“…breath of the legendary suu’rin, an being that lived underground…”
“…breath of the suu’rin, an underground monster…”
The latter is the literal, the former is what I went with. To sum up the problem, basically in Japanese you have a lot of words that are only suitable as being expressed by the English word “monster”.
This time the word used is 怪物 (kaibutsu) in other words, a strange or mystical creature. It’s not the same ‘monster’ as the one used in RPGs 魔物 (mamono). Neither is it the same ‘monster’ used in “B-, Bakana! Kono bakemono!” which would be 化け物(bakemono).
I think I should make a new post to complain about this.
This was something I wrote at the end of the 4th chapter of The Bathroom Goddess.
Basically, the problem with a lot of web novel translations is that in web novels, things tend to be based around RPGs. Meaning you have stuff like 魔族(mazoku; demon) and 魔物(mamono; monster). Literally translating them, it’s “demon/magic tribe/race”, and “demon/magic creature” respectively.
The whole, ‘is this 魔 meant to represent magic or demon here, or is it both?’ thing is a whole other issue for the mazoku thing which I won’t get into.
What I will get into is the problem with translating 魔物 as monster. By no means would I translate it as anything else, because to the Japanese WN reader, they’re going to immediately associate this term with the monsters in RPGs.
That’s why we can’t translate it as ‘fiend’ or ‘demon’ or anything like that. I know some people DO translate it as ‘demon’ like the Slime Datta Ken translators, but I believe that you guys are doing it wrong… unless the JRPG localisation in your country happens to use ‘demon’ for everything.
When you translate, as much as possible, you’re trying to convey the impression and nuance that a reader of the original text would get.
If the character is exclaiming something in Engrish and trying to be funny, you might translate it as Japanese like SUGOI or NANI!?.
If the character is speaking Engrish all the time, and just throwing it into his words because that’s just how he speaks, perhaps an American might translate it as Spanish, since that’s the most popular second language there.
If the character is speaking Engrish and trying to sound fancy, it might be appropriate to translate it into French there, because that’s what we English-speakers do when we try and sound cultured.
And for RPG-esque fantasy web novels, the thing that hits Japanese readers when they see 魔物 is basically the monsters in RPGs. That’s why we can’t translate ‘mamono’ as anything but monster.
But there’s another common term translated as monster; 化け物(bakemono).
This one is the ‘monster’ that you use for something terrifying or incomprehensible. It’s the one that people scream after going ‘B-, BAKA NA!’ at the terribly powerful protagonist. The monstrously powerful protagonist.
So sometimes you might get somebody exclaiming ‘YOU GODDAM MONSTER!’ in a web novel, but I’d like to have people keep in mind that in instances like these, there’s a completely distinct separation between the RPG monsters that prowl the fields, and the ‘true monsters’ that scare the shit out of the baddies and make them scream ‘B- BAKA NA!’.
So yeah~ Sorry if this was a bit long. Even if both are translated as monsters, please note that in the original text, they aren’t just comparing the person/thing to the common RPG monsters; they’re basically calling them true horrors.