Honorifics and Titles in Funbag Fantasy 2

Today on the blog, we have a second translator’s corner from Momimomi!

Hi, momimomi here. Today I would like to talk about honorifics and titles in Funbag Fantasy 2.

I suppose everybody who reads visual novels is familiar to some extent with Japanese honorifics, like -san, -kun, -chan, and it is well known that a large number of English readers even prefer Japanese honorifics preserved in translated works. But allow me to explain why this was not feasible in Funbag Fantasy, besides the mere fact that the story takes place in a European fantasy setting.

First of all, there are zero instances of -san and -kun in this game, and -chan is used only twice. The characters use more archaic honorifics and titles that are much less known compared to the aforementioned ones. Though one of them, that is -sama, I presume, is as widely known as -san. But already the next one, -dono, might be unfamiliar to those who do not read stories set in historical settings.

And of course the characters of this game use a lot more than that! Sovereigns are addressed as -heika, some royal family members are addressed as -denka, there are also -kakka, -kou, -hime, etc. Furthermore, there are two versions of -kou in Funbag Fantasy 2, which are distinguishable only by the kanjis with which they are written in Japanese (公 and 侯). Leaving this kind of honorifics is akin to leaving random words untranslated. I mean if we were to leave -kou untranslated, we might have as well left “kimochi ii,” which I wager is much more recognizable than -kou. I hope my reasoning convinces those who prefer Japanese honorifics. But of course, completely omitting honorifics would be unwise, so how do we translate them?

Well, at first I thought about giving each Japanese honorific a fixed translation and strictly following the original script. However, that sounded quite unnatural with lines like “Goodbye Your Magnificence Name1, Your Magnificence Name2.” So I thought, “No problem. I’ll just use the proper English forms of address!” I was so naive. :3 Just a short research revealed that the story did not provide all needed information to make proper English honorifics: the story did not reveal titles of the vast majority of the characters; for those whose titles were known, their fiefdoms were not revealed; we did not even know the last names of the characters. Therefore, I had to make some compromises. What it means is that the addressing forms you see in the game are not always correct English honorifics, but they are still much closer to being correct than if we used fixed translation for Japanese honorifics.

Now, in the 21st century there are many of those who are not familiar with social hierarchy of monarchic systems. Therefore, I would like to explain the basics here:

  1. At the bottom there are commoners without any title. They can be addressed as “Mr.”, “Miss,” or “Good.”
  2. Next in the social hierarchy stand esquires, knights, and baronets. They are entitled to be addressed as “Sir.” Since in Funbag Fantasy 2 the titles of most characters were not revealed, I decided that all the castellans are sirs. And somewhat counter-intuitive, but the prime minister and the archbishop are of this social class too. In fact, most archbishops in the middle ages Britain were nobles and were properly addressed as “my lord archbishop” or “Your Grace.” But given the setting of the game, which is not a true monarchy, and given how the prime minister and the archbishop are addressed in Japanese, in our translation they are not considered true nobles. Though, because they have such important offices, they are addressed as “Your Excellency.”
  3. Next are peers. They are divided into several ranks: barons, viscounts, earls, marquesses, and dukes. But in Funbag Fantasy 2 only two ranks are used: marquesses (who are addressed with aforementioned 侯) and dukes (addressed with 公). Dukes are the highest nobles and therefore when a person of a lower class addresses them they should use “Your Grace” or “my lord duke.” The other form of address “Duke” is used by equals and as a simply less courteous form of address. Marquesses are peers of a lower class and properly should be addressed by commoners and gentry as “my lord,” “Your Lordship,” or “Lord,” but since the story never mentions the fiefdoms of the marquesses, we use the character names instead.
  4. In a proper monarchy members of the royal family would stand above other peers, but Hillsland does not employ a proper monarchy. Therefore, although the royal characters are addressed as “Your Highness,” this is just a courtesy title and supposedly less grand than the title of a marquess in one’s own right.
  5. At the very top there are sovereigns. They are addressed as “Your Majesty,” “my king,” “sire,” “my liege.” There is not much else to say about kings.

That is all for today. I hope you will enjoy Funbag Fantasy 2 as much as I enjoyed it because its plot and comedy are truly amazing.

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2 Comments

  1. As someone who is and always will be firmly on the localization end of the localization vs. translation debate, I appreciate posts like this. It’s nice to have a window into these kinds of choices and how they are made in a process that fascinates me.

  2. Although I usually prefer Japanese honorifics to be left in place, this is one of the cases where it’s fully justified to get rid of them. It’s supposed to be a European medieval setting, Japanese honorifics just don’t fit here.
    It also supports the convention that this should be decided on a case by case basis and not just taken as a general rule for or against honorifics.

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