People occasionally debate about how an accent should or shouldn’t be translated. Some people think they shouldn’t be at all. I would have to disagree. Usually a character has an accent for a reason. Characters that appear in fiction that have an Osakan accent, often fit many of the stereotypes associated with that accent. Also, if they don’t possess an accent in the English translation, then the reader probably won’t know any of this otherwise. The difficult part of course, is choosing the right English accent that corresponds with the way the accent is used in Japanese. For example, in Genshiken, Ogiue’s accent is used to show her rural upbringing, thus a country or southern accent works rather well. In Moyashimon, Misato’s Osakan accent doesn’t have as clear of a purpose. Yes, he tends to play a comedic role often enough, but that doesn’t seem to be quite the link either. Is it meant to identify his upbringing and characterize him that way? It’s hard to say. In cases like this, I think it’s more pertinent to look at the character, and adopt a fitting accent based on that. Misato is friendly, a bit silly, and a bit critical. I don’t think a southern accent would work in this case, even if it is used often for the Osakan accent.
In one of the games I’m working on, the character Poko speaks with a Shitamachi accent, a downtown, lower-class accent. Here the point is that Poko fits the stereotype well, at least in the way he talks to others. For this reason I decided to adopt a Brooklyn accent. Then of course, comes the hardest part of all: attempting to depict an accent in writing. I’m no Mark Twain, so I can only hope I manage to convey Poko’s lines in an easily recognizable accent. If it were a southern or midland accent (which I’m more familiar with), it might be a little easier. Luckily, the net has a fair share of hints, samples and sound-bytes to help me portray it accurately.
Aitha way, I know id ain’ gon’ be easy.