17 4 / 2014
17 4 / 2014
[looks fondly at character]
ah, there he is. that motherfucker. what a tool
16 4 / 2014
this is literally the most life-changing thing if true.
15 4 / 2014
Looks like we might be getting CG/ML DLC characters in OFA? Bye-bye, wallet!
14 4 / 2014
Sometimes I see translation posts comparing the Japanese to the English, analyzing the details, maybe making some commentary about how the English trails slightly off or how a line could also be interpreted as something else. Those are actually totally fine! I like those a lot, actually. It’s nice to see people getting so passionate about certain lines.
What kind of gets to me are the posts that go “Ugh, I wish when localization teams change things, it should always be literal. I hate them, some fan should do it better.” STOP STOP S T O P
Anyone who is fluent in English and Japanese can tell you that both languages work in completely different ways. You just can’t translate directly. Even characters’ personalities will have less flavor if you translate directly. And by that, I don’t mean the “let’s make up personality traits,” I mean “let’s localize this character so that the personality the developers intended shines through.” What makes a character so obviously ‘that character’ in Japanese just doesn’t always work in English. Descriptions, puns, tiny mannerisms or speech habits, all that stuff has to be taken into consideration. Also, there’s the fact that Japanese repeats itself 64 times to express the same thought while somehow managing to exclude subjects and pronouns so you don’t know what the fuck is going on. Which is why you’ll sometimes see lines that sound a little off in the final product of a game. It’s not the words that are said. It’s the intent of the words that are said. That intent is extremely important in localization.
"But hey, you can literally translate sometimes!" Yes, of course. Some things are actually perfectly functional. Bless those lines. It’s also true that localization teams will sometimes have a little bit too much fun with inconsequential text. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen (though trust me, spending hours upon days upon weeks upon months upon years staring at tens of thousands of lines in an excel sheet and trying to perfect every line on a deadline with all the difficulties mentioned above is hard enough; we’ve got to have some fun once in a while). Constructive feedback on how a company presents a title is completely okay and should be welcome by publishers. But I do think fans can sometimes hone in on one or two lines of a game and raise the pitchforks more often than they should, even for games that have plenty competent translations. Calm down a little!
So like, say a group of five people all shout out, “はい!” one at a time in response to something such as, “You guys ready for this?!” Directly, you’d just translate all five as, “Yes!” and that does work. I’m not saying it doesn’t. What localization does is they take the time to tailor even the smallest lines to add variety and reflect a character’s personality in everything they say:
Bubbly: You got it!
Sporty: Let’s do this!
Elegant: Of course!
Delinquent: Hell yeah!
Average Lead: Yes!
Or maybe if a teacher is doing roll call in class and everyone responds, “はい!” you do this:
Delinquent: they aren’t even in class, who cares (“Yeah, here.”)
Average Lead: Here!
Again, doesn’t have to be that way. Doesn’t even have to vary that much, maybe everyone says the same thing but one character. Japanese to English is unique in that you can interpret pretty much anything said in multiple ways and it’s still correct. It’s just a different interpretation. Sometimes a little bit of the direct meaning is lost on one very sentence specifically because it would otherwise sound weird as hell in English. Actually, speaking of that, please do forgive editors for missing some subtle meanings in text. Fans have the luxury of thoroughly playing through a game and having the time to scrutinize every line for every meaning possible, but sometimes teams don’t get the chance to play the game they’re working on front to back and read every thread on Japanese forums that analyzes every seemingly innocuous and extremely vague line and still meet their deadlines. We kick ourselves when we miss something like that too. But anyway, like said, overall intent of the scene is the absolute most important thing. We’ll always strive for that.
This isn’t a response to any particular old thing I’ve read, by the way! I just thought it’d be a nice thing to write.