09 October 2009

Of translating and preparing for press

I started work on the French version of the comic Wednesday, an operation that began by converting each page to press-appropriate CMYK, compensating when necessary for the dulling of colors that ensues. Happily, when I reprinted vol.1 in French, I sat with the person doing the color corrections at the printers and gathered precious tips plus the color profile I need from him. So now I can do it at home, in a few clicks and with great results (from disappointing personal experience, I can tell you, don't dream of converting RGB docs to CMYK yourself if you don't know precisely what you're doing. It's like adding 20% black to all your files).
Why do I work in RGB if I'm going to print in CMYK, you may ask? Because so many Photoshop effects are not available for CMYK files, and because I can't achieve the same intensity in light in CMYK, so for online viewing at least, I like to squeeze the most out of RGB.

Anyway, I have now started the translation process in earnest, and it's filling me with all sorts of thoughts about the pros and cons of French rather than English in this context.

- Tu and vous. Makes a whole layer of character relationships revealed through dialogue alone, right off the bat.
- On and nous. Similarly, says something about how "proper" or casual the speaker is.
- More difference between informal and formal speech. The same character can speak to her friend and then to an adult and the difference in speech mode is immediately obvious.

- Conjugation endings are so much longer. Man oh man. 4 extra letters for plural pronouns. When your speech balloons are tailored to a language with smaller words, it hurts. (That said, so far I've needed less words than English to express the same ideas when rewriting my sentences in French).
- Due to lexical and connotative differences, some concepts sound so lame when translated from English. Maybe it's just habit, but still. Different genres really are closely knit with different languages (as we know full well, given the fact we fluently switch language in speech due to this principle).
- Gendered words and adjectives. They go towards less ambiguous speech, yes, but sometimes the result really doesn't help achieve the desired effect. "La Gardienne?" Sounds like "concierge" to me. I don't know yet what I'm going to do about that.
- The font I chose does not have accents!! I'm adding them manually on a separate layer. It's the font maker's fault, though :P

Speaking of language, I finally decided to ditch my current transcription of Lebanese, based on European systems, and switch over to the one that's become second nature to every online Lebanese – yes, I'm talking about the nonofficial yet rampant "spelling-with-numbers". Originally I was dissuaded from it by the argument that "foreigners will have no idea what that is." Foreigners will have no idea what the Lebanese words mean anyway (that's why I have notes), so I might as well cater to my main target audience here. Purists may consider it unstudied and problematic, but so is English in its modern form, and try to stop people from using it! So yeah... there will be quite a few changes when I have to reprint the first 2 volumes. Meaning the first edition will become valuable, hurry and get your copies ;)