Translation, Localisation, and Jules Verne.

When Jules Verne's works were originally translated into English, they were done so in an extremely rushed and extremely liberal fashion. Characters were renamed, huge chunks of text removed, new passages added, politics and ideas the translators found objectionable were removed, and basically anything deemed "unamerican" and "unbritish" was purged. For example, Verne's criticism of British colonialism was "localised" into glowing praise for the British and their civilising influence. In addition, the translators were prone to injecting contemporary slang into the works. Stuff like "nigger" and "darkie" instead of Verne's original "negro". Since Verne wrote in French, a fair amount of his writings can be faithfully translated into English without huge issues because English and French are related. But these translators literally didn't care. They "improved" the text and "localised" it for British and American audiences by chopping the crap out of the books and filling in the gaps with completely original writing. Any advanced scientific concepts were either removed completely or dumbed down, leading to hundreds, even thousands of scientific errors. "Boring" sections dealing with the environments the characters travelled through were gutted.

You can read more about the matter here -http://jv.gilead.org.il/evans/VerneTrans%28article%29.html

The butchery of Verne's work went undiscovered for many decades. Close to a century in some cases. And even after people realised what had happened and new translators came along and created new, more faithful translations, the horrible ones stuck around.

One of the "better" early translators, Edward Roth, justified completely rewriting chunks of Verne's books with passages that bear zero semblance to the original with the following logic.

Then my resolution was taken. It was to make an original translation, the best I could, of works of such undeniably inherent merit, a translation which, while strictly following the spirit of the author-this it could not do if slavishly bald and literal-would try to make the most of his strong points, throw the weak ones into shade, soften off extravagances, give the names a familiar sound, correct palpable errors-unless where radical, and then say nothing about them-simplify crabbed science, explain difficulties, amplify local coloring, clear up unknown allusions, put a little more blood and heart into the human beings - in short, a translation which should aim as far as possible at that natural, clear, familiar, idiomatic style which Verne himself would have used if addressing himself in English to an American audience.

Such services rendered to Jules Verne's stories, if done honestly, unobtrusively, and with even tolerable success, could hardly fail to be of decided advantage to the American public.

Dramatically altering Jules Verne's work was seen as a travesty -- one of the worst examples of translators stomping all over a writer's work, but doing the same thing to videogames is not seen as any great deal. Why is that? Is it because books are seen as art and videogames as entertainment?

Roth was one of the better early Verne translators, as I mentioned, and he felt the need to add entire chapters that didn't exist in the original and completely unnecessary additions such as

Not only was the railroad completed as far as Cedar Keys, but also the latter town was connected with Tampa by a branch constructed along the low marshy Gulf coast at great trouble and expense. Barbican had made the company a present of his route, strongly recommending it as being higher and healthier, more picturesque and fertile, besides being shorter and less expensive. But Barbican, through a great artillerist, was unfortunately only a Baltimore man, and no mere Baltimore man could by any possibility teach a Boston man, as the President of the Gulf Railroad Company prided himself upon being.

For, outside of Boston, as you must know, everything in the United States is provincial; literature, fashion, society, at best second rate; all the boys and girls in the Union learn their lessons out of Boston newspapers, Boston magazines, and Boston books; the Revolutionary War began and ended within sight of Bunker Hill; the Boston people single handed had licked the British in 1812; aided a little by some other New Englanders, they had put down the great rebellion of '61; Faneuil Hall, "the cradle of American Liberty," was the only place where the "Centennial" should be celebrated; her municipal system was unequaled; her fire department was simply perfect; no act of cruel bigotry had ever disgraced her lofty minded and enlightened people; her men were all corresponding members of learned societies, and her women read so much that they all wore eyeglasses; her public schools produced the profoundest of scholars and the most virtuous of citizens. Such, at least, was the Nicene Creed repeated every Sunday by every good Bostonian. The President of the Gulf Railroad happened to be an extra good Bostonian. A Baltimorian to dictate to him? Never! Of course, he had his way; the branch followed the worst possible route because a Baltimorian had pointed out the best possible one. What matter if it cost the company an additional million of dollars and five thousand poor Irish laborers their lives? A grand moral principle had been successfully vindicated. If Boston is not to have her way, the world is not worth living in!

Not a single word of that came from Verne. Scholars and Verne fans who uncovered this stuff were outraged. But if a videogame localiser did this, most people would just blink and mutter something about how you need to make the writing more interesting and relatable to the (presumably American because hoo rah, America) audience. They'd say, "It's just localisation, bro."

That's what happens when you have no international copyright protections. It was common before international copyright protections came into place for publishers to print editions of successful foreign authors without authorisation or payment to the writer. These editions of foreign works were done on the cheap with the translator doing whatever they felt like. The same also applied to works in English, US publishers put out unauthorised editions of UK writers work and vice versa. Charles Dickens, after a visit to the US in 1848, spent a large amount of time, over the rest of his life, working for international copyright to be enacted . His campaign eventually lead to the 1886 Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works which finally recognised the need for an international copyright protection, admittedly only between member states. So it's not localisation but lack of copyright protection is the issue with Vern's works in English.

Is that so? I never knew that. I hope better translations are available these days? I've actually run into a similar problem when I was looking for English translations of certain Japanese and Chinese classics, like The Tale Of Genji and Journey To The West. Most of them are pretty liberal in their adherence to the original text, something which annoys me.

And as a philosophy student it's something I have to deal with quite often, especially when we deal with pre-modern philosophers. Of course, those and the aforementioned Asian classics are quite a bit older than Verne's work.

Albino Boo:
So it's not localisation but lack of copyright protection is the issue with Vern's works in English.

