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Author Topic: Translating Titles  (Read 12439 times)

Paul Jensen

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Translating Titles
« on: June 09, 2011, 08:41:21 am »
A thought occured to me the other day about translating titles of games, movies, etc. from Japanese. It seems to me that a lot of people have been getting things backwards and mistakenly putting subtitles before titles.

For example, 宇宙戦艦ヤマト (uchuu senkan Yamato) is usually rendered in English as Space Battleship Yamato, which to me sounds very Engrishy. I think it would be much better rendered as Yamato: The Space Battleship.

I base this idea on the fact that Japanese is a head-final language -- the most important stuff usually comes last. So, in Japanese you get shop names like バーバーおかだ, where the name of the shop comes last. In English, we'd probably put the name first and call the shop Okada's Barber Shop. Or you get personal titles such as 田中社長, with name first and title last (which is arguably more important than a name because it signifies social status and thus distinguishes a person, much like the name of a shop, which distinguishes it from other shops).

Anyway, the fact that things like titles are often switched when translating from J to E makes me think that the same switching rule should be applied to things like the titles of games.

Another example: 悪魔城ドラキュラ (Akumajou Dorakyura) is often tranlated as Demon Castle Dracula, which again to me sounds Engrishy. Dracula: The Demon('s) Castle sounds much, much better IMO.

I guess one could run into problems if a game has a sub-subtitle -- as many Dracula series games do -- , but still...

Has anybody else made this observation before? What are your thoughts on this?
« Last Edit: June 11, 2011, 11:07:08 am by Paul Jensen »
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geishaboy

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2011, 08:58:32 am »
Yeah, I have noticed this too. I really don't understand why so many titles are translated so poorly, but whatever, at this point it has pretty much become the industry language. You can almost tell if a game is Japanese just by hearing the title. "Guess where Super Battle Cute Girls Extreme comes from?".


Kiyoshi Aman

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2011, 09:28:49 am »
Perhaps "Dracula's Demonic Castle" would flow better? Regardless, you make a very good point.

Cryomancer

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2011, 11:52:10 am »
I actually always kind of liked it this way, I'm not exactly sure why.  Something about it just makes it sound cool in my head I guess.  Maybe because it's like giving the subject of the name a title, instead of Name: The Subtitle which I kind of get sick of (I think working a movie store is a major part of that). 

Name: The subtitle < Cool words: name, at least in my head.  I guess it's a matter of opinion.
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Auryn

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2011, 12:16:59 pm »
I think it because of trying to keep the style of the title (no subtitle in the original so no subtitle in the translation) and I think that a subtitle somehow point to a "new game of a series " or a "sequel" so it give a feeling of "not original".

Ryusui

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2011, 01:38:42 pm »
I had so much trouble trying to figure out how to render おとぎの国のペンダント. I eventually settled on "The Fairyland Pendant" rather than "The Pendant of Fairyland", but it turns out both were wrong: in the toyline, おとぎの国 is "Misty Forest" outside of Japan.

I'm still stewing over this gap in my research.

Funnily enough, a lot of my projects (finished and otherwise) involved tweaking subtitles. I couldn't think of any way to render 森のなかまと踊りましょ!that would sound like a natural English subtitle, so I nixed it altogether. 使命の子 was "The Destined Child" in the old translation but appeared in English as "The Fatal Child" in the original Japanese version; I split the difference and went with "The Fated Child". "Kira Game" sounds a bit awkward as a subtitle, so it's "The Kira Game" on the title screen I probably should go back over one more time. ^_^;

And what else could I translate 格闘料理伝説 as but "Food Fight Legend"?
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Gideon Zhi

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2011, 02:17:14 pm »
I tend to strive for a happy medium when possible. The overly-engrishy-sounding names is something that's bugged me in recent years, so I've tried hard to rewire it in such a way that it still conveys the same message, but doesn't sound like a string of nouns and adjectives hamfistedly smashed together.

BRPXQZME

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2011, 03:54:58 pm »
Well, it’s a matter of okay vs. better to me. What gets annoying, however, is when a game already has a subtitle. That there can lead to an awful thing.
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Lilinda

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2011, 06:28:03 pm »
I had so much trouble trying to figure out how to render おとぎの国のペンダント. I eventually settled on "The Fairyland Pendant" rather than "The Pendant of Fairyland", but it turns out both were wrong: in the toyline, おとぎの国 is "Misty Forest" outside of Japan.

I'm still stewing over this gap in my research.

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BRPXQZME

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2011, 06:37:24 pm »
Pfft effort.
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Ryusui

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2011, 06:45:42 pm »
Question: Why have you not put out a revised patch?

Because if I do, I want it to be one that fixes all the glitches I inadvertently introduced with my advanced-for-my-skill-level-at-the-time-but-still-unforgiveably-caveman methods. Not just the title screen.

The game still crashes on occasion, and when it does, it eats save data. Problem? As I've mentioned before, the script is an ungodly mess of event code wrapped around text. Next time I tackle this sucker, it's gonna be with a good-and-proper disassembler/reassembler in tow.

...The fun part is, once I handle that, I'll probably have a leg up on Sylvanian Families 2 and 3. I know 2 uses the same convoluted scheme; haven't given 3 much of a look yet, though. (Fortunately, SF4 and onward don't have this problem.)
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Paul Jensen

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2011, 08:28:45 pm »
I think it because of trying to keep the style of the title (no subtitle in the original so no subtitle in the translation) and I think that a subtitle somehow point to a "new game of a series " or a "sequel" so it give a feeling of "not original".

