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Notes for Translators

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I use some tricky language in Artifice and I’ve been getting some of the same questions about certain words and phrases, so I decided to create this page to make some of the language clearer.

Please check this page before starting a translation. As I get more questions about words, I’ll add my new answers to this page. Thank you again for your great work on the translations! – Alex

(And if you decide you need to edit or change one of your translations, please just let me know. I can enable editing for you on that page. 🙂 )

The Young Protectors


English no longer has a difference between a formal “you” and an informal “you”. It’s all just “you” no matter what the relationship is. But I know in other languages like German and French, there is a difference. Here is how I’d handle it based on my experiences in Austria with German (but if your culture is more or less formal than Germany-Austria, then please feel free to make different choices.)

THE ANNIHILATOR AND KYLE: The Annihilator always uses the informal “you” with Kyle. Kyle uses the formal “you” with him.

THE YOUNG PROTECTORS: The teammates always use the informal “you” with each other.


H) FLYBOY: ON IT! — “I’m on it!” is slang for “I’ll take care of it!” meaning he will easily solve the problem of the falling baby.


D) COMMANDER: I JUST USED MY TELEPATHY TO GET EVERYONE BACK FROM THE WINDOWS. — She means she used her telepathic powers to tell the people inside the building to step back and far away from the windows. (Because she knows fire is about to blast out of the windows.)


C) FLUKE: I’M LOCKED AND LOADED, GUYS. — “I’m ready for action.” See this description.



When should I use the informal form of “you”?

English no longer has a difference between a formal “you” and an informal “you”. It’s all just “you” no matter what the relationship is. But I know in other languages like German and French, there is a difference. Here is how I’d handle it based on my experiences in Austria with German (but if your culture is more or less formal than Germany-Austria, then please feel free to make different choices.)

BOB AND ROY (the security guards): Always informal.

MAVEN AND DEACON: Always formal.

DEACON SPEAKING TO JEFF: Always formal until he decides to be Jeff’s friend on page 22, Panel 7. Then he would switch to informal.

JEFF SPEAKING TO DEACON: Always formal until page 38… (But not necessarily respectful.)

[spoiler title=”My reasons for this”]
I had an email correspondence with our German translator that went into more detail behind my reasoning for these choices. In particular, what is going on in Jeff and Deacon’s psychology. Please note that in German the “informal you” is “du” and the “formal you” is “Sie.”

Here’s what I said:

When it comes to these subtle questions of making language feel natural and believable to non-English speaking readers, I will defer to you, the translator. So, if it would just feel really weird to follow my suggestions, then please feel free to trust your own instincts.

That said, I will give you a bit more information into Deacon’s psychology and why I think he would hold off on using “du” until he offers Jeff some water.

Yes, Deacon is actually experiencing some emotion as he is first interacting with Jeff, but he is not aware of it. In fact, he is in denial of it. In that moment when he grabs Jeff and later threatens him with torture, if you were to ask him if he was angry, he would completely deny it. In his mind (unexperienced with strong emotions), he is merely being a professional, good solider. In his mind, his demeanor is “all-business” and in his own belief, his actions and emotions are fully under control. So, in my opinion, he would be using polite, formal language just to SHOW how in control he is. (And in fact, that’s what informed my use of his very polite language with Jeff in the beginning of the scanner scene. “Please hold still.” Why say “please”? Because there’s no reason to be anything but polite. Deacon is just doing his job. Or so he thinks…)

But once Deacon decides to be “friends”, then he would shift his tone into what he would believe is a “friendly, informal” manner. And that transition is meant to feel a bit abrupt and weird — that’s one of the reasons Jeff doesn’t believe it. So I think having an abrupt shift to “du” also makes sense here.

As for Jeff, even though it’s not 100% his nature, he’s been raised to be polite. That’s one of the reasons that he’s uses “freaking” instead of “fucking” (a word which, you may have noticed, Roy has no problem using, so it’s not me, the author, just being delicate with swear words.) His mother would have raised him to always use the formal form of address (“Sie” in German) with strangers so that would be his default choice, even under some duress.

Also, (SPOILER ALERT) on page 38, there is a new scene where I’d like to show that a change has occurred in Jeff’s relationship to Deacon. And having him use the informal form of address (“du” in German) with Deacon for the first time right at the beginning of that scene would be a nice way to show that.

How should I translate “The Corporation”?

This is a common question. And you should know that there are indeed other corporations in my world, but the corporation that made Deacon—NoNeCo—has become so powerful and omni-present, especially in the lives of these characters, that when someone refers to “The Corporation”, everyone knows that they mean The NoNeCo Corporation. So, just saying “The Corporation” (like Deacon does on Page 10) is a form of short-hand speech, similar to using the term “the Fed” to refer to “the Federal Reserve System” here in the United States.


A “synthetic” is short-hand speech for a longer term, in this case a “synthetic operative” or “synthetic worker”. Calling these androids “synthetics” would be the quick, colloquial way of referring to synthetic operatives because as soon as you said “synthetic” everyone would know what you are talking about. (Similar to someone referring to a “Federal Agent” as a “Fed”.)

[spoiler title=”My reasons for choosing this word”]”Artifice” was originally inspired by the movie “Aliens” directed by James Cameron and that word is a hat-tip to that movie.

