Sept. 30 is International Translation Day! We wanted to celebrate the hard work of the Funimation translation staff by sharing a bit from each of them on their favorite anime characters, how long they’ve been translating and what this year’s theme of indigenous languages means to them.
Get to know the staff below!
Name: Sarah Alys Lindholm
Year I started translating professionally: 2003
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: I had the pleasure of translating one of the sources for a friend’s dissertation: a Japanese bodhrán player’s interviews of Celtic musicians on the Isle of Man. Like many indigenous languages, the isle’s original Manx language had died out, but through this project I got to learn about efforts to revive it… and it turns out my friend has met the same “new” native Manx speaker from the interview!
One of my favorite anime characters is: Wang Yi from Kingdom. He is Best General.
Name: Nita Lieu
Year I started translating professionally: 2008
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: the first Okinawan word I encountered in a translation, sata andagi (“deep fried sugar,” or an Okinawan donut). I came across it in my first simulcast for Funimation, and it was one of the few Okinawan words I could understand years later during the Pop Team Epic episode that was half in English and half in Okinawan. I also enjoy the Okinawan/English joke I learned before I even really knew Japanese from The Prince of Tennis (musicals, mostly): Do you “habu” (have) a habu (venomous snake native to Okinawa)?
One of my favorite anime characters is: Fuzzy from The Morose Mononokean (mojaaaaa)
Name: Nora Stevens Heath
Year I started translating professionally: 1999
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: The Ainu language. It’s unrelated to any other language in the world and was not traditionally a written language, although it’s since been rendered in a modified version of the Japanese katakana syllabary. With my background in linguistics and phonetics (and interest in loanwords), I love spotting the Ainu place names on a map of Hokkaido and picking out the Ainu words in Japanese. I look forward to visiting Hokkaido someday and hopefully learning more about Ainu closer to its home.
One of my favorite anime characters is: Right now, Mereoleona Vermillion from Black Clover. She is shockingly powerful, fearless, and has no patience for fools, and her finesse in battle amazes me over and over again.
Name: David Hewitt
Year I started translating professionally: 2001
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: The stunning documentary We Still Live Here, the story of Jessie Little Doe of Massachusetts and her efforts to revive the Wampanoag language, for which project (under the guidance of Noam Chomsky!) she earned a Master’s at MIT.
One of my favorite anime characters is: Nobunaga of the 2019 simulcast release Kochoki. As a sucker for military strategy and underdog stories, I had a low-grade Nobunaga obsession for years, so translating this was an honor and a pleasure!
Name: Jo-Ann Lieu
Year I started translating professionally: 2015
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: Chitatap.
One of my favorite anime characters is: Panda from Polar Bear Café.
Name: Anna Cairistiona McDonaugh Maconaughey
Year I started translating professionally: 2018
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: I’m originally from Scotland where both our indigenous languages, Scottish Gaelic and Scots, are dying languages. My father comes from the Isle of Barra where he grew up speaking Gaelic but unfortunately I grew up only learning basic words and phrases like “goodnight” and “good morning.” I’ve always wanted to learn the language but oddly I found Japanese easier to grasp in my teenage years and forgot all about learning Gaelic. I guess this day is a little reminder for myself to revisit my roots and start learning again!
Name: Masako Ollivier
Year I started translating professionally: 2003
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: Japanese dialects. Both of my parents speak a southern island dialect, but I grew up speaking standard Japanese because they speak different dialects (both similar to Okinawan) and can’t communicate speaking them to each other. Unless you grow up speaking dialects, you cannot understand them even if you’re Japanese. In that sense, my parents, grandma, uncles and aunts are all bilingual.
One of my favorite anime characters is: Master (oodanna-sama) from Kakuriyo -Bed & Breakfast For Spirits-. Since the light novel series has completed, I’m really hoping that they’ll complete the story in the anime as well.
Name: Michelle Tymon
Year I started translating professionally: 2012
When I think about indigenous languages, I think about: Ainu and Uchinaaguchi (Okinawan language). I’ve encountered some Uchinaaguchi when I lived in Japan and I’ve encountered both that and Ainu while working with anime and drama translations. I’m used to hearing various Japanese dialects and still being able to figure out what they’re saying, but it’s obviously not as easy with these two languages. I had to learn a little of each and study them to even be able to do the translations, but that also led me to be more interested in both languages and the histories of the Ainu and Okinawan people. I’m still no expert in either, but I definitely want to learn more.
One of my favorite anime characters is: Yotsuba Tamaki from IDOLiSH7. I’m terrible at ever picking one favorite from anything, but he’s one of my three favorites from that series and is a very good boy.
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