The thing is that even though we have copy protection these days, we can see the same thing happening with film remakes. Copy protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original work.

Cowabungaa:

The thing is that even though we have copy protection these days, we can see the same thing happening with film remakes. Copy protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original work.

The same thing still happens with localisation. You don't need to go beyond the original medium to know this statement about copyright is false.

Something Amyss:

Cowabungaa:

The thing is that even though we have copy protection these days, we can see the same thing happening with film remakes. Copy protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original work.

The same thing still happens with localisation. You don't need to go beyond the original medium to know this statement about copyright is false.

Really, lets take a look at the original medium

In 1891 I first became aware of the fact that one of Verne's books had been translated into English by more than one translator. That year I became the possessor of a Ward, Lock & Co. (London) edition of "A Journey into the Interior of the Earth." I compared it with my Scribner edition of "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth" and met with astonishment. Both in style bore the earmarks of the romancer, but how different otherwise they were! The story was practically the same, but several chapters in each translation did not appear in the other. The names of the characters, even, were different.... The American edition, I noted, contained several thousand more words than the English edition.... (88)
As he continued to collect them, Hurd soon found that more than one English translation also existed for several other Verne novels, e.g., for De la Terre ? la lune (1865, From the Earth to the Moon, The Baltimore Gun Club), Les Enfants du capitaine Grant (1867, The Children of Captain Grant, In Search of the Castaways), Aventures de trois Russes et de trois Anglais dans l'Afrique australe (1872, The Adventures of Three Englishmen and Three Russians in South Africa, Adventures in the Land of the Behemoth), Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1873, Around the World in 80 Days, The Tour of the World in 80 Days), Les Indes noires (1877, The Black Indies, The Child of the Cavern), Hector Servadac (1877, Hector Servadac, Off on a Comet), L'?cole des Robinsons (1882, The Robinson Crusoe School, Godfrey Morgan: A California Mystery), L'?toile du sud (1884, The Southern Star, The Vanished Diamond), and Sans dessus dessous (1889, Topsy-Turvy, The Purchase of the North Pole). Hurd reacted to this discovery with both bibliophilic excitement ("Once more the collector's thrill had me" [88]) and bemused puzzlement over the "fascinating angles attending the collection of works of our famous French author" (89).
Less sanguine was the reaction of American literary scholar Walter James Miller who, during the 1960s and 1970s, was the first to compare the standard English translations of two of Verne's most popular novels-Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and From the Earth to the Moon-against their French originals. As he encountered dozens upon dozens of errors, omissions, and alterations in the English-language versions, Miller quickly came to understand why Verne's reputation in Great Britain and America was so different from how he was known in France and in most other countries:
All the world regards Jules Verne as the first real popularizer of the romance of science. After that basic agreement, however, critical opinion is strangely contradictory.
French and other Continental readers go on to admire Verne for his attention to scientific method, his concern for technical accuracy, his ability to work wonders with authentic facts and figures.
But American readers have the impression that Verne is somewhat casual with basic data and arithmetic, even with details of plot and character....Could they be talking about the same author?

The answer is tragically simple. Europeans read Verne in the original French or in good, full-length translations. Americans have based their opinions on slashed and slapdash versions rushed into print in the 1870s and reissued ever since as "standard" editions. Ironically, although Verne's books pay full tribute to American daring and know-how, Americans have never been able to judge the true nature and extent of his genius. ("Jules Verne in America" vii; italics in original)

Now I wonder why the Americans had several slap dash transitions in the 1870s. Wild stab in the dark here but the lack of international copyright meant American publishers just hired some to do a slap dash translation, so they could make money quickly. Now I am going to get 23 different replies from you explaining how its the evil racist establishment doing down progressives thought but they did to every author regardless of politics. All the replies in the world explain to me how I'm wrong won't change that.

Albino Boo:

Now I wonder why the Americans had several slap dash transitions in the 1870s. Wild stab in the dark here but the lack of international copyright meant American publishers just hired some to do a slap dash translation, so they could make money quickly.

I think you're missing his point. His point being that despite modern copyright law the problem is still persisting in literature, going beyond my point that the problem is also there in modern film remakes. That simply means copyright protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original and doesn't guarantee solid translations.

Hence why your cynical remark regarding progressive responses is quite out of place. It's simple experience that shows us how copyright protection doesn't seem to help us all that much with this particular issue because the issue is persisting.

Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

Fox12:
Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

Errors are pretty common, even in modern games and anime. Most of the errors I know of in the Souls games are understandable mistakes mostly based on concepts not translating perfecting between Japanese and English. I actually think Dark Souls has more errors than Bloodborne did.

A good contemporary example is Funimation's original dub of Dragon Ball Z. Ignoring the fact that they re-wrote Goku's character, a lot of "facts" about the series were mistranslated, leading to a lot of confusion in the fandom when discussing canon. Funimation has gotten a lot better about this over the years, thankfully.

I came in here because I was pretty excited to hear about Jules Verne, only to learn of this. That's sad.

What did they do about Captain Nemo's thirst for vengeance? Did they just cut out the realization that he was amoral after detonating a ship and having the main characters escape by everyone just shrugging and shouting "USA"?

Well, it's a loss to the English only speakers.

Fox12:
Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

The entire Ace Attorney series was SUBSTANTIALLY Americanized for a western audience. Pretty sure the content they ripped out of the new Fire Emblem counts too.

Albino Boo:

Now I wonder why the Americans had several slap dash transitions in the 1870s.

Yes, and that's only a counter-argument if slap-dash translations stopped in response to international copyright law. Except they didn't, and there were quite a few in my childhood. And that's as far as I'm going to take this.