The word “synthetic” comes up in the early scene where the Marines are having breakfast after waking from hypersleep. Someone (I believe it was the “Company Man” played by Paul Reiser) calls the android Bishop a “synthetic” and Bishop gently corrects him that he prefers the term “artificial person”. So, if you’re wanting to truly capture what I was going for by using that term, a good place to start would be to rent that movie dubbed in your native language and listen to exactly what word gets corrected by Bishop in that scene.[/spoiler]


“corporate” – this is shorthand for all the departments that begin with the word “Corporate” at NoNeCo.  Like “Corporate Security” or “Corporate Public Relations”.  There are a number of very important and powerful departments in NoNeCo that start with the word “Corporate”.  By placing the word “Higher” before that, Roy is referring to the top level managers at NoNeCo who make all the decisions in the company. And by using shorthand, he’s doing it in a flippant way.

“inhuman” – Deacon is making a play on words here. Etymologically, “inhuman” literally means “not human”. But in English, it also has the connotation of “lacking the human qualities of compassion and mercy”. If you can include both meanings in your translation, that would truly capture Deacon’s dark sense of humor.


“security head” – means Chief of the Security Department. The top manager of the security department.


“existential insight” – This might be a tricky thing because really Maven is talking about “existential self-awareness” — something that is clear in English in context, but maybe not as clear for non-native speakers.

“talk therapy” – An informal term for psychological therapy where a patient talks with a therapist in an office and gets insight into their problems. It is not “speech therapy”, which in English is the term we use for therapy that would cure a stutter or a lisp.


Maven uses the word “debrief” which means “to ask questions of a soldier”.


“operative” in this context means as an “agent/operator”. James Bond is an “operative” of the British Secret Service.


“Bite me” is a less vulgar way of saying “blow me” (perform oral sex on me) which yes is similar to saying “screw you”. An even better analogy in English would be “go screw yourself” or “kiss my ass”. I understand that the difference between those phrases and “screw you” is subtle, but “screw you” is more aggressive (like “go die in a fire!”) whereas “go screw yourself” means more like “I’m nobody’s fool—don’t think for one second you can mess with me!” You’d be more likely to say “blow me” to a friend when he was teasing you and you’d probably both still be smiling. “Screw you” is closer to fighting words.


“Fudge packer” – a deliberately disgusting euphemism for someone who engaged in anal sex. Jeff is angry and is trying to be deliberately provocative here. I’d be cautious about translating this too literally. The best choice would be to think of a disgusting, provocative schoolyard insult for a gay man that doesn’t use a swear word.


“booby trap” is a term which means “an apparently harmless object containing a concealed explosive device designed to kill or injure anyone who touches it”. It is not a “stupid trap”.

“shareholder value” refers to the value of the company’s shares, not to the value of its shareholders. Very important difference.


“bull” in this context is a less vulgar way of saying “bullshit”, in other words, “flagrant lying”


“captive audience” is a term in English for an audience that has no choice but to watch or listen to something — think of students at a small, very long lecture. It was originally a legal concept that has now entered common parlance.


“would not give him the time of day” – she wouldn’t give him any interest or attention (even if he asked here something simple like “What time is it?”)

Also, the ice has truly been broken between them, so from this point on, Deacon and Jeff would be using the informal form of “you” with each other. So, in German they would have switched from “Sie” to “du” from this page on.


Jeff’s statement “I don’t know about this” is short for “I don’t know if this is a good idea or if I want this.”


In LINE B, Deacon says “I TRUST YOU’LL SEE THAT THE REST OF MY BEHAVIOR ON DA VINCI FOUR WAS TRULY BEYOND REPROACH!” I chose the word “trust” here instead of “I’m sure you’ll see” for a very deliberate reason. In English, saying “I trust you’ll understand” means “It is my strong hope that you’ll understand” instead of implying certainty. This distinction is important for story and character reasons.

People in English often use the words “I trust” in situations where they would otherwise say “I’m sure”—and that’s why I chose that word instead of “I hope”—but it does actually have a different sense than “I’m sure.” If you can somehow match the subtlety of it in your translation, that would be great.


PANEL 1: “AS MESSED UP AS THIS IS” — I chose the words “messed up” to bring in the subtext of what a bad situation Jeff is in and to show that he’s aware of that. And that he has has fallen in love in spite of it. And that he thinks he must be a little crazy for that reason. And yet he can’t help himself. (A lot of emotions, right?! 😀 ) The important thing in your translation is that we make clear that he knows he’s fallen in love for a robot that in a matter of days will kill him. (Or so he thinks, anyway. 😉 ) “Messed up” conveys the sense that he is aware that this is bad situation (and in many ways a bad choice on his part), but that he just can’t stop falling in love.

Obviously, he could have used another English phrase: “fucked up”, but in general Jeff doesn’t swear (his mother taught him not to) and the phrase “messed up” is “softer” and thus fits more pleasantly in a love confession. That said, if you need to use profanity here in your language to get the point across, that’s OK. Just nothing too offensive or hurtful—this is him trying not to be in denial; the last thing he would want in this moment is to hurt Deacon.


PANEL 4: “I dare say not!” — This is Maven agreeing with Deacon in a snarky and high-brow way. This could be translated as “Oh, yes! I can easily believe what you say is true!”, but if I were coming up with another phrase in English, I would probably say “Oh, yes! I can well imagine what you say is true!” because putting it like that is more “high-brow” and snarky. Ideally, though, something short and pithy—like “Oh, I dare say not!”—that does the same thing in your language would be ideal.


PANEL 5: “…like any other person…” Deacon here is making a reference to the Corporation’s policy of referring to android’s like himself as “Artificial People”. It is part of his strategy to convince Maven that he deserves this second chance. It would be ideal if your translation could also evoke that term.

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