Accents Revisited

I’ve spoken about accents in these kinds of games before, but I wanted to talk more on the topic since it comes up again in Kira Kira Curtain Call.

As those who have played the original Kira Kira probably know already, there were many characters in that game who all shared different accents. From Osakan accent, to Naran accent, to Okinawan and more—there was a wide variety of dialectal flavor, most of which was originally left alone and translated without trying to portray their accents. I can’t say the previous translator’s decision was wrong, since all they did was serve to add that local flavor into the locales the band traveled through in that game.

However, in Kira Kira Curtain Call, the situation is a bit different. One of the characters, Aki, has a thick Osakan accent. Some of you may remember her from the first game. However, there is a scene where she tries to disguise the accent in order to fool some of the other characters. So I decided to try and portray her accent in order to help that scene keep its effectiveness.

Likewise, Yashiro comes from Nagoya and has a bit more of a rural aspect to his accent. However, Yashiro only expresses accent when he’s being intimate with his wife. Both of these accents are slightly different version of the Kansai accent. So to convey this similarity and the difference in accent, I’m going to try and make both of their accents southern accents. Aki will be more of a city southern, like you might find in Virginia, and Yashiro will be a more rural southern accent.

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  1. so how much longer till we get curtain call

  2. I think trying to portray their accent in the text is a pretty bad idea, its not like we cant hear the voice.

    and even though i dont understand much japanese, i can easily hear when they speak in a different dialect.

  3. I am against the portrayal of accents if that means localising Japanese characters with another countries vocal nuance, i.e. a South American drawl.

    I find it grating when translations try to re-write characters with English appropriate stylisations of Japanese dialects. If the visual novel is set in Japan, I don’t want to read the Japanese characters with an American southern twang.

    • Then perhaps let me ask you this: How would you choose to portray the accent then if you were localizing the game? Would you just completely drop the accent out of the game entirely and remove all distinction?

      Also, there’s a lot more to the southern accent than just a southern drawl people most commonly think of. In fact, there are multiple southern accents which do not posses the southern drawl at all.

      • I wouldn’t try to portray the differing accents in the game, as I don’t believe I could do them justice. If it can be done well, I’d imagine it could be quite successful.

        However if it’s done poorly it’ll just ruin the original characterisation. So I guess I’d say give it a shot if your confident you can do it well, otherwise I’d let the voices in the game portray the dialectal nuances.

      • The voices portray it fine, so it’s not like its dropped totally out of the game.

        to me it would just be annoying to see some southern american accent, of course not so much so i wont read it, i would just prefer it without.

  4. The only issue I have with attempting a translation of an accent is that the translation would, most likely, be lost on me, as well as other people playing the game.
    Why? Quite simply, I’m not American.

    That’s not to say that it definately wouldn’t work, but I already have enough issues reading many of the visual novels where words that are only used in North America are used rather than words used the (English speaking) world over, including parts of North America. One of the ones that keeps jumping out at me is “bangs”. To me that’s a small explosion, but it’s repeated in many of the visual novels and is even in the write-up for Cosplay Alien.

    It’s for this reason I’m concerned about accents being used, not necessarily dead against it, but still concerned because what’s the point of buying a translated game where I still don’t “get” the humour?

    • I thought bangs was a fairly common word? It’s supposed to refer to the hair that hangs over one’s forehead. 前髪 would be the word in Japanese. I think ‘forelocks’ is another word for it.

      I can see the point you’re making though. I’ll admit, that certainly is another issue, but if not for a distinction between accents in the translation, how would one know there was an accent being used in the original?

      In the case of Kira Kira Curtain Call, the one character, Yashiro, usually speaks in an unaccented manner, but there are several moments where he drops back into his native accent due to one thing or another. In his case, the accent helps demonstrate and highlight the changes in his emotional state. There are more reasons I chose to translate the accents, but the short answer is I that I think a lot would be lost if I didn’t.

      • Forelocks I understand. I would also recommend “fringe”, but I don’t really know if that works in the US (Wiki says no…).

        In regards the accents though, what specifically is different between, for example, an Osakan accent and a Tokyo accent? Obviously they are different, to think they wouldn’t be would be foolish, but if what those specific differences are can be found, why not use those in the translation rather than using an otherwise US specific accent which the rest of the world might not get?

        Again, I don’t want it to appear that I’m against the idea of accents, I’m just concerned with the US-centric use of accents that others may not understand (and before someone says it, if it were UK-centric accents I would still make the same point as it would be unfair to those in the US).

