Ravaging Times

August 31, 2010

Growing Discontent with My translation of 怪

Filed under: Uncategorized — merc @ 11:18 am

My initial intention to choose “freak” is to keep the word shorter than “eccentric” and hide the connotation of “monster” inside the word – just in case Mr. Chen gets on the wordplay of that (for Geniuses there’s the variation “ingenuity”). But so far none of the men are showing any sign of monstrosity (not handsome doesn’t count; XD)… Only that they’re outlandish – having skills that are mistaken for celestial powers (or “magic”). I could argue that “freak” can be used like a modifier, such as “freakishly powerful/skilled”, “freaking”, etc. Lastly, I think Water Mirror holds great contempt when referring to these people. Although I’m not sure who came up with the titles…

As I see more English-speakers quoting my translation on the internet (like on TVTropes) I’m feeling more and more sheepish, especially at parts that I’m not 100% satisfied with, such as in this case.

Baidu dictionary entry for 怪

Now that I’m looking at the above list of possible word combination with 怪, what do you guys think about the choice “wonder”? The main disadvantage is that it has no immediate negative connotation. Or is it necessary to have that connotation? Or even that people would think the Eight Wonders are referring to architectural phenomenons…

Some others I could consider are “mystic” (although are they all witch-doctors/shaman?), “peculiar” (4 syllables :( ), or default “eccentric”…

Hey! What about “The Eight Grims”? XD (no justification other than sounding ridiculous)
“The Eight Dreads”? (Archaic . deep awe or reverence)

Anyway, thanks for reading!


[June 26] EDIT: Updated instances of “Freaks” to “Eccentrics” here and on wikispaces



  1. I like the word freak. As you say it contains a negative connotation, and it is a measurement power. So far the ones of the eight freaks we’ve seen has been pretty freaky to (but this may change).
    Wonder is a to positive word I think, and you don’t normally use it to refer to humans.

    “The Eight Dreads” sounds like a haircut :D


    Comment by HerrK — August 31, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

    • Hehe, when I was playing with the idea of “grimlock” I thought of “dreadlock”, then looked up both “grimlock” and “dread”. Sounding like a haircut is not that bad. Considering hair style is an important identifying element in comics like these… :D
      Dread can be used in “dreadful”, “dreaded”, “dreading”, etc. (and also I was reminded of the Anime “VanDread”, no relation). It also starts with the same initial sound as “Genius”. Too bad about the haircut association. XD


      Comment by merc — August 31, 2010 @ 5:15 pm

  2. I agree with Eight Mystics.

    At first, I came up with something like ‘Eight Bizarres’ but I think it’s a wrong grammar or something(I’m not a English speaker, actually)

    Anyway,these 八怪 stuff is really annoying…At first I thought they are some kind of evil geniuses who are willing to make people suffer, but they keep saying they are willing to save the people…And there are chances that 水鏡 was being too narrow-minded about them…


    Comment by Deceiver — September 4, 2010 @ 9:35 am

    • Ok, that’s two votes for “mystic.”
      I was hoping that just enough would be revealed whenever they show up again, but it hasn’t been enough! XD Even one clear word-play would be helpful to choose one over the other…
      “Bizarres” to me is no more wrong than “Grims” by the way I was toying with. It’s just awkward to say in the plural, that’s all. My very first translation was “oddity/oddballs”, which is terrible! XD


      Comment by merc — September 4, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

  3. Why not use both? You could use “Mystic” when it was said from general people, and use “Freak” when it was Water Mirror talking about them. It would stress at the feeling of the charater. Since the word has many different meaning, why stick to only one translation? Sometime I feel like English is too limited, for example, there’s no difference words for different kind of aunts (your mother’s younger sister, your mother’s older sister, your father’s sisters, your mother’s brothers’ wives, etc.)


    Comment by nga130 — September 14, 2010 @ 8:07 pm

    • It’s hard enough as it is to keep track of character’s name, courtesy name, nickname, etc. Now introduce a variation on their title. …Can you imagine the frustration? D:
      I wonder if there were (or still are) readers out there who’s asking, “I know about the Eight Geniuses. But who are the Eight Enigmas?”


      Comment by merc — September 15, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

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