexcusably horrible, people can’t even be bothered to make jokes about them at this point. (Well, most of the time…)
No one likes a strange and downright incomprehensible, awful translation. But to make matters worse, the H!P translations are also full of inaccuracies — that is to say, flat-out mistranslations.
No. “酔えない寝酒は 切ないね” does not mean that nightcaps “don’t put me to sleep” — boo-hoo, what a tragedy. What the protagonist is saying in this line is that even a nightcap doesn’t get him drunk now — because that’s how god damn sad and heartbroken he is! Do you see the difference?
The sad part is: I could give you a hundred more examples.
It’s these little things. These pieces of nuance and subtlety that are repeatedly, constantly, lost or completely botched in these “official” translations. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that, aside from not speaking native-level English, the person doing the subtitles does not enjoy translating very much. I’m also going to speculate that they didn’t even ask for this job. While I have nothing against them personally, that’s what really sucks about this: it’s so obvious that whoever is doing these translations holds no special love for Hello! Project. For them, it’s just unwanted extra work.
But, assume I’m wrong and that it is, indeed, a proper translator who knows what they’re doing.
Well, in that case…
Mistakes happen, I get that. But on a professional project like this, those mistakes should not amount to anything more than a minor typo or two. A typo I can chuckle about. But when the translator for H!P makes a serious mistranslation? Now the meaning of the entire song may be completely changed, and the fans are the ones who are stuck with it. There is no correction forthcoming — because they don’t use YouTube’s captions feature — no translator’s note in the description, no explanation, no nothing. Just a blaring mistake that will remain there. Forever.
… Wait, what’s that?
Oh. Okay, never mind. Cancel this post. I just realized: they have their Get Out Of Jail Free Card.
“Please note: this is a literal translation, the translation may not be perfect.”
Nothing is perfect. But if you can not guarantee the accuracy of your translation, why would you stick it permanently on top of videos watched by tens of thousands of people, with the hopes that they could be seen by millions? Next time I translate something, I might take a page out of the H!P translator’s playbook and just shit on the floor, take a picture, and post it to you guys with a note: “the translation may not be perfect.“
Words matter. If they didn’t, what would be the point in translating anything?
I don’t know there I read (or if it’s true) that the translator is specifically asked to be as literal as posible. But now there are also typos that weren’t there a couple years ago, so maybe is not the same person.
“Lover boii” in Mukidashi is a cute one. X)
I love the fact that Henkka’s example of an especially atrocious translation involves both Tsunku AND alcohol. Well done, sir.
Hehe. I suppose something about it strikes a chord with me…
Reminds me of the Facebook translations they do when someone makes their graduation announcement, for example. I’ve emailed them about it, and while kind they just don’t seem too concerned. English speakers are not a priority. Which I kind of get.
Do other idol music videos have English subtitles built in? If so, how’s the quality? I’m pretty much H!P exclusive so I honestly don’t know.
Probably the same person doing all translations. (YouTube, Facebook…)
Someone tweet this at UP-FRONT LINK.
They reached a level of “better than Google Translate” and decided it was a job well done.
I always assumed they just used Google Translate.
I think it’s a mixture of both tbh
They translate what they know, then toss it in Google Translate if they haven’t a clue … not knowing that probably made it worse loll
It used to be far more google translate-ish, but recently it’s a lot more literal with weird wording and typos. Even the accurate translations could be better.
By the way, hi to Josh from HP wikia.
I’m sure the only reason they even have those awful subs in the first place is because they noticed the existence of fansubbed MVs on YouTube and decided that they could ‘reclaim’ all of those ‘lost views’ by giving it a try themselves. But the one thing I don’t understand is why they don’t use the YouTube caption option. They wouldn’t even have to hire anyone; it has a system that allows users to input subtitles on their own of any language! Further more, you can _choose_ whether you can have the subs on or off. I’ve always thought that the Japanese fans must be pretty bothered by the English subs being glued to every MV.
