My Bloopers in Chrono Trigger (originally posted on FortuneCity)

I recently (relative to when this entry was originally written) revised my translation of Chrono Trigger yet again (update planned for some time on 05 September 2009), and found a number of foul-ups along the way. Rather than simply correct them and be done with it, I've put together a list of the more significant ones to analyze here for your viewing pleasure, or whatever.

To start with, there are the terminology changes noted in the news entry on the translation index. I've been severely overusing "bastard" for generic rude terms for people, so Frog's common やろう is now "lowlife" and Magus's きさま is now "vermin", both of which add some variety and feel more in-character. In contrast, the official translation, in keeping with Nintendo policy at the time, tones the language down to the point that lines meant to be very derogatory sometimes come out sounding almost polite (on the other hand, it also manages to make originally courteous lines sound brusque in some cases).

In place names, 海底神殿 is now the "Abyssal Temple" instead of the literally accurate but hopelessly bland "Ocean Floor Temple" (for reference, the official translation calls it the less accurate and less evocative "Ocean Palace").

Then there were a few places, not many but enough times to be disturbing, with things like this:

Lucca: Lucca: I wonder how he plans on fixing it?
Umm... yeah. I can only blame inadequate proofreading for that sort of thing.

Okay, now on to more substantial errors! In order of appearance since I'm too lazy to sort them any other way:

(JP): 少女「そんなー! か弱い女のコを
(old): Girl: No way! I thought you'd help
    out a frail little girl, please [heart]
(new): Girl: Oh, come on! Please, think of
    it as helping out a frail little girl [heart]
(NA): GIRL: Oh, come on! I don't know anyone
    around here! Please!

That one's a mixture of not reading carefully enough and confusing who's thinking what. The official translation avoids the issue entirely by taking liberties with the meaning, which is unfortunately typical of many translations of many things.

(JP): ハッ! カエルふぜいが……!
(old): Hah! Worthless frog...!
    You bastards make my blood boil!!
(new): Hah! Worthless frog...!
    I'll make a bloodbath of you all!
(NA): Stupid frog! It's time you
    jumped off this mortal coil!

Poor interpretation of 血祭り. As usual when violence is involved, the text is dumbed down in the official translation.

(JP): ルッカ「えーい、もうどうとでも
(old): Lucca: Eey, I'm even getting used to
    acting without thinking it over!
(new): Lucca: Oh forget it, we'll make
    it work somehow!
(NA): Lucca: This is completely irrational.

Broke up the text the wrong way. It's もう + どうとでも, not もうどう + とでも. もうどう is a term for acting blindly, but it has nothing to do with this line. Though neither does "This is completely irrational."

(JP): マール「気持ちは、うれしいんだけど
(old): Marle: I feel pleased, but now's not the time for that....
    We're looking a stone called Dreamstone.
(new): Marle: I appreciate the sentiment,
    but now's not the time for that....
    We're looking a stone called
(NA): Marle: Thank you but we can't.
    We're looking for a Dreamstone.

Misunderstood whose feelings these are, as well as making it sound awkward. 気持ちはうれしい means "I'm glad for your feelings", not "my feelings are glad." The official translation gets the basic idea, though she sounds overly blunt to my ears. Maybe it's the missing comma.

(JP): カエル「いっこくをあらそう!
(old): Frog: We're fighting over the whole country!
    Hurry, to where Magus is!
(new): Frog: We're in a race against time!
    Hurry, to where Magus is!
(NA): Frog: We must hurry to
    Magus's place!

いっこく as 一国 does mean the whole country, but I completely missed the idiom. 一刻を争う (literally "compete over moments") refers to a race against time. It's unclear to me whether the official translation got this one right or simply ignored the whole first sentence and paraphrased the second one.

(JP):    あなたの目に見えてる世界と
    いい? 宇宙は生命の数だけ存在するわ。
(old):    The world that you see with your eyes
    and the world that I see with my eyes
    may be completely different things.
    Listening? All that exists in the
    universe are the destinies of lives.
    Don't think that only what you can
    see and touch are reality.
(new):    The world that you see with your eyes
    and the world that I see with my eyes
    may be completely different things.
    Got it? There are as many universes as lives.
    Don't think that only what you can
    see and touch are reality.
(NA):    Am I a butterfly dreaming I'm a man...
    Or a bowling ball dreaming I'm a plate
    of sashimi?
    Never assume that what you see and
    feel is real!

I had been using a rare meaning of 数 to try forcing some sense out of that one line, instead of looking at だけ differently to get the correct meaning. だけ is usually translated as "only", but can be used like "as many as" or "as much as" in certain contexts, and this is one of them. I take some comfort from the fact that the official translation is almost completely made up, so apparently I'm not the only one who had trouble with it.

