Over-localization


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros @Sam-Pinansky Welsh is another one, with glas (blue) being used for green things in nature (and possibly also traffic lights? I may be mixing that up with Japanese which I’ve studied a lot more recently).
    There’s something about how language shapes how you “see” colours; QI talked about how in Homer’s time there was no word for blue in Greek, but the sky was abviously the same colour. Either on the show or podcast, they’ve also mentioned a tribe somewhere with many more words for green but none for blue who can distinguish between green swatches that look identical to westerners, but cannot identify between blue and green.


  • Premium Member

    @guspaz

    Add "Mr". is very weird....

    @DTTA

    Yes, "Sir" is much better (but only in some cases)

    OK, another example. (This case is real, now I don't remember when or where I read it).

    • Can I call you by your name?

    • Sure

    • Thanks Guspaz.

    • Hmm... at last add -san.

    • OK, Guspaz-san
      (Me) Good.

    • Can I call you by your name?

    • Sure

    • Thanks Guspaz.

    • Hmm... at last add Mr.

    • OK, Mr. Guspaz.
      (Me) Arrggghhhhh.......

    In some cases the traductor is able to adapt the story very well without using honorifics, but in my opinion it is an unnecessary extra work, even worse as in the case of Tateyuu, in later volumes there are names that use honorific as part of the story (and some jokes) and if they have the localized names, they ruin the immersion.

    Bookwalker (English translations rights arranged by One piece Books)

    • Rapthalia-chan is translated as "Raphtalia"
    • Raph-chan is translated as "Raph-chan"
      (really, this is very bad)

  • Premium Member

    Most of the "over localization" examples mentioned so far don't bother me too much. There is one thing (as non-American) that does however: changing units from metric to imperial during translation.

    "The room was about 16 feet high" ... Like hell it was. Japan uses the metric system, so imperial units should never be used in translations (except for maybe in footnotes or parentheses).

    Fortunately J-Novel Club doesn't do this. Yen Press however is definitely guilty of doing this.


  • Translators

    @ghdpro said in Over-localization:

    "The room was about 16 feet high" ... Like hell it was. Japan uses the metric system, so imperial units should never be used in translations

    I think it's interesting that this bothers you when you say that a lot of these other examples don't. A room is going to be the size that it is regardless of the units used to measure it, so I'm curious why you feel it makes so much difference that the measurement be presented in one system versus another.

    If a company thinks their translations are mainly being read by people in the USA, they may convert measurements as a convenience for their readers. You might argue that's not as precise as retaining the metric measurements, but then again, translating the book into English is not as precise as leaving it in Japanese, either. The questions are how much access you want to provide target-language readers to the text, and what you think the best form is for that access to take.


  • Premium Member

    The only time that changing metric to imperial would bother me is when it deals with scientific notation. I can take or leave "X tatami mats' => size, they both have positive or negatives.

    But changing meters per second to feet when a scientist is talking is a big ow for me. :)


  • Premium Member

    @kevin-s said in Over-localization:

    If a company thinks their translations are mainly being read by people in the USA

    While it is true the English translations of LN by US companies are most likely mainly going to be read by people in the USA, I don't think the amount of non-USA readers is so insignificant to ignore them completely.

    Would it really take you out of the immersion during reading too much if the line read:
    "The room was about 5 meters (16ft) high"?

    While I understand that some Americans might be slightly annoyed at having to translate metric to imperial in their head (if there was only metric given in the translation), the opposite is also true for non-Americans.


  • Premium Member

    Personally, even as an American, I'd prefer they'd use Metric (except for temperature).


  • Premium Member

    I’m American and I’ve even lived in countries with the metric system and km make sense but it still takes me time to figure out meters.

    I don’t ask translations to translate to feet and understand why some might not but personally I prefer it for ease of my reading experience.


  • Member

    @dtta As an American studying science in college, I can understand both imperial or metric and I don't really care which is used (though I would totally be fine with the metric system overtaking imperial. Metric is just so much simpler and more scientific). The only measurement I have no idea how to size up in my head is tatami mats lol.