Honestly, my thinking is this: they decided to slap unremovable subtitles on the music videos just so fans would be forced to buy the DVD/Blu-Ray to get a version *without* any. That’s the reason they don’t use the captions option: what’s the point if users could just disable them, right? And since they put in the Japanese lyrics, then yeah, what you said: they were like “why don’t we put in the English too?” It’s such a nifty little trick by them too. Once you have a version on YouTube with English subtitles, even if they are REALLY REALLY SHITTY, the motivation by fansubbers to make their version is diminished significantly, even if their translation would be 10x better.
The only reason I still pirate H!P MV collection Blu-ray’s is just so I have a good quality copy of the music video that I can watch without the distracting poor subtitles.
Where do you get those? I’ve been looking everywhere for them to download! I can’t torrent, so it sucks, but if it’s downloading… I’d love to know about it!
Yeah they may very well believe English speakers are a negligible audience but if you’re going to do something, do it right. At the least don’t completely half-ass it.
they want people to buy DVDs not damaged by such subs
My favorite is ANGRME’s Umaku Ienai PV. It’s translated title is “I can’t describe it” even though the composer, Nakajima Takui, who sings on the track, adds the final line in English “I can’t explain”.
At least this one has a similar meaning… Just some different wording. Some of ’em are just straight up cringe with how off they are Q_Q
It’s better than nothing. If you don’t like it why don’t you apply for a job as translator there. No right? Otherwise just keep your mouth shut thanks.
That’s such a lazy way of looking at it. Do you think that way about everything else you consume, too? Movies? Music? Food at restaurants? “Man, this is some awful shit. Oh well, it’s still better than nothing. Guess it’ll have to do…”
I translate their shit for free for them… So why can’t I complain when their own company translator, who gets paid by them, does a bad job? Jus sayin.
I sure do hope this “HPTranslator” dude never tries dealing with politics,, that attitude is one I can’t help but encourage them getting punched in the face loll
do you know how much probability for gaijin-san getting accepted in traditional japanese company? near zero… the only company in japan that accept gaijin-san is multinational company, newly established company (by younger generation), or western language teaching cram school… other than that i don’t think they will accept gaijin-san…
There was a white staff member traveling with MM in Korea and Taiwan last year though, so you would be wrong lol.
The guy in the blue shirt (and, of course, the only white person) in this fan video of the group arriving in Korea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXqWVimHEQs
Then, seen (wearing the same shirt) as part of MM’s entourage when they leave Taiwan in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xN8aZpgIeE
He’s likely one of the UP-FRONT LINK staff.
I think it’s fair to say that that’s their translator.
It’s not. That guy actually is one of their camera men. He takes videos and photos. You’ll see him at like all the overseas events. I believe he speaks English, French, Spanish, and some other languages, though. So I’m sure he helps translate during their travels. I doubt he translates any of their MVs and such though.
They should just make Miki translate them during her free time.
Right, I agree with you in that he’s just a random staff guy. And that’s why I also think he’s our translator. He’s the camera guy here, he’s the general errand runner there… and he’s translating their music videos when he’s not doing something else. I refuse to believe that a translator who was dedicated to their job would be able to produce this kind of garbage.
As for your Miki comment: you’re making the false assumption that anyone who can speak a certain language is also automatically capable of producing quality translations in said language. Translating is a skill. You could have native-level fluency in two languages, and your translations between those two languages would STILL not be good. Not until you had some actual practice at translating under your belt first.
I dunno, I saw a lot of gaijin in Japanese media, it’s really not like everyone doesn’t like them.
H!P’s subs are god awful.
“I won’t give up on being naked.”
“Notice my sign with my breast cleavage”
etc etc etc lol
I get they’re being literal at times but there’s no point to translating it if you’re not even gonna do the song justice. It’s gets even more sad when you compare it to fansubs (i.e projecthello) where the translations are so well done and seem v articulate in comparison to the google translate keyboard smash that h!p is currently doing.