We're supposed to be similarly outraged that the people who own the product made said changes as we are that someone cut up and changed some other author's work, passing it of as the original apparently?

Cowabungaa:

Albino Boo:

Now I wonder why the Americans had several slap dash transitions in the 1870s. Wild stab in the dark here but the lack of international copyright meant American publishers just hired some to do a slap dash translation, so they could make money quickly.

I think you're missing his point. His point being that despite modern copyright law the problem is still persisting in literature, going beyond my point that the problem is also there in modern film remakes. That simply means copyright protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original and doesn't guarantee solid translations.

Hence why your cynical remark regarding progressive responses is quite out of place. It's simple experience that shows us how copyright protection doesn't seem to help us all that much with this particular issue because the issue is persisting.

No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market. What has happening with Jules Verne was equivalent of people selling scanned version of the latest Harry Potter novel when it came out. The point was to make money quickly not to create a quality product. If you made selling fake rolexes legal would you see more or less of them. There is no linkage with the past because of changes to the copyright laws don't make get rich quick translations the standard edition of a major international author. The google translate version of Bonfire of the Vanities is not the one on sale in French bookshops and never will be. So my comment was not cynical because the usual suspects jumped to the usual conclusion without any understanding or considerations of the fact the past is different from the present for the reasons that I clearly stated.

Cowabungaa:

Albino Boo:

Now I wonder why the Americans had several slap dash transitions in the 1870s. Wild stab in the dark here but the lack of international copyright meant American publishers just hired some to do a slap dash translation, so they could make money quickly.

I think you're missing his point. His point being that despite modern copyright law the problem is still persisting in literature, going beyond my point that the problem is also there in modern film remakes. That simply means copyright protection doesn't guarantee respect for the original and doesn't guarantee solid translations.

Hence why your cynical remark regarding progressive responses is quite out of place. It's simple experience that shows us how copyright protection doesn't seem to help us all that much with this particular issue because the issue is persisting.

His point seems to be about localizations of video games. People have been arguing about them a bit in the forums. Now he's making a rather tenuous connection between this and localizations. Copyright law doesn't seem to have anything to do with localizations

Albino Boo:
No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market. What has happening with Jules Verne was equivalent of people selling scanned version of the latest Harry Potter novel when it came out. The point was to make money quickly not to create a quality product. If you made selling fake rolexes legal would you see more or less of them. There is no linkage with the past because of changes to the copyright laws don't make get rich quick translations the standard edition of a major international author. The google translate version of Bonfire of the Vanities is not the one on sale in French bookshops and never will be. So my comment was not cynical because the usual suspects jumped to the usual conclusion without any understanding or considerations of the fact the past is different from the present for the reasons that I clearly stated.

Why it happened might be different, and yeah the market situation is very different now than it was in the 19th century, but regardless of that the conclusion has sadly not changed; bad translations are still everywhere. Whether that's in literature, film, games or TV. Copyright protection hasn't really helped prevent that, it doesn't seem to guarantee a certain level of respect for the source material.

Also, I've yet to see anyone mention anything related to progressiveness and blaming this on racism or something like that. So whoever those usual suspects are, I'm not seeing the usual conclusions posted just yet.

ccggenius12:

Fox12:
Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

The entire Ace Attorney series was SUBSTANTIALLY Americanized for a western audience. Pretty sure the content they ripped out of the new Fire Emblem counts too.

I remember reading a blog post from one of the ace attorney localizers talking about this, the major difference was that the AA localizers did their changes with the knowledge and consent of the owners and creators of the original work. Same with fire emblem which the latest was done by nintendo's own localization team, also reporting that they worked with the original development team and with the consent of Nintendo. I think that's why these sorts of things don't draw the ire that the Vernes story does, that and the magnitude and nature of team development versus a single auteur.

By magnitude I mean the Vernes stories were significantly reduced and translation errors that could rival the worst of 90's anime translations with errors mistakes and ad libing galore. Versus what is being described here, the changes to AA and FE are on a much smaller scale, barring the bizarre location change for the AA games, which seems pointless as so much of the Japanese setting is retained.

We also face the nature of commissioned work by a team of writers and creaters versus the singular vision of a writer. Changes, retcons, and translation changes are also more tolerated in things like television and movies because like video games they are often the work of a team, and the writer is often paid on commission to turn in a script to the specifications of a publisher, director, or producer. If there even is a single writer, as video games tend to be the work of multiple writers, with several working on specific aspects of story, or even being hired as freelancers just to write a proposed script or setting before being paid and moving on to the next project. From the few aquaintences I have that have worked in creative teams like this, their vision has already been butchered and reassembled by the higher ups long before it ever reaches the public, much less any localization teams. Verne was a single author with a story that put that idea to paper, video games almost never have a single recognizable creative head behind them people like Kojima are the exception rather than the rule, and even he didn't write the story of MGS alone. Much like television shows, we can tell generally what channel they are on, and the actors starring in them, but beyond the fanatics, the vast majority of the public doesn't give two shits about who wrote an individual episode or whether their vision was butchered by the studio or being localized for another country.

That's not to say we should just shut up and never complain about any localization changes in video games, just that this comparison to Verne has easily explainable reasons for why it draws more ire than AA taking place in Tokyofornia. I can see why people would be miffed at some of the localizations that have happened in the past, but there's a vast gf of difference between what happened to Verne and what Nintendo did with their own art in FE.

Secondhand Revenant:

His point seems to be about localizations of video games. People have been arguing about them a bit in the forums. Now he's making a rather tenuous connection between this and localizations. Copyright law doesn't seem to have anything to do with localizations

I think Cowabungaa was talking about me when he was addressing someone's point. This is backed up largely by the notion Boo was replying to me and this was my actual point.

