Yeah! Specifically, I looked at Chapter 51. I found a scan pretty quickly online to check, but it’s from the site I normally use to read scanlations, so this is the sort of stuff I would be reading (and also the site my friends would go read よつばと！on if I told them to go try to read it in english.) I’m like 99.9% sure this is a fan translation (but there’s no group or individual credit listed), and would have to check against the official english version. I think I read somewhere that あずまさん directly had a hand in localization, so that might be much better than this.
big text wall
This is the chapter where they go to the school festival to eat ふうかちゃん’s cake. The easiest place to start is with よつば herself. The translation appears to be doing a decent job of translating what she is saying, but not really capturing the manner in which she says it. She is really young, and あずまさん is intentionally writing her character’s dialogue with only hiragana (as well as a kind of broken but forceful style, often with hearing and repetition errors) to indicate this and separate her from the other characters in the series. This style is kind of lost here, and (to me, at least) it sounds like よつば is much older. Her thoughts throughout the chapter are a lot more well connected, and she’s using full phrases where you really would be expecting a child her age to be producing simpler utterances.
Now that I’m looking at it back to back, it might be a typesetting issue as well as a tone issue, あずまさん really does rely on text size and varying levels of boldness to communicate speaker tone.
There’s also something a little off about the way the dad is speaking in this translation, his dialogue throughout the chapter just kinda feels a little unnatural, but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the issue is. I’d probably have to go look at a chapter where he’s speaking with ジャンボさん to compare how he speaks to an adult versus how he speaks to よつば, but my guess is that this translation doesn’t have much of a distinction.
One other concrete example I can point to in this chapter is the way that the “customer service” tone is basically completely dropped when they are in the cafe talking to ふうかちゃん and her classmates (it’s a little split up over multiple pages, but if you read through you can find it)
In Japanese, the tone I get here is that they are using the rather polite language that you’d hear from store/restaurant servers, and then here in this panel ふうかちゃん is still using the polite form, but in a just more sarcastic way. The English here kind of loses that for me, and when her classmates are talking in actual polite language the direct meaning of what they are saying matches up but the manner in which it’s delivered doesn’t quite sound right for how you’d expect a customer service worker to be speaking.
The tl;dr version is basically: this translation does convey the direct meaning of what the characters are saying, but doesn’t convey how they are saying it. In a series like this, where so much of the comedy comes from the personalities of the characters, not just the situations they find themselves in, this feels like leaving out half the joke at best.
I actually don’t remember if I included this in my introduction, but I’m currently working towards a masters degree in Linguistics, and my main focus is on pragmatics (all the bits of information that get communicated indirectly through stuff like tone/speaking styles, what information gets included/left out of utterances, levels of formality, etc etc), so this is just something I pay a lot of attention to already lmao.