News: 11 March 2016 - Forum Rules
Current Moderators - DarkSol, KingMike, MathOnNapkins, Azkadellia, Danke

Author Topic: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?  (Read 10842 times)

tcaudilllg

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 431
    • View Profile
Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« on: March 27, 2011, 10:42:41 pm »
Was thinking of making a program that can put Western-style spacing in Japanese sentences.

Ryusui

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4989
  • It's the greatest day.
    • View Profile
    • Tumblr
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2011, 11:45:40 pm »
That would be counterproductive. The only case where it might be useful is in the worst of all worst-case scenarios - text rendered entirely (or close to it) in hiragana - which would probably confound your hypothetical software just as much as it would a human reader.

As for pronouns, Japanese has little use for them, but when they do appear, they're used almost the same way their equivalents are in English. There are multiple variants on "I" and "you", but they differ only in politeness levels.
In the event of a firestorm, the salad bar will remain open.

tcaudilllg

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2011, 11:55:18 pm »
I guess there isn't much motivation to help me design this tech... ok, I'll figure it out by myself.

I believe you guys are vastly overstating the complexity of JRPG script translation. After all, most scripts don't use more than say, 1000 words not counting names? ("you", "fool", "infidel", "empire", "defeat", "hope", "love"... ah I think already we're running out! Oh wait, forgot "find", "magic", and "power"... oh, and "ultimate" lol)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 12:03:58 am by tcaudilllg »

Ryusui

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4989
  • It's the greatest day.
    • View Profile
    • Tumblr
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2011, 12:18:52 am »
Trolling won't change the facts. Vocab is one thing; grammar is another. Even Google Translate chokes on some common points of the language, even though they presumably have the resources to manufacture Skynet.

Back to the hiragana text. そこへのばす could be "reaching out towards that place", or "the bus which goes to that place". Context is a bastard. Depending on which of these it is, it would be spaced そこ へ のばす or そこ へ の ばす. (And that's not even getting into the possibility it could be "reaching out towards the abyss" or "the bus which goes to the abyss".) Unless your software can divine context from the ether or black magic or the Akashic Record or something, it will not be guaranteed to correctly space this sentence.

And yes, I'm aware that technically speaking, バス would be written in katakana if "bus" were meant, but games do sometimes use hiragana for absolutely everything. I have seen, for instance, げーむおーばー, and one NPC in Breath of Fire 2 even says えっちぴー and えーぴー.

Again: counterproductive. Anything your software could do, someone with a moderate grasp of Japanese could do better.
In the event of a firestorm, the salad bar will remain open.

Gideon Zhi

  • IRC Staff
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3456
    • View Profile
    • Aeon Genesis
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2011, 12:37:05 am »
I believe you guys are vastly overstating the complexity of JRPG script translation. After all, most scripts don't use more than say, 1000 words not counting names? ("you", "fool", "infidel", "empire", "defeat", "hope", "love"... ah I think already we're running out! Oh wait, forgot "find", "magic", and "power"... oh, and "ultimate" lol)



Yeah, only about a thousand words. Right. It's not like they're ever arranged differently oh wait