Albino Boo:

No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market.

Kind of like the bit in the OP about the stated intent?

OP then goes on to directly tie this to video games.

EternallyBored:
Same with fire emblem which the latest was done by nintendo's own localization team, also reporting that they worked with the original development team and with the consent of Nintendo. I think that's why these sorts of things don't draw the ire that the Vernes story does, that and the magnitude and nature of team development versus a single auteur.

The latter might be true, but we had a bunch of people on here complaining about political correctness and censorship and predicting that all the fun parts of games would be gone in 10 or 20 years. I mean, you could argue the limited scope of complaint, but there's actually little outcry about the Verne translations. Roth's is still one of the most widely available and used. Outside of academia, there seems to be little in the way of a problem. And when we get games worthy of such study, this might be a thing. But as people have reminded me endlessly, games are a consumer product and not to be held to the same critical standards as other media.

Something Amyss:

Secondhand Revenant:

His point seems to be about localizations of video games. People have been arguing about them a bit in the forums. Now he's making a rather tenuous connection between this and localizations. Copyright law doesn't seem to have anything to do with localizations

I think Cowabungaa was talking about me when he was addressing someone's point. This is backed up largely by the notion Boo was replying to me and this was my actual point.

Albino Boo:

No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market.

Kind of like the bit in the OP about the stated intent?

OP then goes on to directly tie this to video games.

EternallyBored:
Same with fire emblem which the latest was done by nintendo's own localization team, also reporting that they worked with the original development team and with the consent of Nintendo. I think that's why these sorts of things don't draw the ire that the Vernes story does, that and the magnitude and nature of team development versus a single auteur.

The latter might be true, but we had a bunch of people on here complaining about political correctness and censorship and predicting that all the fun parts of games would be gone in 10 or 20 years. I mean, you could argue the limited scope of complaint, but there's actually little outcry about the Verne translations. Roth's is still one of the most widely available and used. Outside of academia, there seems to be little in the way of a problem. And when we get games worthy of such study, this might be a thing. But as people have reminded me endlessly, games are a consumer product and not to be held to the same critical standards as other media.

Oh heh sorry thought they meant the OP

Something Amyss:

EternallyBored:
Same with fire emblem which the latest was done by nintendo's own localization team, also reporting that they worked with the original development team and with the consent of Nintendo. I think that's why these sorts of things don't draw the ire that the Vernes story does, that and the magnitude and nature of team development versus a single auteur.

The latter might be true, but we had a bunch of people on here complaining about political correctness and censorship and predicting that all the fun parts of games would be gone in 10 or 20 years. I mean, you could argue the limited scope of complaint, but there's actually little outcry about the Verne translations. Roth's is still one of the most widely available and used. Outside of academia, there seems to be little in the way of a problem. And when we get games worthy of such study, this might be a thing. But as people have reminded me endlessly, games are a consumer product and not to be held to the same critical standards as other media.

I suppose I was operating under the assumption that the OP was actually telling the truth about the Verne controversy being much larger than say the Fire Emblem one, but upon a very basic search, you seem to be right, outside of academic circles, the public doesn't really care much about what happened to Verne either. In giving the OP the benefit of the doubt, he could be referring to how more people are likely defend the changes to games rather than the Verne stories, although we could simply argue that as a function of time and scope, it makes the two cases nearly impossible to compare on any reasonable level. I could see the idea holding merit, that more people will defend Ace Attorney's localization over what was done to verne's works, but my answer would be largely the same.

People are not going to invoke auteur theory as often when dealing with a product created by a team commissioned and developed through committee by a private company, not that the product isn't art or not valuable as an artistic statement, but that the waters are muddied by the fact that the art is created and controlled by a group that will consent to changing that art to appeal to the masses. The debate around changes to Vernes work would draw different conclusions if he had specifically hired English translators and then been satisfied with the changes in the final product. This gets even more complicated when we realize that there is no single creator for most video games, so who's vision do we need to protect? The publisher? The developer? The individual staff within the development company?

I think it's healthy for people to critically look at localizations versus the original product, despite an overabundance of hyperbole, but I also get entirely why people will defend one and not the other. There's plenty of other reasons too, I guess, to sum up my point, I just think the OP is trying to compare two very different situations, those differences having little to do with video games artistic merit as a medium.

Basically, we're talking about two very different things, here. On the one hand, we have unauthorized, shoddy translations of popular novels, done so that those publishing the translations can cash in on said popularity, while the original author (and his publisher) make not one dime off this misappropriation of his work. This sort of thing has largely been curbed by international copyright law.

On the other hand, we are talking about translations for English-speaking consumers of Japanese works, being done with the consent, approval, and often the cooperation of the creators of those works.

While we can argue about the quality of the end result in both cases, it's only the former where something untoward is happening -- the original author is getting ripped off by thieves looking to make a quick buck off his name. In the case of localizations of anime and of Japanese video games (and in the case of anime, especially, I am talking about official, licensed translations, and not fanworks), the translations may not always be what they should be, but the originators are not being stolen from.

(It should also be noted that a poor American remake of a foreign film is not nearly the same thing as the Verne ripoffs -- and said remake is not passing itself off as actually being the original, just translated, the way the unauthorized English Verne "translations" were.)

