Why Are Comics Difficult to Translate?

Translation is often a complex process, in terms of the translation and adaptation of stories. Comics are very famous whether you are subscribing or a fanatic of a comic story in the newspapers or in a thicker comical book. It seems like that most people enjoy reading comics, and in fact, I am one of them.

Most of the popular comics, like for example the Belgian comic “The Adventure of Tintin” have been translated into different languages. The thing is, not only the whole story or the scripts have been translated but some of the names or the characters have also been translated into the target languages. One of the famous characters in this comic was Tintin’s sidekick and best friend (the dog) Milou. However, Milou’s name was translated as Bobbie in Dutch, Kuttus in Bengali, Snowy in English, and Struppi in German. In addition the detective names in the story were translated as well, Dupont and Dupond become Thomson and Thompson in English, Jansen and Janssen in Dutch, Schultze and Schulze in German, Hernandez and Fernandez in Spanish, Jonson and Ransen in Bengali.

In the translation of comics, there are some procedures and patterns that the comic translators should follow. However, comic translation is different compared to the other field of translation. Comic translation has its own complexities in the entire translation process. It is not just about focusing on the idioms, idiolect or the double meanings of the words, but this type of translation also includes space limitations.

We all know that comic translation includes also the images of the characters, situation and the dialogue of every character. Thus, there is a space limitation in the comic translation. In addition, in seeking the help of a comic translator, we should always see to it that he or she is capable and professional in the same field.

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Therefore, in order to provide an accurate and clear comic translation, the translator should always choose and determine if he or she uses the right terms. As I mentioned earlier, the translation of comics has strict space limitations, and sometimes in translation, it is difficult enough to look for a proper and appropriate translation for every word in the source language. In other words, there may be some times that a short word from the original source is a long word or perhaps a already sentence in the target language. So what should the translator do in that situation?

However, comic translation can be frustrating in some ways, because there may be instances that some important text will be eliminated from the dialogue box. This is because of the strict space limitation of this type of translation, and sadly that is the nature of this job. However, if you hire a professional and skilled comic translator, he or she can still find a way to fill the gaps of the story in order to gratify the readers.

In addition, therefore, the people who can accomplish properly and provide an accurate translation of comics are those who are skilled and well-experienced in this field. A professional comic translator has sufficient capability or knowledge about the relevant idioms, expressions, fluency of words of the target language. Just like the other types of translations, comic translations should also be accurate and appropriate. It is a fact that we all need an accurate and proper translation of all documents and reading materials, and comics are no exception to that!

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