💗🔞 Tips for Translating Sex Scenes 🔞💗
Brought to you by a decade of translating erotic media from Japanese to English.
(Disclaimer: these are my own personal thoughts & I'm not trying to be prescriptive, just sharing what I think works.)
- FOR THE LOVE OF GOD READ SOME PORN
If you're tling sex scenes plz read some form of erotica (not just other people's translations, though this is good too, but stuff originally written in English). You'll soon pick up on the conventions & get a feel for what gets people off.
What is the context of the scene? Who are the characters? Is your MC fucking a virgin loli or a nympho MILF? Is it playing to a fetish? Is it romantic or violent? All these things inform the original writing, so they should inform your translation too.
3. Choose your words wisely; AKA consider what is SEXY
"Wriggling" is a pretty standard translation of 藻掻く but in English it's associated with worms. WORMS! 🪱 "Undulating" is much nicer. e.g. A pussy doesn't wriggle, it undulates or ripples, or it convulses around his cock.
A woman doesn't wriggle her hips, she bucks them or she writhes. Your MC doesn't rock his hips he thrusts or pumps or rides. His hips aren't "moving on their own" he "can't control himself".
Sometimes a woman's skin may be described as 白魚. This is sexy in the original cultural and linguistic context. In many English-speaking cultures, fish are used for negative comparisons. Something like translucent or dewy would be an appropriate equivalent.
In JP a man going wild during sex is often likened to a monkey, but this has a more comical sound in English, where comparisons to simply a "wild animal" work better.
Just make sure that what you're writing makes sense and reads naturally in English. Honestly this goes for any type of translation, but people seem to forget it when it comes to sex scenes idk why.
4. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO MATCH WORDS ALL THE TIME
e.g. Always translating ペニス as "penis" every single time it comes up. It can be a cock or a dick, or maybe even a rod or a length. These all mean the same thing, but you need some variety otherwise it sounds like an AI wrote it.
Consider the virgin "He put his penis in her vagina" vs the chad "He slid his cock into her pussy".
These sentences describe the same action, but one says "I fuck" and the other says "I've only ever seen sex in the bio textbooks my model was trained on".
On the other hand, don't throw in porny words where there shouldn't be any; if your heroine is a shy virgin and the source text is using coy words like あそこ, don't have her shouting FUCK MY TIGHT LITTLE PUSSY in English.
This is my favorite thing to emphasize. It's usually already present in the original writing, but make sure it's there in yours too. When approaching the climax of a scene the writing will usually either become choppier, or it'll turn into long run-on sentences.
Either way, it conveys that your characters are about to cum and telegraphs this for the reader too (so they can join them).
6. Yeah, the dialogue/sounds can get real weird
Be consistent with your own rules. e.g. Decide that じゅるる is going to be sllrrp and stick with that each time it comes up. This makes things easier for you and also makes the text look a little cleaner.
You don't need to match the JP text directly in terms of number of sounds, length of aaaahhh's, etc. Moans are generally not conveying too much information, and if there is accompanying voice acting, that will be doing most of the work for you.
Having said that, do at least make it somewhat equivalent so that when your heroine is having a screaming orgasm in the JP you don't end up with a simple "Ah!" in English.
When I have time, I do like to listen to the voice acting as I translate so I can kind of match it to what I'm writing (this also often ends up different to what's written in the source as the VAs also aren't replicating the script moan-for-moan).
7. Sound things out
You may feel stupid, but physically sounding out how you might replicate a wet sucking noise or what words sound like when spoken around a large object blocking the mouth can really help with discovering how to transliterate them 🤯🍆
8. Have funnn 💖
I know H scenes can get really boring/tiring when you're translating an endless stream of them, but if you actively engage your brain they can also be a great creative challenge, especially when they're well written in the source text.
Thanks for reading, and I hope some of this was useful! ✨
(I will make a thread specifically on SFX later!)
Addition: In conversation with a friend, they brought up a VERY good point, which is that you may not find yourself working on something that YOU find sexy, but you have to consider the target audience and what THEY will find arousing about it! Have an open mind!