Over-localization



  • @myskaros said in Over-localization:

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Take my username as an example. How would you translate it?

    Does your username have literary significance on the JNC forums beyond the fact that it's your chosen name? No? Then there's no need to translate it. The cat's name "Nyantaro" has a contextual meaning beyond "it's a random name," this specific name was chosen to make a specific point. That's why there's value in translating it to convey that.

    Even if it has a literary significance of meaning, there is also a literary significance of name choice. Remember that foreign languages will use names in different ways.

    Take English as an example. You have last names which are Job titles. You don't see people killing over a last name (usually).

    Take Vietnamese as an example. You have last names that largely don't matter to commoners. I've yet to find a Vietnamese person who would kill someone over their last name.

    Take Chinese as an example. You had mass murder for the sake of keeping a last name because it is the family name and is considered to be preserving the family line.

    There is a meaning for many last names as a result of using actual words for those last names, but the meaning of the name isn't the only significance.

    Then you have languages and literature that use the names for a literary purpose. This can differ from the direct meaning. (Such as combining words to form a new word with a different meaning than the words by themselves). This can become rather complex at times as well. I believe I explained that part earlier in this thread.

    I've also explained elsewhere that not localizing a name doesn't necessarily mean the translation won't sell. Whether you localize or not, there are people who won't buy a translation because it was localized or because it wasn't localized. The question for official translations becomes which side will give more money. Do you ostracize the purist fans or do you ostracize the ones that insist on localization.


  • Premium Member

    Translated works will always carry a bit of the people involved in translating it. Their culture, their voice. Good localization will keep the spirit of the work, even if needing to sacrifice some of the actual word.

    For an example, since it keeps getting brought up, the whole cat summons thing. The original Japanese name is obviously and intuitively, to a native Japanese speaker, a dumb, silly name. To your average English speaking person, that is not going to be the case. So the goal is to pick a name that is equally silly to a native English speaker, while keeping it something that doesn't stick out in the setting.

    If you want to learn the culture and such, your first step is going to be learning the language yourself, not relying on others to translate for you. Then learning the culture through immersion.

    Or, well, that's all my opinion. Me, I just want to read some fun stories. Japanese LNs are more enjoyable than much of the Western stuff I read. Unless the translation is butchered, I probably wouldn't notice - all this stuff is, though interesting, academic trivia.


  • Staff

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Even if it has a literary significance of meaning, there is also a literary significance of name choice.

    Yes... that's literally what I said... so there is a fork in the road here. Do you leave the name as-is and completely lose the cultural message behind that name choice, or do you translate the name to convey that message to your audience? There's no correct answer, and you're not gaining any fans by trying to pretend there is.

    Do you ostracize the purist fans or do you ostracize the ones that insist on localization.

    It's cute that you think either of these sides are a big enough piece of the pie to be worth specifically catering to. Most people honestly could not care less whether the name is Nyantaro or Mittens or Garfield, they might be annoyed that the pun wasn't translated or that it was "overlocalized," but they're still going to enjoy the book. Anyone who truly feels ostracized because of Nyantaro-->Mittens, or for any other book where the name is left as-is and the pun makes no sense, is going to stop reading your books at some point anyway, so it's simply not worth worrying about.



  • @myskaros said in Over-localization:

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Even if it has a literary significance of meaning, there is also a literary significance of name choice.

    Yes... that's literally what I said... so there is a fork in the road here. Do you leave the name as-is and completely lose the cultural message behind that name choice, or do you translate the name to convey that message to your audience? There's no correct answer, and you're not gaining any fans by trying to pretend there is.

    There is also leave the name as is and explain the meaning. That is harder to do naturally, but it is another path. I believe that Yen-on actually uses that method quite often in the LNs.

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Whether you localize or not, there are people who won't buy a translation because it was localized or because it wasn't localized. The question for official translations becomes which side will give more money. Do you ostracize the purist fans or do you ostracize the ones that insist on localization.

    @myskaros said in Over-localization:

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Even if it has a literary significance of meaning, there is also a literary significance of name choice.

    Yes... that's literally what I said... so there is a fork in the road here. Do you leave the name as-is and completely lose the cultural message behind that name choice, or do you translate the name to convey that message to your audience? There's no correct answer, and you're not gaining any fans by trying to pretend there is.

    Do you ostracize the purist fans or do you ostracize the ones that insist on localization.

    It's cute that you think either of these sides are a big enough piece of the pie to be worth specifically catering to. Most people honestly could not care less whether the name is Nyantaro or Mittens or Garfield, they might be annoyed that the pun wasn't translated or that it was "overlocalized," but they're still going to enjoy the book. Anyone who truly feels ostracized because of Nyantaro-->Mittens, or for any other book where the name is left as-is and the pun makes no sense, is going to stop reading your books at some point anyway, so it's simply not worth worrying about.

