The year is drawing to a close and I thought I would include one last short translation comparison to round off the old year and herald the new year.

What more fitting to do that than taking a look at two instrumental phrases from the science fiction trilogy Back to the Future, where we will be inspecting how the eccentric Doctor Emmett L. Brown's mannerisms and speech are rendered in a few translations, mainly the "Soft" dub release, being the second official release and dub of the films in Japan.

Doctor Brown uses one out of the four official Japanese dubs, the archetypal Senior Sociolect, that is in part based off the Hiroshima dialect, i.e. washi as the first person pronominal and ja as the final copula. He does however subvert expectations in the three others.

Let us take a look, shall we?

Serious shit:

One of the very first scenes and the most pivotal is when Doc Brown promises his assistant and the hero of the trilogy, Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox), that the modified and stylish DeLorean piloted by the dog, Einstein, albeit remote-controlled, will produce not merely the desired results of time-travel, but do so in a most flabbergastingly impressive way:

If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit.

Note "serious shit," one of a few instances of the venerable Anglo-saxon swear being used in the film, how will a translator apply this into the Doctor's otherwise hybrid formal and slangy speech?

The official subtitles for one release has it as:

Keisan toori ni ikeba jisoku 140 kiro ni naru to futta makeru koto ga oki
"If this goes according to my calculations, then once it hits 140 km/h, you are gonna get bloody flabbergasted!"

Watashi no keisan ga tadashikereba kuruma ga jisoku 140 kiro ni tasshita shunkan ni buttamageru you na koto ga okoru n'da
"If my calculations are correct, then the very instance the car reaches a velocity of 140 km/h, your damn mind's gonna get blown at what will occur!"

The key phrase that translates "serious shit" is buttamageru, which combines the strengthening prefix butsu- (打っ, "to violently/completely do something", lit. "to beat"), which we see in verbs like buttsubusu (ぶっ潰す, "to give a thrashing", "to beat up completely"), here it is combined with tamageru (魂消る, "to be astonished", "to be flabbergasted", lit. "soul-vanishing/erasing"), thus a more literal rendering is "one's soul is thoroughly thrashed and erased," which sounds more ominous. Thus you could, owing to butsu-, translate it as "it will blow your shit/mind/brain (what will happen)", or less sulphuric, "you will be utterly astonished."

As can be seen I also opted for "will be bloody flabbergasted" in the former translation, which conveys a similar sense of surprise.

Flux capacitor:

Doctor Brown's automotive time-machine is governed by the obscurely named flux-capacitor, which as it appears there are several ways at rendering since the machine is entirely fictitious.

Dub and subtitles: 次元転位装置 (Jigen ten’i souchi, “Dimensional Transposition/Rearrangement Device”)
Official novelisation: 超時間回路 (Chou jikan kairo - “Hyper-temporal Circuit”)

Both describe aptly what the device does, making time travel possible, but as for in what way it achieves this is where the translations differ - the former implies that the Flux Capacitor warps the dimensions in order for the car to travel through time, whereas the latter literally transcends time to warp the car to its chosen temporal destination.

You could say that "flux" as in "be in flux," to be in fluid motion, would imply that the machine allows the car to use the capacitor to reign in the energy of fluctuating temporal flows, but this is perhaps overthinking what amounts to a mystical bit of science fiction technology.