Over-localization


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    @timmaaah
    Then we are in agreement
    :)


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    @timmaaah said in Over-localization:

    @stardf29 While I can see where you are coming from, I would then ask that if they are in a fantasy world why are they using honorifics? Shouldn't the author have removed them as it would be out of place in a non Japanese environment?

    Ideally, the original Japanese author would remove them, if they are aware that their fantasy world is not really Japanese-based and that honorifics are primary an aspect of Japanese culture. That said, I can understand that some authors might choose to use honorifics so as to make the reading experience more familiar to Japanese readers.

    However, those Japanese readers are, well, used to Japanese culture. To them, honorifics are part of their "default" state of mind, so they probably don't really think twice when they appear in a fantasy world that logically shouldn't really have them. It doesn't really break their immersion because they're used to being "immersed" in honorifics to begin with.

    But for foreign readers, honorifics can stick out as an extra layer of language that says "oh yeah, remember that this is translated from Japanese." And for some readers, that really can be a jarring, immersion-breaking moment.

    When it comes down to it, a fantasy novel written in Japanese is going to have a Japanese "style" to it, just because that's how the Japanese write stuff. Likewise with an English author ultimately having an "English style" to their writing (with further idiosyncrasies for American/British/whatever). That's inevitable, and to the audience in the writer's native language, it won't really make much of a difference because they are so used to that style that it just feels "normal" for them. In the localization process, though, the localizers have to decide whether to keep certain elements of that style, which to a foreign audience will directly point to the culture of origin, or to rework it into the style of the localized language to make for a smoother reading experience. For a novel that takes place in Japan, I can understand keeping more aspects of Japanese culture, but for a fantasy story (especially one based on European fantasy), I think smoothing things out provides for the better reading experience for more readers.


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    @serah said in Over-localization:

    When I do read a book from a foreign author I expect differences in culture and value. The only thing I wish would be more established are truly translator notes to help to learn about the cultures.

    This right here, I couldn't agree with more. Good translator notes are a Godsend.


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    @stardf29 Because they are written in a Japanese style, more often than not It is very jarring when they are translated rather than left in, or even just removed.

    The example that sticks out most for me is "Loki Dear" from Magicmaster. At times it sounds like Alice is an 80 year old grandmother talking to a toddler, and at other times it sounds like it is sarcastic. Using "Dear" on someones name isn't normal for English speakers and breaks the immersion more than it would if they just used "chan"

    The problem is that if you leave them out, you have the problem of losing context of the relationship and it progressing if things change.

    I see the honorifics as part of the language as much as it is part of the culture, and it makes it difficult since generally there are no direct translations in to English for them. The equivalent in English is nicknames, but then if you are going to be doing this, you would be creating new things outside of what the author has created.


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    @timmaaah said in Over-localization:

    @stardf29
    The example that sticks out most for me is "Loki Dear" from Magicmaster. At times it sounds like Alice is an 80 year old grandmother talking to a toddler, and at other times it sounds like it is sarcastic. Using "Dear" on someones name isn't normal for English speakers and breaks the immersion more than it would if they just used "chan"

    I can't speak specifically for Magicmaster since I don't read it, but I'd definitely find "Loki-chan" to be more immersion-breaking than "Loki Dear". The latter, I can at least mentally say "it's weird language but eh, fantasy world" whereas with "Loki-chan" my mind goes "well that sure is Japanese". Maybe there are better ways to handle that specific example than with "dear" but it's still way better than leaving "-chan" in.

    The problem is that if you leave them out, you have the problem of losing context of the relationship and it progressing if things change.

    That might be true to an extent, but honestly, that sort of context should be apparent enough in, well, the story itself. Sure, the honorifics could add a little bit of extra flavor to that but there are ways to work around that in English.

    Stuff inevitably gets lost in localization, but I believe that rather than trying to "salvage" as much of the original Japanese meaning as possible, the focus of localization should be trying to improve the reader's experience as much as possible without making major changes. (And not just for readers who are super-entrenched in otaku media.) Now, I'm not in the localization industry myself so the specifics of that I'll leave up to the translator/editor, offering my opinion based on my own reading experience when I feel like it. (And my own reading experience finds Japanese honorifics in European-inspired fantasy worlds really out of place.)


