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New Poll - Translating Dialects
This week's poll was suggested by gomichandesu. We did a similar poll about 6 years ago, but this one has more detailed options. Last time, it was about a 50/50 split between translating it into a different accent vs. just using a translation note.

You can submit poll ideas here

Previous Poll Results:
Question: Which platform do you currently most often play video games on?
VR (any method) - votes: 46 (1.7%)
PC (desktop) - votes: 1118 (40.3%)
PC (laptop) - votes: 447 (16.1%)
Handheld computer (Steam Deck, Razer Edge, etc) - votes: 48 (1.7%)
Mac / Linux - votes: 54 (1.9%)
PlayStation - votes: 199 (7.2%)
Xbox - votes: 47 (1.7%)
Nintendo - votes: 233 (8.4%)
Phone - votes: 318 (11.5%)
I don't play video games - votes: 246 (8.9%)
Other platform - votes: 19 (0.7%)
There were 2775 total votes.
The poll ended: April 13th, 2024 10:39am PDT

I'm surprised there aren't more pure console gamers. Yay for Nintendo though
Posted by lambchopsil on 
April 13th 10:53am
Comments ( 13 )  
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» flowinmyboat on April 13th, 2024, 1:47pm

Minor speech pattern differences for me, but in general I guess I don't care if they do something else.

Overall, I find too much emphasis on dialect or accents in translations can be distracting unless it serves a solid function (for instance, people can't understand them). If it's just to serve as a reminder they're from another part of the country or area, then it's whatever (it's usually called out in the text anyway to keep it in mind).


» Ruruskadoo on April 13th, 2024, 2:32pm

None of the poll answers really covered what I was looking for. I don't think there is one single answer that applies to every case, so I was disappointed there wasn't an "all of the above" option. In some stories the accent is just there for flavor, so it doesn't need to be given the same emphasis as other ones where it's an important part of a character's past, it's something they're frequently picked on about, or it's frequently used as a joke.

Accents can vary a lot, so I don't think a character who's meant to have a very thick accent that might make them difficult to understand or pronounce words strangely should be translated the exact same way you'd translate a character who has a slight regional twang.

Plus, different accents/dialects have different cultural connotations attached to them. Thinking about it in English terms, people don't react to a character with a posh British accent the same way they do to a character with a southern drawl. In order to preserve the same cultural connotation/vibe that the character's manner of speaking are meant to convey, you might need to go about it in different ways.

If the character has an accent that's often looked down on and makes people treat them like a country bumpkin or something, then that's fairly analogous to how some southern accents are treated in the US (unfortunately), so a southern accent would likely work well if you're trying to preserve the tone and flow with minimal interruption, and for some foreign accents you can try to substitute it with a foreign accent that's perceived similarly (like how some British accents are viewed as fancy or sophisticated sounding by Americans), but in other cases the "different slang", "minor speech pattern differences", or "translation note" options would work better.

Language is super complicated, there's no way a single 'one size fits all' answer would be the best choice for every scenario.


» ForeignerChan on April 14th, 2024, 5:26am

Quote from Ruruskadoo
Plus, different accents/dialects have different cultural connotations attached to them. Thinking about it in English terms, people don't react to a character with a posh British accent the same way they do to a character with a southern drawl. In order to preserve the same cultural connotation/vibe that the character's manner of speaking are meant to convey, you might need to go about it in different ways.

This. Depending on the connotations commonly attached to certain dialects or regions, a translator may want to use different strategies to convey that in English. A case-by-case approach is necessary.


» gomichandesu on April 16th, 2024, 10:17pm

Good points. I can agree with the idea of it being contextual.


» YuriM on April 13th, 2024, 3:43pm

In Russian subs/vo they usually used Ukrainian words in such cases.


» Joese on April 14th, 2024, 3:15am

I guess I'll go with different country's English.

The options mentioned are basically what's done when dubbing movies to English and they're all based around location. Ideally when you chose another country all the varieties come along. English and any other language change with situation (usually each job has it's own vocabulary and "slang" that may pass onto those associated with a profession), social levels (like the different vocabulary internet communities use, urban tribes, generations ...) and even in the same city there are different accents.

