Legend of Korra, “The Aftermath”
Since I’ve got the main poster of Hiroshi’s translated, I’d like to take a look at the poster you can see in the background of the first photo:
- 跟着 gēnzhe means “to follow after something,” or “immediately afterwards.” 着 can also imply an action that is ongoing, so I originally read it as “following Amon” which seemed so silly - why would you throw this poster up in your super-secret garage? “Oh hey Chief Beifong, like my poster that totally incriminates me by telling you EXACTLY what I’m doing?” I’ve instead taken this to be an imperative form of the verb.
- 阿蒙 āméng is how the creators of the show decided to transliterate the name “Amon.” You should read my earlier post for all the juicy details about Amon’s name in Chinese.
I posted the second picture to point out a little fluke in the animation. The poster in the background of the second image is simply a black square, and it’s nowhere near subtle enough to be due to in-scene lighting. Details you can only notice while painstakingly going through the episode, frame-by-frame, for a decent screenshot.
跟着阿蒙 gēnzheāméng = “Follow Amon”
Legend of Korra, “The Aftermath”
The juiciest of juicy…
Okay, really glad to be done translating this one. I got really hung up on the last two characters because of the calligraphy (you don’t wanna know how long I spent trying to figure out what characters they were) so I’m very excited to finally say that these posters say…
- 阿蒙 āméng is how they chose to transliterate the name “Amon.” Interestingly, this is exactly how the Chinese transliterate the name of the Egyptian god Amun, who’s arguably one of the most fascinating deities in Egyptian mythology (he almost single-handledly made Egyptians monotheistic). This was undoubtedly chosen due to the similarity of the way that Amon and Amun’s names are pronounced, but it leads to an interesting observation: the second half of Amon’s name - 蒙 méng - is a verb meaning “to cover.” The same character - pronounced with a different intonation - is used to mean “to deceive,” “to cheat,” or “to hoodwink” (the latter of which always makes me giggle). This is very, very interesting given Amon’s mystique and the role he plays in the Legend of Korra story. I’m not sure how much I’d read into the character choice here, though - it can also mean “drizzle,” “mist,” “blind,” “Mongolian,” or “knocked unconscious.” I suspect this character is being used primarily for the sound, but the coincidence is eerie.
- 就是jiùshì is often difficult to translate into English. Simply put, it emphasizes that something is exactly as stated. 是 shì is the sum/es/est of Chinese - it just means “is” or “to be.” 就 jiù is just (see what I did there) an emphatic.
- 答案 dá’àn means “answer” or “solution.” Chinese makes little to no use of really any sort of article (“the,” “a,” “an,” etc.), so in this context - to make it flow a little better into English - it’s best to imagine the direct object of a sentence as pre-packaged with the appropriate article.
If you could just, for a moment, look at that first character in 答案 and compare it to the one written on the poster, you can understand some of my frustration and my immense satisfaction at having finally figured it out.
So! :) It is my sincere pleasure to translate this as:
阿蒙就是答案 āméngjiùshìdá’àn = “Amon is (the) solution” or“Amon is (the) answer”
Legend of Korra, “The Revelation”
The posters Mako and Korra use to piece together the map to the Equalist rally read as follows:
- 見證 (trad.) jiànzhèng means “witness” or “testimony.” It would appear they are using this as a verb in this context.
- 今晚 jīnwǎn 今 means “today” or “this day.” 晚 means “evening” or “night.”
- 九時 (trad.) jiǔshí 九 means “nine,” and 時 - while not how I usually hear it - means “o’clock.”
Again, pretty much exactly what Mako’s script says. Gotta love the consistency.
Legend of Korra, “Welcome to Republic City”
This heckler is the first we see of Equalist propaganda, so I’ve been dying to take a look at what this poster’s say. Here goes:
- First and foremost, and perhaps the most recurring character in all of Korra, is the character on the poster with Amon’s portrait: 平 píng meaning “equal,” “level,” “flat,” “peaceful,” or “calm.” This is the Equalist insignia, and rightly so. Great choice by the creators here, and they make it look beautiful with the calligraphy. It’s also easy for non-Chinese speakers to recognize the character - nice and simple! :)
- The two banners on either side flank 平 with 参加革命 cānjiāgémìng. I fuddled around with this one for awhile, because I had a hard time reading the first character (which, if you’ll notice, is in a very cursive script on the poster itself). Total “Aha!” moment. 参加 cānjiā means “to participate in,” “to take part,” or “to join in” and 革命 gémìng means “revolution,” or “revolutionary” and, as you might suspect, is a hugely political term. Given the nature of the Equalist posters, we can assume this all takes the imperative mood.
平 píng = “equal” by itself, implying “equalist”
参加革命 cānjiāgémìng = “Join the Revolution!” (weird, it’s almost like that’s exactly what he says to the crowd gathered!)
As an interesting side note, all the Equalist material I’ve seen is in Simplified Chinese, whereas everything else has been in Traditional. I could go into great detail about why this is significant, but it would take quite awhile. In short, Simplified Chinese is a creation of the Chinese Communist Party to make learning Chinese easier for rural populations in China that were illiterate. A lot of people criticize it for destroying Traditional Chinese Culture, as everything written prior to the 1950’s was written in Traditional Chinese characters. This is yet another of the parallels between the Avatar world and Chinese history; Equalists = Communists, Benders = Warlords/the Rich. The Equalist Revolution = Communist Revolution.
I’ve got a ton more screens prepared to translate, all the way up until the end of “The Aftermath,” but (as always) PLEASE feel free to send me screens of Chinese characters to translate, from Korra or A:TLA!