Not trying to discourage you from posting your questions here or anything but I thought you might be interested in the Yotsuba Reading Club?
The thread for the first volume alone has hundreds of posts in it, so you might be able to find answers there quickly. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, there are still Yotsuba fans lurking in the threads, waiting for questions from new readers
As you read more, you’ll probably start to notice that more and more English “translations” will seem wrong. This is just because English versions of Japanese material are actually localizations rather than word-for-word translations.
Localizers take creative leeway to make JP content more consumable for English readers. Even when translators are trying to be faithful, they will have to rely on English expressions to turn JP sentences into understandable English.
There is no “correct” way to translate a sentence, just more precise ways.
The more you see these discrepancies, the better your Japanese is getting, so keep at it!
Ah, sorry! I did actually look for an answer there, but I couldn’t find it. I probably should have posted there instead, sorry. I saw that the original post was quite old and I think that put me off, thinking it’d be inactive, but I forgot to check when the last post was, so that was my bad haha.
There are a lot of reasons for “wrong” translations. Some of them are purely technical, such as translators being given scripts that they have to translate without any context (which is kind of important for translating in general, but especially in Japanese). That’s how a lot of weird translations happened in games and early anime. But a lot of times you have to make the translation work for the target audience, so that the sentences feel like something a character would actually say. And faithful or direct translations more often than not just don’t work for that purpose. So there’s always this push and pull between staying faithful to the original and making the result sound good, flow well, etc. And what is a “good” translation often depends on what the purpose of the translation is, so sometimes it’s better to sound a bit more foreign, but convey a particular aspect of the culture and sometimes it’s better to “domesticate” something so that it’s more relatable to the audience.
But in any case, I took a look at this particular Yotsubato translation and it’s simply a bad translation, both in the sense that it’s not particularly faithful to the original and that it doesn’t work particularly well in the target language to convey the characters or tell the story.
Agree with you here! This is pretty much what I meant by localization. Some translations work better than others in terms of accuracy. Ultimately, JP material passes by many hands to be made legible for you in English. The takeaway is pretty much: You won’t know the thought process behind the translations, so it’s best to not worry too much about it and instead lean on your own learning when looking at natively JP material.
I recently started noticing that a lot of the manga and anime titles are weirdly translated from Japanese into English, even though there seems to be little reason to not do it properly. Take よふかしのうた. The literal translation would be “Song of the Nighthawks” which is super in line with the theme of the manga, but also slightly metaphorical. The official translation is “call of the night”, which tells us nothing about the manga .
So props OP for doing justice to the translation .
And as @Starker mentioned, often the problem is translators getting an out-of-context script without visuals, and short deadlines.