BRPXQZME

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4572
  • じー
    • View Profile
    • The BRPXQZME Network
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2011, 12:39:28 am »
1) Japanese avoids pronouns where they aren’t strictly necessary. Which is almost everywhere. Pronouns in the Japanese language are used less frequently than in many other languages mainly because there is no grammatical requirement to explicitly mention the subject in a sentence. So, pronouns can seldom be translated from English to Japanese on a one-on-one basis. Most of the Japanese pronouns are not pure: they have other meanings. In English the common pronouns have no other meaning: for example, "I", "you", and "they" have no use except as pronouns. But in Japanese the words used as pronouns have other meanings: for example, 私 means "private" or "personal"; 僕 means "manservant". The words Japanese speakers use to refer to other people are part of the more encompassing system of Japanese honorifics and should be understood within that frame. The choice of pronoun will depend on the speaker's social status compared to the listener, the subject, and the objects of the statement. The first person pronouns (e.g. watashi, 私) and second person pronouns (e.g. anata, 貴方) are used in formal situations. In many sentences, when an English speaker would use the pronouns "I" and "you", they are omitted in Japanese. Personal pronouns can be left out when it is clear who the speaker is talking about. When it is required to state the topic of the sentence for clarity, the particle wa (は) is used, but it is not required when the topic can be inferred from context. Also, there are frequently used verbs that can indicate the subject of the sentence in certain circumstances: for example, kureru (くれる) means "give", but in the sense of "somebody gives something to me or somebody very close to me"; while ageru (あげる) also means "give", but in the sense of "someone gives something to someone (usually not me)". Sentences consisting of a single adjective (often those ending in -shii) are often assumed to have the speaker as the subject. For example, the adjective sabishii (寂しい) can represent a complete sentence meaning "I am lonely." Thus, the first person pronoun is usually only used when the speaker wants to put a special stress on the fact that he is referring to himself, or if it is necessary to make it clear. In some situations it can be considered uncouth to refer to the listener (second person) by a pronoun. If it is required to state the second person explicitly, the listener's surname suffixed with -san or some other title (like "customer", "teacher", or "boss") is generally used. Gender differences in spoken Japanese also bring about another challenge as men and women use different pronouns to refer to themselves. Social standing also determines how a person refers to themselves, as well as how a person refers to the person they are talking to.

Also, you need to be more specific if you want an answer. Otherwise, the answer to your question is “no”.

2) This program is pointless because it doesn’t actually help anyone who knows where the spaces would go, and it doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t know where the spaces would go. Also, the sheer morphological analysis required to do it well is a bitch of a problem that even the the million-dollar-salary guys at Google can’t get down. I’d tell you to look at ChaSen, but I am wondering if you could even figure out how to use it.

3) You have more or less just insulted every game translator worth a hoot with that last statement, in addition to your already long list of insults to a bunch of fields you most evidently do not understand.
we are in a horrible and deadly danger

tcaudilllg

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2011, 01:33:44 am »
I insulted RPG scenario writers, not translators.

The Google guys are just paying off Systran, from what I've heard. Their software probably would be better except it has been weighted to look for celebrity names, which seems to throw everything else off. And "die" keeps getting confused with "bite". :?

High salaries may mean relative quality as the market understands it, but they do not mean breakthrough creativity and innovation.

The aim would be to make hiragana easier to understand. I'm not concerned with kanji. And, even a translator that was effective in a majority of cases, and not all, would still be useful.

Ryusui

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4989
  • It's the greatest day.
    • View Profile
    • Tumblr
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2011, 02:17:28 am »
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheProblemWithPenIsland

This applies just as much to Japanese as it does English.

Also note that th' Japanese're kinda fond o' funky dialects 'n such. Which they ain't 'fraid of renderin' in text. T'aint like they's universal or nothin'...BUT WHEN KANSAI-BEN OR GENERAL JAPANESE SLANG ENTERS THE PICTURE, IT WILL MURDER YOUR PROGRAM WITHOUT HESITATION. (Phew.)
In the event of a firestorm, the salad bar will remain open.

snark

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 218
  • 晴天の霹靂
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2011, 05:07:06 am »
Unless your software can divine context from the ether or black magic or the Akashic Record or something, it will not be guaranteed to correctly space this sentence. Anything your software could do, someone with a moderate grasp of Japanese could do better.

 :D That's why I can do it with my brain! lol.   :D
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."

Ryusui

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4989
  • It's the greatest day.
    • View Profile
    • Tumblr
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2011, 06:15:38 am »
And, even a translator that was effective in a majority of cases, and not all, would still be useful.

What do we have to say to make it clear?

The "majority" of cases are ones where you wouldn't need your program to figure out the proper word breaks. It's like having scuba gear that only works on dry land. Anyone who knows enough Japanese that your program would theoretically be useful to them also knows enough that they can figure out the word breaks without the aid of your program. And the ones they can't figure out...well, it's not like your program would help much with that, now, would it?
In the event of a firestorm, the salad bar will remain open.

