What ‘translating’ means to me

By • August 28, 2007

I saw a comment on romhacking.net that I found a little bothersome.  They stated that they prefer a “good, high quality localization” to a “straight-forward translation”.  Well, that’s cool, me too.  But to be tagged as a “straight-forward translation” before I have even publicly shown any of my in-game translations for this project seems a little… off.  Perhaps I haven’t explained myself well enough on this front.   I’m actually glad for that post in a way.  It gives me a chance to really expand upon what I want this translation to be.  Up until now, you’ve all been wowed with the screenshots showing off the amazing hacks that are being produced.  So while it’s maybe not as impressive visually, lend me your attention for just a little while and let me tell you about my dream for this project when it comes to translating.

  1. Almost everything is going to be in English.  I mean, that’s clear right?  There will be no Japanese characters left at least.  The few “exceptions” (if you care to call them that) will follow.
  2. Tech names that are written in kanji will not be translated.  They will be romanized.  Why?  I don’t believe that Demon Fang is any better a name than Majinken.  I like the word Ougi more than calling something an ‘Arcane’ ability.  What we’re doing here is not an ‘official’ Namco localization.  I have no desire to follow their lead or to try and match my translation of things up with what they’ve done in the past.  This means the names of Cless, Chester, and Suzu’s abilities will be written in their romanized forms.  Of course, many of the techs are in English, like Arche’s spells, Klarth’s summons, and Mint’s spells will be written just as they’re said in English.  Even with the kanji tech names, the descriptions of the abilities are always available, so I believe that there is no reason to give the names an incomplete English version just for the sake of having it.  If I were Namco?  Sure.  But I’m just a fan, and I love the Japanese names, so I’m going to share them with everyone.
  3. There are going to be references to Japanese things left in this game.  This may even include some of the descriptions for items.  I would rather have people not understand a particular Eastern mythological reference in an item then to change it to a Western reference.  I prefer to use my own judgment for things like this.  The game is Japanese.  I’m not afraid to leave Japanese things in it.  I aim for descriptions that the vast majority of people will understand, but you know what’s even more fun then understanding something simple?  Learning something new.  Japanese mythology is cool.  Kanji are interesting.  A few obscure references won’t hurt you.  And as someone who has translated these things, I can promise that the Japanese don’t understand every reference to Western mythology in here.  This is a Japanese game.  I feel like Namco has always feared that part of the series, wanted to hide it in a way.  I think it’s part of the charm.
  4. Jokes, character personalities, and other script related things.  The rh.net post gave me the impression that they thought my script would be half-baked.  Maybe they looked at my translation guide and didn’t like it.  Well, I’ve become less fond of it lately too.  This part is getting the dramatic bold text.  This script will be completely and accurately translated.  Maybe I’m a jackass for saying it, but I don’t think my writing is horrible.  So I’m confused how anyone got the impression that I’ll be doing a straight translation.  That kind of thing is fine in a text document, which is exactly where it’s going to stay.  There aren’t going to be any ‘-san’s left in the script.  There aren’t going to be any honorifics.  People will get titles like Lord.  This game is going to have a story like you would expect from a game.  Just because I want an accurate translation doesn’t mean that I won’t use some creative writing.  Just because I don’t wish to follow Namco’s lead doesn’t mean my script does not have the same potential as any other script.  Nor do I mean to say that a script that follows their lead can’t be good.  I judge things as I experience them.  So I urge anyone, before you judge what I am capable of, give me a chance to prove it to you.
  5. Ninjas.  Ninjas are Japanese.  So are their names.  A Kunoichi is a female ninja.  But they’ll still be called Kunoichi.  Same with all of Suzu’s weapons and armor.  The names will be romanized, the descriptions will be translated fully however.

What Phantasian Productions aims to do is a Namco style localization, at least in terms of the menus and items.  What I aim to do is a localization in my own style.  I don’t view myself as being ‘less localized’ because of that.  I view myself as having more creative freedom.  Some item descriptions will not be 100% accurate to the Japanese.  Most probably won’t be in fact.  Give me the chance to show you what I’m all about.  I love this project, it’s one that I’ve been passionate about before this blog ever existed.  Back then it was just my text translation.  This is now a full-scale patching project.  I am treating this differently.  This project is something that is and will be my greatest pride to be a part of.  And that passion and pride is something I want reflected in the translation I’m going to produce in the end.

About the Author

I'm the translator for Absolute Zero. I also take care of the project updates.