As a translator myself (I sub H!S) I feel this on such a deep level, lol… The most recent and obvious one that killed me was how they changed a particular line in Country Girls’ “Peanut Butter Jelly Love”:
Japanese: “Majimesugite nejireteita sonna watashi ni.. …Oishii toki wa oishii tte kuchi ni shite iin da to.. ..Oshiete kureta hito. Nee! Arigatou MY DARLING””
I would translate as: “To the me that’s a bit twisted and too serious… to learn it’s okay to say aloud when something is delicious… You’re the one who taught me. Thank you… MY DARLING.”
They translated it as : “I could not be honest with myself.. …It’s okay to be honest. You taught me, Thank you… MY DARLING.”
That completely ruins the context of that great line. It’s not about being honest with yourself… It’s about breaking out of your shell and just exclaiming “This tastes so good!” if that’s how you feel in the moment. It’s about being positive and outgoing…. Not about being honest with yourself.
Where do you sub H!S? I’d love to watch it with your subs!
Click on my name, HelloProTranslations or find me on Facebook :)
Wow this article is so presumptuous including most of the comments here.
They might not do it right because they can’t. The translator probably needs to be financed by part of the youtube revenue. It actually might not be a real translator but someone of the staff members that happens to be kind of okay in English. And he doesn’t do it badly because he’s not interested in doing it right but because he probably has more to do than doing some translations for youtube and his language skills are mediocre at least.
And having half assed translations on your videos is still a nice thing considering the main reason is because people otherwise steal their videos to re-upload them on youtube with their own subtitles. Which costs you money and robbs you of the opportunity to have controll over the content.
I do understand how frustrated you might get with their translations at times. This doesn’t equal being entitled to demand anything of them ragarding a thing they are kind of forced to do. (yeah sure, alternatively they could let youtube put strikes on all the other fan translations probably pissing of the people that did those in the long run.)
I think everyone here agrees with your two main points: it’s just a staff member, not a real translator, and having half-assed translations on your videos is a very effective way of demotivating fansubbers from making their own (better) translations.
Not to be rude…. But if it’s their job, they should be good at it. If they are being relied on and paid to do a certain thing then they should be doing it well. I’d feel bad if the person didn’t want to be doing this or felt they couldn’t properly do this, but that’s something they need to bring up with the office themself.
I appreciate that they have subs. It does help connect the audience immediately with the release of a song that wasn’t there in the past H!P. But there comes a point where is it really worth translating and connecting these viewers, if the original meaning and intent is left behind in the process?
Lyricists’ jobs are to write songs. Every word they choose should have meaning, whether it be in how many syllables it has, how good it sounds aloud, or what meaning the particular line has. To misconstrue that work is sort of a spit in their face.
can’t they just ask nonaka miki or aika mitsui to filter their final product? i bet they will give better result… after all HP only produce 30 songs or less in one year…
My own unsupported kook theory is that the translator is Nonaka Miki (who had failed an audition before MM gen 12 but because her name was Miki and because she spoke English they gave her the translating job in exchange for recommendations for a good coach).
she have native level language capability… she will have much better translation rather than this translation staff they have now…
Why not just get Chel to do it?
I recall hearing somewhere that a woman at the company (I believe the person in question also helped with pronunciations during Morning Musume’s rehearsing and recording for “One and only”) was initially doing the translations and was trying to do them properly, but some random guy associated with someone else at the company said they were wrong and needed to be done literally instead, and now it’s either him doing it or her doing the first draft and him re-running them into “literal” versions.
Of course this is entirely unproven and I can’t at all remember -where- I heard this being discussed.
I think that whole discussion came about with the whole, “Who is ALISA?” thing. I’m not sure how much of what went around as rumors ever got confirmed. I remember someone saying they knew her (lol).