    Then that is even less reason to translate the name if it doesn't matter. The only real reason why it should be localized would be due to sales. If localizing won't increase sales, why do it?

    I mean, I might be somewhat biased because I know more people that won't buy due to localization that wouldn't buy due to lack of localization, but if there isn't a purpose in localizing the name, why not keep it as-is?


  • Staff

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    Then that is even less reason to translate the name if it doesn't matter. The only real reason why it should be localized would be due to sales. If localizing won't increase sales, why do it?

    Because it's up to the translator and he clearly felt this was worth translating?


  • Premium Member

    @sinnoaria said in Over-localization:

    I know more people that won't buy due to localization that wouldn't buy due to lack of localization

    If we take this whole localization to the extreme and say some ppl will not buy something due to localization, then they should not be reading LN in English as that is a form of localization but they will probably say something like "Oh but I can't read Japanese!" Well then if they refuse to buy something because of localization then theu should learn to read Japanese and never go outside because the world ia filled with it. In Canada McDonalds has Poutine, this would be localization as Poutine is a Canadian thing (there is even an Indian restaurant that has Poutine too).



  • @drone205 It can go to extremes in either direction though. One way or another, it isn't like one way is absolutely correct. It is a simple matter of which side you are on. Both sides are right, but both sides are wrong. There are languages that translate well between each other and languages that don't.

    In the end, a company will usually prioritize money. I'll throw more money at a company whose methods I support over a company whose methods I don't. Simple as that. (I already threw over 300 USD at Yen-On in just the past quarter alone and I don't 100% agree with their localization methods, but I do acknowledge their attempt at satisfying both sides).


  • Translators

    When I translate, I translate for an English-speaking audience. Knowing rudimentary Japanese isn't a free ticket in my book, so I'm not going to leave stuff half-translated so a smaller portion of the audience can be like 'oh I recognize that, the Japanese-ness of this book is truly preserved'. I can't cater to the individual, so when I make the judgment call on my translations, I opt for creating a book that would be naturally read in English, just as the original was naturally read in Japanese.

    Encapsulating the nuance entirely is a difficult thing to do, but I still try my best to replicate the experience. if I just leave things in so you can see how Japanese the book is, that's not me preserving anything, that's me giving you, the reader, a completely different experience to the one the original readers would've had. Localization isn't censorship or an attempt to obscure a work's origin. At the end of the day, it's kind of messed up to desire the 'exoticism' of something foreign than actually wanting to read something that makes clear sense in your natural language. Even so, you'll never have the cultural context of the Japanese reader to begin with, most of the traditional Japanese historical references in Smartphone (which I retain, as there's no reason to change them), wouldn't be as readily known to the average westerner. Either way, when it comes to something like a minor character's nickname, I see no harm in changing that if it better reflects the author's original intent. If you want the original book, go all the way and learn Japanese, I'd encourage you to chase those dreams.


  • Premium Member

    @readingsteiner said in Over-localization:

    Knowing rudimentary Japanese isn't a free ticket in my book, so I'm not going to leave stuff half-translated so a smaller portion of the audience can be like 'oh I recognize that, the Japanese-ness of this book is truly preserved'

    I would actually be quite interested to see a poll of all the readers of Isekai Smartphone to get an idea of the extent to which they skew weeaboo compared to the general population. It's very likely that a significant proportion, if not a majority, of them are probably consumers of WN translations, manga scanlation readers, and even Crunchyroll sub viewers who are "used" to seeing honorifics and "nyaa~" and the like, and "expect" to see them in translations. Even if the audience is objectively wrong for being memed into preferring bad translation practice, it's ultimately them who make purchasing decisions.

    In such a scenario, an argument could at least be made (even if it is ultimately disagreed with) for pandering to your core audience of utter weeaboos, with the aim of growing it further within the weeaboo population who might be more likely to buy a product if it conforms to their expectations. This, as opposed to taking the orthodox approach of, in search of greater growth and inclusiveness, aiming for the lowest common denominator with zero weeaboo "common sense" who make up a minority of people who would be likely to read Isekai Smartphone in the first place, which could potentially drive off the core potential audience of hardcore weeaboo honorific purists.

    I still trust the judgment of the translator to make the right call in context, of course. And I do think that those who are in the absolute hardcore camp of weeabooism purists that would refuse to buy a well translated product, and instead prefer to read a headache-inducing massacre of a machine translation, purely over a lack of honorifics, are a tiny minority.


  • Premium Member

    There are some over-localisations that I can deal with, and others that really grind my gears.

    I personally prefer the honorifics to be left in since they don't translate to English at all. It feels really awkward to read someone as Mr. ---- or Miss ---- since it's only used in very formal situations in English. I can only count the number of times I have been called Mr. ---- on one hand. It also helps to tell who is talking a lot of the time as characters will refer to some people differently and the translated version doesn't come across as smooth as just keeping the honorifics. However i can see how this might be left up to the translators as to if they want to keep them or not.