        • The main differences between most dialects in Japanese is tonal pitch (so equivalent to pronunciation in English), vocabulary, and most importantly grammatical conjugations. A prime example for how pitch can affect words in accents is the word “Hashi”. Hashi has three different pronunciations, 箸, which means chopsticks; 橋, which means bridge; 端, which means end or tip; and 嘴, which means bill or beak. Because these four are distinguished from each other by the way the speaker’s tone does or doesn’t fall or rise, as well as where it falls or rises. Because of the difference in tonal patterns, bridges in Kansai (Osaka, Kyouta, etc) are chopsticks in Tokyo, and chopsticks in Kansai are bridges in Tokyo. Likewise, while 恋 (Koi=love) and 鯉(Koi=Koi fish) have the same tonal patterns in Tokyo and can be mistaken for one another without proper context, in Kansai no one will ever mistake love for a fish.

          As for an example of vocabulary, the word for really or true, “Hontou” in Tokyo, is “Honma” in Kansai. Furthermore, “Aho” and “Baka” are two ways to call someone stupid. In Tokyo, baka is the gentler, less insulting and more friendly way to do so. In Kansai, aho is. In either case, the other word serves as the more insulting form which you don’t want to be called. The differences in vocabulary could stretch on for a long time if I kept going, so I’ll stop this topic here. The point is that the vocabulary is often different enough that most people have an extremely difficult time understanding another accent due to vocabulary differences. Most people can generally understand Osakan Kansai because it’s very popular in Japanese TV, Manga, etc., but if someone or a character has a thick accent and actually utilizes all of the vocabulary differences present in their accent, most speakers of standard Japanese would have to put a fair deal of effort into understanding them.

          As for grammatical differences, there are many. The classical “de aru”, which is the copula in Japanese, has slowly shifted to “da” in modern, Tokyo-based Japanese, while it has shifted to “ya” in modern Kansai. Furthermore, the “not” conjugation, “-nai” in Tokyo, becomes “-hen” in Kansai, and in some words, the way you change the stem to accommodate these conjugations is different. Likewise, Tokyo and Kansai both have several completely different verbs and conjugations to express politeness (Keigo). Again, the list of grammatical differences can go on just as long as the list of vocabulary differences, so I’ll cut it short here.

          For a quick sum-up, Aki’s line in the image for this post is “Honma ni shiawase ya de~!” After converting this to standard Japanese, you would have “Hontou ni shiawase da yo!”

          I will, however, agree that the translation of an accent does not have to be limited to a US-centric accent.

  5. Translating accents… it’s quite tricky.

    Conveying the *difference* among characters all speaking the same language but in different dialects is a worthy goal.

    But how do you do it? If the only method is by (somewhat arbitrarily) selecting a different foreign accent and replacing the original with it, you get into dangerous territory. In attempting to convey nuance you’ve really just covered it up.

    I guess I just prefer to keep indications of dialect as subtle as possible. Noticeable yes, especially if the scene is focusing on the “strangeness” of the dialect. But not systematic (it’s not needed in every scene) or overpowering (don’t exaggerate it).

    The seiyuu are able to convey most of it. Let the translation piggyback off their performance, gently. Trying to wholly replicate it with something it, in reality, is not, can just be a distraction.

  6. Heck, Texas ALONE has several dialects – “wash” can be everything from “worsh” to “waash”. Reading 10 minutes of that would drive anyone mad. I know I wouldn’t want to read it.

    As someone who has had friends who were professional translators (in this case for the Deaf), I know that the cardinal rule is to only translate what is said and no more. American Sign Language also has dialects, however the translators do NOT try to create a faux cultural dialect – it does nothing for the client and can create miscommunication.

    I do not see what the reader gains by reading mangled English – which depending on where you live may or may not sound even correct. I’ve seen many people write the Texas pronunciation as “ahl”, “earl”, “awl”, “oyul”… if a character yells “It’s oyul!” without any visual, how the heck am I supposed to know what they are talking about?

    Let the seiyuu convey the dialect. Your translation should convey the meaning.

  7. If I remember correctly, doesn’t Chouryou from Koihime Musou speak in a Kansai dialect of some sort?

    And if she does than how is MangaGamer going to translate her dialogue?

    I’m really curious about that, especially since if she is given an accent it’s going to have to mesh with the medieval dialogue already present in the game.

  8. Just played the kirakira series and it was awesome!!☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆ thank you mangagamer! Now I want deardrops and joining musou with voice><

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