However, she is credited with translating One and Only (from Tsunku’s Japanese version.) But that does not mean the translates every H!P song… If I remember correctly I’ve seen the name “Eric” floating around on H!P official translations as well.
But my main issue is that I agree they should be done “literally,” as that’s how the lyricists wrote it. That should not be broken English, though. And a number of mistakes I’ve seen have been the complete opposite of being done literally–it seems like they’re trying to think like a songwriter and are instead translating it more “song-like.” Doing that, they’ll read the Japanese line, translate it, then re-write it so it “sounds better.” I’d prefer literal, but understandable, translations. Q_Q
Eric might be referring to Eric Fukusaki, a UF soloist who wrote the music and lyrics for Peanut Butter Jelly Love. He’s fluent in Spanish and English, but I don’t think he translates stuff for UP-FRONT LINK or H!P.
Yeah, it was probably around that time. I doubt we’ll ever know who does the translations or how the process works in the end. I do think they’ve gotten better since we started getting them, so I can only hope they’ll continue to improve – and maybe change – even if at a slow pace.
Finally someone said what we were all thinking.
Honestly, I feel like they’re not THAT bad. It’s maybe two or three lines on average per song that I notice sound awkward in English, so I’m not really bothered. But also, I usually look at the lyrics on ProjectHello after anyways, so…
If fans practice alert reading and ask questions/compare translations, they’ll have a fuller experience anyway. This is good practice, and would still be good practice to an extent with great translations. It would have saved people a lot of fuss over lyrics in the Hokkaido Kenshuusei song if they used the rest of the lyrics as a clue to realize certain words were being used creatively.
I’m conflicted on this. I understand everyone’s frustrations, but at the same time… UFP doesn’t “owe” us anything. It costs nothing to watch the music videos on Youtube, so why complain?
You guys have to realize that as much as we love our idols, ultimately it’s a business. UFP is concerned with making money, and they know 99% of it is coming from their Japanese fanbase.
International fans will always be an afterthought in H!P. Always. The sloppy translations reflect that clearly.
I know it’s easier said than done, but why not try studying some Japanese…? You can’t have it both ways.
Why complain about a free service? It just seems entitled to me. You get what you’re (not) paying for.
I get your point, but I think this way of thinking is a bit weird. You’re thinking about it in the form of an exchange, like we’re receiving free products, but most of the people here are looking at it from an artistic point of view. Any type of content deserves criticism; that’s the only way anything will ever improve. Furthermore, the lyrics aren’t harmless. They’re bastardizing the original song; someone’s ideas are being misrepresented.
To be honest, they do owe something to us. What I don’t get is why they started all this “wao global H!P” thing to just throw at us all these half-assed “translations”. Gosh, it’s not that difficult to find someone to translate the lyrics properly – so, the “someone said the translations should be literal” theory may be right.
What annoys me is that it’s not a literal translation at all so why would they make that claim! Looking just at Shoppai ne, they made lots of decisions in the translations that are not literal so why would they make an excuse like that to cover their mistakes. They didn’t literally translate the title as “salty” or “Isn’t it salty” and instead wrote “salty tears” which is an inference in the language. In translating “切ないね”, they used heartbreaking instead of a literal translation like miserable or painful. The change to using “heartbreaking” instead of “painful” shows they translated the lyric to try and link the lyrics to the theme of love throughout the song rather than just be 100% literal to what is in the dictionary. It’s fine just saying “The translation may not be perfect” and they definitely aren’t but they shouldn’t say it’s because they are “literal translations”. It’s just makes their bad translations look more unprofessional in my opinion.
Exactly. So much of this discussion revolves around these translations being literal when in reality they aren’t literal at all. “Salty Tears” as you said is a good example. Either a translation is literal or it isn’t. You can’t have it both ways. Again, it’s exactly like you said: while the statement “the translation may not be perfect” is definitely true, the “this is a literal translation” part definitely isn’t.
