Go Back   VGMdb Forums > VGMdb Site Related > Questions and Comments
Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old Sep 21, 2011, 07:22 PM
CHz's Avatar
CHz CHz is offline
VGMdb Administrator
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 3,728
Default Handling titles where part of the title is already a translation of the Japanese

I'm not sure we've ever had a discussion about this except maybe in passing. Like most of the things I bring up it's just a minor translation/presentation issue, but it's one that does pop up every now and then.

Here's the name of a popular Touhou track:

幽霊楽団 ~ Phantom Ensemble

The English part of the title is a pretty serviceable translation of the Japanese part. So when this tune is arranged on an album and we're working on an English tracklist, what should we do? I can think of four different ways to handle the title, and I'm fairly certain I've used all four at least once just for this one piece here on VGMdb:
  1. Use only the translation, since it was helpfully provided: Phantom Ensemble
  2. Romanize the Japanese part: Yuurei Gakudan ~ Phantom Ensemble
  3. Translate the Japanese part slightly differently: Ghostly Band ~ Phantom Ensemble
  4. Just use the same translation twice: Phantom Ensemble ~ Phantom Ensemble
#1 is what I usually do these days when the English is obviously a translation of the Japanese: when a translation is provided, why be redundant? This does throw away part of the title though. Especially for something like Touhou where some titles are completely in Japanese, the fact that the title is originally written in Japanese and English may be worth capturing in some way.

#2 I did for a while because of that problem, but mixing romaji and English in a translation started seeming weak to me.

#3 just strikes me as a mild mistranslation. We already have one English translation in the title, so we don't need a second one that's different.

#4 is incredibly silly, but it's also 100% accurate!

So I guess chime in with your favorite way of being anal about this kind of thing.


It's rare, but it also sometimes happens that the translation is in a language other than English. Pink Sweets's soundtrack uses Japanese and Italian in the tracklist, and Yohsui O'asa's 蛇 -Serpiente- mixes Japanese and Spanish in the title.

I submitted 蛇 -Serpiente- as just "Serpiente" using the same reasoning as #1: it's the same word in two different languages, so why say it twice? Going to English as "Snake -Serpiente-" also works for me in this case, though, since we're not saying the same thing twice in the same language.
Reply With Quote
Old Sep 21, 2011, 10:50 PM
Hellacia Hellacia is offline
Trusted Editor
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 813

Actually I really like #2. To me it's like you said and the fact that the title is originally written in Japanese and English is worth capturing in some way. I think #2 does exactly that; captures the Japanese and the English in some way, and in a way that doesn't introduce unicode characters or all that nasty stuff. People that want titles to be fully in text that is at least readable to them may be able to appreciate it. I think that if an entire tracklist were written in English with a couple exceptions of something being written in romaji, we'd keep it as romaji, right? For example:

1. Title
2. Battle Theme
4. Game Over

I can't see us having a new tracklist translating track 3. Even if 1, 2, and 4 were in Japanese characters, I still think we would keep 3 because that's how it was written, with Arabic letters. So I don't think romaji is weak if there's a good reason to use it.

My 2 cents anyway.

On the subject of Touhou song titles, a year and a half ago I asked about some titles from Il mondo dove e finito il tempo (I'm no better at translating now, by the way :P) and Gigablah said it was better to keep the titles consistent because Touhou is such a huge community and the same titles exist pretty much everywhere. Well, that's basically what he said Are we now going to try and change some of them...?

Last edited by Hellacia; Sep 21, 2011 at 10:55 PM.
Reply With Quote
Old Sep 21, 2011, 11:01 PM
Gigablah's Avatar
Gigablah Gigablah is offline
VGMdb Administrator
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 2,403

While #2 seems like a compromise, it would belong in a romaji tracklist, not an English translation.

I'm all in favour of #1, though sometimes the English part of the title is itself a mistranslation =/

There are plenty of Touhou track titles that have this naming scheme, but the commonly "accepted" translations are all over the place. For example:

星の器 ~ Casket of Star = "Vessel of Stars ~ Casket of Star"


眠れる恐怖 ~ Sleeping Terror = "Sleeping Terror"

We should pick a standard and stick with it, at least. And #1 is the method that is least likely to produce silly titles
Reply With Quote
Old Sep 22, 2011, 12:38 AM
Dag's Avatar
Dag Dag is offline
VGMdb Staff
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,323

I usually do this:

- #1 if the tracklist provides roughly correct translations that seem given for that reason (free translation), even if some aren't 100% - ex1, ex2

- #4 if it looks like the title was repeated due to laziness/lack of naming creativity. Like you have a bunch of "track name - unrelated subtitle", and then one single "GAME OVER - ゲームオーバー". I'll use "GAME OVER - Game Over" too as to keep the subtitle. Surely it was repeated because the 'name' is "GAME OVER" and the 'description' happens to be "Game Over" as well, them silly Japanese. - ex

For your 蛇 -Serpiente- example, I see it like this:
- your average JP guy wouldn't understand "Serpiente", so 蛇 is provided for them. Thus when translating for English audience, "Snake -Serpiente-" too so they can understand the Spanish word.
- if the title was "Snake -蛇-", the 蛇 again is provided for JP speakers. English audience doesn't need the meaning again, so it can be dropped.
(ie.- the 'intended audience' alters how I translate)

I wonder if for Touhou tracklists #2 wouldn't fit the most, for consistency with the bizarre naming scheme of the games themselves?
Reply With Quote
Old Sep 22, 2011, 05:36 AM
Secret Squirrel's Avatar
Secret Squirrel Secret Squirrel is online now
VGMdb Administrator
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Cleveland, OH
Posts: 6,227

How does Touhou Wiki handle these cases (I'm sure I can't access their site from work.)
Reply With Quote
Old Sep 22, 2011, 07:59 PM
CHz's Avatar
CHz CHz is offline
VGMdb Administrator
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 3,728

Originally Posted by Secret Squirrel View Post
How does Touhou Wiki handle these cases (I'm sure I can't access their site from work.)
Blah addressed this a couple of posts up. They're inconsistent: a mix of #1 and #3.

I wasn't trying to focus on Touhou, but if we want to talk about some kind of standardization (or retranslations) that's cool; maybe in a different thread, though. I just picked the Touhou example because it's one I personally have been inconsistent with. ZUN's far from the only guy to name tracks in that way, and Dag linked a few other examples. Just a general chat about what to do with this is what I was looking for.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Japanese Drama + Other Japanese CDs MBgov1133 Video Game Music Discussion 1 Sep 1, 2015 05:00 AM
Best Japanese-English translation website? Rew Miscellaneous Discussion 2 Feb 22, 2015 07:30 PM
Better handling of game expansions, DLCs and add-ons Efendija Questions and Comments 0 Feb 24, 2013 03:29 PM
Submissions - Album Titles - Poll - Choose a Title for This Album Secret Squirrel Submission Guideline Restructuring 31 Apr 26, 2010 01:57 AM
Western versions of Japanese titles in album listings Eriol Questions and Comments 6 Jan 11, 2008 03:14 PM