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    @stardf29 said in Over-localization:

    @timmaaah said in Over-localization:

    @stardf29
    The example that sticks out most for me is "Loki Dear" from Magicmaster. At times it sounds like Alice is an 80 year old grandmother talking to a toddler, and at other times it sounds like it is sarcastic. Using "Dear" on someones name isn't normal for English speakers and breaks the immersion more than it would if they just used "chan"

    I can't speak specifically for Magicmaster since I don't read it, but I'd definitely find "Loki-chan" to be more immersion-breaking than "Loki Dear". The latter, I can at least mentally say "it's weird language but eh, fantasy world" whereas with "Loki-chan" my mind goes "well that sure is Japanese". Maybe there are better ways to handle that specific example than with "dear" but it's still way better than leaving "-chan" in.

    Sorry, but I have to disagree, vehemently and wholeheartedly. 'dear' is far too cutesy, 'little' is toddler-speak. I expect to hear strange terms in a fantasy or SF world, so 'chan' is no problem; but baby talk in almost any setting is enough to drop a bomb in the middle of my immersion.

    Stuff inevitably gets lost in localization, but I believe that rather than trying to "salvage" as much of the original Japanese meaning as possible, the focus of localization should be trying to improve the reader's experience as much as possible without making major changes.

    While I can see this point and agree to a large extent, I would argue that 'the original Japanese meaning' is an important part of the reader's experience for people who read light novels to begin with.


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    @travis-butler said in Over-localization:

    While I can see this point and agree to a large extent, I would argue that 'the original Japanese meaning' is an important part of the reader's experience for people who read light novels to begin with.

    Maybe it's just that to me, it's more important to be a fantasy story first and foremost, rather than "a Japanese story that happens to be a fantasy story." (Unless the fantasy is specifically based around Japanese culture, like Touhou.)

    Edit: I should also clarify, it's not like I want to eliminate all Japanese-ness out of a Western-inspired fantasy. That'd be impossible without completely changing the story anyway. But I feel like those Japanese elements should come through more naturally, via the content of the story itself, rather than through more obvious indicators like honorifics.


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    @stardf29 said in Over-localization:

    @travis-butler said in Over-localization:

    While I can see this point and agree to a large extent, I would argue that 'the original Japanese meaning' is an important part of the reader's experience for people who read light novels to begin with.

    Maybe it's just that to me, it's more important to be a fantasy story first and foremost, rather than "a Japanese story that happens to be a fantasy story." (Unless the fantasy is specifically based around Japanese culture, like Touhou.)

    If all I want is a 'fantasy story', there are shelf-units full of them at local bookstores. I specifically seek out and read light novel fantasy because I enjoy the Japanese flavor; just as I love the Discworld books for pTerry's British tone and sense of humor.


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    This reminds me of all those online arguments in the 90s about how the Final Fantasy games were all butchered since they removed honorifics and people were unable to tell that it was a Japanese game or how the characters all felt about each other.

    ...oh wait.


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    I have a hard time coming up with something which would suitable in replacing those kind of honorifics like -senpai. In fact imagining an anime or manga, where one protagonist only calls the other senpai to be changed due localisation issues into the given name instead is one of those example which can destroy the entire atmosphere the story is trying to tell.

    And I agree with Final Fantasy. In the MMO Final Fantasy XIV there are so many weird scenes caused by a difference between the voice over and the translation. And it does not stop at difficult words. One scene was hilarious weird to me, where a countdown is reverted from the voice over...


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    I feel it worth pointing out that when Japanese translators translate western literature into Japanese for a Japanese audience, they tend to add some minimal amount of honorifics where there were none before. And that's because honorifics are an inseparable part of the Japanese language. Remove them completely, and you get wrong-looking or weird sounding Japanese. The same way you get weird-sounding English when you keep the honorifics around.

    It's only natural that Japanese authors use honorifics even when writing dialogue set in a fantasy world with obviously non-Japanese characters, because it's a required part of the Japanese language. And I bet there are plenty of Japanese readers who'd get just as annoyed by reading some lazy honorificless translation into Japanese as I get reading a lazy, honorific-filled translation into English.