First off - great thread, OP. I'm really glad that this topic of translation as it concerns videogames has started to get widespread traction, even if I'm left wanting as to the quality of a lot of the discussion. Like so many topics, being able to talk intelligently about this requires a broader set of competencies, one of which is most certainly reaching a high proficiency in both source and target languages. For people in this thread who are interested in the topic of translation and would like to learn a little bit about translation theory, two of the most important resources to read are the works of Lawrence Venuti, who, while I have major issues with him, is a prominent figure around the ethics of translation, and Minako O'Hagan, who works in translation of new media, including videogames.

Albino Boo:

... Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market...

I'd just like to make a quick correction here. What you're describing is "just" translation. "Localisation" is a software development term for making local versions of software packages. It's different from translating prose or poetry in that software uncontroversially has a function that the user needs to be able to fulfill, so the translation strategy prioritises ease of use for a specific market. It also refers to software-specific problems that arise during the process, like having to translate around size limits for text strings (both screen real estate and data limit concerns).

The fact that videogame translation gets lumped in with localisation is partly because videogames ARE software, and in fact do need to take some cues from localisation practice, especially when it comes to Japanese-to-English translation, as Japanese needs less space to say the same general thing.

Fox12:
Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

Persona 1 (PS1) was horrendous for this. The dopey dropout stereotype character got changed into a black guy, no doubt to convert the stereotype into the "black thug" stereotype (note this character happens to be carrying an axe around at the start of the game, where all the other characters are fighting with mop handles when things turn to shit).
As someone else said, Ace Attourney is a straight-up setting conversion, and all the characters have different names, which is actually quite rare nowadays.

In fact, it's quite rare for large portions of games to be added to or rewritten on the level of the Verne example in the OP, it's more about making minute information align with the local culture's preconceptions about things, whether that's "how the world works," or, "how people interact," or what they think they know about the source culture, in the case of JP-ENG game translations. I'm probably much more extreme than most people when it comes to meddling in translation, as I believe that games and other media are some of the primary ways that we can come into contact with other cultures - so instead of translators pandering to the audience's preconceived beliefs about another place because they "won't understand," I prefer a more honest representation that helps people understand through exposure. I'll keep myself to a couple of examples to keep the size of this post down:

If you've played Persona 4, you'll know that the translation "retained" all of the Japanese honourifics (-san, -kun appended to the end of names, etc). Except, the way the honourifics are used isn't how they're used in the original version, and if you play the two versions side-by-side it's clear they've been reintroduced for "Japanese flavour," to appeal to the likely audience of the game. This game has a LOT of translation choices like this.

In Ni no Kuni, at the start of the game the young main character is kind of being bullied on an older boy who's supposed to be his friend, and it looks like an abusive relationship. In the original version, it's clear the two characters are mutual conspirators on equal footing. Also, the main character's nice Japanese bow has been changed into a Western one, so as not to send mixed messages.

In FFXIII: Lightning Returns, the English translation tries REALLY hard to make a connection between the primary deity of the game and the Christian deity by doing things like editing out references to other deities and using key theological words where they don't appear in the original.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1 is made more sexual (because the Japanese are perverts, right!?) At the start there's a scene with a character trying to bandage the main character. It's accompanied by a sexy graphic, but in the Japanese version the voice work has the main character being strangled, and eventually she passes out. The joke is that the nurse is incompetent. In the English version she moans a lot and climaxes. The game also strips out a lot of Japanese references and replaces them with OTHER Japanese references international audiences are more likely to get. Or, sometimes just for the hell of it - the opening joke is that Neptune's in the dark and addressing the player about what she might step on. In the Japanese version she warns she might step on your collector's edition merch. In the English version that's changed to anime figures.

Okay, I think that's enough. We all get the point.

Secondhand Revenant:

Oh heh sorry thought they meant the OP

I can see the grounds for confusion. Most of the time, saying "he" rules me out. In fairness, though, it's not like my username inherently says "hey, I'm a girl." Or even "hey, I was dorky enough to squeeze my name into my username!"

EternallyBored:

I suppose I was operating under the assumption that the OP was actually telling the truth about the Verne controversy being much larger than say the Fire Emblem one, but upon a very basic search, you seem to be right, outside of academic circles, the public doesn't really care much about what happened to Verne either. In giving the OP the benefit of the doubt, he could be referring to how more people are likely defend the changes to games rather than the Verne stories, although we could simply argue that as a function of time and scope, it makes the two cases nearly impossible to compare on any reasonable level. I could see the idea holding merit, that more people will defend Ace Attorney's localization over what was done to verne's works, but my answer would be largely the same.

People are not going to invoke auteur theory as often when dealing with a product created by a team commissioned and developed through committee by a private company, not that the product isn't art or not valuable as an artistic statement, but that the waters are muddied by the fact that the art is created and controlled by a group that will consent to changing that art to appeal to the masses. The debate around changes to Vernes work would draw different conclusions if he had specifically hired English translators and then been satisfied with the changes in the final product. This gets even more complicated when we realize that there is no single creator for most video games, so who's vision do we need to protect? The publisher? The developer? The individual staff within the development company?

I think it's healthy for people to critically look at localizations versus the original product, despite an overabundance of hyperbole, but I also get entirely why people will defend one and not the other. There's plenty of other reasons too, I guess, to sum up my point, I just think the OP is trying to compare two very different situations, those differences having little to do with video games artistic merit as a medium.

Well, one of the major differences is that we're talking about academia and its response to the alterations made to something that is considered an art form. That's the only reason there's any real outcry in the first place. The people around here crying "censorship" at localisations, OP included, also cast stones at people who attempt to evaluate gaming as a critical media. I do think this is important, because it's the entire context under which this comes into question. Novels actually used to be a lot like video games. They would rot your brains. They had no artistic merit. They were pop culture ephemera. However, now we have a bunch of people complaining about any sort of narrative criticism, even to the point of demanding technical specs and shit you could pull off the back of a box as "reviews."

