Subject: All the yes.
Posted on: 2020-11-04 18:59:06 UTC

I agree with basically all of this. It really frustrates me when people are hard on an official translation of something without really considering why it made the changes that it did or if those changes actually work.

Seriously, localization is really important! Concepts or jokes that work in one language don't always work in another, and I can think of at least one instance where a character probably wouldn't have been received nearly as well if the localization had been truer-to-the-text. Not to mention that localization also helps to make things more accessible to audiences who aren't super knowledgeable about the original culture a work comes from, and good localization can even help you learn things (like the Ace Attorney Rakugo example).

Another example of the change-nearly-everything kind of translation you mentioned is actually Kid Icarus: Uprising, which originally had a lot of humor dependent on Japanese culture and language. Nintendo of America was basically given free reign to do whatever they wanted with the localization so long as the resulting product was fun to read and natural to listen to, and the result is one of the best written games on the 3DS. As an aside, it's worth it to know that professional translators sometimes get translation notes on the thing they're working on that aren't public, and that those notes are typically meant to help translators fully capture the original tone of something.

When it comes to translating games specifically, space can sometimes be an issue, too. The number of textboxes in a game typically isn't alterable, and professional translators have to work with what they're given. That can make things harder when translating to English from a language like Japanese, where the written form of it can potentially carry more information in less space. I vaguely recall reading something about that being a problem in older games when cartridge/disc/whatever space was way more limited, but I can't remember where.

Also I'm seconding that Legends of Localization rec. It's a super cool blog.

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