I was all set to conserve my Bleach fangirling to a couple of posts a week (besides fic over at herdedcats
, cough cough go look and friend) but despite early spoilers, the raw is not out yet (though the Chinese watermarked one is, eeeh) so fuck it, I am gonna leave the latest chapter spazzing for another post. So! Here's another post I've been wanting to make. It is maybe not bitchy enough to be a rant. Call it an anti-spaz.
Okay. I am gonna lay out my controversial position here. Are you ready?
I really fucking hate the term "nakama." For the uneducated, it means something like friends, but stronger than that--teammates, or comrades, the latter of which is my preferred translation most of the time, at least how they've been using lately. For some time now, translation group M7 has been leaving it untranslated, and it's spread through the fandom like a virus.
The rationale is supposedly that there's no specific English words that directly translates it, so they leave it with asterisks and footnotes. And I fucking hate it. I HATE IT SO MUCH.
There are a LOT of Japanese words that don't have direct English counterparts, and I'm not talking about honorifics or distinctly Japanese terms--I'm pretty fine with leaving those. I mean just common, everyday parts of speech--Japanese and English are very different languages, so YEAH there are going to be many words that are not going to match exactly.
But you know what? That's why we have a little thing called context
. Sure, "nakama" means more than just an average school friendship. But that's obvious from the way Tatsuki uses the word when she's yelling at Ichigo, for example. It's obvious that Ulquiorra is not referring to "pals" when he refers to Ichigo's nakama in the current arc. I mean--we don't NEED this foreign word like it magically is more clear than using context and the many, many words English has for types of friends. Hell, the first time a reader sees it used in a scanlation, they're going to have to look at a footnote to understand WTF it means anyway! How is that better?
It's not like the word is so very special anyway. Orihime used it way back in SS arc, when they were waiting on Sokyoku Hill. "Rukia is not just a nakama." Except the word wasn't untranslated back then--it was just "Rukia is not just a friend." And you know what? No one had trouble understanding what Orihime was talking about because the sentenced lacked this magical fucking word.
It's just not necessary. I consider it only marginally better than inserting random Japanese like the fangirls do in bad fics. "I'd love to go to the movies with you demo I have homework to do!" JUST USE THE REAL WORD, OKAY. It drives me up a damn wall.
Clarity of language is a good thing. I'm not saying we shouldn't use any Japanese in English translations, but there's keeping the flavor of the source language and culture, and then there's just pointless pandering. I believe the use of "nakama" falls into the latter category.