But see, my point is that they do have subtitles -- they're just in a different order from what we normally use in English. Also, in many cases, the first title in a series doesn't have an actual subtitle (like the first Akumajou Dorakyura game, for example).

I agree with you that having a (real) subtitle can be confusing, though. When I first heard about the movie Master and Commander: On the Other Side of the World, I thought it was a sequel to something.

Well, it’s a matter of okay vs. better to me. What gets annoying, however, is when a game already has a subtitle. That there can lead to an awful thing.

It seems like the max number of subtitles that you can have is two (a total of three phrases) before things start getting cumbersome. Personally, I don't find the titles Pheonix Wright to be awkward at all. Sure, the titles look strange when they're laid out in the same size and style font on a single line, but they don't look bad at all when they're properly laid out on a title screen, front cover or whatever.

Since I've been using Akumajou Dorakyura, check out this page and see how the titles are laid out. Notice how in most of the titles, the phrase 悪魔城 is rendered in a smaller size than ドラキュラ. This seems to be more evidence to me that, even though the nature of Japanese causes 悪魔城 to come before ドラキュラ, that the "real" title of the game is ドラキュラ.

Quote
And what else could I translate 格闘料理伝説 as but "Food Fight Legend"?

(Possibly) "The Legendary Food Fight".

As an alternative to using the "Title: Subtitle: Subtitle 2" template, another alternative would be to insert articles and prepositions where appropriate. Using Akumajou Dorakyura yet again, maybe it could be rendered as "The Devilish Castle of Dracula".

I appreciate all the thoughts you guys have on this.
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Ryusui

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2011, 09:40:46 pm »
(Possibly) "The Legendary Food Fight".

No, seriously.



See the blue banner at the top? I had that much space to work with. I don't remember how, or even if, I managed to wedge even that in there.

In retrospect, perhaps I would've been better off simply trashing it altogether and cobbling up a take on 4Kids' "Fighting Foodons" logo. I remember doing a pretty nice job replacing the 王どろぼうジン logo with the anime's "King of Bandit Jing" - I don't care if it's ungrammatical, it's the title I know the series by. XD
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Auryn

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2011, 06:33:38 am »
By the way there was always some useless and uncomprensible changes of name in video games even if the name wasn't in japanese:
-"legend of the puppet princess" ps1/jap become "rapsody: a magical adventure
-"Zero 零 Zero" jap > "fatal frame" us > project zero pal
-"Tales of Eternia" ps1/jap > "Tales of destiny" 2 us
-"Biohazard" jap > "resident evil" us/pal
-"dememento" ps2/jap > Haunting Ground us

or games that loose/change numbers
-"Seiken Desetsu 2" snes/jap > Secret of mana us/pal
-Final Fantasy 4/6 snes/jap > Final fantasy 2/3 (but strange enough they get the correct numbers in all others re-release)

or games that looses parts of the name
-"Lufia: the fortress of doom" snes/us > "Lufia" pal

Kiyoshi Aman

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2011, 08:30:54 am »
In Eternia's case, it was because of potential trademark issues with Mattel owning the Eternia name for their Masters of the Universe toy-line.

BRPXQZME

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2011, 08:57:17 am »
According to some guy at Capcom, the title Biohazard was already taken outside Japan (both as the working title of Apogee’s Bio Menace, and the name of a band) and they didn’t have what it would take to secure the rights to it.
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KingMike

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #16 on: June 10, 2011, 11:06:09 am »
or games that looses parts of the name
-"Lufia: the fortress of doom" snes/us > "Lufia" pal
Lufia I (Fortress of Doom) was never released in PAL. PAL regions only got the second game. Technically, "Rise of the Sinistrals" was a subtitle added for the US release of Lufia II.
(The Japanese versions were just called Estpolis Denki I and II. Which I'm going to guess is something like "The Chronicles of Estpolis".) Or maybe it was closer to the OST title of Estpolis Biographica.
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Auryn

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Re: Tranlslating Titles
« Reply #17 on: June 10, 2011, 07:10:17 pm »
or games that looses parts of the name
-"Lufia: the fortress of doom" snes/us > "Lufia" pal
Lufia I (Fortress of Doom) was never released in PAL. PAL regions only got the second game. Technically, "Rise of the Sinistrals" was a subtitle added for the US release of Lufia II.
(The Japanese versions were just called Estpolis Denki I and II. Which I'm going to guess is something like "The Chronicles of Estpolis".) Or maybe it was closer to the OST title of Estpolis Biographica.


Yeap..my confusion...you are right.

Pennywise

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Re: Translating Titles
« Reply #18 on: July 02, 2011, 06:58:08 am »
Since we're talking about titles here, how would someone translate Maten Douji? I believe the literal trans is magical boy tendou.

« Last Edit: July 02, 2011, 07:23:20 am by Pennywise »

Ryusui

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Re: Translating Titles
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2011, 03:17:41 pm »
Bit tricky, that. 魔 is "demon/spirit/magic", 天 is "heaven/sky", and 童子 is "boy." There's nothing really you could "translate" that as that wouldn't come out as word salad in English. (And yes, that's a common simplified form of 魔 for when detail comes at a premium.)

If the game already has a strong Eastern theme, which is what it looks like from the title screen, I'd just leave it as "Maten Douji" or "Maten Doji" or some such. You could use the little furigana scroll on the lower right to spell out "Maten Douji" in English, or if you want to go the extra mile, you could whip up a proper "Maten Douji" logo to replace the kanji, and maybe use the scroll for a suitable subtitle. Like, say, "Conquest of the Crystal Palace"? :3

Yeah, I do my research. Still, "Maten Douji: Conquest of the Crystal Palace" has a nice ring to it, don'tcha think?
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