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The Endless Struggle
Googleshng - May 19 '03- 2:00 Eastern Standard Time
Today, I was actually getting spam faster than I could delete it. In
the time it took me to delete the first hundred pieces of spam in my inbox, another hundred and twenty
slipped past the filters. Then even more after that. Eventually I beat them back though, so on with the
Odd variation on an old question.
Wow. I know this letter will probably be cut, but ... you spent hours making sure that you weren't going to be wrong? (I refer to the Kefka vs. Cefka issue) That is devotion! Good work!
Anyway, in case this letter actually gets posted, (which, by the way, is about as likely as someone shooting a leaf with an arrow ... from 6,000 yards away) I was wondering about something. I wasn't very interested in NES RPGs until recently, and I have been getting confused. I have heard that what is Final Fantasy 6 in North America was Final Fantasy 3 in Japan. If that is true, then what, in Japan, is North America's Final Fantasy 3? Then again, I am probably asking some question that everyone knows the answer to. Or maybe I got the question wrong. If either of those are the case, maybe you shouldn't post my letter...
You have that backwards. FF2 3 and 5 were never released in the U.S. (well, prior to PSX rereleases at
any rate), so when 4 and 6 were first translated on the SNES, they just called them 2 and 3 to save people
the trouble of going "Eh? 4? What happened to 2 and 3!"
So basically, when you see an SNES cart with FF on it, double the number that comes after to get the actual
1000 words is pretty dang long for a letter.
Regarding the person who sent you the rant about Final Fantasy VI's
translation, you are absolutely right. I tried some searching on
google.co.jp and found that Kefka in Japanese would be written Ke-Fu-Ka.
The accepted romanization for the character "Ke" is, as you can see,
with a K, not with a C. Yes, you could equally validly romanize the name
with a C, but there is no reason to, the name looks better with a K
anyway, and you donŐt have to worry about people not being sure whether
itŐs a soft C or a hard C. You can see that the name that appeared in
the translation is almost literally what it is in Japanese, only the
letter U is omitted from Kefuka to Kefka, which is pretty standard, you
wouldn't want Edgar to appear as "Eddogaa," would you?
Regarding the toning down of the language, you could make a valid
argument for this, but it wouldn't be Ted's fault, as the submitter
pointed out, Nintendo's American branch was the one who imposed
self-censorship. Besides, it's difficult to translate "swearing" from
Japanese as the language is completely different from English. For
instance, the word "kuso." It literally is a somewhat offensive term for
excrement, and therefore I would probably translate it as "s**t," but
the connotations aren't quite that offensive, parents wouldn't wash out
their kids' mouths with soap for saying it. You could also translate
kuso as "crap," but the connotations are a bit more offensive than that.
As you can see, kuso doesn't translate perfectly into either term, as
you pointed out in general, and while if Woolsey didn't have guidelines
requiring him to keep the game rated E, he probably would've used s**t,
using crap isn't an invalid translation. Another thing that's hard to
translate is politeness levels. If you use the wrong politeness level
you will sound mean and condescending, but you wouldn't really be
swearing in any real sense. You would probably translate this by having
the person speaking use more slangy language and by sounding mean or
annoyed or whatever, which Woolsey and most translators do, and you
might add in some swearing, but again, Nintendo's guidelines (besides,
that would be less literal, so if you wanted to stay as literal as
possible, you wouldn't add any swearing in). A third area which is hard
to translate would be offensive terms for referring to other people as.
"Kisama" and "temee" would literally be translated as just "you," but
have the connotation of something more like "you jerk" or "you asshole"
or "you jackass" or "you S.O.B." or something to that effect. Actually
translating this is kind of difficult, dialogue like "You asshole killed
my mother!" sounds kind of weird. You could translate it as something
like "You killed my mother, you bastard!" Or to keep the E rating "You
killed my mother, you jerk!" Or to add some humor and make it obvious
that you had to have as clean a translation as possible, "You killed my
mother, you son of a submariner!" The term "yarou" literally means
something like "rascal" or "vagrant," but would generally be translated
as bastard. You could of course use a less offensive term in you
translation. You might even translate it differently based on the
context and how offensive the person speaking was trying to be.
Basically, in conclusion, if you did an absolutely literal translation,
you'd sound completely moronic. Maybe whatever fan translation he played
is better, but it probably isn't in most respects. The swearing it
contains might be SLIGHTLY closer to the original, but I bet it doesn't
flow as well. Worse, it might be full of dialogue like, "Baka, my senshi
can korosu kisama no senshi!" (Using some Japanese terms in a
translation is fine, but many fan translations and especially fanfiction
(not so much the stuff on this site, as it is actually read over first)
(Hey! Nested parentheses! Yippee!) use so much it just sounds retarded,
and often use the wrong term (such as senshi vs. seishi or something))
Of course the English translation is going to have made-up terms like
MagiTek! The Japanese version would've had made up terms too, they just
wouldn't be the same terms and if you tried to translate/romanize them
they'd end up sounding inane or unintelligible. Moreover, "esper" isn't
a made-up term, at least not by Woolsey, it's used as an occult term in
many works of fantasy and science fiction made both before and after
Final Fantasy VI. I'm not sure if it's a term from another language, or
if it's something some fantasy writer came up with, but it's not
Woolsey's. Oh yeah, that reminds me of a dumb joke I came up with once:
What language to Espers natively speak? Esperanto! *rimshot*
The main reason I've heard of people not liking Woolsey was because they
thought his humor wasn't funny. That's their opinion, and while I never
rolled around on the floor laughing at Final Fantasy VI (I would think
that might've taken something away from the experience), I never groaned
at any of the little jokes.