(JP): ロボ「あのエネルギー体に
(old): Robo: If that energy is introduced to a body,
    I fear it WILL BE disintegrated
    all the way to atoms!
(new): Robo: If swallowed into that body of
    energy, I fear we WILL BE disintegrated
    down to our very atoms!
(NA): Robo: If we're caught in that
    energy field, our molecular structure
    will be disrupted!

I think I misread エネルギー体に as エネルギーが体に, making "energy" the subject, rather than taking "energy body" as a single term. That threw off the meaning. The official translation beat me on this one.

(JP): ダルトン「お前らにも来てもらおう!
(old): Dalton: Let's have you come along too!
    Even though you've got a strange
    wisdom, you're in my way!!
(new): Dalton: Let's have you come along too!
    It would get in my way if you gave
    them any funny notions!!
(NA): DALTON: You'll have to come with me!
    You might start a rebellion or

Totally misinterpreted こいつらに変な知恵をつけられて. Somehow I got "you" out of こいつら (these guys), though at least 変な知恵 as "strange wisdom" makes sense. The official translation got the basic idea.

(JP): マール「あんたらのせいよ……!
(old): Marle: It's you guys' fault......!
    Give me back Cronooo!!
(new): Marle: It's you guys' fault...!
(NA): {Marle}: It's all your fault!...
    Give back {Crono}!!

Nothing major here, but it's amazing how much omitting "me" and making it all caps increases the impact. This line really deserves it, too. Marle is beyond furious.

(JP): ロボ「ダッカン成功デス!
(old): Robo: Dalton success!
(new): Robo: RECOVERY successful!
(NA): {Robo}: Success!

Okay, so this looks idiotic now (ダッカン = 奪還 = recovery, recapture), but I have a legitimate excuse. I had originally mistranscribed the text, so it actually did say ダロトン成功 = "Dalton success". Not that that really makes much sense, except maybe as a victory over Dalton gloat. Not to worry, though, since the official version isn't any better. Apparently, the translator couldn't figure out ダッカン or somehow thought it was unimportant to mention what was successful, and that isn't good either way.

(JP): 老人「おや、あんた、どっかで……
(old): Old Man: Oh, you, where have I......?
    So that's it......
    You've gotten imposing.
    Aged quite a bit, though.
(new): Old Man: Oh, you, where have I...?
    Ah, yes....
    You've really grown up.
    Gotten rather twisted, though.
(NA): OLD MAN: Hey, where have you been?
    So that's your story...
    And just LOOK at you now...
    You've become quite formidable!

It seems I mistakenly linked ヒネてはいる with ひねこびる (seem old) rather than the far more obvious ひねる (twist). On the other hand, the official translation misses the point almost entirely.

(JP): ロボ「ワタシの足をあげマス。
(old): Robo: I WILL give her MY legs.
    They ARE well-balanced ultra-miniaturized
    bipedal walking parts.
    If you just attach caterpillars or something to
(new): Robo: I WILL give her MY legs.
    They ARE well-balanced ultra-
    miniaturized bipedal walking parts.
    If you would just attach caterpillars
    or something to ME....
    PLEASE do not be depressed.
(NA): {Robo}: I'll give you my legs!
    They're lightweight and well
    You could mount some treads on me

Completely missed the last line... but so did the official translation.

(JP): ロボ「シ! 信じられマセン……!
(old): Robo: I! I canNOT believe it......!
    It HAS the genes of all living
    creatures since its birth on this planet!
(new): Robo: I! I can NOT believe it...!
    It HAS the genes of all life forms
    since life was born on this planet!
(NA): Robo: Amazing...
    It houses all the DNA of every
    creature that ever lived...!

Somehow confused "birth of life on this planet" with "birth/beginning of its life on this planet". Not too outlandish, but still wrong.

And on a related note, if you spot anything anywhere on the site that's misspelled or has incorrect grammar, is poorly phrased, or just doesn't seem to make sense, or if you have any suggestions of any sort on how to improve anything, feel free to e-mail me. I don't always reply right away, but I do always read everything unless my spam filter is being overly voracious, and I'll probably pick it up eventually even then.


Misleading Japanese phrase: とてもじゃない (originally posted on FortuneCity)

Here's an uncommon but confusing idiom I've been misinterpreting until just recently: とてもじゃない, usually found in sentences similar to this one: 「とてもじゃないが、出来ない。」. What's so confusing about it? Well, here's what it looks like it ought to mean:
  • 「出来ない」 with no other context roughly means, "I can't do it".
  • 「とても出来ない」 is then roughly, "I absolutely can't do it" (literally, "very can't")
  • 「じゃない」 normally means "isn't" and the 「が」 particle indicates contrast.
  • Therefore, 「とてもじゃないが、出来ない」 would appear to mean roughly, "I can't do it, but it's not absolutely impossible" (can't, but not so "can't" that it's "very can't").