RedComet

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3160
    • View Profile
    • Twilight Translations
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2011, 08:46:27 am »
It's like Rai learned to use big words and returned from his exodus.  :o
Twilight Translations - More than just Dragonball Z. :P

BRPXQZME

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4572
  • じー
    • View Profile
    • The BRPXQZME Network
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2011, 06:03:35 pm »
I insulted RPG scenario writers, not translators.
Leave insults to people who are good at them and know what they’re talking about. Because not only do I stand by my statement, I will expound on it: you are insulting anyone who has ever spent a single minute staring down kanji tables; or hours agonizing over complicated and obscure grammar and diction infused with cultural differences; or the days, months, or even years it can take to go through megabytes’ worth of lines.

Seriously, if you don’t think that was a big fuck-you to anyone who’s ever done any of that, then get out, and by the way, same to you, buddy.

The Google guys are just paying off Systran, from what I've heard. Their software probably would be better except it has been weighted to look for celebrity names, which seems to throw everything else off. And "die" keeps getting confused with "bite". :?

High salaries may mean relative quality as the market understands it, but they do not mean breakthrough creativity and innovation.
Not a single part of this is more than half true. In fact, it is mostly false, and to be completely honest, I’m getting more than a little sick of the falsehoods that you emit with near-regularity.
we are in a horrible and deadly danger

I.S.T.

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4539
  • Ten years, still no avatar.
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2011, 06:12:31 pm »
BRP, I was going to PM you something, but it seems you've turned off PMs?
Retired moderator/staff member as of July 14th 2016

Kiyoshi Aman

  • RHDN Patreon Supporter!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2245
  • Browncoat Captain
    • View Profile
    • Aerdan's Blog
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2011, 06:18:01 pm »
It is not that hard to pick kana out of single words and phrases if you don't know much Japanese. (I've done it, but I would seriously not recommend it.) That being said, translators and localization teams are paid, not only for their ability to read and understand Japanese, but also for the various esoteric facts they gleaned both on the job and in their other fields of interest.

Moreover, the vast majority of NES and SNES-era text-heavy games (RPGs, the very games you propose to solve translation problems for, sir) tend to use very, very few Kanji. And they have shitty fonts. And they tend to use obscure mythological terms which a plebeian such as yourself is highly unlikely to encounter unless you have an interest in history and/or mythology as well as Japanese.

Frankly, I have to respect Woolsey and every other translator in the history of ever who's had to deal with these games; Mystic Quest in particular (see here) has an awful lot of obscure terms, some not even mythological in origin. There is no fucking way you have any clue of what they had to put up with unless you've actually done it yourself, which I sincerely disbelieve.

Aside from that, I'm pretty much going to agree with BRPXQZME.

filler

  • RHDN Patreon Supporter!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 802
  • "WINNERS DON'T SELL REPROS"
    • View Profile
    • Filler's Translation Projects
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2011, 09:12:36 pm »
Let me put my two cents in. I started thinking along similar lines, only my approach as a translator was to make a translation memory. The idea is that you translate something once and you don't need to translate it again. So that odd bit of kansai-ben, or weird conjugation, or funny term, you enter them into the TM and there they are. Next time you run some text into the program it grabs your translation for those and brings it up for you. My idea was to assemble these into a translated sentence which you can then edit into understandable English.

A little over a year ago I started coding this in my spare time. It's really for translators to make life easier and more efficient. I'll be the first to admit that if you're really good, it may be easier for you to just translate outright without having to worry about entering stuff in. However, if you ever need to consult a dictionary, or if you're just lazy and like the idea of not having to type quite as much, or think quite as much about common stuff you translate all the time, this program is pretty damn cool.