Heh, heh. Itadakimasu really is a translator's worst nightmare. I might
translate it as bon appétit, as the connotations are pretty close, but
that would sound weird in a lot of places. "Let's eat!" Or something of
that sort often still sounds weird to me, so itadakimasu might be one
instance where I might leave it untranslated. I semi-literal translation
could also be used, I suppose. Something like "I (we) will receive
food!" Or "We will eat!"
Regarding Hellsing, I don't think calling him Arucard was THAT bad. It
makes it less obvious than if it was Alucard, though I do suppose it's
kind of funny that he'd be called "Dracura."
My question is why there aren't any appropriately scathing reviews of
the PokPmon games on this site. Nobody has given them a 1 or 2 rating
for having a complete lack of story, character development, or
originality! Oh, I suppose the only people who'd bother to play through
it and be eligible to write a review would be the ones who enjoy the
monotonous, endless character building. D'oh!
Whoa! According to my word processor, this letter has over a thousand
words! Maybe I should put this much time into writing my school essays!
That's a good chunk of talk on translation which hopefully is interesting to some people. Anyway, moving
along, I don't know of anyone who plays the Pokémon series for the story. The appeal of those
games would be the whole obsessive collecting aspect, and the level of strategy involved when dueling
with friends. Our reviews all mention that the story is practically non-existent, but it doesn't really
affect the enjoyability of the game.
The whole Hellsing bit.
Hellsing spoilers for the heck of it
Sorry Goog, while Arucard is a funky translation for
Alucard, Software Sculptures is a pretty funny name
for Pioneer. Pioneer distributed Hellsing--what's
more, they reason they couldn't use 'Alucard' in the
subtitles is because there was a previous movie
(Dracula's son or some fluff like that) that used the
name "Alucard". Rather than facing legal fiasco, they
decided to switch one letter and blame it on Romaji.
Or something to that effect.
At any rate, I just find it strange that in the
dub, it's Alucard. Oh well. I just enjoy hearing Alex
Anderson with a Scottish accent! Really though, just
imagine Castlevania: Symphony of the Night if ARUCARD
was the main character. I can just imagine him wearing
a fur coat and looking all femme-wait, that's what
they did with Soma Cruz. My bad.
~Smart "The manga is better" Laine
I can name a dozen of so things containing a vampire named Alucard off the top of my head, and in just
about all of them, it's either Dracula spelling his name backwards to throw people off (as is the case
in Hellsing), or some relative of Dracula's (like in the Castlevania series). In either case, nobody has
ownership of the name that I'm aware of, and anyone tries to translate it into and then out of Japanese,
and comes out with Arucard, is either freakishly ignorant, or a total idiot.
I DO deserve a pretty hefty smacking for screwing up the translator there though. I have no problem with
translations done by SS, just whoever does the casting for their dubs.
Beating this issue into the ground.
The Cefca-Kefka rant is well-intentioned, and as a student of Japanese for
many years I am well-aware that there would be no c-k difference in the
Japanese alphabet. Before you jump your gun, though, it would be wise to
take note that Square, Game Arts, Namco, and other Japanese RPG designers
routinely design their characters' names in English first. In Square's
case, they go so far as to make first and last names (the last names are
seldom if ever written in katakana, and are largely unknown in Japan), which
in Cefca's case is Cefca Palazzo. As you said, the name is then transcribed
into katakana, and later when the game is translated, back into English. In
the case of the Final Fantasy VI character, it is without a doubt Cefca.
Even light research would have revealed this, whether you look at
Japan~Final Fantasy (an NTT-published book of Amano artwork and interviews),
the Final Fantasy VI Original Sound Version, other official Square Japan
sources, or numerous Japanese webpages.
No support, by the way, was intended for ROMs, which I do not play. My
intention was to take note of a script of signifcant quality that is
readable as a .txt file for reading online.
I would be quite curious to hear how many people have actually examined the
Japanese VI and can attest to the preservation of mood in Woolsey's text.
As has been said, his dialogue flows welll, Working Designs-caliber well,
but if the storyline and tone of dialogue has been altered (which it has),
some problem still exists.
All sorts of things from Japan have english writing on them for the sake of looking cool. Nine times out
of ten though, said writing is done by someone who has little to know real familiarity with the language,
which is one of the many reasons professional translators are employed. Kinda like how the little signiture
I have at the bottom of every column really isn't the best way of writing Googleshng in Japanese. If I
ever wanted my columns translated for the benefit of people around the world, I'd expect someone to give
a better go at it.