Someone on H!O once said they know the translator, and the translator was told by the company to make them literal and basic/simple. It wasn’t because they wanted to do it that way, it’s because they’re told to.
But they’re awful, and if H!P honestly wants to widen their global fanbase, they HAVE to stop half-assing shit like this. No matter how small it may seem, it makes a difference. I’m embarrassed to show my friends and family H!P MV’s because of this! If there weren’t any subs (like I could remove them if they used the caption feature) or the subs were much better translations, they could make so many more fans. Honestly, sometimes stuff like awkward lyrics turn people off of a song… they can’t see past that one bad line that they thought was ridiculous, and it ruins their opinion on the rest of the song. You know? I’ve had a few of my friends say that, and it doesn’t make them want to continue listening to H!P.
Then learn the language instead of relying on subtitles LOL
I’ve been learning Japanese for eight years, buddy. I’m not talking about myself. Do you really expect your friends, family, and other people on the web who come across H!P’s MVs on YT, to learn Japanese JUST for these songs? Give me a break. Get off your “learn japanese!!!” high horse and use some common sense.
“I’m embarrassed to show my friends and family H!P MV’s because of this!”
“Honestly, sometimes stuff like awkward lyrics turn people off of a song… they can’t see past that one bad line that they thought was ridiculous.”
This this this! We the fans may not always care about it, but what you’re talking about here is definitely a real thing.
Happy someone agrees with me! It really is, my parents have made fun of the lyrics and despite me telling them “It’s a literal and shitty translation, it’s not what they lyrics really are!” it’s just permanently damaged their views of the song and I can’t seem to change that.
And in some cases, they (and others) then assume ALL Japanese music lyrics must be like that. When people don’t have a lot of knowledge about something, they make a lot of assumptions based on their first experience with it (and like you said, we as fans kinda get it and are used to it so we don’t really care, but people new to J-music, not so much). H!P is a lot of people’s gateway into the J-music industry, so they should be giving a good first impression. God forbid they ever go viral with subtitles like the ones they currently have…
I remember when the first batch of subbed Hello! Project MVs were coming out, someone, it might have been on Tumblr or just posting someone else’s findings on tumblr stuck the Japanese lyrics of Morning Musume’s “Brainstorming” into Google Translate and saw that the outgoing translations were verbatim the english subtitles. Though I don’t think they do that anymore, they are really REALLY bad, even when they go from English to English it some how turns out wrong, Morning Musume 17’s “Jealousy Jealousy” did this. I have a feeling that whoever does their UFA Facebook page also does the English subtitles for the videos, I feel like UFA is a big enough company that they could hire a bilingual media translator to do it. But at the same time, I also feel like UFA is cheaply producing a product so people buy the Limited Edition CDs for the “Clean” (non-Promo edits), which lately means maybe a slightly longer intro/outro and no subtitles.
Since my Japanese is not good, I can´t really tell if the translations are wrong or weird.
But I agree with the majority on this, they should hire a proper translator. There are tons of gaijin living in Japan who have a decent Japanese level and could translate the lyrics properly.
While it’s true that H!P’s translations aren’t excellent, I don’t understand why them putting subs in their videos should discourage you of doing your own translation if you know the official one is faulty… If I knew Japanese, that wouldn’t discourage me in the slightest because pretty much everyone knows the “literal” translation isn’t the best, so the overseas fans most likely would want to read a second opinion (I know I would).
That said, I wish they’d hire a better translator if they want to add an official translation. Come on, how hard is that?
I think one of the best counter arguments towards these “official subtitles” is: if UFA thought they had any sort of REAL value whatsoever, why would they not stick them on the DVD’s/BluRay’s as something you could enable if you liked? Well, we all know why: because absolutely no one wants them. That’s how freaking horrible they are.
These subtitles are like a watermark they put on their videos so people would buy the DVD’s. Except, these watermarks actually not only turn prospective fans off from becoming interested in them, but they even turn pre-existing fans away from their new material.