Why is there so much "wry smiling"?


  • Member

    I've noticed that "smiling wryly" is a common description of what a character is doing in their respective stories among several light novels. But it is being used far too often and other types of "smiles" are not being used used to help with variation. Where is the "smirk", "grin", "from ear-to-ear", etc descriptions? Is this a translation error or are the authors being lazy with their descriptions of their characters smiling?
    Some examples of its excessive use is "The Master of Ragnarok and Blessing of Einherjar", "How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom", and sometimes on "Grimgar of Fantasy and Ashes". There may be more light novels that use the phrase.



  • @drgcommander

    Smirk, Grin, Ear to Ear are all kind of different in the emotion conveyed.

    • A smirk is typically used as a sign of superiority in a way of being smug.
    • Grin is a genuine large smile. Ear to Ear is just a descriptive way of saying Grin.
    • A wry smile is giving an expression of not really smiling in joy, but smiling at the humor of something.

  • Premium Member

    I've noticed "fall like a puppet with its strings cut" used quite often. Is that just a common phrase in Japanese?


  • Premium Member

    Depending on why it's being used, wry could be replaced with "dry", "amused", "sarcastic", and a few other things. But wry sounds good. Is it overused? It's possible, but still. It might just be a translation thing, where wry is closest to the Japanese term used.


  • Premium Member

    I honestly feel the same... i mean, how many people know what the word ‘wry’ means anyways? I personally think saying ‘strained’ or ‘bemused’ would be just as fitting and more easily understood than ‘wry’, y’know?


  • Premium Member

    Come to think of it... I haven’t read any series that weren’t light novels or manga lately... Are there actually any regular novels that use ‘wry’ in this way?


  • Premium Member

    Quite a few. Off the top of my head, it's a Weber and Butcher thing. Weber also likes "ghost of a smile".


  • Premium Member

    @dtta So it’s not just a Light Novel thing. Got it.


  • Translators

    The Japanese word in question is 苦笑 or 苦笑い, (bitter/wry/strained/pained/forced smile/laugh) and, yes, the author of Realist does tend to use it a lot. Doing a quick search, it showed up upwards of twenty five times in volume five, and never less than ten times in any of the others.

    Grimgar uses it less, never more than five times in a volume, and sometimes only once.


  • Member

    Lol I didn't expect it to turn up 25 times in a single volume in Realist Hero novel. But thanks for the input guys, there are so many other words that could've been used as better descriptions for the character's facial expressions. I just hope the authors use "wry smiles" much less and replace it with the other facial descriptions mentioned in this thread.


  • Premium Member

    I wish I wrote down ones I have a bone to pick with, but I haven't been keeping super strict notes.

    One that gets used a lot, at least in the video game space, is "metal on metal" for environmental noises. Iirc, that was used a few times in the Zero Escape series. Isn't there some other way to express that noise? Like "like the grinding of gears" or something? IDK.

    I'm playing White Album series right now, and it likes to repeat words and expressions for thematic reasons. A comedy example is "you're ruining the mood", delivered by Io and Takeya at each other at various times, two of the supporting cast. In White Album 1, "goddess of the day" was a repeating motif. In White Album 2, any time change starts with "And So, it started snowing" "And So, February came", "And so, January came", or something to that effect.


  • Premium Member

    My translation bette noir isn’t one phrase so much as when translators add letters to words to show shouting but add letters that make no sense if spoken such as “benddddddd!!” Or something like that. How would that sound? I can see adding vowels but rarely are constanents doubled like that.


  • Member

    @the-green-death said in Why is there so much "wry smiling"?:

    My translation bette noir isn’t one phrase so much as when translators add letters to words to show shouting but add letters that make no sense if spoken such as “benddddddd!!” Or something like that. How would that sound? I can see adding vowels but rarely are constanents doubled like that.

    I think there's a very significant difference between "Beeeeend" and "Bennnnnd," but I agree that "Bendddd" makes no sense :x