Imagine if Verne or Melville were weighed based on the quality and weight of their paper, or the font face chosen. Now imagine that the novel "enthusiast" was the one demanding that. I think we'd have a much different reaction to the medium today had these been the ground rules laid out by the audience.

Game "enthusiasts" have spent the last several years demanding that games be treated like consumer products, not art. Bad reviews hurt developers and that's bad because...I don't know, developers shouldn't be "hurt" by being called out for the quality of their products unless they meet our arbitrary often arbitrary and contradictory standards.

And after hearing years of this stuff which would exclude the academic and artistic, I'm being told that I should be angered and outraged by that which was said to be a consumer product being treated as...a consumer product. From the same people. And now, I'm specifically being asked to care that games aren't held to the standards that these people have been actively fighting that entire time. Well, not just me. Everyone who's been yelled at and mocked and derided for the last several years for...basically holding consistent opinions, rather than throwing out words like "objective" or "ethical" or "consumer" when they are convenient and only then.

Really, you can find many of these people fighting for games to be treated as art right up until about 2011. Then, you see a shift and dropoff in that argument in favou of the objective review, the claims of consumer products, etc. Then it was games are a product/games are a hobby, then it was, well, if I go further, there will be a very obvious derailment incoming.

What's more is that this isn't really an objection to any one standard of censorship as a whole. There's a character in one of the recent Final Fantasy games who was covered up. Strangely, when a male character is covered up, or a trans character altered, it's not "censorship." It only comes up when it's the inability to pet underage girls, or when half a second of underage teen panty shots are removed that it becomes censorship.

All of this is absolutely relevant when the same people who did this ask why it's okay when it happens to video games. Because they set a standard for what video games are and aren't, and change it when it becomes inconvenient. Video games are a consumer product when people I don't like criticise them, but they're comparable to Jules Verne when I have an issue. Companies should listen to the consumer market. But if that consumer market isn't me, they're censorsing. We will use the loosest definition of censorship possible to explain why any change we don't personally like is censorship, but support changes which benefit us. And then we will wonder why people don't regard the medium seriously, even though we told them not to back when we were always at war with Eastasia. but now that we've always been at war with Eurasia, you must change with us, because...objectivity?

But then, how can we even hope to have criticism when a game scoring "too high" or "too low" can cause a shitstorm in our community? When people will demand a reviewer be fired for the travesty that is giving a 9/10 (hating a game)? There's a decided irony in using Arthur Evans' critique of the Verne translations, because the community--and the people specifically complaining about censorship--have decided such things have no place in gaming media. At least, not when it disagrees with them.

And it's no accident that "the usual suspects" has already been used in this thread, because really, it's not about the principles of censorship or whatever. It's about "us" vs "them." Hell, there weren't even complaints about this sort of thing until the evil SJW bogeyman was mentioned. DOAX wasn't getting ported in August? No major outcry. In fact, they couldn't even get five thousand signatures on a petition. DOAX still not getting ported a few months later, but now we can blame SJws? Now it's time to throw down. There's a cottage industry around playing to the perpetually offended. All you really have to do is say "the game THEY don't want you to have," and people will literally be all "shut up and take my money." It's not about merit or principle, but about not letting THEM win.

Whoever they are, because it's really unclear. It appears that everyone is a secret SJW/cultural marxist.

This is an "all or nothing" view on an issue where two elements (at least two) are always going to be at odds. "Freeze Peach" and the right to self-determination are not things you can pass-fail on a flowchart.

But that's exactly what this comes down to.

Kalikin:

Albino Boo:

... Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market...

I'd just like to make a quick correction here. What you're describing is "just" translation. "Localisation" is a software development term for making local versions of software packages. It's different from translating prose or poetry in that software uncontroversially has a function that the user needs to be able to fulfill, so the translation strategy prioritises ease of use for a specific market. It also refers to software-specific problems that arise during the process, like having to translate around size limits for text strings (both screen real estate and data limit concerns).

The fact that videogame translation gets lumped in with localisation is partly because videogames ARE software, and in fact do need to take some cues from localisation practice, especially when it comes to Japanese-to-English translation, as Japanese needs less space to say the same general thing.

I'd say this isn't entirely accurate, because I've seen the term 'localization' used in context of anime and the like too.
It's what people called it when you had just travesties like the 4kids One Piece 'translation':


(Lacking a better video that shows the differences between the 4kids and the regular)

Or when you get Brock from pokemon talking about how much he 'loves donuts' while holding rice balls:

This is the sort of thing people tend to attribute to 'localization' in media compared to software. It's taking a thing of media and changing stuff to "fit" the new locale. "Back in the day" it may have sort of made sense because people weren't familiar with japan, so it was easier to get people invested when it's more familar.

However, that's not at all an issue anymore. If you have a character talk about eating rice balls, people know what's going on, etc. So people 'taking liberties' and doing stuff like that, or inexplicably moving Phonex Wright to San Fransisco(while everything still looks Japanese), it serves no pragmatic purpose and is a waste of time, effort, money and oftentimes isn't really what people wanted.

That's a lot of the reason why people are so against these kinds of 'corrections' being made when we hear about them, and it's because it often ranges from pointless changes like the donuts thing, to 'We decided this was offensive, so we changed it like One Piece's guns being changed to super-soakers' or other things of the sort.

I know for a fact if I bought a piece of media, I'd kinda like the original piece retained as much as possible without some random other 3rd party trying to give me the "real" experience which isn't at all what the original creator made. This sorta junk REALLY rubs me the wrong way when the translators take it upon themselves to "fix" the media, rather than just translating the language and giving it over to me to let me make my own decisions on it.

