LLTVG:Manual of Style

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Since the site is still young and we're still feeling our way around, these guidelines may change at any time. Think of them more as suggestions than rules for now.


[edit] General

[edit] The language of the wiki

You can use any pair of languages when making a translation. Heck, translate Romanian into Bulgarian if you want! But elsewhere on the wiki, it's best to write in English unless you're on a page where everybody reading will have at least some understanding of the language you're writing in. The reason is that English is the one language that almost everybody here will have in common: almost all of us have it as our native language, or have learned it, or are learning it.

[edit] Formatting

<br /> tags are generally to be avoided. One exception is to indicate the end of a sentence in quoted game text when the game text itself provides no other obvious indication (for instance, there's no period).

[edit] To-do items

Use the {{todo}} template to mark "to-do" items. This will add the page to our to-do list.

If a translation has a missing field — for instance, you know the Japanese, but not the English — just leave that field blank. A "todo" will be placed automatically.

[edit] Translation guidelines

A bad translation is worse than no translation at all. We all make mistakes from time to time — even legends like Ted Woolsey have done it — so that's not a problem. But if you're not sure about your translation, you should get some assistance (e.g. ##japanese on freenode.net) or wait until you're more confident in your abilities. Be especially careful about translating into a language that is not your native tongue.

[edit] Literality

Make your translation fairly literal. The idea here is to allow the reader to understand the original text, not to provide a polished translation to be read on its own. For example, if you're translating from Japanese to English, it's important that the reader can see the connection between the English and Japanese sentences. The Tiny Toons character Montana Max — a spoiled, bratty kid — would be unlikely to use a formal-sounding phrase such as "It is as you see!", but this really is the best translation of ご覧の通りだ! because any other translation would obscure the connection between the Japanese and the English.

Do try to use the most idiomatic translation that does not obscure the meaning of the original phrasing. "Sensei" in a Japanese game should generally be translated as "teacher" (or "doctor", etc.), not "sensei", unless it's a martial arts teacher. Likewise, if a character says "Yuki-san" while talking to somebody named Yuki, it's fine to translate it as "you" if appropriate, since the reader is unlikely to get confused. Generally leave out -san, -chan, etc. from translations; the reader can see the honorifics in the original text. (If the choice of honorific is very unusual, though, make a translation note about it and explain how and why it's unusual.)

[edit] Swearing

Generally, do not add swear words that were not in the original text. Some people have a tendency to, for example, translate "fuzakennayo" or "kutabare" as "fuck you!" even if it makes no sense in the context (such as in a child-friendly game). Don't be one of them.

On the other side of the coin, you can still put in a little swearing when it really is context appropriate, and it's preferable to do so instead of using silly dialogue just to try to write around what should obviously be a swear. Sure, Solid Snake could say "Darn it! What the heck?" instead of "Dammit! What the hell?", but would he, really?

[edit] All caps text

If the text of a game is in all caps, convert it to mixed-case. Even if it's only in all caps when a robot is talking or whatever, all-caps text is just annoying.

[edit] Difficulty level

The more text a game has, the more you can assume a higher language ability. Playing a game like Mother 2 or Chrono Trigger would require quite advanced knowledge of vocabulary and grammar, while a game like Tiny Toon Adventures is nearly accessible to somebody who has just started Japanese, so long as enough annotations are provided.

For example, the "explanatory の" (a very common grammar structure in Japanese) might be appropriate to mention in a game such as Super Mario Bros. 3. However, if a player is going to work all the way through Zelda 3, he will probably already be well familiar with the use of "explanatory の" and it should only be mentioned when the usage is particularly nuanced (for instance, somebody might be surprised to see it in a sentence that doesn't look like an explanation). Just focus on the things the reader is likely enough to not know already (but, when in doubt, add an explanation anyway).

[edit] Errors in the source material

Just as in any other medium, video games sometimes have unintentional mistakes in their text. The question is, should you reproduce the errors or just correct them? The general practice here is to reproduce the original text verbatim, errors and all, and make note of the error in the annotations. Sometimes you might even be mistaken that it's an error at all; keeping the original text makes it easier for somebody to catch when this happens.

[edit] When translating to or from Japanese

[edit] Spacing

Preserve the spacing of the original game text. When the line wraps, you must decide whether to write a space, no space, or a linebreak (<br />). Linebreaks should generally only be used when the next line starts a new sentence and there is no punctuation indicating such. Games that don't use spaces shouldn't have a space added. With games that do use spaces, use your discretion.

[edit] Romanization

Use romanization only for game titles, not in actual translations (but do use romaji for cases where the original game used it).

