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Author Topic: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names  (Read 3908 times)

Rodimus Primal

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Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« on: May 14, 2015, 10:30:04 am »
A lot of retranslations lately have got me thinking. Especially with JRPGs. What is better, to always change the localized names back to the Japanese original or go with the names the localization teams go with? Personally I think it depends of if there is a game sequel or not, if the game was rereleased with the names intact, or if the characters work better in their localized names. 

For example, when I retranslated Final Fantasy VI, I felt changing Terra, Sabin, Cyan etc back to Tina, Mash, and Cayenne just would not have worked since the game was already rereleased twice and did not change those names back. Also, many of us remember those names fondly. Many of the lines needed to have that original charm so lines like "Son of a Submariner" had to stay. 

I see other games like Chrono Trigger where there are HUGE arguments over the names of characters. Personally, I'd like to see the DS translation backported to the SNES since it corrects lines while keeping the spirit of Woolsey's translation. But currently we have two on this site that revert the names of characters and in a lot of ways change the classic game I played back on the SNES. Sure the translation is a lot more coherent, but I feel some of the classic lines are now lost in the new translations.

I see this new translation to Final Fantasy 7, and while I feel its a LONG TIME coming for that game, changing names of characters for the sake of accuracy just doesn't sit well in my book. Sure Aerith is what is accepted instead of Aeris, but Elena, Reno, and Tseng are named in other media with their localized names.

Some games need the overhaul though. Breath of Fire II comes to mind, but I'm suprised there hasn't been one for the first Breath of Fire. Since the rereleases of Final Fantasy IV, the US Final Fantasy II needed Project II. Castlevania II was so bad that there are now TWO great retranslations of it. 

I'm not trying to stir the pot for a specific game here, but what is the general thoughts of these retranslations? What is the best way to approach them? Should it always be the Japanese names or should we use English names since they are still used today? I think using the current localized name usually fits better. It's like Godzilla vs Gojira. Both are correct but outside Japan he's Godzilla.

Disch

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2015, 10:53:00 am »
Honestly I don't think it really matters.

It ultimately comes down to what you're trying to accomplish with your retranslation.  If you're trying to accomplish a more "true-to-the-original" version, then you'd probably want to keep the Japanese names.  But if you're trying to simply accomplish a script cleanup, then you probably wouldn't.



Though honestly, I'm still of the opinion that retranslations are a waste of effort and talent.  There are a bunch of games out there that have no English translation available.  If you have the skill and ability to do a translation -- to me it just seems like you're wasting it by translating FF4 yet again when there's already 3 or 4 English versions available -- each of which are totally serviceable.

But I guess it's a personal project and you should do whatever you enjoy.  It's just as easy to say it's a waste of time and effort to write yet another NES emu -- and I'm guilty of doing that.  So whatever.  I'm being too critical.  =P

Avicalendriya

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 12:47:20 pm »
Names are often arbitrary, as a person is defined by their actions and their intentions, not by the word used to identify them. A bad script isn't improved by using "the right labels" for characters and weapons, nor is a good script ruined by adhering to names that sound uncommon or irregular to native speakers.

There are instances in which names can lose their significance if changed, though. If "Odin" was changed to "Hellrider" for the English version of the game, a real world mythical reference would be lost. A small change like this doesn't affect the overall experience but it does change the tone.

BlackDog61

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 02:16:48 pm »
Not one rule to ring them all,
but good measure and common sense.

Our translator for Super Robot Wars AP, TheMajinZenki, wants to use what an official source can provide, or what most fans refer to.
It works for quite a few cases, but not all.
Atlus's translation for Soulgain's weapons, for instance, is subject to discussion. You could want tp keep it as "the only English source". But it has a mix of references to the myth of the Four Kings, and translations. You could use only references to the Four Kings with Japanese phrasing - but would you feel at ease with English readers not aware of that myth not understanding the reference? Or you could go all-English Four Kings names.
I don't think there's a good answer to that one. Someone with Japanese language partial understanding (or better) would expect Japanese names. Someone with no Japanese understanding, the reverse. Fans of Original Generation 2: the source.

I'm of the personal opinion that Englishization is welcome "in general and rather often". But I'm also first to accept discussions and adapt to a common opinion. ;)

Gideon Zhi

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2015, 05:43:14 pm »
What Avi and BlackDog have said. I'll add though that even given reasonable established official nomenclature it can be okay to change something if the change is a definite improvement. This is tricky ground, but I'll use Shin Megami Tensei as an example. The Yousei race (妖精) has a fairly direct literal translation - "fairy." And this is a good translation, as it fits several of the members of the race - the pixie and high pixie, Titania, Oberon. But there are other Yousei that are definitely *not* fairies, at least by the most widely-accepted definition of the term - Trolls, Banshees, and Cuchulainn, for example. However if you examine the list of all names associated with the Yousei race you'll note that they almost universally have some Celtic in their root. Given this I've elected to go with "Fey" as my umbrella term instead of the officially-used "Fairy." It much more accurately reflects the aggregation of the race as a whole: the malevolent and playful spirits alike fit securely under the umbrella of the Celtic supernatural mythos.

