(This page was last updated August 14, 2020.)
This is a personal style guide that I intend to continue following for this site. Of course, many of these may be subject to change in the future (and some of my past translations may not adhere to this as a result), but I would like to keep them as a reference.
- Names: Western order (given name followed by surname), to reduce ambiguity.
- Exception: Vocaloid names (“Hatsune Miku”, etc.), due to community precedent and regular official-side enforcement of East Asian (surname followed by given name) order.
- Honorifics: Dropped for actual fiction containing dialogue. Retained for interviews out of respect, with the exception of –shi (氏) due to the mainstream’s general unfamiliarity with it.
- Romanization: Should generally follow some variant of Hepburn romanization, unless there’s a particular reason to not use it.
- Japanese cultural terminology: Retained as-is if it’s sufficiently judged to have entered the Western mainstream (kimono, karaoke, sushi, etc.), and retained as-is if referring to a specific kind of food, but translated or clarified in some form otherwise. (If it doesn’t have its own English Wikipedia article, it’s getting translated.)
- Kanji names with unknown/unclear readings: I’ll do my best.
- Extra note for Digimon: In the cases of Sora’s mother (淑子) and Koushirou’s mother (佳江), I’ll be going with their novel-provided readings of “Yoshiko” and “Yoshie” for any translations on this blog.
- Wordplay and puns: Will try my best to make equivalent wordplay in English.
- Exception: “Wordplay names” that are in themselves puns (see: names like those endemic to the Ace Attorney or Inazuma Eleven series) will, in the absence of any official variants, be retained as romanized names, partially as respect to the value of names, and partially because I do not feel personally comfortable making a call to change them when I’m not in the position of an official translator. Of course, when such official translations exist, I will naturally and happily defer to them.
- Titles and work names: Officially localized titles whenever possible (e.g. “Ace Attorney” instead of “Turnabout Trial”).
In regards to Digimon
While I don’t exclusively translate for the Digimon franchise, it comprises the larger percentage of my translations. Normally, I would like to continue using officially localized titles and terminology whenever possible. However, there is an unfortunate history of inconsistent franchise localization and translation standards for the Digimon franchise:
- There are two entirely different official English-language schematics, the more well-known one used for the American English dub, and the one used for Southeast Asia. They are, of course, very, very different, and moreover, at least one occasion (Digimon Heroes!) has ended up with the Southeast Asian English translation in a North American-released product.
- Unlike other famous long-time franchises like Pokémon or Shin Megami Tensei, which generally at least have some degree of monster/franchise-wise localization consistency, Digimon is very largely lacking in this regard, and “localized” Digimon names and other franchise constants tend to shift wildly from work to work. Making things even worse is that “officially directly translated materials” (officially subtitled versions of the anime, etc.) are remarkably inconsistent about whether they match the American English dub, adhere more to the Japanese, or lie somewhere in between. Consistency has been starting to improve with the release of Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth‘s English version in 2016, but nevertheless there are still around two decades of inconsistently localized material that makes it difficult to work with.
- Many of the localized dub names for various franchise aspects were formulated before later Japanese franchise developments came into the picture, and have adapted poorly. (For example, “Ultimate” to “Mega” to…”Super Ultimate”.)
- Many of the materials I translate are Japanese-exclusive, and refer to things that were heavily altered or inconsistent with the American English dub equivalent (e.g. Jou’s brothers Shin and Shuu; general characterizations for anime characters; worldbuilding). In addition, characterizations often differ wildly from the Japanese version to their English dub equivalents, and the fanbase has deep associations with each version of the character to their respective names.
- Because I translate a lot of interviews and Japanese-exclusive materials, many of the people likely to be reading this blog may not actually speak English as their own first language, and will be accustomed to their own native country’s dub. As a result, since I am not working in any official capacity, it feels too US-centric to force our dub down the throats of people who had no relation to it whatsoever, whereas the original Japanese version is at least a neutral ground for all Digimon fans potentially reading these.
As a result, in accordance with Japanese franchise standards, I currently plan on adhering to the following schematic:
- Honorifics: Retained, with the exception of –shi (氏).
- Rationale: Since we’re exclusively following the Japanese fan-translated branch of the franchise, most fan translations and subtitles up until now have been keeping the honorifics, and most fans following this are already used to them by this point, to the point that it may come off as too jarring if they’re dropped. The only thing I’ve decided to deliberately recuse from this for is Adventure PSP, due to tight character limits and my desire to make it come off as little as a “fan translated product” as reasonably possible.
- Use of gendered pronouns in regards to Digimon: See my post on this.
- Name romanizations: Official romanizations generally ignored. Japanese names should follow some version of Hepburn romanization, while other names should follow likely etymology and language of origin. In cases where the Japanese name is corrupted to some degree (example: “Archnemon”, whose name is rendered incorrectly in Japanese no matter how you look at it), some attempt to match the Japanese rendering will be made.
- Rationale: Not only are official romanizations often extremely inconsistent, especially between Toei and Bandai, they often just don’t make sense or lead to very incorrect mental associations.
- Special attacks: Translated directly from Japanese, with a general attempt to avoid untranslated content.
- Work titles: Japanese names. (Digimon Adventure, Digimon Savers Another Mission, etc.)
- Rationale: Trying to default to something like “Digimon Season 4” sounds awfully and needlessly counterintuitive and confusing. Using Japanese titles also helps with game interview consistency, since it doesn’t create more of the market confusion over the “Digimon World” naming schematic applied to too many games that definitely did not have to do with the World branch of the franchise.
- Evolution levels: Baby (幼年期), Child (成長期), Adult (成熟期), Perfect (完全体), Ultimate (究極体), Super Ultimate (超究極体).
- Rationale: Official precedent. I see no need to violate this, and the more literal “growth stage” and “maturity stage”, et al. sound awkward and overly clinical.
- Crest/Digimental names: Honesty (誠実) and Purity (純真).
- Rationale: The official American English dub name “Reliability” for 誠実 works somewhat decently for Jou in Adventure, but not so much for anything else about his character nor for Iori in Adventure 02. The name of the Crest is less so much about how “reliable” of a person you end up being but more about keeping your word and promises, which applies well to both characters and in effectively all scenes relevant to them. “Honesty” is one of the (many) official franchise translations for it, and I personally favor it because it sidesteps confusion with Mimi/Miyako’s “Sincerity” in the American English dub while also having good connotations of righteousness (see “honest salesman”, etc.). In regards to Mimi and Miyako, “Sincerity” carries too much risk of confusion with the aforementioned “Honesty” due to its emphasis on being about lying/subterfuge, whereas “Purity” is a bit more on-the-nose about pure-hearted intentions and lack of malice.
Note that, because there are many people who have translated Digimon material in the past, there are many cases where the above translation choices will clash with theirs. For the most part, to maintain consistency and reduce the jarring feeling that may come from using different translations, I will make a genuine attempt to keep form with them as much as possible, but because so many people have done different things over the years, at some point there will be some degree of conflict. Please note that, in all cases of conflict, the above manual of style is for my own reference and reflects my own translation choices, and, as there’s no real “one true right answer” for translation, the fact that many of us will differ in these regards is simply a symptom of translation styles and should not be taken as me intentionally trying to dispute others.