  • Long vowels: use "ou" rather than "ō" or "oo" (but ダンボール is "danbooru" rather than "danbouru", etc.)
  • Particles: "wa", "e", and "o", not "ha", "he", and "wo".

[edit] Punctuation

Write an ellipsis like this: そうだけど・・・・

Never like this: そうだけど。。。。

(In fact, it's preferable to apply this rule even when the original text does not distinguish between the two forms, e.g. as in the Famicom version of Super Mario Bros. 3.)

[edit] Use the gloss template

Since (among other things) Japanese word order is so different from the word order of just about any language that isn't Korean, you should use the gloss template to help the reader correlate the Japanese sentence to its English translation. The gloss template is also used to provide the readings for kanji, or the kanji for words that the game has written in kana.

For example, {{gloss|波動拳|はどうけん surge fist}} produces 波動拳.

[edit] When providing kanji in a gloss

There is no need to provide kanji that are rarely used. For example, don't do this: ある. The kanji for ある is rarely ever used. (For that matter, the word ある is so overwhelmingly common that typically no definition is necessary, so it can go without a gloss at all.) If you're not sure whether the kanji is rarely used, a typical solution is to either look it up in EDICT (possibly via Rikaichan) and see if it's marked "(uk)", or to just type it in the IME and see if the kanji comes up by default.

There is also no need to provide kanji for very common words if the reader can reasonably be expected to understand them. Anybody playing an RPG who has a hope of understanding any of it will know that みる is 見る and means "see". It's possible that somebody playing a simple arcade game might not, though, in which case the gloss is warranted.

[edit] When translating to or from Chinese

(As of this writing, we have yet to deal with Chinese, so these guidelines are particularly preliminary.)

When translating from Chinese (but not Cantonese), give both the Traditional and Simplified versions of the hanzi if you can. That way, someone who has learned only Simplified Chinese who is playing a game written in Traditional Chinese (or vice versa) can read it more easily. (Alternatively, we might provide a utility that allows the reader to convert between the two. See Automatic conversion between simplified and traditional Chinese on Meta-Wiki.)

Always use pinyin for romanization of standard Written Chinese.

When translating Cantonese, use Yale romanization. (Note: a case can be made for using Jyutping instead. We'll worry about it when we get there, because as of this writing, we have yet to do a game in Cantonese.)

[edit] Tone sandhi

Mandarin has a rule that two third tones in a row becomes a second and third tone. For example, 你好 is nǐ hǎo, but together they are pronounced níhǎo. This phonetic transformation is called "tone sandhi". In this case, we should not apply tone sandhi and spell it as nǐhǎo. The rationale is that the student will need to learn this rule anyway; a student who has learned tone sandhi can automatically translate nǐhǎo into níhǎo in his head, but no student can look at níhǎo and automatically guess that 你 normally takes tone 3 (unless he already knows the word).

By contrast, do apply tone sandhi for 一 and 不, since their sandhi is specific to these words and pointing the sandhi out will help the student remember the rule. For example, 一 is yī, but 一次 is yícì.

Write neutral tones as neutral.

Use a dictionaries like CEDICT if you're unsure how to write the tones. (Exception: CEDICT does not apply tone sandhi for 一 and 不, so be careful.)

[edit] When translating to or from Spanish

Always write accent marks. Even if the original text lacks them, it would be prudent to add them in (but be careful with those few words whose stress can vary by region, e.g. chófer vs. chofer). If a game only has a few errors in accentuation, write them as-is and point out the errors in translation notes. (This has been done for Buster Busts Loose.) If the original text contains few to no accent marks, though, just write them in.

Pay attention to spelling, too. Many people write things like "habeces" instead of "a veces", etc.; try not to.

[edit] Name of games

Generally use the American name of the game. This is because the American names tend to be more recognizable, and because a game may have any of a number of titles depending on region and it's nice to have one to default to. However, apply discretion. For example, EarthBound goes under Mother 2 because it forms a series with Mother 1 and Mother 3, neither of which has a canonical American name, and any EarthBound fan will readily recognize Mother 2.

Only attach the platform name to a game title when there is possible confusion over which game is meant. For example, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES) has "NES" at the end because there is a completely different arcade game with exactly the same name.

If you're not sure of the American name of a game, look it up on a site such as GameFAQs; it will probably tell you.

[edit] Name of game systems

Similarly, prefer the American names of consoles: NES, not Famicom; Genesis, not Mega Drive. Exceptions are games like Rampart, where the Japanese and American games by that name are completely different (though related) games, so they can be called the Famicom and NES versions, respectively.

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