Unfortunately, that's not what it means at all. If 「とても出来ない」 means "I absolutely can't do it", then 「とてもじゃないが、出来ない」 means "I absolutely, positively, CANNOT do it". It's not a negation but an emphasis. The best explanation I've seen of where the confusing grammar comes from suggests that this usage is reserved for situations extreme enough that とても isn't nearly strong enough to use, so とてもじゃない isn't saying, "not very much so", but rather, " 'very' doesn't even begin to cover it".


How Translation Killed Another Puzzle: Part 2 (originally posted on FortuneCity)

The other day... well, okay, close to four months ago... I wrote about Luca's Love Flow puzzle, along with various ranting about translators handling things poorly. Today, I bring you the other half of the puzzle, with Cloche's Love Flow. You won't see both in the same playthrough, for reasons that become obvious when you get to that point of the game, but it's quite similar in concept.

As with Luca's version, let's start with the...

Top-left room:

"Croix, you don't look so good today. I'm so worried about the future." - originally 「クロア君。今日もまた一段とさえない顔してますね。 これでは先が思いやられます。」
This one sounds like something Leglius might say, and how he might say it. At least, I'm pretty sure it does, not being as familiar with his speech patterns. Regardless, Cloche doesn't call him Croix-kun, and she doesn't often show this sort of consideration. And while I'm nitpicking, the middle sentence more accurately translates to "You look even more unwell (or depressed) today", so perhaps "You look worse than ever today" would be more fitting.

"Hey you! You'd better choose me or else!" - originally 「おう、てめえ! 俺を選ばなかったらどうなるか、分かってるんだろうな!」
Here's the one with a masculine tone. It's sounds even stranger for Cloche than for Luca. The English might possibly be confused for her as it's quite bossy, but even at her bossiest, Cloche is not generally either this blunt or this rude. That's one of the problems with translating Japanese to English—it's difficult to do anything to distinguish "masculine" and "feminine" without turning them into "boorish" and "deferential", which are obviously far from adequate as equivalents.

"B-big brother... Don't don't talk to me! I'm, I'm so embarrassed..." - originally 「お、お兄ちゃん…私に話しかけたら、らめぇぇっ! は、はずかしいよぅ…。」
Possibly a Cocona reference, possibly just a generic cutesy timid girl sort of thing. Either way, definitely not the right one.

Top-right room:

"I, I don't need you! I don't care if you're gone!" - originally 「あ、あんたなんか、必要としていないんだからねっ!いなくても平気なんだからっ!」
This sounds like something Cloche might say, but definitely not the way she would say it. Too flustered (as evidenced by the stuttering and the っs at the end of each sentence) and too informal (あんた rather than 貴方, for instance).

"Don't go!! I'm sorry... I, I want to be with Croix..." - originally 「行かないで!! ごめんなさい、私… 私…クロアと一緒にいたい…」
Not Cloche. She's never been this pleading or clingy. And in an unfortunately common example of failed consistency, the Japanese line here is identical to one in Luca's version... but the English isn't. Somehow it wound up like this here, but as "Please don't go! I'm sorry, I... I want to be with Croix." there (incidentally, this version, without the "please" and with the end trailing off, is more accurate). It's especially sad in this case because if you change "Croix" to "Lyner", the line comes directly out of Ar tonelico 1, as noted in the Luca entry. Consistency with the original game is another major problem in the English port of Ar tonelico 2...

Center room:

"Oh, how do you do? I was wondering who it was. Such a cute dog. He he he." - originally 「あぁら!ごきげんよう。誰かと思えば犬じゃない。ふふふ、可愛がってあげるワ。」
They really seem to love the image of Croix as Cloche's pet, don't they? Regardless, this is clearly not the real one.

"Um, hello... Mr. Croix... I, I love you! Please take me home!" - originally 「あ、あの… クロアさん…す…す… 好きです!拾ってください!」
And in an interesting reversal, this one puts Cloche in the dog's position, more or less. Again, clearly not the real one.

"My name is Cloche! I conduct Dive Therapy!" - originally 「私クローシェっていいます!ダイバーズセラピをさせていただいてますっ!」
As Luca has a bad Cloche impression in hers, here Cloche has a... well to be honest, it's a rather good Luca impression. This is very similar to how Luca actually introduces herself when she first appears. Luca's introduction is split across two lines and the phrasing is slightly different, but it's essentially the same as this, the させていただいてます in particular. In any case, it's obviously not the real Cloche.