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    I think there is a degree of “taste” as to weather (and to what degree) you prefer honorifics. There is information in the way honorifics are used (information on how those two people relate to each other) that isn’t conveyed when the honorifics are merely dropped. Titles don’t always work and translators are often walking a tightrope. In the case of “Loki Dear” I am not sure how it could be handled better. Yes, the ‘dear’ sounds old fashioned, but also signals that Alice accepts Loki as a friend, and is calling her a ‘cute’ form of her name out of affection (and to the reader it creates a dichotomy between Loki’s stoic demeanor and how Alice sees (through) her. It is a case of “gap moe “


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    @jon-mitchell said in Over-localization:

    I think there is a degree of “taste” as to weather (and to what degree) you prefer honorifics. There is information in the way honorifics are used (information on how those two people relate to each other) that isn’t conveyed when the honorifics are merely dropped. Titles don’t always work and translators are often walking a tightrope. In the case of “Loki Dear” I am not sure how it could be handled better. Yes, the ‘dear’ sounds old fashioned, but also signals that Alice accepts Loki as a friend, and is calling her a ‘cute’ form of her name out of affection (and to the reader it creates a dichotomy between Loki’s stoic demeanor and how Alice sees (through) her. It is a case of “gap moe “

    Looking more into that certain example with the dear creates even more issues. Like how to translate the Japanese very personal "anata" when a couple is addressing each other. As far as I know that differs between married and unmarried couples too.


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    @serah
    I’m not an expert on this but a diminutive form of a name (in American English) often has the same connotation as -Chan (honorific) in that it denotes familiarity and generally used between peers of the “regular “ version of one’s name is used in other situations: so a character might be “Barbara “ as a given name, but might be ‘Barb’ to coworkers and other acquaintances, and ‘Babs’ to close friends, and might have a nickname’Bubbles’ with her significant other. I don’t know how one would create a diminutive of ‘Loki’, to show what ‘Loki Dear’ does.

    Regarding ‘Anata’ (in American English) : dear, dearest, darling, sweetie, or something else I imagine could be used depending on the personalities of those involved


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    @jon-mitchell Still not as bad as ADV mistranslating oji-sama as Sir Uncle instead of Prince in Zone of the Enders.

    Man were so many ADV translations garbage.


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    To this day I don't think there's been a good English translation for "tsundere". We've had everything from "icy-hot" to "bipolar" to "sour-sweet".

    @myskaros said in Over-localization:

    This reminds me of all those online arguments in the 90s about how the Final Fantasy games were all butchered since they removed honorifics and people were unable to tell that it was a Japanese game or how the characters all felt about each other.

    ...oh wait.

    I mostly remember that in the late 90s and early 00s, yes. In some Final Fantasy fansites, merely mentioning "Woolsey" was grounds for a ban.

    Which, as I brought up earlier, was a little weird, given the attempts to "properly translate" the various Final Fantasy games often resulted in even worse translations.


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    @unsynchedcheese said in Over-localization:

    To this day I don't think there's been a good English translation for "tsundere". We've had everything from "icy-hot" to "bipolar" to "sour-sweet".

    “Bipolar”? Really? Ugh.

    I’m normally on the more-localized end of the scale, but that’s one of maybe four words that I think are probably best left untranslated because a literal translation will at best confuse the reader, and adding explanatory verbiage seems problematic in its own way.


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    @unsynchedcheese said in Over-localization:

    think there's been a good English translation for "tsundere"

    I think that English should just adopt the word. 'Tsundere' doesn't really translate well, and there is precedent: 'umami' is a word recognized among English speakers now, and 'savory' really doesn't do justice as a cognate


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    @hamsterexastris said in Over-localization:

    “Bipolar”? Really? Ugh.

    Yep. Thank NISA for that one.

    Original
    Translation (from the official website)

    Obviously some of the original Engrish translations CH used are dumb, but "tsundere"-->"bipolar" was horribly wrong.


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    @jon-mitchell said in Over-localization:

    I think that English should just adopt the word.

    I almost want to get a Toyota Tundra pickup so I can change the logo to Tsundere... "I just happened to be hauling these building materials by here. It's not like I did it FOR YOU!"


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