Thinking on it further, "Folk" might work too (vis-a-vis Folklore, which was essentially an SMT Action/RPG with a heavy Celtic bent instead of Buddhist or Judeo-Christian.) I think Fey would be more widely understood though. We also almost went with Fae, but again, I think Fey is more widely recognizable.

Rodimus Primal

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2015, 06:25:05 pm »
I agree with you for the most part. Folklore always plays a part in these games with character origin. For example, Midgardsormr. It's a Norse Earth Serpent that is present in Thor. It was in Final Fantast VI, but the SNES translated it as Terrato and in Final Fantasy VII it was the Midgar Zolom. Here the localization is terrible on both accounts and should be Midgardsormr.

Not one rule to ring them all,
but good measure and common sense.

I'm of the personal opinion that Englishization is welcome "in general and rather often". But I'm also first to accept discussions and adapt to a common opinion. ;)

Completely agree.

Cargodin

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2015, 06:48:35 am »
Not entirely sure, but I think even Safer Sephiroth was a slight mistranslation, wasn't it? It was more like Sepher Sephiroth/ Book of Numbers? That's probably already been discussed a bunch, but I guess it goes either way. He's a giant angel so it's not like he really loses any religious context. Midgar also kinda fills in the blanks on that Norse mythos and at least puts the "half" in half-assed.

Doesn't always work though, as people think Goombas are mushrooms and not actually acorns. Still, it's in the mushroom Kingdom, so, if anything, it sorta fits in the context of the setting better than something acorn-y does, and the last thing I want in a game is a TL Note showing up on the screen.  Sometimes, having something too attached to real-world terminology can turn off some players as well, "some players" being me. It's like characters having super generic names or how 95 out of 100 Alices in JRPGs all have blonde hair and a blue dress with a white apron. Unless it's played right, it slams the door on the immersion, really.

Tina was an exotic sounding name to the devs behind Final Fantasy 6, but it's not for Western players, for the most part. On the other hand, Terra kinda carries that same otherworldly token, so I think that they all achieve the level of exotic that they wanted though, which I guess is the best that could come of it, although fishing lods and black market bananas don't exactly count either.

It can go either way, really. The obligatory Phoenix Wright does a good job of it, so it really depends on the skill level of the localizer. Sometimes the accurate name makes for a good translation but a bad localization.

Midna

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2015, 09:50:00 pm »
I thought Goombas were supposed to be based on shiitake mushrooms to begin with, but someone on the Japanese design team thought they looked more like shelled chestnuts. Hence, Kuribo, even once the graphics got good enough that you could tell they were supposed to be mushrooms.

I'd also use Bizarro Sephiroth as an example. Its name was supposed to be Rebirth Sephiroth, but "rebirth" and "reverse" are homophones in Japanese, so clearly someone mistook it for "Reverse Sephiroth" and tried to pull a Woolsey.

Rodimus Primal

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2015, 09:33:59 am »
Safer Sephiroth is a mistranslation of Seraphim. Seraphim is a Hebrew term for what we call an angel. Hence the song "One Winged Angel."

As much as Kuribo makes sense, I loved the name Goombas as a kid. Maybe its because I'm Italian from NY and it has a cultural reference with Mario being an Italian plumber from NY. I used to wonder why Super Mario 3 called the Shoe in World 5-3. For years I thought Kuribo was the name of the Goomba who uses that shoe.


Gemini

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2015, 01:31:38 pm »
Safer is a mistranslation of either Sefer or Sepher. It doesn't refer to a Seraphim in the slightest.
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Rodimus Primal

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2015, 02:12:37 pm »
Safer is a mistranslation of either Sefer or Sepher. It doesn't refer to a Seraphim in the slightest.

Just happened on this page taking about it : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk%3ASafer_Sephiroth

The name Sepher would translates to the Book of Numbers (being that he is leading his people to the Promised Land) and his appearance is without question looks like a Seraph.

Gemini

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Re: Thoughts on Re-Translations and Localized Names
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2015, 01:55:15 am »
Still the way it's written in kana doesn't get any close to what "Seraph" would look like (セファー vs セラフ, clearly not a typo). The angel appearance is akin to what happens to Cefca in FF6; doesn't really have any real connection to the name, just like Rebirth/Bizarro.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2015, 02:00:19 am by Gemini »
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