    The ones that really get to me though are:

    Imperial measurements is one that really gets to me. Only 3 countries in the world use the imperial measurement system and the rest use metric. I don't see the point in translating from metric to imperial just for those countries when metric was used in the original. I don't think that I've seen this much at JNC, but I see it a lot in the Yen Press translations.

    Another is something i found in while reading Outbreak Company the other day. Instead of them saying "itadakimasu" before food, it was translated to a "bon apatite". Yes english doesn't have a saying like this, but translating this even further to french? (I think it's french... can't remember ever hearing it before)
    There are some words or phrases that don't translate to English, but translating them even further into an entirely different language is taking things a bit too far in regards to over translating for me. It probably made it worse for me since the whole story is about bringing otaku things to a different world, and they change one of the most well known sayings that appears all through otaku content... to french... This didn't make sense to me and didn't flow with the style of story that it is.

    In regards to the Nyantaro - Mr Mittens - Garfield thing, I think that it's one of the few cases where a different name that the original makes sense. I think Mr Mittens is the right choice. While it could be kept as Nyantaro, the feeling behind it is kinda lost without knowing a fair bit more info than what most people know. Although I thought that Garfield as a little too far in the other direction.


  • Premium Member

    @timaaahh said in Over-localization:

    Another is something i found in while reading Outbreak Company the other day. Instead of them saying "itadakimasu" before food, it was translated to a "bon apatite". Yes english doesn't have a saying like this, but translating this even further to french? (I think it's french... can't remember ever hearing it before)

    "Bon appetit" is fairly recognizable, at least to an American audience. It would be considered a more "classy" form of the more common "lets eat" or "thanks for the food."


  • Premium Member

    @timaaahh I totally agree with you. Nyantaro is untranslated and becomes "just some strange Japanese name" while Garfield was an overlocalization. Funny, if you know who a Garfield is, but Garfield isn't that well known in Japan, so why would Touya, clearly a Japanese man, use that reference. "Mr. Mittens" is a good middle ground.


  • Premium Member

    @paul-nebeling said in Over-localization:

    Garfield isn't that well known in Japan

    Is it actually (not a rhetoric question, I really don't know). Afaik they aired the complete Garfield and Friends series over there, and Genda, Garfield's seiyuu, quite prolific.


  • Member

    @jaquobus Yea it aired in Japan. (https://youtu.be/gJhCoDE2vvk) I'm sure most Japanese know who/what Garfield is, but how deep their knowledge goes is unknown to me.


  • Staff

    @paul-nebeling said in Over-localization:

    but Garfield isn't that well known in Japan, so why would Touya, clearly a Japanese man, use that reference.

    Be careful with this argument. You're just a single logical step away from "Touya is Japanese, so why would he be speaking in English!"


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros I don't think those arguments are remotely related. He's not speaking in English. He's speaking in Japanese, we're merely reading it as English. There's a difference, when it comes to dialogue, as to what the text is being rendered as, and what it's representing. Unless that comment was sarcasm...

    Garfield didn't jive with the context for me, it stuck out as being... weird.


  • Staff

    @flarecde My point is that the argument is a slippery slope. "He's Japanese, so he shouldn't know X." "He's Japanese, so he should/would be saying Y." The basic counterargument would be "well, why are you OK with A but not B." If you compare the original text with the translation, there are going to be a lot of cases where what was translated differs greatly from the original form of the Japanese - why is this specific case special?

    Your framework makes the argument even worse, honestly. "He's actually speaking Japanese, but we just read the translation of it"? Steiner's translation style is no secret, so why haven't there been droves of complaints every time anything is localized instead of directly translated? What makes Garfield the straw that broke the camel's back?


  • Premium Member

    @myskaros Sorry, I misunderstood the argument. I thought you were implying people would question why Touya's dialogue isn't literally in Japanese.

    I don't see an issue with asking "why A and not B." It's a valid question from the purist point of view, and anyone making the argument should have an answer.


  • Member

    It's not a slippery slope, there's no justification for Touya suddenly thinking and behaving like a typical american.

    At the same time forgetting about balance and thinking that changing a character any way you want is okay just to make things more familiar or because you personally think it's funny is exactly what a slippery slope is, Garfield is simply the most glaring example which could be noticed even by those who don't know japanese and have never read the original.

    Not to mention that changing a deliberately typical impersonal name to a straightforward famous reference is a horrible decision in itself.


  • Staff

    At this point Garfield-gate is a mute point, the translator has addressed it in great depth, and Sam has said that it would be changed for the ebook release and it has.

    Let's move on from the that one specific localization point, this topic is about over-localization in general, there should be plenty of other localization points to discuss.


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