Areloch:

Kalikin:

Albino Boo:

... Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market...

I'd just like to make a quick correction here. What you're describing is "just" translation. "Localisation" is a software development term for making local versions of software packages. It's different from translating prose or poetry in that software uncontroversially has a function that the user needs to be able to fulfill, so the translation strategy prioritises ease of use for a specific market. It also refers to software-specific problems that arise during the process, like having to translate around size limits for text strings (both screen real estate and data limit concerns).

The fact that videogame translation gets lumped in with localisation is partly because videogames ARE software, and in fact do need to take some cues from localisation practice, especially when it comes to Japanese-to-English translation, as Japanese needs less space to say the same general thing.

...I'd say this isn't entirely accurate, because I've seen the term 'localization' used in context of anime and the like too...

I realise I sound very condescending when I say this, but that's what's called a folk definition, where I'm drawing my definition from academic translation studies. I want to maintain the importance of the distinction because there are significant constraints on how software is able to be translated over and above the inherent difficulties of regular translation, and separate from an individual translator's desire to meddle with the original.

Kalikin:

Areloch:

Kalikin:

I'd just like to make a quick correction here. What you're describing is "just" translation. "Localisation" is a software development term for making local versions of software packages. It's different from translating prose or poetry in that software uncontroversially has a function that the user needs to be able to fulfill, so the translation strategy prioritises ease of use for a specific market. It also refers to software-specific problems that arise during the process, like having to translate around size limits for text strings (both screen real estate and data limit concerns).

The fact that videogame translation gets lumped in with localisation is partly because videogames ARE software, and in fact do need to take some cues from localisation practice, especially when it comes to Japanese-to-English translation, as Japanese needs less space to say the same general thing.

...I'd say this isn't entirely accurate, because I've seen the term 'localization' used in context of anime and the like too...

I realise I sound very condescending when I say this, but that's what's called a folk definition, where I'm drawing my definition from academic translation studies. I want to maintain the importance of the distinction because there are significant constraints on how software is able to be translated over and above the inherent difficulties of regular translation, and separate from an individual translator's desire to meddle with the original.

Nah, I don't think that's being condescending. It's a fair point. (I'm a programmer, so I know the pain of having to port stuff around and all the stupid hoops that goes with it)

Does feel like there should be a distinction between a translation and "I'll fix this" sorts of translations though. Aware of any terms that may suffice?

Kalikin:

I realise I sound very condescending when I say this, but that's what's called a folk definition, where I'm drawing my definition from academic translation studies. I want to maintain the importance of the distinction because there are significant constraints on how software is able to be translated over and above the inherent difficulties of regular translation, and separate from an individual translator's desire to meddle with the original.

This is why it's important to define our terms, but at the same time, the use of localisation in this thread is the colloquial version, and I would argue it's a distraction to bring up the academic version at all. They are talking about the adaptation of media to suit a certain market, which may include practical, moral, legal or cultural standards. They could call this localisation or Hufflepuff, as long as the terminology is consistent.

Areloch:

Nah, I don't think that's being condescending. It's a fair point. (I'm a programmer, so I know the pain of having to port stuff around and all the stupid hoops that goes with it)

Does feel like there should be a distinction between a translation and "I'll fix this" sorts of translations though. Aware of any terms that may suffice?

They're really just referred to as "translations," because this practice is common for all media as well (I've read some translation scholars who've remarked that it is the predominant practice for all translation in the Western world). You can take the Novel 99 Francs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99_Francs) as one example of a book that had its location changed, along with all the cultural references. Nowadays scholars like to use the terms "Domestication" and "Foreignisation" to describe the two poles of translation strategy, though.

ccggenius12:

Fox12:
Can you point out a more specific example of a game that did this? I'm legitimately curious.

I heard that Persona did this in some places, and I know that there were some subtle errors in Bloodborne.

The entire Ace Attorney series was SUBSTANTIALLY Americanized for a western audience. Pretty sure the content they ripped out of the new Fire Emblem counts too.

OT: Some things just don't translate, like puns. However when you start removing chapters or dialogue for no good reason is where it gets bad. But don't think books are immune in more modern times. A Clockwork Orange had a whole chapter removed when it crossed the Atlantic :/

Something Amyss:

Kalikin:

I realise I sound very condescending when I say this, but that's what's called a folk definition, where I'm drawing my definition from academic translation studies. I want to maintain the importance of the distinction because there are significant constraints on how software is able to be translated over and above the inherent difficulties of regular translation, and separate from an individual translator's desire to meddle with the original.

This is why it's important to define our terms, but at the same time, the use of localisation in this thread is the colloquial version, and I would argue it's a distraction to bring up the academic version at all. They are talking about the adaptation of media to suit a certain market, which may include practical, moral, legal or cultural standards. They could call this localisation or Hufflepuff, as long as the terminology is consistent.

I would have agreed with you prior to game localisation becoming the "it" topic, but the most common definition of "localisation" I see used nowadays is "non-literal translation." This is a problem because it frames people expressing concerns about localisation practices as people wanting literal translations. People can't talk intelligently about these issues unless everyone's clear on what is a language-specific or medium-specific problem, and what is a symptom of a particular translation strategy. For instance, I see people talking about the untranslatability of puns being the same category of problem as removing gameplay systems, or heavily stylising dialogue, because the folk definition puts them in the same category.