I've been running my translations into it and adding terms and phrases to it for a few months now. You lose time putting terms/phrases into it of course, but the idea of the time you'll save later is actually really motivating. Not only that but I've found it helps me break down the sentences into components and think about each one more carefully. The more stuff you put into it the more accurate it gets. I've seen it start to get a lot more accurate since I've started using it. There's no way I'll go back to not using it at this rate.

My whole intention in doing this has been to roll it out for the romhacking community to use at some point. Unfortunately at this particular moment it's not quite ready. However, I'd love to gauge interest in the program. Let me know if this interests you. I'm not going to offer to let folks have a stab at it quite yet but I've already offered to a couple folks I know well.



tcaudilllg

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2011, 11:45:02 pm »
Sounds interesting. Yeah I think I could find a use for that.

Paul Jensen

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 424
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2011, 02:30:46 am »
my approach as a translator was to make a translation memory.

Hey Filler, are you talking about a file, or are you talking about a program?
Sign THIS!

tcaudilllg

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 431
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2011, 06:04:10 am »
Honestly, I would just post scripts in the original Japanese to here, if I thought it wouldn't piss people off remarkably.

filler

  • RHDN Patreon Supporter!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 802
  • "WINNERS DON'T SELL REPROS"
    • View Profile
    • Filler's Translation Projects
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2011, 07:50:37 am »
Hey Filler, are you talking about a file, or are you talking about a program?

A program. Technically it's all in a table in a database so that's kind of a file. :) What's nice about it is that is automatically generates "translated" sentences. Wherever in the sentence it doesn't pull up a good translation just enter your translation for that part of the sentence and resubmit. If an unwanted definition/translation has been chosen (out of multiple definitions for a term) but there is another definition you'd rather use, simply pick it from a drop-down list and resubmit. The more you do this, the more the tool "learns" your preferences and the more likely it will be to choose the definition you'll like the next time. You may add as many translation memories as you'd like. You could have one for each project you work on, or break it up by type.

@tcaudilllg Good to know. :)

snark

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 218
  • 晴天の霹靂
    • View Profile
Re: Can anyone help me understand Japanese pronouns?
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2011, 12:08:44 am »
Because not only do I stand by my statement, I will expound on it: you are insulting anyone who has ever spent a single minute staring down kanji tables; or hours agonizing over complicated and obscure grammar and diction infused with cultural differences; or the days, months, or even years it can take to go through megabytes’ worth of lines.


That being said, translators and localization teams are paid, not only for their ability to read and understand Japanese, but also for the various esoteric facts they gleaned both on the job and in their other fields of interest.

Moreover, the vast majority of NES and SNES-era text-heavy games (RPGs, the very games you propose to solve translation problems for, sir) tend to use very, very few Kanji. And they have shitty fonts. And they tend to use obscure mythological terms which a plebeian such as yourself is highly unlikely to encounter unless you have an interest in history and/or mythology as well as Japanese.

Excellent points about what goes into the process. Not to mention noodle-nests of pointers, lack of space, the arduous task of localizing and rewriting, as well as explaining cultural terms and obscure terms that have no cognate in English. Then you have the added challenge of arcane concepts that were passed by oral tradition and not documented into English text. The script must be entertaining in games, and not a rote dictionary of factoids.

When one reads hiragana, it has its own flow; one should see it eventually like a beaded string necklace of concepts, and those concepts are then rendered to engaging script. You can adjust your mind to reading this way and chopping up would no longer be necessary.

If one is unfamiliar with the language, machine translation and software can help only as a tool. The plus of experience and immersion into a culture is priceless. One should get used to writing hiragana and visualizing the sounds, learning verb tenses, verbs, and basic vocabulary instead of jumping right
into translating. Its not terribly difficult. Just think, if you were reading Hebrew, then you would be doing all of this but backwards!

You don't grab a Modern Spanish dictionary and jump right in to translating Cervantes "Don Quixote."  The outcome would be soulless and a morass of analytical chopped bits of nonsense.  That being said, any tool or guide that can assist in this process is useful, but the groundwork must be done first.

 :thumbsup:
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."