    I do remember watching NGNL, and Shiro always saying "Nii," so it was really weird going to Yen's translation of "Bro," but other than say changing food to something more American (totally not acceptable), I don't mind how localized the novel gets. Though I hate it when fan translations have "Hai" or "goshujin" etc. romanized instead of just translating smh.


  • Premium Member

    I typed up a few responses to this topic only to delete them. This is a terribly subjective topic, as each of us has our own level of familiarity with the content. I don't think it's fair to assign any hard and fast rules, it's all going to be a case by case basis. There's always some interesting discussions on specific choices.

    Ultimately, I figure if I really cared that much about faithfulness to the original, I'd get off my lazy butt and learn and experience Japanese directly. Otherwise, I have to accept that everything if going to be colored to some degree by the localizer. The best I can do there is get to know the choices they made and the reasons for their decisions, so I slowly learn more about the underlying original material.

    On the whole metric/imperial thing, the main issue I have is with km to miles, and kg to pounds. Meter to foot, I just use 1 yard = 1 meter, it's close enough. But just to point out how dumb imperial is, I can never remember how many feet are in a mile.



  • @legitpancake said in Over-localization:

    I do remember watching NGNL, and Shiro always saying "Nii," so it was really weird going to Yen's translation of "Bro," but other than say changing food to something more American (totally not acceptable), I don't mind how localized the novel gets.

    I don't really see what's so weird there. I can't think of any better translation for how she refers to him. Both are shortened from an obvious source word (Oniisan -> Brother).

    Also, I personally can't stand the imperial system. Since my country uses the metric one I constantly have to look up how long something is in cm/m/km/etc. (Thanks, Yen!) Sometimes I don't even bother and just go "So, basically, it's long?". I get the logic for converting metric to imperial for an American audience, but I still don't like it.


  • Staff

    @doublemangekyo said in Over-localization:

    I don't really see what's so weird there.

    I think he was just expressing that he was caught off-guard since he was so used to one thing and now it was another.


  • Premium Member

    @flarecde @doublemangekyo I totally agree, the imperial system should just die ;-P


  • Translators

    @ghdpro said in Over-localization:

    While it is true the English translations of LN by US companies are most likely mainly going to be read by people in the USA, I don't think the amount of non-USA readers is so insignificant to ignore them completely.

    And I'm hardly suggesting it is, or even necessarily defending the choice to convert units. My remark about a possible rationale for such conversion was a passing comment; my point was that it's hard to establish any categorical imperatives as regards translation, and that most "translations MUST do X/MUST NOT do y" comments are at least somewhat subjective, if not arbitrary.



  • @terabyte I second this, dammit YP. I can at best convert inches mentally, but when it comes to feet I have to get my fucking calc. It's not enjoyable at all.


  • Premium Member

    @paulnamida Come on, it's easy.

    12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard and wtf would anyone use this POS system over a base 10 system yards to a mile.


  • Premium Member

    @sniper_samurai said in Over-localization:

    @paulnamida Come on, it's easy.

    12 inches to a foot, 3 feet to a yard and wtf would anyone use this POS system over a base 10 system yards to a mile.

    There is actually a reason it's 12 inches to a foot. 12 results in whole numbers when divided by 2, 3 and 4, and dividing parts in halves, thirds or quarters is very common. 10 gives you fun things like 3.3333...

    Of course, it sucks when we use a base 10 numerical system, which is why metric is designed the way it is. Maybe we should switch to base 12!


  • Premium Member

    @flarecde I understand that. Imperial measurements are fine for small amounts like feet, pounds and pints which are still used here for height, food and alcoholic drink measurements. The problems start occurring when the numbers get big enough that they need to be converted to a larger unit of measurement.


  • Premium Member

    Reading imperial measurements and Kelvin in novels always give me a headache. Besides the headache of converting everything to something logical it always leaves me wondering if it was converted accurately or not. Having said that I am not American nor living in America.

    It would be nice if translators kept to the original measurement system but yeah a non American is saying that ;).

    It's also annoying to read San, Sama, Sensei and then the use of Mr... across different novels.

    It's understandable that it changes from translator to translator but still it would be nice if they all used the same titles.


  • Premium Member

    @fated what novels are you reading to see temperatures in Kelvin?


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