I mean in my country we see the varieties a language has in school, but English speaking countries have similar classifications:

Its a pitty how many american dubs reduce everything to an American region or language economy (dropping letters from words) and butcher all the intricacies. The worst part is that slang is the only added variety producers include, with slang following rules too losely; making English even more irregular than it already is ...


» MangaGhost on April 15th, 2024, 2:16pm

I usually prefer something restrained. In the old days American comics would have characters use a phrase or two (or even three!) that would help identify them as being part of a different cultural group. Translating all of the speech into let's say a regional accent can be jarring or distracting to a listener/reader. Nothing quite like having a bunch of Japanese people speak in a Southern drawl in anime to knock you out of the immersion. At most i'd want some minor speech pattern differences (but limited to specific words) and a translation note.


» gomichandesu on April 16th, 2024, 10:14pm

Hey its my poll!

My personal reading preferences is either the slang or minor speech pattern differences, but only if the accent really matters to the character/plot. Honestly, if it's just a quirk that only gets brought up every now and then and doesn't hold much significance, I prefer just a translation note. I always hated the "make em British or a cowboy" approach though. Doesn't feel like it's really the same thing and really alters the character imo.


» HikaruYami on April 17th, 2024, 2:10pm

I voted for Minor speech pattern differences (e.g., dropping the 'g' in '-ing' words) because that's pretty broadly applicable, but my real answer is that it depends.

Like, most of kansai dialect is contractions and particles and conjugations, but sometimes there are actually very different words and those words should not be translated as if they were their Tokyo equivalents.


» vigorousjammer on April 19th, 2024, 4:29am

I chose minor speech pattern differences, as I feel as though that's the best go-to solution.
However, I also don't mind the approach of using slang in certain cases. (Translating おやじ as "pops" just makes a lot of sense to me.)

Writing out a regional accent can get annoying if it's overdone, and can make a character's dialogue tedious to read, so I would typically avoid doing it. However, it can make sense in specific contexts, so I wouldn't rule it out entirely...


» LazyReviewer on April 20th, 2024, 4:42am

I chose "Minor speech differences" but really, I also want different slang, too. Characterization is important and, as someone who has read multiple fan translations of Maou ni Natta node, Dungeon Tsukutte Jingai Musume to Honobono suru (Novel), it becomes really important to know who is talking without the speech tags.

I say this because the earlier translations consistently have Lefi,
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
Nell, Lyuu and Leila
(as well as the
Spoiler (mouse over to view)
characters) in their own voice, which is created by both diction and speech alterations.

Reading those is a joy. But unfortunately, as good as the later translations are in general, the speech often sounds like the same person talking and can only be told by the "(name)" thing they do at the end. It regularly makes reading painful, if I'm being honest.

Having different regional or country accents only work if it can be done through diction and speech alterations. The southern US accent, for example, would be spelled the same (in most cases. Ironically, they use "spelt" and not "spelled", but just read differently for most of its speech, which is almost impossible to indicate without the narration saying they have a southern US accent.

Also, can someone tell me how to block out text without using the spoiler tag? I've seen it here and on other sites, but no one documents how to do it.


» kaloo on April 20th, 2024, 9:59am

Yeah, I don't mind accents for voiced media, but every time I've had to parse through a translator writing something with a thick accent I'm just having a bad time.


» Riyuri on May 9th, 2024, 2:16am

I remember reading a manga in which one character would talk in such a heavy accent that it was extremely difficult even for me to understand, though I'm fluent in English. I got annoyed whenever that character spoke (I forgot which manga it was though). I felt like the translators forgot that not every reader is a native English speaker from America and that heavy slang and dialects can make things difficult even for fluent speakers.
Besides, I know the differences between American, British, Scottish and Australian accent, but not within each of these. So speaking in a "South American" accent would not have the same impact on me as for people who know the different dialects within America.
I do like it if there's a way to know that the character is e.g. from Osaka or is talking in slang. But minor changes are perfectly fine for that.