"How do you do? I'm sorry, but I don't need you." - originally 「ごきげんよう。 残念だけど、私は貴方を必要としていないの。」
Here we go. The line starts with ごきげんよう, a greeting in common use by proper young ladies and fairly well rendered as "How do you do?". The rest of it continues in the same proper ladylike tone, and while the English rendition sounds rather too colloquial—I would prefer something like, "I regret to say that I do not find you to be necessary."—it's still good enough that I was fairly sure this was the right one without having to resort to the Japanese wiki.


Overall, I thought Cloche's version was handled better than Luca's, and at the very least, the correct one didn't come out as nearly identical to one of the wrong ones. But, as I said last time, translators really need to be more careful to make make lines like these especially, where style is critical, more distinct. As before, my source for the Japanese lines is a Japanese wiki with a wealth of information on the game, assuming you can read the language well enough, of course: http://zapanet.info/ar-tonelico2/wiki/index.php


How Translation Killed Another Puzzle (originally posted on FortuneCity)

Ar tonelico II: Melody of Elemia. Great game, great music, thoroughly convoluted plot, and an engaging battle system. Unfortunately, it suffered even more in translation than most games do. Overall, the translation feels rushed, with some spelling inconsistencies, awkward phrasing, and more. Names suffered too, such as the "waath" (Hymmnos for "rebirth" or "renewal") in Luca's name, lost when someone decided to change the spelling to "Trulyworth" (while that interpretation is meaningful, it's not the only or even the primary one). Other names went through unnecessary modifications, too, like turning "Chroah" into an unpronounceable French-looking mess ("Croix" sounds like "croy" rather than "cro-ah", and I'm undecided on whether it makes it better or worse that the English voice actors actually say "croy"), and a number of I.P.D. names were completely changed for no apparent reason (the original spellings remain in Hymmnos, making this glaringly obvious for some with name lengths that aren't even close... though some of them don't match the Hymmnos even in the Japanese release). Apparently, it's even an overly-long line of text in one place that causes the game to freeze on the third guard round of a certain boss battle (hope you can inflict Massive Damage in a hurry!). The first game was by no means immune to translation gaffes (I particularly disapprove of turning "Mule" into "Mir" both for the pronunciation and because "Mule" is much more appropriate for several reasons including stubbornness—at least use something like "Myul"), but they're indisputably worse overall this time around.

This entry isn't about the translation in general, though. I wasn't going to write anything about it, since for the most part you can still understand what's going on, but I just had to vent about a certain event I just encountered. Fairly early in the game, Croix must make a decision... (minor spoiler, highlight to read)between protecting Luca or protecting Cloche, which then has a major impact on how the rest of the game plays out. The event I'm discussing happens in the next chapter on the Luca route.(end spoiler) One of the challenges you may encounter involves trying to select the "real" Luca out of a group of nine lookalikes, based only on what they say (there's also a Cloche version of this event). Or, to be more accurate, HOW they say it. Nuances of speaking style are typically lost in translation (since they simply don't translate!), but puzzles like this make it necessary for translators to be more creative and somehow find a way to make different styles more obvious, even if (and I wouldn't normally say this) they have to force the issue and make something up (outrageous accents, esoteric words, just as long as it's SOMETHING). How did the translators for this game do with this event? Well, you've probably guessed my answer already, but let's go into more depth anyway.

Fortunately for me, I was able to find a Japanese website that lists every one of these lines in the Japanese version of the game, as well as a wealth of other information about the game. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything similar for the English release, so I had to transcribe them myself, but that's easier than transcribing lines from a version I don't actually have, yes? Incidentally, the area is called "Love Flow" in case anyone's trying to Google it.

Let's start with the ones on the top left screen. These are overall the most obvious as wrong Lucas even in the English version:

"You insolent fool! Who do you think I am? I'm the royal maiden!" - originally 「無礼者!気安く話しかけるでないわ。余を誰と心得る。正当なる御子であるぞ!」
This one had better be obvious. It's a rather over-the-top impersonation of Cloche in both versions. The English loses the archaic tone, but is still obviously not Luca. So far, so good. And for those who care about such things, 余 (よ) is an archaic and haughty first person pronoun somewhat comparable to わたくし.