9 Responses to “What ‘translating’ means to me”

  1. Just do it your own way, man. If someone prefers to not check out your patch when it is finished, that’s their loss and not yours. If what they are looking for is a Tales of Phantasia translation that matches up with the official English localisations, then I’d say they would probably be better served by the kind of patch Phantasian Productions intend to make anyway.

    This is exactly why there’s room for two patches in the world. To serve two different needs. I like what you’re planning to do with yours a lot. In fact if you had asked me what I would want from a videogame translation, I wouldn’t ask for anything different than your five guidelines.

    I’d be happy if those were the guidelines for translation of every game I want to play… ^_^;;

    Don’t back down on the romanised tech names. It’s your vision for the project, and you’re the translator. You should get to do at least some things your way. You’re doing this to please you, and if other people are pleased by it too, that is a nice side effect.

    Besides, since this game has Japanese voice-overs, that means that the attack names will match what the characters say. When Namco localise the games, they are matching the text to an English dub.

  2. “Why? I don’t believe that Demon Fang is any better a name than Majinken. I like the word Ougi more than calling something an ‘Arcane’ ability.”

    It’s not a question of better or worse, really. For someone who speaks Japanese, I am sure the Japanese syllables are more attractive. For someone who doesn’t speak Japanese, however, *any* meaningful words are vastly more helpful than meaningless syllables, as the latter will slip from the mind almost immediately.

    Now we can safely assume, I think, that people who can already read Japanese have no need for and no interest in your translation. Then, only one question remains, a question every artist has to ask himself sooner or later: Are you working for the sake of your audience or not?

  3. Au contraire to the post above, in my opinion, Japanese names are better than English names. To be truthful, the English translation of Japanese Tokugi/Ougi/Hi-Ougi sounds… baaaad. Accurate translation of those doesnt make any sense… So it means you would have to use an in-accurate translation (like Hinerenkyaku = Swallow Dance… still better than Psion Bolt though). I would rather have Hienrenkyaku, and hear Cless shout it while performing this move. And BTW guys – Kogahazan just sounds sooooooo cool… XD

    About rh.net’s opinion – they will learn their place once you complete the translation project. Heck, even if they wont change their opinion, you will still be the ONLY translator who released a FULL patch for PSX ToP. That alone is an achievement. Screw them.

  4. Let’s not lump together everyone at RHDN into one category shall we?
    There are many people who’re looking forward to your translation or people who support both projects because they believe that variety is always good.
    You shouldn’t feel antagonized by the whole RHDN community because of the opinion of one it’s fractions.

    It would be very good if you created an entry for your project on the RHDN wiki, because many people visit that site for game translation news (for example, I found out about your project only because of a post on their forums).

  5. @EaterBrain – I agree with you. Many at rh.net have expressed a lot of appreciation and are looking forward to the release of our patch. I know I’m not going to please everyone with my patch. I apologize if my post came off as being overly critical of rh.net, because I’ve had a very positive experience on the forums there. It’s very laid back and yet there’s a sense of professionalism that really has been an encouragement. So again, I hope that everyone can look at my statements as more of an expansion of my own views on translating rather than as a criticism of any one person or group. It was one post that started me thinking on the matter, but that’s not really what it’s about.

    You’re right, I do need to create an entry in the database for this project. Things have been crazy busy, so I haven’t done so yet, but hopefully I’ll get an entry up soon. I’m frankly amazed at how much support and attention we’ve got given that our project here is not yet a week old!

  6. This is probably too old of a post to bother commenting on (but then I don’t know how wordpress really works in regards to comment alerts, so hey) but the fact that there’ll be a ToP PSX ROM that isn’t “localized” is a godsend for me. (Though I’ll probably check that one out anyway, after how long I followed it.)

    I thought I’d just have to deal with an Americanization that for some reason didn’t want to be consistent in what terminology was used (a pet peeve of mine), but thanks to you guys, I don’t. I pretty much agree totally with your… philosophy? on translating. This is way too great; thanks for your most valiant efforts, and I am excitedly awaiting the day when I can play it. 🙂 (I only wish I had found out sooner, considering how much I stalked Phantasian Productions.)

  7. Now I see that the comments are displayed on the side and feel thoroughly dumb. Thanks, technology!

  8. Patch, not ROM. I am too tired for this.

    I hope my stupid spamming of the comments is enjoyable to all!

  9. I actually put that comment display thing on the side there for myself. *Laughs* I have a hard time keeping up with my own blog sometimes, so I use that sidebar to know when people have actually commented.

    On to what you actually said, I’m glad that you like the way that I will be translating. It’s impossible for me to please everyone in the world with my philosophy on translating, but it’s always good to hear from people who agree with me.

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