Cowabungaa:

Albino Boo:
No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market. What has happening with Jules Verne was equivalent of people selling scanned version of the latest Harry Potter novel when it came out. The point was to make money quickly not to create a quality product. If you made selling fake rolexes legal would you see more or less of them. There is no linkage with the past because of changes to the copyright laws don't make get rich quick translations the standard edition of a major international author. The google translate version of Bonfire of the Vanities is not the one on sale in French bookshops and never will be. So my comment was not cynical because the usual suspects jumped to the usual conclusion without any understanding or considerations of the fact the past is different from the present for the reasons that I clearly stated.

Why it happened might be different, and yeah the market situation is very different now than it was in the 19th century, but regardless of that the conclusion has sadly not changed; bad translations are still everywhere. Whether that's in literature, film, games or TV. Copyright protection hasn't really helped prevent that, it doesn't seem to guarantee a certain level of respect for the source material.

Also, I've yet to see anyone mention anything related to progressiveness and blaming this on racism or something like that. So whoever those usual suspects are, I'm not seeing the usual conclusions posted just yet.

Lets look at the facts shall we. Is the works of John Paul Sartre on sale in the United States today done by google translate. Oh no it isn't. So guess what international copyright has stopped what happened to the works Jule Verne. Why bother with facts when you can just repeat the same opinion in multiple posts.

Secondhand Revenant:

Albino Boo:

No you are missing the point. Localisation it the deliberate and planned attempt to change works for the local market.

Kind of like the bit in the OP about the stated intent?

OP then goes on to directly tie this to video games.

This may be difficult for you to understand but the reason why Jules Verne's works are different in America in get quick publishers doing the cheapest possible translation without paying the original writer money. If they did that today that with video games they would be called pirates not publishers, because the law changed. So there is no connection between the action of 19th century publishers and video game publishers of today. You do not see on the shelves multiple dubs of anime done by different companies with no payment connection to the original production. There is fundamental difference between picking one of 10 pirated version of a game and saying that's the official English release and the company the produced the original game producing the official English game. That does not stop bad translations but what its does stop is the pirated versions becoming the commercial version, which is what happened with Jule Verne. The is wrong when he tied to Jule Verne to video games of today because the legal environment prevents what happened in the 19th century happening now

Ambient_Malice:
Since Verne wrote in French, a fair amount of his writings can be faithfully translated into English without huge issues because English and French are related.

Sure they are related in the sense that they are both indo-european languages, but they are from entirely different branches on that tree. French is a latin/romance language while english is a germanic language(ala german, norwegian, dutch and so on). French did likely latinize some germanic words while they were still gallo-romans ruled by the franks(who later became the modern dutch while the elite ruling the latin areas latinized) and we all know the reputation the english language has for taking words from everywhere, but that still wouldn't make the two closely related, just have a lot of loanwords.

Albino Boo:
snip

I think we've been talking past each other. It seems your main point is this:

That does not stop bad translations but what its does stop is the pirated versions becoming the commercial version, which is what happened with Jule Verne.

I agree with that. Thing is, as you say; it doesn't stop bad translations. And that's what the problem described by the OP boils down to. Pirated versions can sometimes even be better than the commercial one. For instance, it happens with anime sometimes with fansubs being better than the legal ones. Hence why I disagree that copyright law solves what in the end is the problem because I don't see the 'pirated' versions as such as the issue, but the fact that the translation sucked. That's because a legal, commercial version isn't necessarily better.

Cowabungaa:

Albino Boo:
snip

I think we've been talking past each other. It seems your main point is this:

That does not stop bad translations but what its does stop is the pirated versions becoming the commercial version, which is what happened with Jule Verne.

I agree with that. Thing is, as you say; it doesn't stop bad translations. And that's what the problem described by the OP boils down to. Pirated versions can sometimes even be better than the commercial one. For instance, it happens with anime sometimes with fansubs being better than the legal ones. Hence why I disagree that copyright law solves what in the end is the problem because I don't see the 'pirated' versions as such as the issue, but the fact that the translation sucked. That's because a legal, commercial version isn't necessarily better.

Jules Verne is irrelevant to today, it's not possible for what happened then to happen now. The reason why works to today get poor translations is that they have very limited markets and its done on the cheap and is edited to increase the size of the market. Perhaps the closest equivalent to Verne that's is current is Stieg Larsson's novels and they got a high end treatment because they are mass market product which sold in multiple languages. If you are interested in a minority subject you are going to have to accept that the thing that you enjoy is limited by the numbers that have a similar interest. The fandubs are labour of love and are not done for profit .

...why is there this weird assumption that Localizations can't be poorly done? Both in that terrible GiD thread and in the OP here there seems to be a sense that Localizations can't be good or bad.

Like... it's people being paid to do something. Occasionally, people fuck that up, or the people paying to get the thing done go for the cheap, inexperienced options instead of the people who know how to do their job. Happens a lot in the art industry, really.

...while what happened to Jules Verne isn't quite repeatable with legitimate localization (shit like the pirated Pokemon 'translations' is more on the spot, since they're often translated incredibly poorly and sold without Nintendo's consent), if a localizer did a terrible job of it/developers hired cheap, inexperienced localizers, the fan reaction would be 'Well this is a shitty localization, who'd they pay to fuck this up', not 'well it's just localization'.

Because again, Localization is a job, and people can fuck it up. And people will then comment on them fucking it up.

I think it's worth to remind that Jules Verne's work was in a genre that wasn't seen much as art at the time; but as entertainment: Science Fiction. Unlike other literary arts, the message and intellectual significance of Science Fiction is contained within the story itself, and the works tend to apply a clarity of language that lots of critics used to take as a "lack of artistic merit".

It will still take time for games to get their individual concepts respected the same way as with Science Fiction. But believe me when I tell you that in the NES and SNES times it used to be worse. Way worse.

 

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