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Author Topic: Translating laughs  (Read 4653 times)

Almagest

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Translating laughs
« on: November 28, 2013, 05:50:17 am »
Hi, guys. I'm trying to translate some types of laugh in FF7. Some of them are evil, others not. I asked DS if he could help me, and he told me it's quite difficult to translate them.

うひょ うひょ うひょ!
This is Palmer's laugh. I have no idea of how it's supposed to sound in English.

クックックッ
I guess this one is the typical evil laugh. It's not loud, but it appears so many times in the game. It's used by Sephiroth, Rufus, and Hojo (most of the time).

クァッ クァッ クァッ!
This is Hojo's laugh, but he sounds crazier than ever. He laughs like this only once, when you're fighting him.

ガハハハハ!
This is Heidegger's laugh. Is "Gahaha" good enough?

キャハハハハ!
This is Scarlet's. It's really "Kyahaha" in Japanese.
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BRPXQZME

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2013, 05:56:13 am »
In English we translate an awful lot of “ha ha” and “heh heh heh” and maybe even a “ho ho” here and there, then we kick the specifics down to the visuals and voice acting. You may pull out an “ahaha”, “bwahaha”, or “muahaha” if you’re feeling ambitious, but you risk popping people’s inner monocles off if your medium is particularly literary (fortunately, this doesn’t count). In Japanese, you have a lot more leeway, as you can see here.

So basically, you’re kind of boned since FF7 doesn’t have voice acting; if you can track down the exact moment these are used, you’ll probably be best off trying to play with a sort of sync with the animation or taking advantage of the scroll speed to space things out for you. Here’s how I would handle these:

Palmer is probably a haughty “ho! ho!” kind of guy (Maybe don’t keep it at three, depending on what you have to work with; people will think of Santa Claus).

くっくっくっ is a lot like “heh heh heh” most of the time. Doesn’t have to be evil; mischievous would also do.

I’d probably handle Hojo’s クァッ クァッ クァッ! as “Aha! Aha! Aha!” since it’s an abortive, insane kind of laughter (note that the laughs in his pre-battle dialogue are different).

ガハハハハ! is a big, hearty laugh even if Heidegger is a villain. I might be tempted to play with this, but it’s probably best serviced with a big Brian Blessed-esque “AH HA HA HA HA!”

In contrast, particularly because Scarlet and Heidegger go together like... pestilence and famine (or something nasty like that), キャハハハハ! is... hm, feminine. It befits an innocent girl... but also a complete bitch. It’s a bit difficult to formulate in text, but you know it when you see it.

I wouldn’t take any of these recommendations at face value; it would behoove you to see exactly where these happen in every single case. It’s not like people laugh the same way every time, even if characters in Japanese pop media do :P
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Almagest

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2013, 06:31:12 am »
I was thinking of translating Hojo's laugh as "Uweeheehee!", just like Kefka, but Kefka's laugh in Japanese is "ヒッヒッヒッ!". I thought it was a good idea, because both are insane characters, and
Spoiler:
Hojo has this voice in the FF7 sequels. It's the typical voice of a mad scientist (oh yeah, the video reveals a scene involving Vincent).
But I guess I'll translate Hojo's "クァッ クァッ クァッ!" as "AHAHAHAHAAAA!". Not sure if it'll cause the same effect.
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BRPXQZME

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2013, 06:42:38 am »
Wow, that video is uh :-[
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Almagest

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2013, 07:10:24 am »
There's this video too showing Hojo's normal voice. Yeah, it's a spoiler too
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIOuQJ4p-sY

EDIT: it's the full video.

About Palmer's laugh, I'm not sure if "Ho ho ho!" is appropriate, considering that Bugenhagen already has this type of laugh (and Bugen is more fitting to sound like Santa Claus xD).
« Last Edit: November 29, 2013, 07:16:27 am by Thisguyaresick2 »
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BRPXQZME

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2013, 07:44:13 am »
Man... looks like SE really didn’t bring their “A” game on that one :-\

Palmer and Bugenhagen never really have to be distinguished by laugh in FF7, so I don’t see why that would be a problem. Things like this don’t have to be a 1:1 mapping. But some sort of “Haw haw haw!” can also work since Palmer’s an oaf. Although it is a good fit dialogue-wise (since Palmer is incompetent and childish), I kind of nixed that in my head, since it usually also implies “ignoramus” (which he is not).

I’d say Bugenhagen’s laugh (ホーホーホウ) is not a particularly good fit to English “ho ho ho”. Do understand that a lot of FF7’s original translation (apart from Barret’s painful Mr. T-speak) reads a lot like something that a localization team could have received before getting to work on making things sound good (this is sometimes how localization work gets handled).
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Almagest

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2013, 08:06:29 am »
"Haw haw haw!" sounds good to me.

So, Bugen's laugh was directly translated from the Japanese (Hoo hoo hou)? Then, how do you think it should sound?

EDIT: I didn't read the original script completely, that's why I'm a bit surprised.
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BRPXQZME

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2013, 08:17:59 am »
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DarknessSavior

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2013, 01:08:44 pm »
As I said, unfortunately Japanese has WAY more variations on laughter than English does. So you're probably not going to find one-to-one equivalents. You'll just have to separate it into stuff like "laughter" vs "evil laughter" vs "playful/innocent laughter" and maybe "feminine laughter". That's basically all we have.

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arpgme

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2013, 09:43:19 am »
うひょ うひょ うひょ!

uh heh uh heh uh heh!

クックックッ

heh heh heh!

Quote
クァッ クァッ クァッ!

haa haa haa!

Quote
ガハハハハ!

ah ha ha ha ha!

Quote
キャハハハハ!

heh ha ha ha ha!

[I'm sure English readers will recognize it as laughter if you use these]

Tomato

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2013, 01:45:50 pm »
Yeah, laughs are always a tough topic. One really unexpected obstacle I've seen is when non-laugh sounds accidentally sound like laughs in translation:


GHANMI

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Re: Translating laughs
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2013, 05:43:04 am »
Well, there are some other stock laughters not mentioned above...
Gyahahaha!
Guhuhuhu / Gehehehehe
Nwehehehehe
Huhuhuhu

The last one could be better off as "Ahahahahaha"
Har Har Har! Fits the condescending laugh perfectly.
Mixing upper-case and lower-case might achieve the abortive insane laughter, with a hint of a disembodied creepy vibe.