"Oh, my dog. Eat some Pippencuit over there." - originally 「あら、私の犬。貴方なんてぺぺんぺいでも食べてればいいのよ。」
Another no-brainer. This one's an obvious reference to (spoiler)Cloche's level 5 Cosmosphere(end spoiler) once you've seen it, or to an even more similar event (spoiler)on the Cloche route(end spoiler) that doesn't even happen if you're here). Not that Luca should have any way of knowing about either one...

"Yo Croix! Of course I'm the real one! You better choose me!" - originally 「おう、クロア!俺が本物に決まってるだろ!絶対選べよ!」
This one's less obvious in English, but it should still sound off. The Japanese is blatantly masculine, which is definitely NOT Luca.

Now for the top right screen, since the real one isn't there either:

"Hmph! Stop thinking so hard! Make a decision already!" - originally 「もう!そんなに悩むなんて、ぷーだよぷー!ちゃっちゃと決めてよ!」
I almost thought this might be the real one at first, but it's quite clearly not in the Japanese version. The whole line sounds like Cocona, but especially the ぷーだよぷー, which typically comes out as "boo!" in the English version. Why it didn't here is a mystery, not to mention poor handling.

"Please don't go! I'm sorry, I... I want to be with Croix." - originally 「行かないで!!ごめんなさい、私… 私…クロアと一緒にいたい…。」
Not Luca. She's never been this pleading or clingy. Actually, the Japanese wiki says this comes from the previous game, and (Ar tonelico 1 spoiler)if you change "Croix" to "Lyner", this is Shurelia's line after beating Mir/Mule the right way, if you've cleared Shurelia's Cosmosphere, leading into the decision between the Shurelia ending or the Aurica/Misha ending (depending on story path).(end spoiler)

Finally, here are the Lucas in the center screen:

"Meow, Croix. I'm the real one. Meow. Please pick me!" - originally 「にゃ、クロアにゃ。私が本物にゃ。是非私を選んでにゃ!」
Sounds like Soraneko/Skycat with all the random mewling. This one had better be obvious.

"Hey, Croix. I'm the real one! You understand?" - originally 「あ、クロアー。あたしが本物だよっ!わかってるよね?」
In the Japanese, too girlish (most obviously, Luca never calls herself あたし). In the English, arguably too pushy, but it's really not clear enough.

"Teehee! I'm the real one. You better not get it wrong..." - originally 「えへへへへっ!私が本物だよ。間違えたら承知しないんだからっ…。」
In the Japanese, the giggle is overly exaggerated (look at all those へs!), and the 承知しないんだからっ… at the end sounds rather off as well (offhand, I'd say it's either too Cloche-y if she's being serious or too flirtatious if she's joking around). The English has a good literal translation, but largely fails to capture the nuances, and needs to at least draw out the giggle.

"Teehee! I'm the real one! You won't get it wrong, will you?" - originally 「えへへ、私が本物だよっ!まさか、間違えたりしないよね?」
And here's the real one, but you'd never know it from the English. For starters, I can't remember her ever saying "Teehee!", and of course the rest just sounds too much like everything else. I had actually ruled this one out since it looks far too much like the other giggling line. But the Japanese works just fine. Cheerful without being overboard, confident but not bossy or arrogant, perhaps a little bit playful but not too much, and no un-Luca-ish quirks.

After searching through the game text, I was able to find exactly one other place in the entire game where they had Luca say "Teehee!" In contrast, the えへへ in the Japanese text, basically a nervous or forced laugh and fairly distinctive besides, is something Luca does over thirty times in the main text of Phase 1 alone. The English version uses the more unremarkable "hehehe" in most cases, "hehe" occasionally, and once in a while something else like "haha". It's more of an "eheheh", but, more to the point, needs to be handled more consistently, especially since it's an important part of her characterization.

Anyway, like I said above, translators NEED to do SOMEthing with situations like these. Throw in a Southern drawl, a Western accent, some awkward phrasing, even some random French, anything! In this situation, the literal translation is far less important than being able to distinguish which one is "normal".

As I originally forgot to mention, this reminded me of a puzzle in Wild ARMs involving five "treasure chests" you can open or close and five corresponding bookshelves with messages to clue you in to whether each of the chests should be open or not. The trick is that the content of the messages is absolutely irrelevant except for one thing: whether it contains the word "open" or "closed". At least, that was how it worked in the Japanese version, or to be more precise, the kanji meaning open (開) or closed (閉). Three of the English ones work just fine, with lines like "Closed minds will lead Filgaia to its doom," but a fourth, "For a thousand years, people have torn apart the land, looking for the future they've lost," requires more effort (read "torn apart" as "torn open"), and the fifth, "The Elws have gone to another world...", leaves nothing to go on. That last one is "closed", incidentally. Probably the original line reads something like "closed themselves off in another land."